SEPTEMBER 11, 2015
The Synod on the Family 2015: Between Heresy and Schism
Evidence of Dirty Politics, Secret ‘Shadow’ Conclaves, Rigging, Funding of African nations with mal-intent to influence voting…
I. THE EXTRAORDINARY SYNOD, October 5 to 19, 2014, on the theme “Pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelisation”
A pilot letter from this ministry was sent out by email to our mailing list on August 2, 2014; see
THE (OCTOBER 2014) EXTRAORDINARY SYNOD OF BISHOPS ON THE FAMILY AT THE VATICAN
In it, I had enquired of readers, “Do you have any idea of who the Indian priests and lay persons are who have been deputed by the Indian Church to attend the Extraordinary Synod on our behalf? If not, can you please find out and let me know?”
I had expected a particular couple from the archdiocese of Bombay to be towed along to the Synod by Cardinal Oswald Gracias; they are in family ministry (Couples for Christ) while at the same time involved in New Age (Interplay) and figure in a couple of reports on this ministry’s web site. A search for the couple on the Internet will throw up the information that they are “Wellness Facilitators”. Propagating New Age had not prevented them from being made members in 2009 of the Pontifical Academies of Life and the Family!
Having already detailed in two reports at this web site that Pope Francis appeared to be under treatment from two alternative medicine practitioners, I was concerned about the possibility that inputs of “Wellness Facilitators” from India would contribute to determining the outcome of the Synod (leave alone the liberals, progressivists and modernists among the bishops and cardinals who we already had to be concerned about).
But the Vatican Information Service report reproduced further below assured me that the New Age-tainted couple would not be speaking for me and other Indian Catholics at the October proceedings in the Vatican.
I noted that three cardinals from India would be representing me in Rome; and the Archbishop of Delhi.
That too was not good news. I already knew that Archbishop Anil Couto of New Delhi sympathizes with the women priests lobby, his having expressed in his inaugural address at his March 2001 episcopal ordination his hope that he would witness such an eventuality, and it burdened me a lot to know that the proceedings of the Synod could be influenced by a prelate like him; see the documentation in my report
There were only two non-episcopal Indian delegates to the recently-concluded Synod on the Family.
One was a Fr. Cajetan Menezes from Mumbai; he is a priest involved in family ministry.
The second participant was “Rev. Fr. Arul Raj Gali, C.S.C., national director of the Holy Cross Family Ministries in India.” In English, C.S.C. stands for “Congregation of the Holy Cross”.
There were no lay delegates from India.
Participants in the Synod
Vatican City, September 9, 2014
The following is a list of participants in the Third General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, dedicated to “Pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelisation”:
Cardinal Oswald GRACIAS, Archbishop of Bombay, president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (F.A.B.C.)
His Beatitude Cardinal George ALENCHERRY, major archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly of the Syro-Malabars, resident of the Synod of the Syro-Malabar Church Synod of the Syro-Malankaras
His Beatitude, Cardinal Baselios Cleemis THOTTUNKAL, major archbishop of Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankaras, president of the Synod of the Syro-Malankara Church, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (C.B.C.I.)
Archbishop Anil Joseph Thomas COUTO of Delhi
Rev. Fr. Arul Raj GALI, C.S.C., national director of the “Holy Cross Family Ministries in India”
Rev. Cajetan MENEZES, director of the Apostolate for the Family in Bombay
The Extraordinary Synod on the Family had 253 total participants, of which 192 were “synod fathers” and thus had voting rights. Most of synod fathers were bishops. The remaining 61 participants, including many lay men and women, were invited to the synod in various capacities due to their expertise.
Among the 44 lay delegates from all over the world, there was a nun religious from Ireland and, 13 were married couples. They came from Australia (4), Argentina, Brazil (2), Colombia, Chile (2), Democratic Republic of Congo (2), France (3), Germany, Iraq (2), Italy (4), Ivory Coast, Korea, Lebanon (2), Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Mozambique, the Philippines (3), Rwanda (2, a couple from the Focolare* movement), South Africa (2), Spain (2), and the USA (4).
There was no lay delegate from India.
The Lutheran World Federation was represented by a prelate from South Africa, the Baptist World Alliance by one from France; there were five pastors and bishops of the Orthodox church and Anglican communion.
*See FOCOLARE, ‘THE WORK OF MARY’-IS IT GOOD FOR CATHOLICS?
I wrote the following letters to my Archbishop and his Vicar General and to the officials of the CBCI:
Sent: Thursday, October 16, 2014 9:14 AM
Subject: SEE FILE ATTACHED: SYNOD ON THE FAMILY MID-WAY REPORT CONDEMNED BY CATHOLICS
Dear Archbishop George Antonysamy,
A Zenit article was recently published against the interim report from the Synod on the Family which is in progress. I made a report and have sent it to my web master for uploading on my web site a few minutes ago.
THE SYNOD ON THE FAMILY-THE MID-WAY REPORT
14 OCTOBER 2014
It is also attached for you herewith. We are only midway through the Synod and already good, faithful, conservative Catholics are opposing the direction that the proposals seem to be taking. We praise and thank God for that. Let us continue to pray for Pope Francis and all who are at the Synod.
As for me, my apprehensions were not unfounded, and the concerns that I communicated to my mailing list in August have been vindicated by condemnation and protests from pro-life and pro-family groups on the mid-way report.
“We believe that the Synod’s mid-way report is one of the worst official documents drafted in Church history”
My extensive research on the run-up to the Synod, the report of which will take several more weeks to be released, has uncovered very much to be seriously concerned about Pope Francis words and actions, and also of the powerful liberal lobbies in the US and at the highest levels in the Vatican that want to have radical changes made in orthodox, traditional Catholic morality concerning marriage, chastity, the family, cohabitation, same-sex marriage, annulments, contraception and birth control, etc.
God bless you, Yours obediently,
email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; Archbishop Bombay; firstname.lastname@example.org
email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Thursday, October 16, 2014 9:20 AM
Subject: SEE FILE ATTACHED: SYNOD ON THE FAMILY MID-WAY REPORT CONDEMNED BY CATHOLICS
Deputy Secretary General, Director, CBCI Centre
Rev. Fr. Joseph Chinnayyan
MEMBER, CBCI SPECIAL COMMISSION FOR EVANGELIZATION
CBCI Secretary General, Most Rev. Albert D’Souza, Archbishop of Agra
CBCI Vice-President-I, Most Rev. Andrews Thazhath, Archbishop of Trichur
HIS EMINENCE OSWALD CARDINAL GRACIAS
ARCHBISHOP OF BOMBAY [MAH.]
PRESIDENT, THE FEDERATION OF ASIAN BISHOPS’ CONFERENCES – HONG KONG
MEMBER, PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR THE INTERPRETATION OF LEGISLATIVE TEXTS
MEMBER, CBCI SPECIAL COMMISSION FOR EVANGELIZATION
Your Eminences the Cardinals and Most Reverend Archbishops… (Same as above)
Predictably, there was no response
II. THE ORDINARY SYNOD, October 4 to 25, 2015, on the theme “The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world”
The January 31, 2015 page with the first list of participants is not opening:
March 26, 2015 EXTRACT
(Vatican Radio/VIS) Pope Francis has confirmed more members and substitutes for the Fourteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will take place from October 4-25, 2015.
The following is a list of the members and substitutes appointed by the competent entities and ratified by the Holy Father on 17 March.
Synod of the Syro-Malabar Churches
Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt of Palai of the Syro-Malabars, India
Archbishop Andrews Thazhath of Trichur of the Syro-Malabars, India
Archbishop Kuriakose Bharanikulangara of Faridabad of the Syro-Malabars, India
Bishop Thomas Elavanal, M.C.B.S., of Kalyan of the Syro-Malabars, India
Vatican names representatives for 2015 Synod on the Family
June 16, 2015 EXTRACT
Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, President of the Episcopal Conference
Archbishop Filipe Neri Antonio Sebastiao Do Rosario Ferrao of Goa and Damao
Bishop Selvister Ponnumuthan of Punalur
Archbishop Dominic Jala, S.D.B. of Shillong
Bishop Singaroyan Sebastianappan of Salem
June 17, 2015 EXTRACT
A final list of all Synod members and participants will be published in the lead up to the October meeting.
The distinction between members and participants is that only members have a vote. Participants in the synod also include experts (who are not granted speaking privileges as members are), auditors and fraternal delegates. The Secretariat of the Synod also has yet to release these lists.
The Pope can also appoint up to 15 percent of the total members, who are called pontifical appointees. According to the synod’s statutes, “the Supreme Pontiff may, if he so chooses, increase the number of members of the Synod of Bishops by adding bishops, or religious to represent the religious institutes, or clerics who are experts, to the extent of fifteen percent of the total number of the members mentioned in articles V and VIII.”
New members and substitutes for the upcoming Synod on the Family
Vatican City, July 24, 2015
2nd Substitute: Bishop Lawrence Pius Dorairaj of Dharmapuri
Once again, there is apparently no lay delegate to the Ordinary Synod from India.
I use blue colour for “good guys”, red for the “bad guys”.
“Must read” items are highlighted
Collated information is reproduce in reverse chronological order with the latest coming first.
The Reason They Want to Lock Down the Synod
By Steve Skojec, September 11, 2015
Last night I finally had a chance to get back to Ed Pentin’s fantastic book, The Rigging of a Vatican Synod. There was a particular section that, once I read it, led to an almost audible “click” as pieces fell into place in my mind.
Allow me to explain.
On Monday, as I was preparing for my trip to Steubenville, credible rumors were reported concerning changes to the procedure for the upcoming Synod. From Monday Vatican:
Some well-informed people say that the 2015 Synod will be completely different from any other. First of all, a midterm report will not be released. Last year, the midterm report was completely revised by some of the Pope’s closest collaborators prior to its release, and the report resulted in many controversies. Even Cardinal Petr Erdo, the Synod’s General Relator, distanced himself from the report. But its release united the followers of the Church’s doctrine, who stood up against the Synod’s drift. They ultimately achieved an acceptable compromise for the Synod’s Final Report, which was filled with biblical references that had been lacking in the midterm report.
Avoiding the release of a midterm report would mean eliminating any possibility of discussion. The plan is for the Synod to carry out discussions mostly in “small groups” (circuli minores) without a general discussion. In the end, the reports of the small groups would be put in the Pope’s hands, and the Pope would then give a final address. No final report or post-synodal apostolic exhortation is foreseen at the moment, at least according to recent rumors. In this way the adapters hope to convince the Pope to employ vague language so they can eventually exploit his words.
In some of my discussions with various people over the past week, this subject came up. What was the thinking? Were they trying to do everything behind closed doors to keep the bloggers and faithful Catholic media from asserting pressure? The last Synod wasn’t quite as easy going as the Kasperites had hoped because of our resistance. It was impossible to say, and the most we could do was speculate.
Which brings me back to Pentin. This account, in the first chapter of his book, tells us everything we need to know about why this change may well be in the works. Pay particular attention to the section I’ve put in bold:
For the second week of the synod, the synod fathers were divided into ten small working groups, otherwise called circuli minores, made up of three Italian groups, three English ones, two Spanish, and two French. Each group proposed amendments to the controversial Relatio post disceptationem (the interim report), in preparation for the final document, the Relatio synodi.40
During the late afternoon of October 15, at the conclusion of the working-group sessions, Cardinal Baldisseri announced to the participants in the aula of the synod hall that the reports of the groups would not be made available to the public, contrary to the practice of previous synods. Instead, a summary would be made of the groups’ discussions, which would be published.
Cardinal Pell was having none of it. Eyewitnesses said he slammed his hand on the table and insisted that people had a right to hear what the bishops were saying. Others, such as Cardinal Napier, Pietro Cardinal Parolin, the secretary of state, and Archbishop Leonard of Brussels, also weighed in, calling for the discussions to be made public.
But the resistance did not come only from them. Christoph Cardinal Schönborn of Vienna along with those of the so-called “progressive” wing such as Vincent Cardinal Nichols and Reinhard Cardinal Marx were also angry and voiced their opposition.
“There was uproar in the synod hall”, a source who was present told me. “Everyone wanted to publish them.” Cardinal Baldisseri was suddenly announcing to everyone that he wanted to “introduce secrecy into the proceedings, and it raised all sorts of hell”, the eyewitness said.41
“Seventeen people, bam, bam, bam, one after another, each giving reasons why the reports should be published”, said Father Fawcett. “My hand was burning writing down each of their interventions, it was so quick.”
He said it was a “Holy Spirit moment” and that it “wasn’t just ‘right wingers’, it was people across the board saying: ‘That’s not consistent with the process. ‘ ” Fawcett said that after “the flack” the synod fathers had taken with the interim document, to say they were not going to publish the small-group discussions either “was just too much”.
The English priest said he could see why the synod managers did not want to publish the small-working-group summaries. “But if you’re not going to do that, then you don’t publish the interim document, either”, he said, although he understood and supported Pope Francis’ vision for a freer debate, allowing participants to feel as comfortable as possible to say what they wanted to say.
The appeals led by Cardinal Pell were followed by thunderous and lengthy applause. During this time, Cardinal Baldisseri and other members of the secretariat sat in silence. After Baldisseri’s suggestion of a vote was so unanimously shouted down, Pope Francis eventually nodded his head to indicate that the reports could be published and let it go.
Thanks to this mini “revolt”, summaries of the small working groups’ interventions were posted by the Vatican press office, although no mention of the revolt was made to reporters in the subsequent briefing.
The English summaries reveal broad and deep opposition to the interim report and plans to add substantial new text affirming the constant teaching of the Church “on the truth of human life and sexuality as revealed by Christ”, along with other “major amendments” and other small ones that still had “significant meaning attached to them”.42
Along with the row over the interim report, the uproar over efforts not to publish the working-group reports became viewed as a major tactical and political error on the part of the synod managers, especially as it provoked the strong opposition of Cardinal Pell—one of the pope’s closest collaborators—and even those participants thought to be sympathetic to a more “progressive” agenda.43
Pentin, Edward. The Rigging of a Vatican Synod (Kindle Locations 371-403). Ignatius Press.
“If you’re not going to do that, then you don’t publish the interim document either.”
It appears that the Kasperites are learning. Not Catholic doctrine, of course, but tactics. They’ve been really quite astonishingly brazen over the past year or so, evidently thinking their time had come (and not really understanding the power of social media as a disruptor of the old paradigm for message control.) So now, we see a rumored attempt to close down the proceedings entirely. To keep the small working groups even from communicating effectively with each other. To put the disjointed reports of disparate groups in the hands of the pope without ever publishing them, so we’ll never know what was actually said, and how much they opposed the final outcome.
Just like last time. Only last time, the good guys fought back and won the day.
This is a power grab.
It’s an autocratic move, and it signals confidence on the part of the Synod managers, who have proven themselves at the very least to be sympathetic to the Kasper agenda, that the pope will give them exactly what they want. Otherwise, they would be doing all that they can to keep the proceedings transparent. I can’t stress enough how important that is. We can see what they’re doing by what they’re trying to hide, and where they’re placing their bets.
Many oppressive governments have learned the hard way just how difficult it is in the 21st Century communications environment to control the message or keep information out of the hands of the people. If the Vatican is smart, they’ll realize this, and there will no doubt be ecclesiastical penalties levied against those who would leak information from the Synod hall. This will, of course, deter precisely no one except those prelates orthodox enough to be concerned about the state of their souls, or their docility and obedience to Christ, His Church, and His vicar. The heretics and schismatics in attendance couldn’t care less about any of this. They don’t believe in it anyway.
The danger level heading into this Synod is dizzying. Let’s all pray that God’s will is done, even if by the unexpected means of the machinations of those prelates who serve a different master.
Slandering Cardinal Burke
By Steve Skojec, September 11, 2015
Mark Silk is a guy who evidently fancies himself as knowing something about Catholicism. And journalism. But neither of these things is in particular evidence in his most recent piece for Religion News Service:
On Tuesday evening, a few hours after the Vatican announced Pope Francis’ streamlining of the Catholic marriage annulment procedure, Cardinal Raymond Burke, whom the pope demoted last year as head of the church’s highest court, attacked what the pope did.
But Burke did not so much as mention the pope. Speaking at ultra-conservative Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, he gave prepared remarks designed to dissuade next month’s Synod of Bishops from doing what Francis had already done.
“Ultra-conservative Franciscan University,” huh? Yeah. It’s super scary there. Bunch of straight-laced do-gooders who just ooze rigorist pre-conciliarism! I just got done praising the school for valuing academic freedom enough to have conversations that lie outside their normal comfort zone, which could be characterized as solidly post-conciliar charismatic Catholicism. Do they adhere to Magisterium? You betcha. That’s why they get to be called “Catholic.” That does not in any way signify “ultra-conservatism.”
But Silk is a man on a mission, and he isn’t going to let facts get in the way of a good thrashing of his ideological enemies. So he then — get this — POSTS THE VIDEO of the event, which shows no such thing happening. That’s how confident he is in his fantasy. He continues:
For his part, Burke began by declaring that the Synod cannot decide such matters, which would involve amending canon law. “The Synod of Bishops has no authority to change doctrine and discipline,” he said. He then proceeded to dump on both recommendations, saying they effectively violated the church’s doctrinal obligation to determine that a given marriage is truly a “nullity.” The whole enterprise, he claims, reveals the dangers of “sentimentalism” and “a false compassion,” reflecting a “post-canonical antinomianism” that has afflicted the church since the end of the Second Vatican Council. Whew.
Now, you might ask, why did Burke go ahead with his speech when, as even the folks in Steubenville cannot have failed to notice, the pope had just, on his own authority, promulgated new canon law (here and here) incorporating both recommendations. As they say, Roma locuta est, causa finita est (“Rome has spoken, the case is closed”).
Pontiffs have been laying down canon law on their own say-so since the 11th century, so Burke, traditionalist that he is, can hardly claim that Pope Francis has no warrant for doing likewise. But as the Washington Post reported Monday, he went so far as to declare in a recent television interview that the pope “does not have the power to change teaching [or] doctrine.”
It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the cardinal believes this pope has acted beyond his authority in changing the annulment procedure as he has. It’s also hard to avoid the thought that, as the pope proceeds to change what the church teaches, some traditionalists will abandon ship, and go into schism.
First of all, Cardinal Burke’s right. Anyone with even the most basic theological knowledge understands that doctrine may develop, but it may not be contradicted. Not even the pope has the authority to upend the depositum fidei, which is why the goings on at the Synod — under the appearance that they have the Holy Father’s stamp of approval — are causing such consternation among Catholics.
But Cardinal Burke is confronting principles, not persons — with the notable exception of Cardinal Kasper. And the principles he is confronting are entirely valid targets. If Silk wishes to infer that the pope also holds these positions, he’s free to do so. But he may not assume that Burke agrees with him, and then use it to attack him. Not honestly. Not fairly.
Secondly, I was there, and I know for a fact that Burke’s talk didn’t address the new Motu Proprio letters at all. He used his pre-written speech, and the moderator asked the audience not to ask questions about them because there simply hadn’t been time to digest them. For his part, His Eminence had just spent three hours that morning celebrating a Pontifical High Mass after a very long week travelling all the way to the US from Asia. I’m not even sure he had the chance to read the letters, much less analyze them. So why did he go ahead with the talk? Because it was true, and nothing a pope could say or do is capable of changing that.
Thirdly, Silk finishes with a backhand, impugning those who hold to the Church’s — and Christ’s — teaching on the Sixth Commandment. He says we’re the one who will “abandon ship, and go into schism.”
Sorry, Mark. Can’t happen. Not going to happen. Burke’s on rock-solid doctrinal ground. St. Athanasius tread here before him, as did St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Thomas More, and St. John Fisher – among others. Holding fast to Christ cannot turn you into a schismatic.
Declaring that your particular Church in your particular country, however, is “not a subsidiary of Rome,” though? That’s what the German bishops did, and that’s textbook schism. You might want to refresh your memory on these issues, Mark, and take aim at them. (May I suggest taking the Catholicism 101 class they offer at Steubenville?)
What this amounts to is an attack that is absolutely breathtaking in either its dishonesty, or the inability of its author to grasp the Catholic religion, or both. This is, strangely, the phenomenon of Papal Positivism writ large, only this time coming from someone who, one suspects after reading a few of his columns, wouldn’t have been so sanguine about it when it was Pope Benedict issuing Summorum Pontificum. But he seems, like those Muslims who also do not believe in the True Faith, to accept the theological principle of abrogation, which holds that it is chronology, not precedent, which makes this or that doctrine more authoritative. See, for example, his post from two summers ago, in which he accuses Cardinal Dolan, of all people, of “dissing” the papacy. Citing Dolan’s assertion that the pope’s job is to “hand on, with its full purity and integrity, the teaching of the Church” and his contention that “He [the pope] can’t make it up, can’t change it”, Silk retorts:
Now that’s a pretty good description of the papal state of affairs 1,000 years ago, but beginning with the reform papacy of the 11th century, it all changed. Between Gregory VII and Innocent III, popes took it upon themselves to become the legislators of Christendom, and they never surrendered the claim to possess such plenitude of power.
Thus, in 1950, the year of Dolan’s birth, Pope Pius XII declared the Assumption of the Virgin to be a dogma of the Church, in the one and so far only formal exercise of papal infallibility. By saying that John Paul II had “definitively…closed the door to women priests,” Francis was himself pointing to the fact that popes determine church law.
Of course, over the centuries there have been Catholics who wished it were otherwise. And what with all the excitement Francis has generated among progressives, there’s doubtless some fear in conservative circles that he will make changes in church law that they won’t like. You’d almost think that Dolan, who’s always flown with the right wing, was substituting church doctrine with wishful thinking.
Fairweather über-ultramontanism is such weak sauce. It only ever applies when it’s your guy, not the other guy’s guy. But it doesn’t matter what anybody thinks, a pope can’t just make it up as he goes along. He doesn’t get to say something fundamentally opposed to something his predecessor said on matters of faith and morals and continue being called pope.
But as we all already knew, Dolan’s not “right wing,” and as we now know, Mark Silk isn’t a serious thinker about Catholicism. What we’re left with on the part of the latter is either malicious ignorance or willful slander against a Cardinal who will tell you, if you care to ask him, that he’s never uttered a word of criticism against the pope. (And believe me, I sometimes wish he would!)
Since Silk is listed as a founding editor of Religion News Service, and is clearly still involved in its operation, I’d recommend a certain amount of skepticism if you encounter their articles in the future.
As for Cardinal Burke and Steubenville? Silk owes them both an apology.
Cardinal Burke and the Synod
By Michael Voris, ChurchMilitant.TV, The Vortex, September 11, 2015 Video: 6:55
As October begins to appear on the horizon, the gloves are definitely coming off. Earlier this week at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke gave a speech to a packed auditorium in advance of next month’s Synod on the Family in Rome.
His Eminence first directed his keen insight toward the agenda for the upcoming synod, known as the Instrumentum Laboris, specifically on the question of annulments. He spoke directly of the great fear on the part of many of the faithful that various clerics were working to change the teachings of the Church with regard to marriage, and consequent issues like reception of Holy Communion by the divorced and remarried.
He said, stressed that the synod of bishops has no authority to change anything, and every Catholic needs to understand that specific point. The Synod cannot change anything — not one thing. All it can do is make recommendations. He pointed to the constant murmurings that they were going to change the Church’s teachings and practice as a reason to always keep in mind, regardless of what gets reported next month, they have no power whatsoever. That is not the point of a synod. The point is to assist the Holy Father in clarifying the teachings of the Church and making those unalterable teachings clearer to the world.
What can, however, be accomplished through the power of perception is to make it seem like they are changing things — and with some change-minded prelates, this is exactly what they want to do. They are dipping back into the old bag of tricks from Vatican II days (which changed nothing of Church teaching) and gave the impression that everything had or was changing.
The Church suffers greatly, he said, by a lack of canonical discipline — meaning ignoring the laws of the Church, many times simply out of a false sentimentality. The risk of sentimentalism is a great harm because of a severe lack of respect for the objective truth of the situation — in other words, a false compassion we have spoken of here with great frequency. This false sentimentalism, false compassion, false mercy fails to respect the truth of Christ.
He blasted attempts to portray the Church as needing to change to accommodate the culture. He called a spade a spade and said the culture is riddled with errors and confusion. It is the culture which needs to be brought to the truth of the Church, not the Church brought to the confusion and errors of the culture. Yes, we must go out to the periphery of society, but we must go with the full truth of Christ, not be prepared to welcome novelties into the Church that sow confusion.
He called out the rottenness of a situation where the entire process of annulment has become so misunderstood that it is viewed as “Catholic Divorce.” Many of the problems fall back on local bishops whom he charged with having poorly prepared staff, which cause great delays in the process. The flood of requests for annulments is itself indicative of a greater underlying problem: the disintegration of marriage and the family. The new evangelization must begin in the family and from there spread to the culture. If this does not happen, the culture will die.
The Church is faced with the great issue of the constant drumbeat of messages within the secular media causing confusion regarding even the very nature of the sexes. Many and various bishops, even cardinals, are prepared to try and destabilize all this next month in Rome. They want to get the Church, or again, at least give the impression that the Church is conforming itself to the world while at the same time leaving behind a proper Catholic identity as lived in Her teachings.
These plans on the part of various clerics actually defy the law of contradiction, which is that a thing cannot both be and not be at the same time. For example, a light bulb cannot be both on and off at the same time. When applied to the moral law, it is not possible for an action to be both moral and immoral at the same time. These various actions are kind of a theological case of having your cake and eating it, too.
His Eminence called it blatantly naïve to consider that a person living in sin can be treated as though he is not. A person cannot be both in sin and not in sin at the same time. He went straight to the heart of the common claim that since many people today don’t really understand the idea of the commitment and the necessary requirements to enter into the marital contract, then the marriage isn’t valid. He said this idea is false because it betrays the reality of natural law expressed in the sacred liturgy and the actual marriage ceremony. The spouses are asked to express their intentions, for example. To claim afterward that they did not intend to be married because they did not understand what they were entering into is a false argument. All the outward manifestations of the expressed intentions, the words of the ceremony, the homily given by the priest, etc. — how could a man and woman going through all this fail to understand what they are doing?
His Eminence did say that it is understandable that many people today, owing to various social circumstances like no-fault divorce, could simply disregard the notion of life-long commitment, but that does not make the marriage null.
As a final caution, call it a warning, he stressed that Catholics must be ready to suffer to defend marriage just as St. John the Baptist, St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More did in their days.
It’s less than three weeks until the showdown at the Synod. Pray very intensely.
5 out of 248 readers’ comments
1. It is becoming ever more the clearer that this is an attempt to undermine the Sacraments through presenting a false choice between being Merciful and defending the integrity of the Sacraments Jesus, Himself gave to us. After all who wants to be accused of choosing the less merciful option? It is a demonic choice, and those that use such tactics are evil, no matter their rank in the Church. Cardinal Burke has remained loyal to the teachings of Jesus when it hasn’t been necessary to directly confront the author of these sacrileges, it will be a good thing when the leaders of those who are attacking the Faith are more clearly identified. That will be his moment of truth. May God strengthen him when he faces that day. And let us hope Pope Benedict breaks his silence as he takes responsibility for his role in the dilemma which now faces the Sacramental Church. His hands are not clean, he must face this and choose to face the penance of confronting the forces which he allowed to take control of the Church upon his resignation. We need martyrs not cowards.
2. Cardinal Burke has displayed more courage and dignity these past months than I had thought possible from someone in his position. He has weathered slanderous attacks from the media—including being mocked mercilessly for daring to celebrate the traditional Latin Mass in full pontifical vestments (one writer, I can’t remember who, said Burke must enjoy playing “dress up,” or words to that effect)—and has been ostracized by most of his brother cardinals and bishops, and yet he still continues to preach the Truth. We must all continue to pray diligently for him, that he has the strength necessary to fight this battle in the trenches.
On another note, why in the world do so many within the Church believe that the Church must change to conform to the world? What exactly about the secular world is so wonderful, anyway? As an elementary school teacher, I have witnessed firsthand the horrors of the world’s approach to sexuality and marriage. Children born to men and women with no intention of getting married; children living with only their mothers trying to get by with almost no money; women bearing multiple children from multiple fathers, none of whom stay long enough to acknowledge the children they sire; children who are shell-shocked by their parents’ divorce and wonder why their parents no longer love them . . . The emotional damage inflicted upon these children is indescribable. It only makes my job more important, as I am probably the only male role model many of these children will ever see.
Have those pushing for this change in “pastoral approach” forgotten what St. Paul wrote to the Romans? “Be not conformed to this world; but be reformed in the newness of your mind, that you may prove what the good is, and the acceptable, and the perfect will of God.” (12:2) It doesn’t get any clearer than that.
3. Thank you GOD for Cardinal Raymond Burke and Michael Voris. They say it the way it is and I love that- no sugar coating anything, so we Catholics know where we stand. We know the TRUTH.
4. I don’t understand why we are having this Synod. The Pope well knows (the whole world knows) that the agenda pursued by liberal Cardinals he has given prominent positions in the Synod is (at least in large part) to permit active homosexuals and divorced and remarried persons to communion. Why hold a Synod to discuss this? Does the Pope want this advice? And want the whole world to know he’s received it? Because that is definitely what’s going to happen. It’s laughable to say hearing such council is being “open to the Holy Spirit.” Anyone with a remedial understanding of the Catholic faith knows the Holy Spirit does not advise steering personal or corporate (Church-wide) discipline toward acceptance of sin.
The Synod seems to me to be worse than a waste of time and money: it’s apparently the Church being open to permitting those living in unrepentant objectively grave sin to receive the Eucharist. If it’s possible for this not to leave all of them in a state of mortal sin (is it?), it cannot be said none of them will be in a state of mortal sin, in which case you’re talking about the Church sanctioning sacrilegious communions. That’s outrageous, a further scandal, and an even worse scandal than the Church apparently accepting practices steeped in sexual immorality. How can this do less than further erode and destroy faith in the Eucharist, which is arguably the center of the faith?
I have never been concerned the Church would change her teaching in these Synods “on the Family”. The Liberals themselves said they couldn’t and wouldn’t do that. But to even the most blind, Vatican II should have proven beyond all doubt it is unnecessary to change official Church teaching to wreak havoc in the Church and accomplish a fantastic degree of destruction of her from within. The liberal prelates know full well they need not change official teaching (which most Catholics don’t know anyway because they haven’t been catechized for the last 50+ years); they only need to give the appearance, and the collapse of the faith in the West (and probably elsewhere) will simply accelerate. I’m glad for Cardinal Burke’s defense of the faith, and I think he’s likely the best American cardinal we have, and one of the best in the Vatican — but his words are of no comfort to me, because they don’t address the real problem of the appearance of change this Synod CAN give.
So don’t tell me this Synod, given what’s planned to be discussed there, is for the good of souls. I’m going to laugh in your face. The stage is set for liberals to have part of or maybe all the limelight to discuss topics that will further undermine and destroy not just the family (which it’s ostensibly about) but the Church herself. Its primary purpose appears to be to give liberal prelates yet another chance (like they need more?) to carry out yet more destruction of the Church from within. Period. This Synod SHOULD discuss how to support the minority of faithful Catholic families still out there, especially in the West, as they are being attacked relentlessly from all sides and greatly need the Church’s support and defense. THAT would be pastoral. The liberal nonsense that the press, at least, will focus on at this council is ANTI-pastoral. The best thing they could do for families is to cancel the Synod and simply re-affirm Church teaching on sexual morality and marriage. It seems to me more than can be hoped for we will hear such a clear re-affirmation.
5. This is a rather long story but I will attempt to keep it short. The Communists (Marx, Lenin, and Stalin) were hopeful that a proletarian revolution would occur in which all nations would eventually join in a worker’s paradise on earth. After Stalin died, they realized that religion, especially Roman Catholicism, was the biggest obstacle to that humanistic paradise. So the decision was made for Communists to quietly join up with the Church as well as other groups that were not happy with the status quo i.e. homosexuals, women’s rights groups, minority groups, etc. They believed that they could ultimately have their workers’ paradise by destroying the church from within as well as destroying our morality by fighting for the unhappy groups of people I already mentioned. So they infiltrated the church and those groups. They are still doing this type of work via such groups as Black Lives Matter. Before a Communist paradise can occur, all things that were considered good and normal would have to be torn down – especially the belief in God. In the 1950’s one Communist lady in the Bronx assisted around 1000 men that were in reality Communists, atheists, and homosexuals to enter seminaries for the sole purpose of destroying the Church from within. These fake seminarians are now in the positions of bishops and cardinals today. I am not saying that there are not true godly churchmen still left (like Cardinal Burke), but there are many wolves in sheep’s clothing in our church hierarchy today. Why do you think so many people have bailed out of our church especially due to the priest sexual abuse cases? All of this is not accidental; it was well thought out. So in our church hierarchy there are some real Catholic traditionalists and many agents of anarchy (anti-church plants).
The American Council of Churches, a group of Protestant Churches, was also infiltrated by the undercover Communist agents. The fruit of this infiltration is evident by the general acceptance of abortion, divorce, and homosexuality within those churches. The Communist method for the past 50 or 60 years, is no longer revolution but gradual evolution within these organizations and churches. So far, they are winning the fight. Just look at the many problems with our church and within society at this time. Our president is well educated in this type of Communist agenda and he is very effective at it.
Prelates Speak Out About Synod!
September 11, 2015
The Polish language magazine, Polonia Christiana
has just released an explosive documentary about the upcoming Extraordinary Synod on the Family in Rome in October 4-25. Titled “Crisis: Where Will the Synod Lead Us?” the film focuses on the extent of the crisis in the Church in face of the synod. It features interviews with Raymond Cardinal Burke, Bishop Athanasius Schneider and Archbishop Jan Pawel Lenga.
Don’t miss the opportunity to view this hard-hitting video at the link below.
• Prelates Speak Out In Video about Synod
Cardinal Burke warns that the Church is facing “a critical moment” in which “we may have to give our all to safeguard and promote the truth of the Faith, not only for own salvation but for the salvation of our world and for the generations to come.”
Bishop Schneider, auxiliary bishop of Astana, Kazakhstan, reports that the Church is “not the Church of the bishops, and of the Pope. The Church is of Christ. This is very important to stress. The Church is the Church of Christ, and Christ is the head of the Church. He is the boss, and He remains the boss, even when there is so much confusion and so unworthy representatives of Him. He manages to guide His Church because He is God.” The prelate also reminded viewers that Christ taught, and Saint Paul demonstrated, that “when the faithful notice something that is evidently not correct, like these manipulations [at the synod], we have to speak against this. It is not correct [to have this] in the Church.”
Archbishop Jan Pawel Lenga is bishop emeritus of Karaganda, Kazakhstan. He claims that in churches today “Christ is no longer proclaimed. They don’t speak any more like Christ — yes, yes, no, no.” There are many that cause “a silence to arise around sin, the tone is quieted down. Sin is what you want it to be.”
“If it [the Synod] accepts the statement of those who want to distribute Holy Communion to the divorced, it would be a heresy in the Church. And if it does not accept, there can be a schism in the Church. German, Belgian, and Dutch schism.”
Many other insights are featured in the 40-minute documentary with English subtitles. The video can be viewed above.
Tradition Family Property
Explosive video: Pope ‘will show whose side he’s on’ during Synod, says archbishop
By John-Henry Westen, September 10, 2015
(LifeSiteNews) The first hard-hitting words by orthodox cardinals and archbishops about the “current crisis” in the Catholic Church have been sounded. Previous comments by Vatican Cardinal Raymond Burke have been more guarded but as the Synod nears, the reality of a looming schism in the Church has pushed him and other Church leaders to a painful willingness to be frank in publicly warning about the seriousness of what is facing the Church.
Speaking to the idea proposed in the mid-term report of the 2014 Extraordinary Synod on the Family and repeated by various bishops’ conferences, he says, “It is heresy to teach that homosexual relations are not disordinate or are not disordered or have positive elements.”
The comments come in a newly released video by the Polish publication Polonia Christiana called Crisis in the Church. In addition to Cardinal Burke, the video features Archbishop Jan Pawel Lenga, who takes aim at Cardinal Reinhard Marx, president of the German bishops’ conference and one of Pope Francis’ Council of Nine advisors. Speaking of Marx’s acceptance of communion for remarried divorcees and his statement that the Church in Germany “is not a subsidiary of Rome,” Archbishop Lenga said, “There was Marx, Karl Marx. And if present Marx says similar things, then there is no real difference.”
Lenga, the emeritus archbishop of Karaganda, Kazakhstan, added that if the Church in Germany thinks they are so superior, “it’s some kind of Phantom, we should chase it away by the sign of the Cross.”
“The Pope during the Synod will show whose side he is on,” said Archbishop Lenga. “If he accepts the statement of those who want to distribute Holy Communion to the divorced, there would be a heresy in the Church, and if he does not accept, there could be a schism in the Church.”
Lenga concluded, “Either we are on the side of Christ, or on the side of the devil. There is no third option. The common people are sometimes closer to Christ than priests.”
Athanasius Schneider, auxiliary bishop of Astana, Kazakhstan, who has been a spokesman for orthodoxy during the Synod crisis like few others in the hierarchy, says we are “already living in the time of schism” and points directly at Cardinal Walter Kasper as one of the main culprits.
“These false words will be revealed,” he says. “Christ said all that is hidden will be revealed and these strategies of Cardinal Kasper and his group will be revealed as a lie, a strategy that is against the spirit of Christ and the apostles.”
Cardinal Burke concurs that “we’re in a time of crisis within the church,” suggesting that “we may have to give our all (including our very lives) to safeguard and promote the truth of the faith not only for ourselves and our own generation but also for those to come.”
Burke is blunt about the current state of the Church confronting heretical positions coming from those high up in its leadership. “If this means that Cardinals will be opposed to Cardinals then we simply have to accept the fact that that’s the situation in which we find ourselves,” he said. “Certainly for my part I don’t look for this kind of conflict but in defending the truth of the faith I end up in a disagreement or conflict with another conflict. What has to be primary to me is the truth of the faith.”
See the whole video here: http://lifesitenews.us1.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=3b519162c561a81f1ee4736a3&id=929f8abacb&e=fc7b5b6f53
It is a downright shame that the faithful have to wait for the 2015 October Synod for Pope Francis to “show whose side he’s on”! He should be on the side of Divine Revelation, Tradition and the teaching Magisterium.
One wouldn’t have had the same uncertainty with Popes like Leo XIII, Pius IX & Pius X among many others.
Praise and thank God for conservative prelates like Cardinal Raymond Burke, Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Cardinal George Pell, Cardinal Peter Erdö, Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, Cardinal Robert Sarah, Cardinal Jorge Medina, Cardinal Ricardo Vidal, Cardinal Alexandre José Maria dos Santos, Cardinal Jānis Pujats, Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, C.S., Archbishop Jan Pawel Lenga, Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, Archbishop Cyril Vasil’, Archbishop Henryk Hoser, Auxiliary Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Bishop Jan Watroba, and others.
I am confident that the liberals and so-called progressives such as Cardinal Walter Kasper, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Cardinal Georges Cottier, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, Cardinal Godfried Danneels, 5. Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop Bruno Forte, Archbishop Sanchez Sorondo, Archbishop Georges Pontier, Bishop Markus Büchel, Bishop Heiner Koch, Bishop Johann Jozef Bonny, Bishop Felix Gmür, and their ilk will fail in their objective to effect changes in the canons pertaining to sexual morality of the Roman Catholic Church. -Michael
Dr. Rick Fitzgibbons: Quick and easy annulments pose grave risks to the family
By Rick Fitzgibbons, September 10, 2015
(LifeSiteNews) This week Pope Francis announced sweeping changes to canon law that will make it almost as quick and easy for Catholics to get their marriage “annulled” as it is to get a no-fault civil divorce.
The indissolubility of sacramental marriage, the annulment process, civil divorce, “remarriage” and reception of the Eucharist by civilly divorced Catholics were hotly contested subjects in the months leading up to and during the October 2014 Extraordinary Synod on the Family. Many observers have anticipated a rigorous defense of sacramental marriage at the upcoming Synod this October. Instead, it appears that Pope Francis has now mooted much of the expected agenda by adopting a streamlined process to determine the nullity of Catholic sacramental marriages along the lines presented by German Cardinal Walter Kasper in February 2014.
Readers may recall that Cardinal Kasper proposed that diocesan bishops entrust the nullity process to one priest who has spiritual and pastoral experience as a penitentiary or episcopal vicar. Presently, several priests, as well as lay canon lawyers, are involved in the extensive investigative process of determining the validity of a sacramental marriage. No longer would a second tribunal be required to confirm the decision of the original tribunal. Speed and, perhaps, letting “remarried” people receive the Eucharist seem to have become higher priorities than finding the truth and healing the original marriage.
At the Synod last year many Cardinals and experts among clergy raised serious concerns over proposals to streamline the annulment process and to permit reception of the Eucharist by civilly divorced and remarried Catholics. Five Cardinals critiqued these proposals in Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion.
Another critique of the recommendation to streamline annulments was written by Msgr. Cormac Burke, a former judge on the Roman Rota, the Church’s High Court. He points out that annulments negatively impact family life. Hence, proposals to make them more “available” seem counter to the stated principles of the Synod on the Family.
Social scientists, too, have raised concerns about making it easier for those in troubled marriages to obtain annulments. Research findings supporting their view include the following:
unhappiness and a desire to divorce often arise from complex (and often unconscious) psychological conflicts from childhood and adult life that can be addressed, resolved and result in the marriage being strengthened;
two-thirds of divorces occur in marriages with low levels of conflict, and wives initiate two-thirds of divorces;
50 percent of divorces are forced on a spouse who opposes the process and wants to work to save the marriage;
a large body of social science research demonstrates that marital conflicts can be resolved;
the current psychological evaluation of spouses who apply for annulment is inadequate;
the proportion of emotionally troubled adults is around three times as great among those whose parents divorced as among those from intact families. No amount of success in adulthood can compensate for an unhappy childhood or erase the memory of the pain and confusion of the divided world of the child of divorce, according to the research of the late, distinguished family scholar from the University of Texas, Dr. Glenn Norval;
males from divorced families are particularly vulnerable to severe depression, having three times the odds of suicidal ideation in comparison to men whose parents had not divorced. [Fuller-Thomson, E. & Dalton, A.D. (2011) “Suicidal ideation among individuals whose parents have divorced: Findings from a representative Canadian community survey.” Psychiatry Research: 187:150-155.];
Since 1974, about 1 million children per year have seen their parents divorce — and children who are exposed to divorce are two to three times more likely than their peers in intact marriages to suffer from serious social or psychological pathologies.
In addition, the research of family scholar Elizabeth Marquardt has documented numerous cases of conflict in the spiritual lives of children of divorce. [Marquardt, “Between Two Worlds,” pp. 135-168.] Some described how their bitter anger toward their parents led them to deny the existence of a caring God. Marquardt noted, moreover, that the children of divorce frequently reported the sad fact that religious leaders rarely approached them or responded to their troubled questions.
the social scientific bottom line is this: From America to Africa, the divorce revolution has exacted a devastating price on those who can least afford it, namely, children and the poor.
Wilcox cited a new study that found child mortality to be significantly higher in children of divorce in many countries. In Kenya, for instance, children are 75% more likely to die if they grow up in a divorced home, compared to a married home, even after controlling for socio-demographic factors. Wilcox recommended that
Pope Francis would do well not to simply accommodate the divorce revolution that has “put asunder” millions of families across the globe, but rather to search for new ways to make the [Church’s] plan [for marriage] visible, achievable, and attractive to the more than one billion Catholics in his global flock.
Causes of Divorce
In order to evaluate grounds for declaring a sacrament of marriage null it is essential to evaluate the cause of the divorce. In my forty years of clinical experience working with marriages in conflict, this process is essential and cannot be done quickly. In fact, Marriage Tribunals have often consulted with mental health professionals who have done evaluations of each spouse. One priest is not qualified alone to evaluate the conflicts that contributed to the divorce and also then make a decision on nullity.
A 2010 study of 886 Minnesotans who filed for divorce revealed that the most common reasons given for seeking divorce are capable of being resolved: 53% identified “not being able to talk together” as a major contributing factor to the decision to divorce; “growing apart” was cited by 55 percent; and insufficient attention and infidelity by 34 percent. (Alan J. Hawkins, Brian J. Willoughby & William Doherty, “Reasons for Divorce and Openness to Marital Reconciliation,” Journal of Divorce & Remarriage 53, no.6 (2012): 453-463.)
These common conflicts can arise due to modeling after a similar weakness in a parent – from unresolved anger and the loss of trust, from giving in to selfishness, from controlling behaviors or from a weakness in faith and failure to rely upon the Lord’s love and grace.
In our experience, and in that of many Christian mental health professionals who work with married couples, these conflicts can be resolved and divorce can be prevented. At a time when we are witnessing a doubling of the divorce rate in the past two decades among adults over 35, the Church should have as its major focus the strengthening of marriages rather than focusing on making annulments easier to obtain.
Greater knowledge of marital and family of origin conflicts
Improvements should be made in the annulment process, for example, requiring that husband and wife individually identify the following: his/her primary weakness in self-giving; which parent disappointed him/her the most; and who had the greatest weakness in self-giving in the family of origin history, which disappointed him/her the most. This background information is critical in the annulment process because psychological research has demonstrated that approximately 70 percent of adult psychological conflicts arise from unresolved childhood and adolescent conflicts. In other words, many spouses are unhappy, mistrustful, unfulfilled and angry because they lack self-knowledge about the weaknesses they brought into their marriages from their family background or from a previous loving relationship.
These weaknesses can be identified by reviewing the “secure attachment relationship” with each parent in regard to the degree of warmth, love, trust and affection experienced in those relationships. The relationship in which unresolved emotional pain emerges most frequently is in the father relationship. Deep emotional wounds of sadness, anger, mistrust and insecurity are unconsciously misdirected toward one’s spouse. A recommendation to work on a process of forgiveness can free the spouse from being under the control of past emotional pain. (“Forgiveness Therapy: An Empirical Guide for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope“) As Pope St. John Paul II wisely wrote, “without forgiveness one remains a prisoner of the past.”
Recommended Changes to the Annulment Process
To secure justice and protect spouses, children, the sacrament of marriage and the culture, several steps should be taken. Most importantly, the spouse who seeks an annulment should not be permitted to begin the process until there is clear knowledge of how this person’s emotional weaknesses and conflicts contributed to the marital stress and the divorce.
In addition, the petitioner should be required to demonstrate that he/she has made at least two years of effort in addressing the petitioner’s weaknesses and those of his/her spouse.
Too often the petitioning spouse presents himself or herself as the victim of insensitive treatment by the other spouse without ever discussing his/her weaknesses in self-giving that contributed to the marital conflicts. In fact, many spouses who wounded their marriages by their emotionally distant, controlling, angry, and selfish behaviors nevertheless feel entitled to an annulment and are often granted them.
In the experience of many Catholic marital therapists, spouses and family members, annulments are being granted in marriages in which the conflicts can be resolved. One of the major reasons for failing to work to resolve the conflicts is selfishness, often described as the major enemy of marital love.
A more rigorous process of annulment is needed that requires applicants to prove that they have addressed their own psychological weaknesses, rather than allowing them to solely blame their spouse for the marital stress.
A critical issue that needs to be evaluated is whether the applicant’s unhappiness and emotional pain is primarily the result of marital conflicts or primarily due to unresolved family of origin issues. Qualified mental health professionals can assist those who serve on tribunals in creating such an evaluation process.
Applicants for annulments can also be helped by reviewing the Church’s teaching on marriage and its indissolubility. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states,
The love of the spouses requires, of its very nature, the unity and indissolubility of the spouses’ community of persons, which embraces their entire life: ‘so they are no longer two, but one flesh.’ They ‘are called to grow continually in their communion through day-to-day fidelity to their marriage promise of total mutual self-giving.’ This human communion is confirmed, purified, and completed by communion in Jesus Christ, given through the sacrament of Matrimony. It is deepened by lives of the common faith and by the Eucharist received together (no. 1644).
Pope St. John Paul II has written that:
The Catholic Church is the only institution in the world who continues to defend the indissolubility of marriage; it holds marriage to be a sacrament that through Christ’s grace present to us in the Holy Spirit should last a lifetime as it was meant to from the beginning.”
(“Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body,” 99:6; 100:4).
The annulment process requires extensive investigative work by qualified priests and laymen. Making annulments easier to obtain will interfere with Catholics engaging in the hard work of overcoming their personal and marital conflicts. Catholic marriages and children need to be protected. The Church needs to work to support and strengthen marriages and to encourage growth in total mutual self-giving and in resolving the weaknesses in spouses that interfere with such giving rather than attempting to make it easier to obtain annulments.
Cardinal Burke had grave reservations on the same annulment proposals Pope Francis just enshrined
By John-Henry Westen, Steubenville, Ohio, September 9, 2015
(LifeSiteNews) Speaking yesterday at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Cardinal Raymond Burke expressed grave reservations about the very proposals that were released the same day in Pope Francis’ Motu Proprio concerning annulments in the Catholic Church.
Burke was addressing those proposals as outlined in the reports from the 2014 Extraordinary Synod on the Family which took place last October, and not the Motu Proprio, since his prepared remarks predated yesterday’s release of the Motu Proprio. The crowd was directed to refrain from asking questions on the Motu proprio as the cardinal had not had time to review it sufficiently.
The most startling changes in the annulment procedure were to drastically lessen the time for acquiring an annulment to as little as 45 days. Moreover, the Motu Proprio eliminated the need for a second confirming judgment and left to the local bishop rather than canonical judges, the decision on annulments. Speaking of similar proposals as part of the Synod documentation and not as part of the Motu Proprio, Burke noted that the canonical procedures had been developed over centuries to give certainty of arriving at the truth.
He stressed the importance of determining the truth on the matter, noting that it deals with the “salvation of souls.”
Burke noted that similar proposals to alter the process along the lines that were suggested at the Synod (and now implemented in the Motu Proprio) were also proposed before the 1983 reformation of canon law and were rejected by Pope St. John Paul II. Moreover Burke noted that the Vatican already attempted a lessening of the procedures for the United States in the 70s and early 80s, leading to an impression of “Catholic divorce.”
Burke firmly rejected the notion that people could be too weak to conform to God’s law on marriage, saying that Our Lord has assured us that He gives to us all the grace we need to live our lives in His will.
“In the present moment when the attacks on matrimony and on the family even within the Church seem the most ferocious,” he said, “it is the Church who must show to the whole of society the truth in all its richness and thus the beauty and the richness of the truth about marriage.”
“The Synod Fathers and all faithful Christians must be willing to suffer,” he added, “to honor and foster Holy matrimony.”
He warned that “confusion and error on holy matrimony” are being “sown by Satan in society and in the Church.” Marriage, he said is “under a ferocious and diabolical attack.”
Responding to Church leaders who have called for false accommodation with the world, even for silence in the face of homosexual liaisons being accepted as “marriage,” he said we must “call things by their proper name in order not to risk contributing to confusion and error.” That, “according to Divine wisdom, the Church must always speak the truth with love.”
Catholic Divorce Arrives: The Papal Marriage Annulment Reforms are a Wound Inflicted on Christian Marriage
By Robert de Mattei, Corrispondenza Romana,
September 9, 2015 (All emphases theirs)
Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letters given Motu Proprio Mitis iudex Dominus Iesus, for the Latin Church, and Mitis et misericors Iesu, for the Oriental Churches, made public on September 8, 2015, inflict a grave wound on Christian Marriage.
The indissolubility of marriage is a Divine and unmodifiable law of Jesus Christ. The Church cannot “annul” a marriage in the sense of dissolving it. She can, through a declaration of nullity, verify its inexistence, due to the lack of those requisites which assure its validity. Which means that in the canonical process, the Church’s priority is not the interests of the spouses to obtain the declaration of nullity, but the validity of the marriage bond itself. Pius XII, regarding this, reminds us that:
“in the matrimonial process the one final end is the judgment in compliance with the truth and the law, consisting, within the procedure of nullity, of the assertion of the non-existence of the marital bond” (Allocution to the Roman Rota, October 2nd 1944).
The faithful can deceive the Church in order to obtain the annulment: for example, by using false witnesses, but the Church cannot fool God and has the duty of rigorously verifying the clear and precise truth.
In the canonical process, what has to be defended first of all is the supreme interest of the Divine institution which marriage is. The recognition and protection of this reality are formulated in the juridical sphere with the concise expression favor matrimonii, that is, the presumption, until proven otherwise, of the validity of the marriage. John Paul II explained well that indissolubility is presented by the Magisterium as the ordinary law of every celebrated marriage, precisely because the validity is presupposed, apart from what takes place in the conjugal life itself and of the possibility, in some cases, of the declaration of nullity. (Speech to the Roman Rota, January 21st, 2000).
When the Enlightenment attempted to deal a death-blow to Christian marriage, Pope Benedict XIV with the decree Dei miseratione, of November 3, 1741, ordered that there be nominated a defensor vinculi to every diocese, and, introduced the principle of the necessary conformity of the sentences on two levels of ascertainment, in order to obtain the declaration of nullity. The principle of the double-sentence in conformity [i.e. double confirmation] was consecrated by the 1917 Code of Canon Law and received into the codification promulgated by John Paul II on January 25, 1983.
In Pope Francis’ Motu Proprio this view has been overturned. The interest of the spouses has primacy over that of marriage. It is the document itself that affirms this, by summarizing the fundamental criteria of the reform in these points: the abolition of the double-sentence in conformity, substituted by only one sentence in favor of the enforceability of the annulment; the attribution of monocratic power to the bishop, qualified as sole judge; the introduction of an expedite process [brevior], de facto uncontrollable, with the substantial downsizing of the role of the Roman Rota.
How else, for example, can the abolition of the double-sentence be interpreted? What are the grave reasons for which – after 270 years – this principle has been abrogated?
Regarding this, Cardinal Burke recalled a catastrophic experience. In the United States from July 1971, the so-called Provisional Norms came into effect, which eliminated de facto the obligatory double conforming sentences. The result was that the Episcopal Conference did not negate one single request for dispensation among the hundreds of thousands received, and, in the common perception, this process began to be called “Catholic Divorce” (Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church, Cantagalli, Siena 2014, pp. 222-223).
Graver still, is the attribution to the diocesan bishop of the faculty, as sole judge, of instructing, at his discretion, a short process to reach a decision. The bishop may exercise personally his jurisdictional power or delegate it to a commission, not necessarily made up of lawyers. A commission formed in his own image which will naturally follow his pastoral indications, as already happens with the “diocesan counseling centers”, which still today are devoid of any juridical competence.
The combination between Canon 1683 and article 14 on the procedural rules in this respect has a shocking implication. Upon the decisions there will inevitably weigh considerations of a sociological nature: the divorced and remarried will have, for reasons of ‘mercy’, preferential treatment. “The Church of Mercy – notes Giuliano Ferrara – “has started its race” (“Il Foglio” September 9, 2015). It is not racing along an administrative road, but a “juridical one” where there is very little left that remains juridical.
In some dioceses the bishops will try to guarantee the seriousness of the procedure, but it is easy to imagine that in many other dioceses, for example, those in Central-Europe, the declaration of annulment will become a pure formality. In 1993 Oskar Saier, Archbishop of Friburg, Karl Lehman, Bishop of Mainz and Walter Kasper, Bishop of Rottenburg-Stuutgart, produced a document in favor of those that were certain in conscience of the nullity of their marriage but did not have the elements to prove it in court (Bishops of Oberrhein, Pastoral Care for the Divorced, “Il Regno – Documenti” (The Kingdom Documents), 38 (1993), pp. 613-622).
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith replied with the Letter Annus Internationalis Familiae, of September 14, 1994, affirming that this way was not practicable, as marriage is a public reality: “not recognizing this essential aspect would mean denying the fact that marriage exists as a reality of the Church, that is to say, as a Sacrament.”
Nevertheless, the proposal has been taken up again recently by the pastoral office of the Diocese of Freiburg (Orientation for pastoral care of the divorced “The Kingdom Documents”, 58 (2013), pp. 631-639), according to which the divorced and remarried, following the “conscience-nullifying” of the previous marriage, will be able to receive the Sacraments and have assignments inside parish councils.
Favor matrimonii is substituted for favor nullitatis, which comes to be the primary element of the law, while indissolubility is reduced to an impracticable “ideal”. The theoretical affirmation of indissolubility of marriage, is accompanied in practice with the right to a declaration of nullity for every failed marital bond. It will be enough, in conscience, to deem one’s own marriage invalid, in order to have it recognized as null by the Church. It is the same principle with which some theologians consider a marriage “dead”, where according to both, or one of the spouses, “love has died”.
On January 29, 2010, Benedict XVI exhorted the Tribunal of the Roman Rota not to indulge in the annulment of marriages in “compliance with the wishes and expectations of the parties, nor to the conditions of the social environment”. But in the dioceses of Central-Europe, the declaration of nullity will become a purely formal act, as occurred in the United States at the time of the Provisional Norms. According to the well-known [Gresham’s] law, that says: “bad money takes the place of good money”, in the chaos that is coming, “quick divorce” is destined to prevail over indissoluble marriage.
We have been hearing talk of a latent schism in the Church for more than a year, but now the one to say this is Cardinal Gerhard Müller, Prefect for the Congregation of the Faith. In one of his discourses at Regensburg he warned of the risk of division in the Church, inviting careful vigilance, without forgetting the lesson of the Protestant Schism which set Europe on fire five hundred years ago.
On the eve of the October Synod on the Family, Pope Francis’ reform does not extinguish any fire, but feeds it and paves the way for other disastrous innovations. Silence is no longer possible.
[Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana]
Pope’s doctrine chief warns of possible ‘schism’ in the Church like Protestant split
By Maike Hickson, Regensburg, Germany, September 8, 2015
(LifeSiteNews) In a move that is making headlines in Germany, the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has said German bishops are leading the Church to a schism.
Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Mueller is warning that the tendency of German bishops to divide doctrine from pastoral practice is not unlike the abuses surrounding the Protestant split in 1517. One should “be very vigilant and not forget the lesson of Church history,” he said.
Last week, in a speech at the release of the German version of Cardinal Robert Sarah’s new book God or Nothing in Regensburg, Germany, Cardinal Mueller criticized “a climate of the German claim to leadership for the Universal Church.” According to the German newspaper Die Tagespost, Mueller said that he is frequently asked why German bishops claim to be leaders of the Catholic Church — while flouting teachings on marriage and sexuality — despite overseeing dramatic reductions in church attendance, shrinking numbers of seminarians, and a drop in vocations to religious orders.
Mueller also said that predictions of a worldwide collapse in Christianity, as has taken place in Europe, were premature. “We should not predict for others that it will all develop as it has developed with us [in Europe] – as if de-Christianization is a process according to a law in nature. No. With the help of the Faith, one can move mountains,” he explained.
Only with the help of a “strong new evangelization with an apostolic courage and zeal,” can weakness in Germany’s Christianity be reversed, explained Mueller. However, such zeal faces an enormous challenge that he described as “an ideological constrictedness,” according to which the truth and the unity of the Church shall be sacrificed in order to achieve a change at least in the field of pastoral care.
Mueller specifically identified allowing “remarried” Catholics to receive the Eucharist, as well as accepting a redefinition of marriage, as challenges to overcome. “One tries, with all means – with the help of exegesis, history, dogmatic history, and with reference to psychology and sociology – to deconstruct and relativize the Catholic teaching on marriage which comes from the teaching of Jesus, and this only in order that the Church appears to conform with society,” he said.
“He who remains faithful to the teaching of the Church is attacked by the media, and even defamed as an opponent of the pope,” Mueller said, “as if the pope and all the bishops in union with him were not witnesses of the revealed truth which has been entrusted to them so that it does not run the risk of being leveled down by men to a human measure.”
“We may not deceive the people, when it comes to the sacramentality of marriage, its indissolubility, its openness toward the child, and the fundamental complementarity of the two sexes,” he firmly stated. “Pastoral case has to keep in view the eternal salvation,” as opposed to a desire to be popular or accepted in the world.
German bishops cannot separate themselves from the Universal Church, said Mueller. The nation’s Catholic leaders must be “very attentive and [not] forget the lesson of the history of the Church.”
Many German bishops have declared that “life realities” must be taken into account as part of Church teaching and salvation. However, Mueller said the goal should not be “about adapting the Revelation to the world, but … about gaining the world for God.”
The Rigging of a Vatican Synod?
By Edward Pentin, September 2, 2015
The release of the “explosive” interim report during last year’s synod provoked allegations of a rigged process—but that was just the beginning. An exclusive excerpt from a new investigation into what went on at the headline-making meeting of bishops.
[Editor’s note: The III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family that took place in October 2014 was controversial not only for the subject matter it discussed, but also for the way it was run. To find out what really went on before, during, and after that heated fortnight, renowned reporter and analyst Edward Pentin spent months speaking to many of those who were there and piecing together what happened behind the closed doors of the Vatican’s Synod Hall. His findings have been published in a new book, The Rigging of a Vatican Synod? An Investigation of Alleged Manipulation at the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, available now as an e-book from Ignatius Press.
In this exclusive excerpt, Pentin examines one of the most controversial aspects of last year’s synod: the notorious Relatio post disceptationem, or interim report, released half-way through the synod discussions.]
The Interim Report
What had provoked many to allege rigging of the meeting, both inside and outside the synod hall, was the publication on October 13 of the Relatio post disceptationem, or interim report, on the first week of the synod’s discussions.
Many synod fathers were angry that the Relatio did not represent the majority view of the synod’s participants or the discussion that had occurred during the week and was issued without them seeing it.
George Cardinal Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, was the first to protest in a debate in the aula on the day of the Relatio‘s release, followed by a number of heated interventions. Concerned that the report would go out without anyone remarking on it, he pointed out what was good about the report, but he also noted some serious deficiencies in the text. The Australian cardinal had to persist in his protest in the face of the synod managers who would have liked him to be quiet, sources who were present said.
In a television interview on October 16 with Catholic News Service, Cardinal Pell said the document was “tendentious, skewed, it didn’t represent accurately the feelings of the synod fathers.” He said “three-quarters” of those who discussed it afterward “had some problems with the document”. He added that “a major absence” in the document was scriptural teaching and “a treatment of the Church tradition”.
“It was as though there was an idealized vision of every imperfect situation”, Cardinal Pell said. “One father said to me…that he wouldn’t want his young adult children to read it because they’d be confused, and that was said in some of the working groups.”
The interim report “created an impression that the teaching of the Church has been merciless so far, as if the teaching of mercy were beginning only now”, said Polish Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki of Poznan.
At issue were three controversial paragraphs the contents of which had been barely, or not at all, discussed by the synod fathers. One of these paragraphs referred to proposals, supposedly made by some of the synod participants, for readmission of divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to Holy Communion, and two other paragraphs dealt with the pastoral care of homosexuals and cohabiting couples.
The most contentious paragraphs were under the heading “Welcoming homosexuals“.
The section started off by saying homosexuals “have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community”, adding: “Are our communities capable of providing (a welcoming home), accepting and valuing their sexual orientation without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?”
It continued: “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.”
Critics pointed out that there was no reference to Catholic doctrine that sexual relations between people of the same sex are “intrinsically disordered“, that the acts are gravely sinful (or sinful at all), or that homosexual orientation was “objectively disordered”.
In an interview on October 17, Raymond Cardinal Burke described the interim report as a “gravely flawed document that does not express adequately the teaching and discipline of the Church and, in some aspects, propagates doctrinal error and a false pastoral approach”.
Trying to explain how the document came to be, Peter Cardinal Erdö told Vatican Radio that the sixteen officials who drafted the report struggled to synthesize the positions of thirty to forty bishops on any given topic and rushed to finish it on time. He acknowledged that there may have been instances when the report said “many” bishops had proposed a certain position when only “some” had, the Associated Press reported.
Archbishop Bruno Forte, the synod’s special secretary, was widely considered to have been the main author of the document. He had been known for his “progressive” positions and for earnestly promoting changes in pastoral practice toward people in “irregular” unions, while claiming these changes are true to Catholic doctrine.
The Italian theologian, together with all the members of the drafting committee, drew on the lengthy written speeches of each synod father submitted prior to the meeting. Apparently, certain points from these written speeches found their way into the draft report, even if the bishops had not mentioned them during the four minutes allotted to each speaker.
Vatican spokesman Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi said he recalled only one speech out of about 265 that discussed homosexuals during the debate.
Defenders of the report, therefore, say it is not surprising that much did not seem familiar in the interim report because the written submissions were not made public or distributed to the bishops themselves. The oral presentations only reflected a summary or particular point that a bishop wanted to make. As none of the verbal interventions was transcribed, it would also have been difficult to work on summarizing every synod father’s submitted intervention and then adjust it as the synod went on according to what the synod father said in the synod hall. Also, as the interim document, it had to be produced quickly so it could form the basis of discussions for the second week.
Father Stephen Fawcett, an assistant at the synod responsible for keeping an official diary of the entire proceedings, said that “in fairness to them [those who drafted the report], it was a huge task because you had the Lineamenta [guidelines for the synod] that came out beforehand and was seventy-five pages long. Then you had 182 synod fathers making 189 inputs. There were also five hours of free debate, and in forty-eight hours they had to summarize accurately all of that into fourteen pages in five languages. That’s a hard task.”
But he added: “On the other side, I don’t think anyone could say it was all a summary of the discussions. It just was not.”
The inclusion of the homosexual issue into the interim document seemed to upset Cardinal Erdö, who, as general relator, was responsible for the document’s contents. This, too, made many critics suspect that some kind of manipulation had taken place. Asked about the relevant paragraph during an October 13 press briefing on the report, he handed the floor to Forte, saying: “He who wrote the text must know what it is talking about.”
Associated Press reporter Nicole Winfield wrote that there was “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”. As time went on, however, it was revealed that during the first week at most only three synod fathers referred to the same-sex issue. According to one source who was present in the synod hall, it “wasn’t an issue”, but was “made into an issue by the way the report was handled by the synod managers.” One synod participant, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Church is normally “very accurate” in the words she chooses, and “we never use that language.” Those paragraphs, he said, “didn’t even come close to coming up, so it’s not realistic to think that phrase was accidentally introduced.” He said the passages “bore no relation” to the Lineamenta or the discussions but “came out of the blue.”
Speaking to reporters the day after the report was made public, Wilfrid Cardinal Napier, the archbishop of Durban, said the document was not what they were saying at all, adding: “Just like you, I was surprised that it was published.” He said the media saw the document “before we got it, so we couldn’t have possibly agreed on it.”
One eyewitness at the synod on the morning of the release of the interim Relatio
recalled a synod father commenting, after hearing the document read out in the synod hall, that he would be “nervous about this document if it was going to go to the press”.
“Is it?” he asked the synod managers. “Err, it already has”, one of them replied, according to the eyewitness, adding: “We sent it to the press before we read it to you.”
The six-thousand-word Relatio was also translated into several languages just forty-eight hours after it was published. For many critics, this amounts to further evidence that at least some of it had been written before the first week of discussions had ended or possibly even before the synod had even started.
Cardinal Napier, one of the fifteen members of the permanent council of the synod, noted how the interim report was received by the media, which portrayed the Church as making a “stunning” and “revolutionary” step toward accepting homosexual activity as morally legitimate. Once such media perceptions are “out there”, he observed, “there’s no way of retrieving them.”
For critics, it is clear that anyone with foreknowledge of the Relatio could have predicted the media’s response. Even Father Lombardi admitted as much at a press conference on October 15, telling reporters it was “something all of us with anything to do with communications could have foreseen.” So it seems reasonable to conclude that whoever was behind the release of the document to the media most likely knew the impact it would have and effectively sent it over the heads of the synod fathers in addition, it seemed at the time, to that of the pope.
Behind the scenes, synod officials came under fire from synod participants for the way the interim report was communicated, with some arguing that the incident highlighted the need for a decisive synod communications strategy. “No interim report has ever generated news—ever”, observed Austen Ivereigh, author of The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope. “They should have anticipated it.”
Ivereigh, who is also co-founder of Catholic Voices, a group aimed at improving the Church’s representation in the media, believes it highly unlikely that the report was part of a wider strategy to influence public opinion in order to put pressure on the Church to change, as that would not be consistent with the personality of Francis.
“If some people in the synod were trying to do that, or thought that is what really would happen, they really don’t get Francis and they don’t understand the Church.” Francis, he said, “would abhor any attempt to put pressure on the synod from the outside, to an extent that I think would surprise people.” Ivereigh, a former deputy editor of The Tablet, said the pope “hates the idea of lobby groups, self-interested groups, ideological groups.”
At the time of the publication of the interim report, the Vatican would not be explicit about whether the pope had seen it prior to publication. When I asked Father Lombardi at a press conference on October 15 if Pope Francis had read it before it was published, the Vatican spokesman said he was tired of simply having to reiterate that it was standard procedure to send out the report, implying that the pope perhaps okayed it without reading it. He was unable to say definitively if he had read it.
This seemed probable as such documents are usually published during a synod, but normally they are in Latin, never make news, and few therefore pay much attention to them. One theory at the time was that the pope, trusting the document would be acceptable and routine, simply left it to the synod of bishops to deal with as they felt appropriate.
Eventually, nearly four months after the synod, Lorenzo Cardinal Baldisseri, secretary general of the synod of bishops, acknowledged that the pope had “seen and approved” the document. “This point is important not only because of his authority, but also it puts the Secretary General at ease”, Baldisseri said in an interview with Aleteia in January 2015.
Reflecting on the events of that week, Cardinal Napier told me he knew there was something wrong as soon as he heard the report being read. “What’s this? Everything’s been put in such a positive light”, he recalled.
“I didn’t know then that the media already had received it before us! Indeed, it had gone onto the wavebands even before we got to discussing it.”
“It was so unfair, just unbelievable”, said Fawcett. “It just didn’t seem like the synod I was at, what I was reading [in the press].” But he said the way the press reported was not completely surprising when he later saw what they had been fed by the synod releases, so he did not think it was entirely the fault of the press. “I don’t actually think the press was completely to blame at all, but I just couldn’t relate what was being reported to the synod I had attended.”
Cardinal Napier remembered listening to the BBC in the morning and hearing the reporters “telling us how the Catholic Church was changing its policy on gay unions on this, that, and the other regard. We hadn’t even discussed this thing, where is this coming from? When the document was read to us, we learned where it was coming from.” By that, the cardinal meant the General Secretariat of the synod.
Asked how the Relatio was received by the synod fathers in general, Cardinal Napier said: “Oh, there was an explosion. And it got worse.”
They received the document on Monday morning of the second week of the synod, and so they had not had a chance to read it before they went into small working groups. During the coffee break, some members of Napier’s discussion group came across reports on the Relatio in the press, and Napier advised his group to take a closer look at these at the end of the session.
He and other moderators and secretaries of the working groups were then summoned to a meeting with Cardinal Baldisseri in the aula. “That was a hot one”, he said. “That’s when I realized how angry people were. That’s when they started describing the reaction of their groups.”
Cardinal Napier remembers a synod father saying he had put his name to the document, but it was not what he had written. “Others asked: How then could this be stated as coming from the synod when the synod hasn’t even discussed it yet?”
Another synod participant added his voice of concern, saying, “there are things said there about the synod saying this, that, and the other, but nobody ever said them. So that’s when it became plain that there was some engineering going on”, the South African cardinal recalled.
The document, he said, was supposed to be a snapshot of the principal themes of the first week’s debates in the general synod assembly, which were to be further explored and refined in the language-based discussion groups during the synod’s second week. But Forte crafted it as a draft final synod document, highlighting issues that would be of greatest interest to an international media eagerly awaiting the Great Catholic Cave-In to the sexual revolution—and found himself, and the interim report, essentially disowned by Cardinal Péter Erdö, the synod’s relator (or official summarizer), at the press conference at which the interim report was presented.
Veteran Vaticanista Sandro Magister said the “openness” at the synod to Holy Communion for the civilly divorced and remarried “and the startling change of paradigm on the issue of homosexuality” that found its way into the interim report “would not have been possible without a series of skillfully calculated steps on the part of those who had and have control of the procedures”.
One source very close to the synod process said if the three controversial paragraphs had never appeared, the synod fathers would have “never talked about the doctrinal issues. It would never have been an issue”, he said. “That’s what really made them wake up to the fact that the doctrinal part was missing in the document.” He said he is expecting it to be a “lesson learned”.
Archbishop Forte remains special secretary for the October 2015 synod, he noted, but he believes “the process is going to change.”
Edward Pentin has reported on the Holy See and the Catholic Church for numerous publications, including Newsweek, Zenit, The Catholic Herald, and The Holy Land Review, and is Rome correspondent for the National Catholic Register.
‘Africa will save the family’ – one cardinal’s prediction on the Church’s future
Cotonou, Benin, September 1, 2015
(CNA/EWTN News) The African cardinal who heads the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship has high hopes for the Church on his continent – he believes that it can bring about the renewal of the family across the globe.
“I have absolute confidence in African culture,” Cardinal Robert Sarah told the Catholic weekly La Croix du Benin.
“I have absolute confidence in the faith of the African people, and I am sure Africa will save the family. Africa saved the Holy Family (during the Flight to Egypt) and in these modern times Africa will also save the human family,” the cardinal said Aug. 19 during a national Marian pilgrimage at Dassa-Zoumè.
Originally from Guinea, Cardinal Sarah chose be in Benin, one of the countries of his native Africa, during the launch of his new interview book in Rome. Entitled “God or Nothing,” the book is a conversation between the cardinal and French journalist Nicolas Diat. “God or Nothing” covers numerous topics, ranging from political questions to the sex abuse scandal in the Church to the post-modern world’s relationship to God.
Reflecting on whether democracy is an inherently Christian system, Cardinal Sarah responded, “Without a doubt there is a Christian conception of the equality of human beings,” adding that “a democracy that contributes to the integral development of man cannot subsist without God.”
One chapter of his book, entitled “Cornerstones and false values,” is dedicated to the family and addresses various pastoral challenges such as the defense of life and marriage.
Concerning the divorced and remarried, the cardinal said: “(T)hey find themselves in a situation that objectively contradicts the law of God.” He also voiced concern about “gender ideology,” saying, “My worry is that this is due more to certain governments and international organizations that are trying to impose this philosophy any way they can, sometimes forcibly.”
Ordained a priest in 1969, Cardinal Sarah became the youngest bishop in the world 10 years later. Pope John Paul II called him to Rome in 2002 to serve as the Secretary for the Evangelization of Peoples. Pope Benedict XVI selected him as president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum in 2010, and in 2014 Pope Francis appointed him head of the Vatican dicastery on the liturgy.
Spirit of secularisation now presides at Pontifical Council for the Family
August 26, 2015
This a guest post from John Smeaton, Chief Executive of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children and co-founder of Voice of the Family.
What would the late Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo think about recent events at the Pontifical Council for the Family, of which he was the President from 1991 till 2008?
I knew the late Cardinal personally. He was one of the world’s greatest defenders of the sanctity of human life and church teaching on the sacredness and inviolability of the family. He was SPUC’s guest in Britain in 1996 and 1999.
In June 2005, he wrote to Archbishop Peter Smith, the then archbishop of Cardiff, about the Pontifical Council for the Family’s close working relationship with the Society. His Eminence wrote:
“We have seen that Mr. John Smeaton, national director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, has undertaken a most laudable cause [sic] especially with the NGOs involved in promoting the values of family and life and he has been most helpful to our dicastery precisely in that field”.
Reporting on Pope Benedict XVI’s homily at His Eminence’s funeral, the Catholic News Agency said:
‘”Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, whose motto was “Veritas in caritate”, dedicated “his entire life to affirming the truth”, said the Pope.’
How times have changed at the Pontifical Council for the Family (PCF)!
According to Catholic World Report, three separate Workshops have been held this year under the auspices of the PCF looking at “the possibility of an evolution of the ecclesiastical doctrine of marriage”. We read that the workshops, while perhaps not “secret,” were not publicised.
Among the participants was Father Eberhard Schockenhoff, professor of moral theology at the University of Freiburg in Germany. Father Schockenhoff also serves as an advisor to the German Bishops’ Conference … In addition to Communion for the divorced and remarried, Father Schockenhoff urges approval of homosexual clergy and finds “stable” homosexual pairs to be ethical … Support for the Schockenhoff’s position was offered by Father Gianpaolo Dianin, an expert on pastoral care of the family and a member of the Theological Faculty of Triveneto … On the issue of the Eucharist and “irregular unions” it was noted by Father Dianin that today, given contemporary challenges that secularism has put on Catholic marriages, there are numerous pastors who wish to do “something” for their parishioners but feel constrained by Church discipline that “understands little” of the hardships.
These Workshops at the Council are not an isolated example of opposition to doctrinally sound care of the family now prevailing at the PCF. [See my blogpost of earlier today
as to why SPUC is concerned about the reception of Holy Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics and my blogpost regarding SPUC’s position on same-sex marriage entitled Children are being sacrificed on the altar of adults’ sexual “rights”]
SPUC’s representatives at a meeting about the Family Synod last January organised by the Pontifical Council for the Family were ignored in the report of the relator of the English speaking group when they sought to raise concerns about the omission of any reference to abortion in the Family Synod’s final Relatio. The relator preferred to draw attention to a call for the church to address the “rights” relating to transgenderism.
Moreover, when SPUC’s representatives joined fellow delegates to ask Archbishop Paglia, the current president of the PCF, for his opinion on the proposal to admit the “remarried” to Holy Communion without amendment of life, he would not engage directly with their concerns. His Excellency told them not to worry and that a change in the discipline would only be for a small number of cases.
From my experience of Cardinal Trujillo, over many years, His Eminence will be spinning in his grave to hear of what is happening today at the Pontifical Council for the Family (established by Pope John Paul II in 1981 “for the promotion of the pastoral ministry and apostolate to the family, through the application of the teachings and guidelines of the ecclesiastical Magisterium, to help Christian families fulfill their educational and apostolic mission”).
How tragically prophetic – in particular the last sentence below – are the words of a study
signed by Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, on 13th May 2006, and presented to Pope Benedict XVI under the title “The Family and Human Procreation”:
It is true that the natural institution of marriage and the family has never been prey to such violent attacks as it is now. New models of the family have emerged from radical movements … Homosexual couples claim the same rights as those reserved to husband and wife; they even claim the right to adoption.
… It is not a matter of an alternative activity or one in competition with other sectors of pastoral care … The centrality of the pastoral care of the family and of life in the Church’s pastoral ministry thus characterizes her action. Today, the new evangelization in which the family is called to participate finds itself having to respond to challenges that it is not an exaggeration to call epochal. Those challenges more closely connected with the family concern the civilization of love and the service to life through responsible fatherhood and motherhood.
The Holy Father Benedict XVI said to the Bishops representing the Episcopal Commissions for the Family and Life of Latin America: “It is therefore indispensable and urgent that every person of good will should endeavor… to safeguard the fundamental values of marriage and the family. They are threatened by the current phenomenon of secularization”
It seems to me that the spirit of secularisation is alive and well and presiding now at the Pontifical Council for the Family.
Half a million people sign petition urging Francis to reinforce Church teaching on marriage at synod
August 25, 2015
More than 500,000 people, including five cardinals, have signed a petition asking Pope Francis to reinforce Church teaching on marriage and the family at the synod of bishops in October.
The petition, launched by Catholic student association TFP Student Action and backed by 25 pro-family groups around the world, was posted on the organisation’s site in late January.
It has since been signed by five cardinals, 117 bishops and hundreds of civil leaders, in addition to the thousands of university students it was aimed at.
The cardinals who are signatories are
Cardinal Raymond Burke, Cardinal Jorge Medina of Chile, Cardinal Ricardo Vidal of the Philippines, Cardinal Alexandre José Maria dos Santos, Mozambique, and Cardinal Jānis Pujats of Latvia.
Signatories from Britain include SPUC director John Smeaton, Luke Gormally, the director emeritus of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre, journalist John Laughland and author Piers Paul Read. Other leading figures who signed the petition include former US senator Rick Santorum.
John Ritchie, director of TFP Student Action, said: “This prayerful petition asks Pope Francis to clear up the moral confusion that’s been spreading against natural and divine law.” Describing the Church as a “beacon of morality and stability in our godless culture“, Ritchie said that some statements from clergy that appeared to accept same-sex unions had caused confusion.
Ritchie also urged the Church not to “go along with the liberal pressures to soften Church moral discipline”. If the Church stood by its view on traditional marriage and family, he said, “God’s plan for marriage will win out against all attacks“.
He continued: “After Ireland and the US Supreme Court both approved same-sex marriage, a strong reaffirmation of Church teaching could save the sacred institution of marriage. The Catholic Church is the centre of history. It is the moral compass of the world. As the Church goes, so goes the world.”
The petition, called a “Filial Appeal to His Holiness Pope Francis on the Future of the Family“, will be hand delivered to the Vatican on September 29, the feast of St Michael the Archangel. It can be viewed at here.
Email of August 25, 2015:
In 1972, Pope Paul VI said “the smoke of Satan has entered into the temple of God through some crack.”
Pope Paul VI was right. Today, it would seem that the “smoke of Satan” is infiltrating the upcoming October Synod on the Family in Rome.
For example, German bishop Heiner Koch stated:
“Any bond that strengthens and holds people is in my eyes good; that applies also to same-sex relationships.” (German Catholic newspaper, Die Tagespost, 06-08-15) Bishop Koch has been chosen to be a delegate at the next Synod.
Cardinal Walter Kasper stated:
“If the majority of the people wants such homosexual unions, the state has a duty to recognize such rights.” (First Things, 06-17-15)
Belgium Bishop Johan Bonny, also chosen to be a delegate at the Synod, stated:
“Inside the Church, we must look for a formal recognition of the relational dimension that is also present in many homosexual, lesbian and bisexual couples.” (LifeSiteNews.com, 06-17-15)
These statements are deeply troubling.
That’s why I’m asking you to help me collect at least 600,000 petitions by sharing this e-mail with you friends and family members.
Your signature will be delivered in Rome on September 29, the feast of Saint Michael.
The good news is:
503,431 have signed our pro-family appeal to Pope Francis, which reaffirms the longstanding Catholic position on marriage at the Synod.
Over 122 cardinals, archbishops and bishops have already signed it. Plus hundreds of clergy, religious and prominent Catholic leaders.
Next goal: Cross the 600,000 petition mark!
Will you please help us reach the 600,000 mark?
If you already signed the petition, please share the following link with all your friends — both Catholic and non-Catholic. Ask them to:
Sign the petition to Pope Francis to Save the Family
You and I know that the Catholic Church is the center of history. It is the moral compass of the world and as the Church goes, so goes the world.
If the Church stands strong on traditional marriage and family, God’s plan for marriage will win out against all attacks. But if the leaders of the Church are seen to go along with the liberal pressures to soften Church moral discipline, then homosexual sin is free to weave its way into every aspect of life and culture.
But there’s hope!
Our petition to Pope Francis is really snowballing.
Remember, your petition will be hand-delivered in Rome on the feast of Saint Michael—September 29, 2015.
In fact, a growing wave of Catholics and people of good will are waking up to the grave risk that the family and marriage can be undermined at the Synod. They want to expel the “smoke of Satan” and to secure a pure and moral future for our children and grandchildren.
I formally believe that future generations will thank us for standing up for the family at this historic moment. They will bless our names because instead of caving in to the “smoke of Satan,” we worked for Catholic truth and for God’s marriage.
May God bless you and your future for joining this spiritual crusade.
Until next time, I remain
Tradition Family Property
Filial Petition to Pope Francis
Dissident Catholic pressure groups — aided by the liberal media — are feverishly working to dismantle vital Church teaching on marriage and family at the next Synod on the Family in Rome.
In fact, they are bombarding the Holy Father and the Synod Fathers right now with messages of revolt against traditional moral values as they clamor for “change, change, change” inside the Church.
At this critical time, we must defend the truth and ask the Holy Father to protect the future of the family.
The American TFP is joining forces with over 20 more pro-family groups around the world to collect as many signatures as possible before the next Synod starts. This prayerful petition is a worldwide effort. Everyone is invited to sign.
May God reward you.
Full text of the petition to the Holy Father
In view of the Synod on the family to be held in October 2015, we filially address Your Holiness to express our fears and hopes regarding the future of the family.
Our fears arise from witnessing a decades-long sexual revolution promoted by an alliance of powerful organizations, political forces and the mass media that consistently work against the very existence of the family as the basic unit of society. Ever since the so-called May 1968 Sorbonne Revolution, a morality opposed to both Divine and natural law has been gradually and systematically imposed on us so implacably as to make it possible, for example, to teach the abhorrent “gender theory” to young children in many countries.
Catholic teaching on the Sixth Commandment of the Law of God shines like a beacon in the face of this ominous ideological objective. This beacon attracts many people — overwhelmed by this hedonistic propaganda — to the chaste and fecund family model taught by the Gospel and in accordance with natural law.
Your Holiness, in light of the information published on the last Synod, we note with anguish that, for millions of faithful Catholics, the beacon seems to have dimmed in face of the onslaught of lifestyles spread by anti-Christian lobbies. In fact, we see widespread confusion arising from the possibility that a breach has opened within the Church that would accept adultery — by permitting divorced and then civilly remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion — and would virtually accept even homosexual unions when such practices are categorically condemned as being contrary to Divine and natural law.
Paradoxically, our hope stems from this confusion. Truly, in these circumstances, a word from Your Holiness is the only way to clarify the growing confusion amongst the faithful. It would prevent the very teaching of Jesus Christ from being watered down and would dispel the darkness looming over our children’s future should that beacon no longer light their way.
Holy Father, we implore You to say this word. We do so with a heart devoted to all that You are and represent. We do so with the certainty that Your word will never disassociate pastoral practice from the teaching bequeathed by Jesus Christ and His vicars — as this would only add to the confusion. Indeed Jesus taught us very clearly that there must be coherence between life and truth (cf. John 14:6-7); and He also warned us that the only way not to fall is to practice His doctrine (cf. Matt. 7:24-27).
Asking for Your apostolic blessing, we assure You of our prayers to the Holy Family — Jesus, Mary and Joseph — to enlighten Your Holiness in these crucially important circumstances.
Cardinal Kasper’s philosophical approach leads directly to moral relativism
August 24, 2015
In our analyses of the Relatio Synodi of the Extraordinary Synod and of the Instrumentum Laboris of the Ordinary Synod, Voice of the Family drew attention to the false approach adopted by the Synod towards the relationship between the Church and historical development.
A very important contribution to this discussion has been made by Professor Thomas Stark, professor of philosophical anthropology at the Benedict XVI Institute of Philosophy and Theology at Heiligenkreuz, in Austria.
His lecture German Idealism and Cardinal Kasper’s Theological Project provides crucial insights into the philosophical approach that lies behind “progressive” assaults on Catholic doctrine at the Synod.
In his book Einführung in den Glauben (An Introduction to Christian Faith) Walter Cardinal Kasper contrasted two approaches to history. (All quotes from Kasper in this article are taken from this book). The first approach considers history as “a phenomenon within the framework of an encompassing order.” In other words human beings live in a world governed by unchanging eternal laws. The fundamental laws of nature, including those of the moral order, do not change over the course of history.
Kasper however rejects this approach. He writes:
“For modern thought… history is not a moment in an encompassing order; on the contrary, every order is a moment which the next instant makes it relative. In this view reality does not have a history; it is itself history through and through.”
For Kasper there is little or nothing that is fixed and immutable. The moral order that exists in one moment is made “relative” in “the next instant”. Kasper believes that this “radical ‘historicalisation’ of all areas of reality” undermines the permanent validity of both Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture. He writes:
“History could not be experienced as history until historical tradition was no longer an automatically lived reality, but was felt as a past which had to be surmounted, which people were striving critically to get beyond… This meant a relativization of the previous argument from authority, and presented a fundamental challenge to the absolute validity of sacred documents.”
In other words, modern man no longer considers himself bound by any tradition or sacred documents but actually strives to surmount these sources of authority. Kasper denies that there is any “given nature” to the creation, rather man can shape the future of creation as he wills. Kasper states this quite explicitly:
“Today it is clearly not a given nature, a universe which encompasses us, but a reality which human labor, civilization, and technology are helping to shape. Human activity is a constitutive element in the make-up of this reality.” And
“…the world is not finished, but involved in a continuous process in which man and the world mutually change and affect each other. It is not an eternal natural order, but a historical world.”
If there is no “eternal natural order” but rather “a continuous process” of change then it follows that there are no permanent moral norms. As Kasper notes:
“The results of sociological and historical study have revealed many outward forms and structural elements of the Church as temporally conditioned, and the corresponding doctrines as suspect of ideology, that is of being a super-structure and canonization of a particular historical and sociological status quo. The upheaval is most striking in moral theology.”
Kasper believes that moral norms change over the course of history; as we have already seen he holds that “every order is a moment which the next instant makes it relative.”
In other words what was considered morally wrong in the past may not be morally wrong in the present; that which we consider morally wrong today may not be so in the future. Kasper offers a couple of suggestions as to how we discern the moral norms appropriate for our own period of history. He argues that to “proclaim the faith so that it speaks to this reality means today to articulate it in socially relevant terms.” He further notes that “we have been constantly discovering more and more the value of personal conscience.”
The emphasis on being “socially relevant”, rather than conformable to the “eternal natural order”, is seen throughout the synodal documents. This is particularly apparent in paragraph 34 of the Instrumentum Laboris of Ordinary Synod, which deals with artificial methods of reproduction.
In our analysis we wrote:
“Paragraph 34 discusses the ‘so-called bio-technological revolution’ that has made possible the separation of ‘the act of human reproduction’ from the ‘sexual relationship between man and woman.’ It notes that such methods are ‘gaining increasing popularity’, are ‘having a profound effect in relationships, in society and in the judicial system which intervenes in an attempt to regulate a variety of different situations and what is already taking place.’ The paragraph contains no moral judgement on these procedures; the reader cannot discover from this paragraph whether such procedures are good or evil. There is no reference to any previous Church teaching, such as the CDF instructions Donum Vitae and Dignitatis Personae. Finally the document contains no reference either to the fact that such procedures cause the deaths of millions of human beings or to the connection between such procedures and embryo experimentation.”
The Instrumentum Laboris declines to reaffirm Catholic teaching and chooses instead to focus on the “increasing popularity” of artificial methods of reproduction. The magisterium has clearly taught in Donum Vitae and Dignitatis Personae that the use of such methods is gravely contrary to the moral law. However, as the authors of the Instrumentum Laboris clearly state, they consider themselves bound to a “unique faithfulness” to the signs of “human history”. Therefore, it seems, they cannot speak out against techniques which “are gaining increasing popularity” and “having a profound effect” in society. Rather they keep silence lest they be found on the wrong side of history. After all, as Cardinal Kasper so clearly stated, “every order is a moment which the next instant makes it relative.”
Are Half a Million Catholics Wrong?
By Steve Skojec, August 22, 2015
Earlier this year, a petition was started. It’s purpose was simple: it asks the Holy Father to calm the fears of Catholics around the world with a simple public assurance that those forces which are seeking to undermine Christ’s teaching on marriage will not prevail at the conclusion of the two-year Extraordinary Synod on Marriage and Family.
The text of the petition reads, in part:
Your Holiness, in light of information published on the last Synod, we note with anguish that, for millions of faithful Catholics, the beacon seems to have dimmed in face of the onslaught of lifestyles spread by anti-Christian lobbies. In fact we see widespread confusion arising from the possibility that a breach has been opened within the Church that would accept adultery—by permitting divorced and then civilly remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion—and would virtually accept even homosexual unions when such practices are categorically condemned as being contrary to Divine and natural law.
Paradoxically, our hope stems from this confusion.
Truly, in these circumstances, a word from Your Holiness is the only way to clarify the growing confusion amongst the faithful. It would prevent the very teaching of Jesus Christ from being watered-down and would dispel the darkness looming over our children’s future should that beacon no longer light their way.
Holy Father, we implore You to say this word. We do so with a heart devoted to all that You are and represent. We do so with the certainty that Your word will never disassociate pastoral practice from the teaching bequeathed by Jesus Christ and his vicars—as this would only add to the confusion. Indeed Jesus taught us very clearly that there must be coherence between life and truth (cf. Jn. 14:6-7); and He also warned us that the only way not to fall is to practice His doctrine. (cf. Mt. 7:24-27)
Since the petition was launched,
over half a million Catholics around the world have signed it. Not just laymen, but priests and prelates as well.
Among the notable ecclesiastical signatories are Archbishop Pagotto of Paraíba, Brazil; Bishop Vasa of Santa Rosa, California; Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Astana, Kazakhstan; Cardinal Medina Estévez of Chile; Cardinal Raymond Burke, former prefect of the Apostolic Signatura; Cardinal Pujats, Archbishop Emeritus of Riga in Latvia, and so on. In fact, the list of notable persons in the Church and in the secular world who have put their name on the document has become quite lengthy.
And yet, there has been not a word from Pope Francis.
The very same Pope Francis who advises his priests to be “shepherds living with ‘the smell of the sheep’, shepherds in the midst of their flock, fishers of men.” The same Pope Francis who speaks always of those people on the “peripheries”; who very publicly meets with the disaffected and marginalized, who holds private audiences with Marxists and the transgendered, who meets with gay and transgendered inmates, who graciously accepts Communist Crucifixes without a word of condemnation, who invites movie stars from the far left of Hollywood to meet with him in the Vatican, and so on.
Fine. The Pope should spread the Gospel to everyone, no matter who they are. He should share the truth and necessity of the Catholic Faith wherever he goes. I agree.
But is it too much to ask that he make time for actual Catholics, too?
Are the faithful — like “abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods” — something that requires “a context” in order for him to feel comfortable speaking to them? Does Pope Francis not want to appear “obsessed” with them, since “the teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear” and “it is not necessary to talk” to these people “all the time”?
Does he feel that “the Church has already spoken quite clearly” to faithful Catholics, and thus, “it was unnecessary to return” to them?
When Fr. Raymond De Souza asks, “Does Francis think Cardinal Kasper is right?” – how do we answer him? More to the point, how do we answer all the people in our homeschool groups and parishes and families and circles of friends and Facebook communities who are asking the same thing?
How do we tell people, “Yeah, the pope’s totally going to go save the day on this, don’t worry!” when he won’t even say a word about a petition with half a million signatures – many from his own bishops, who are trying to figure out how to hold the line if he won’t?
I’ll no doubt be characterized as the crazy one for asking the question. How can I doubt him? Do I honestly think he’s OK with the Kasper Agenda? What do I expect? He’s a busy guy. I’ll also be reminded a 4,037 times that “the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church.”
I got it. I know. I’m Catholic. I’m up-to-date on my Catechism.
But if Pope Francis intends to uphold Church teaching on this, why is it so hard to just come right out and say it? He’s not smoking any lurking villains out of the shadows. They’re already basking in the spotlight. A spotlight that he himself has shined on them.
We are entitled to expect this from the Vicar of Christ. He has a duty to the faithful to guard the faith, not leave them wondering if he will falter, and if that means everything they believe in is a lie. Does that sound drastic? Because it’s exactly the kind of thing I’ve seen people speculating about. You can blame them all you want, you can call them unfaithful, poorly catechized, or lacking in trust. You can accuse people of schism because they lose faith with Rome and go seeking moral certitude elsewhere. On some level, you may be right. But they’re like children asking their father for bread, and being handed stones. (Mt. 7:9-11) Why must we beg him for reassurance? Why must we petition the pope to preserve and defend the faith?
There’s no more time for excuses. There’s no more benefit of the doubt in the reservoir. We’re a little over a month away from the Synod.
Please, Holy Father – answer the question
UPDATE (August 24, 2015): Some readers have asked us if we know for certain that Pope Francis is aware of this petition. I reached out to my contact at TFP — the organization that created the petition — to ask the question. This is what I was told:
The petition will be physically presented to the Pope on the 29th of next month [September]. However, the “Preferential Option” book and the petition were sent to over 90% of the bishops around the world. The TFP in Rome has also done a significant amount of campaigning for the Filial Appeal. The likeliness that he’s not aware of it is very low.
For good measure, I tweeted the petition over to @GregBurkeRome (Senior Communications Adviser at the Vatican), the papal Twitter account, and emailed the Vatican Press Office. I’ve reached out to my other Vatican contacts to see if there’s an awareness of this. With over 100 bishops as signatories, it’s not unreasonable to assume that the Holy Father has been briefed.
Of course, he doesn’t need to respond to a petition. Stating clearly that he won’t let the Synod go off the rails is something he should do of his own initiative. It looks like we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.
2 out of 126 readers’ comments:
1. I don’t think Pope Francis believes what we believe. He is more of a political than religious figure. His aim is to compromise with what most of us consider evil. Pope Francis is a Modernist who believes in the evolution of doctrine. He believes in making a heaven on earth. Pope Francis is much more a socialist Protestant than an orthodox Catholic. Should anyone be surprised about not hearing from him on the petition?
2. Have you read ‘Jesuits’ -The Society of Jesus and the Betrayal of the Roman Catholic Church by Malachi Martin? It’s a real eye opener or a prophetic confirmation about the Pope Francis disaster.
Another example of a campaign related to the Synod on the Family:
Please spread the word about this very worthy cause:
To pray the 54-Day Rosary Novena for THE PRESERVATION OF FIDELITY TO THE DOCTRINE AND PRACTICE OF THE FAITH WITH REGARD TO HOLY MATRIMONY AT THE ORDINARY SYNOD ON THE FAMILY THIS COMING OCTOBER IN ROME
The parishioners of the Church of the Holy Innocents (in NYC) will pray the novena for the above intention from Saturday, August 15th, 2015 through October 7th, 2015.
Attached are two files that are meant to help keep track of 54 (27 days of petition and 27 days of thanksgiving) days when praying the Rosary.
Given the importance of the upcoming October Synod in Rome, we, faithful Catholics, must pray for the preservation of the Faith.
Unfortunately in these times, the enemies of God have entered through the very gates of the Catholic Church. These enemies includes members of the clergy who are trying to change the perennial teachings and practices of the Catholic Church concerning holy matrimony and family life. If this should occur, it will cause great scandal and confusion among the Catholic faithful. Most importantly, it will mislead many people away from the Truth of Christ.
Thanks be to God that there are still clergy in the hierarchy of the Church such as His Eminence Cardinal Burke and His Excellency Bishop Schneider. Both these Prelates remain faithful to the Magisterium of the Church and have been speaking out against false teachings pertaining to the Sacrament of Matrimony and of the Most Holy Eucharist. The preachers of unorthodox views (both inside and outside of the Church) are trying to deceive souls with false ideas of marriage, purity, holiness, mercy, sexuality, and the family.
Cardinal Burke and Bishop Schneider have also exhorted the faithful to exercise their rights and fulfill their duty to fight for and defend the Truths of the Catholic Faith.
As Bishop Schneider says, “… there are also families, young people, priests, seminarians and even bishops who are marginalized and ridiculed, sometimes even in the ecclesiastical domain, because of their fidelity to the integrity of the Catholic Faith … we are living in the age of the family precisely because it is under attack. It is today that the family is called to witness to the Divine beauty of its essence and of its vocation.”
At the Church of the Holy Innocents (in midtown Manhattan, NYC), from this coming Saturday, August 15th, 2015 through October 7th, 2015, the parishioners will start the miraculous 54-Rosary novena (27 days of petition & 27 days of thanksgiving) for the following intention.
All Catholics are invited and encouraged to join this effort and to pray the 54-day Rosary novena for the same intention.
Swiss Catholic money targets African bishops ahead of synod
By Kevin Jones, Washington D.C., August 21, 2015
(CNA) The Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund and a major U.S. foundation have helped fund an LGBT activist project intended to counter West African bishops at the Catholic Church’s Synod on the Family.
The Netherlands-based European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups originally planned to make a documentary film of self-identified LGBT Catholics in Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria and Cameroon.
“Reacting to the extremely negative influence from bishops from Western Africa on the final document of the Family Synod 14, we found it important to bring the voices of LGBT Catholics from this region to broader attention,” the European Forum said in its 2014-2015 activity report.
The forum’s activities report said the project was funded by the Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund Fastenopfer and the Arcus Foundation. The wealthy U.S.-based foundation has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to LGBT activist groups to target the synod.
But Fastenopfer is a Catholic development organization. It traditionally raises its funds during Lenten almsgiving. Its Italian-language name is Sacrificio Quaresimale, which means “Lenten Sacrifice.”
Bishop Felix Gmur of Basel, Switzerland is president of the Lenten fund’s foundation council, which oversees the NGO’s directors group. Two of the nine members of the foundation council are named by the Conference of Swiss Bishops, with the rest being named by a separate body.
Michael Brinkschroeder, who until this year was co-president of the European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups, said that Fastenopfer’s support was in the form of a small project grant. He told CNA Aug. 10 that the grant was under 15,000 Swiss Francs (about $15,300) and was approved by the fund’s executive director. The grant did not have to be approved by the foundation council or its president, Bishop Gmur.
Romana Buchel of Fastenopfer told CNA Aug. 7 that the film project did not take place as planned because the filmmaker “suddenly had fear of flight” and left the plane at a transit stop. She said the interviews were collected from “afflicted people, from collaborators.”
She said the material “will be used for written works of sensibilization (sic) regarding the second Synod of the Family.”
The European Forum’s activity report similarly noted the filmmaker’s health problems. It said that due to a funding shortfall, the project’s interviewer could not reach Cameroon.
Instead, the project took the form of a written report based on interviews, to be included in a book.
The European Forum aims to publish the book under the name of a new global group of LGBT activists, the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics, whose creation was announced in June. This book will include “other important documents” and lectures from a conference held in Rome last year before the Extraordinary Synod on the Family. It will be published in Italian in print form and in English as an e-book before October 2015.
The Catholic Church’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family, held in October 2014 to prepare for the October 2015 synod, was marked by a significant split between African bishops and a primarily European faction of bishops. Controversial issues included how the synod should address church ministry to homosexuals.
On May 25, leaders of the German, French and Swiss bishops, theologians and select journalists met at an unannounced meeting at the Jesuit-run Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. The meeting included theological reflection and a discussion of goals for the Synod on the Family. Some of the speakers advocated changing Catholic teaching on contraception, homosexual acts, and communion for the divorced and civilly remarried.
Critics of the meeting dubbed it a “shadow council.” Bishop Gmur was one of the three Swiss bishops reportedly at the meeting.
CNA contacted the Diocese of Basel for comment but did not receive a response by deadline.
The European Forum activity report does not say how much the Arcus Foundation gave to support the European Forum’s video project. However, the report notes a $134,000 Arcus grant from 2013 to combat “religion-based homophobia in Europe” and to help the forum improve its ability to mobilize as “the main faith-based LGBT advocate in the region.”
The activity report said the forum will draft, test and use “a counter-narrative to traditional values and gender ideology” in various faith contexts from 2014-2016, with a special focus on “advocacy opportunities” like the 2015 synod, the Pan-Orthodox Synod in 2016, and efforts in the World Council of Churches.
The Arcus Foundation’s grant listings also show a $262,500 grant in 2015 to assist the European Forum’s response to “anti-LGBT opposition.” The foundation’s Jan. 20 grant announcement said the forum intended to use the grant to “pursue its successful strategy of shifting traditional views” and “responding to homophobic Catholic Church family synod decisions.”
Brinkschroeder told CNA that the European Forum had the impression that several African Catholic bishops and bishop conferences had not been willing to fulfill what he characterized as “their Christian duty to avoid signs in support of such unjust and violent discriminations and to protect the dignity of every human person.”
He objected to bishops’ support for increased penalties in Nigeria and Cameroon’s laws against homosexual behavior, some of which criminalize attempts to enter a same-sex marriage or displays of public affection between same-sex couples.
Brinkschroeder said that the purpose of the project was “not to blame any specific bishop” but to bring attention to the experiences of Catholic LGBT people from the region he said are usually ignored and suffer “severe discrimination and violations of their rights.”
Brinkschroeder and his organization were highly critical of the 2014 synod’s final document.
In an October 22, 2014 statement, Brinkschroeder characterized the synod outcome as “a disaster for gays and lesbians.” The European Forum criticized the final document for removing a “positive evaluation” of same-sex couples and the treatment of children they might raise. The forum also criticized the final document’s paragraph rejecting the use of international aid to force poor countries to recognize same-sex “marriage.”
The Global Network of Rainbow Catholics’ first official assembly, titled “LGBT Voices to the Synod,” will take place Oct. 1-4 in Rome. It will also hold a public conference, titled “Ways of Love,” to promote what it considers best practices for Catholic LGBT ministry.
Last year the European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups sponsored the October 2014 “Ways of Love” conference in Rome. The conference’s keynote speaker was the controversial retired auxiliary bishop Geoffrey Robinson of Sydney, whose book was rebuked by Australia’s Catholic bishops for doctrinal problems.
The 2014 conference had financial support from the Netherlands Ministry of Education, Science and Culture. The Dutch government and the Arcus Foundation are partners of the U.S. State Department’s Global Equality Fund, which is helping promote LGBT activism around the world. The 2014 conference’s organizing committee included representatives of the U.S. dissenting Catholic groups New Ways Ministry and Dignity USA, which have received $200,000 in Arcus backing to conduct synod-related advocacy.
Recently, the two American groups called for same-sex “marriage” to be recognized as a Catholic sacrament. The groups are part of the Equally Blessed Coalition, which is holding an LGBT advocacy event in September to coincide with the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, when Pope Francis will visit the U.S.
The European Forum has also received funding from the businessman George Soros’ Open Society Institute. The forum took part in an Open Society institute conference in Barcelona in September 2014 about reaching the “movable middle.” The forum contributed to conference sessions in partnership with the pro-abortion group Catholics for Choice and the European Parliamentary Forum for Population and Development, its activity report says.
Synod preparatory document ‘poses a very real danger to the family,’ says Voice of the Family
August 13, 2015
(LifeSiteNews) Voice of the Family, an international lay coalition of major pro-life and pro-family organizations, has warned
that the Vatican’s preparatory document for the October Synod on the Family “threatens the entire structure of Catholic teaching on marriage, the family and human sexuality.” In an extensive analysis of the Vatican’s 77-page document called the Instrumentum Laboris, Voice of the Family points to several areas where the omissions and ambiguity in wording is leading in a direction dangerous to faith and family.
The game plan of introducing ambiguity into the texts was revealed by Cardinal Walter Kasper, the central figure of the Synod who launched the controversy with his proposals for communion for divorced and remarried Catholics. In an interview with EWTN‘s Raymond Arroyo in June he divulged an approach to overcome growing opposition to his heterodox plans.
“I get a lot of agreements, but also a lot of critiques, and there are tensions there,” Kasper acknowledged. “Now I propose to those who prepare the Synod to prepare a text which can get the agreement of the whole, of the great majority. It’s the same method also we had in the Council.” He later repeated, “My suggestion is to find now a formula where the great majority can adhere.”
The Second Vatican Council was also faced with challenges to traditional Catholic doctrine and practice, which were opposed by large numbers of bishops. Despite this opposition, many items on the agenda of the ultra-liberal bishops were accomplished by the use of often vague, ambiguous and even apparently conflicting language that seem to have appeased both sides. These expressions were later referred to as “time bombs” which some theologians were able to exploit following the council for the purpose of undermining the Church’s traditional teachings.
The Voice of the Family analysis explains “it is clear that the Instrumentum Laboris fails to clearly affirm Catholic doctrine, but rather, through the use of ambiguous terms, seriously undermines it.”
John Smeaton, co-founder of Voice of the Family, said, “The document undermines the doctrine of Humanae Vitae on contraception.” The 19-page critical analysis of the Instrumentum Laboris written by Voice of the Family’s Matthew McCusker notes that the Vatican preparatory document for the Synod “refuses to use the word ‘contraception’ or make any direct reference to any contraceptive method, despite the devastating consequences of the use of contraceptives in many areas of human life, not least the killing of unborn children by abortifacient methods.”
More than that, the Instrumentum Laboris misrepresents Humanae Vitae by leaving out the fact that it condemns contraception. The Synod document states that the “two principal points” of the encyclical are first about the role of conscience and second “an objective moral norm” without ever defining that moral norm – namely Humanae Vitae declares morally inadmissible “any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means.”
“The Instrumentum Laboris also resurrects the discredited Kasper proposals for Holy Communion for unrepentant adulterers, reduces the indissolubility of marriage to a mere ‘ideal’, and undermines the position of parents as their children’s primary educators,” added Smeaton.
With regard to the Church’s teaching that parents are the primary educators of children, the Instrumentum Laboris suggests otherwise. Paragraph 86 states that “the family, while maintaining its privileged spot in education, cannot be the only place for teaching sexuality.” The Voice of the Family analysis notes the “statement is directly contrary to Catholic teaching,” citing the teaching of St. Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, where the pope leaves open the possibility that sex education can be done solely in the home. He wrote: “Sex education, which is a basic right and duty of parents, must always be carried out under their attentive guidance, whether at home or in educational centres chosen and controlled by them.”
“Voice of the Family urges Catholics not to be complacent or give in to a false sense of obedience, in the face of attacks on the fundamental principles of the natural law,” concluded Smeaton. “Catholics have a duty to oppose the direction being taken at the Synod. If that direction is not reversed, the greatest victims will be those who are most vulnerable, especially children, born and unborn.”
Swiss Gay Group Files Criminal Complaint against Catholic Bishop for Old Testament Speech
A gay rights group has filed a criminal complaint against a Roman Catholic bishop after he quoted Bible verses calling for gay people to be killed and said the passage made clear what Church policy was on homosexuality.
Vitus Huonder, the Catholic Bishop of the city of Chur in eastern Switzerland, made the speech on 31 July, during a debate on marriage and family organised by the German Catholic Forum in Fulda, Germany.
According to Swiss media reports, Huonder, 73, read out a passage from Leviticus 20:13: “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” His reading was followed by applause, before Huonder continued: “Both of these passages alone suffice to clarify unambiguously the church’s position on homosexuality,” according to a statement released by Pink Cross, an umbrella association for Swiss gay groups that is filing the complaint.
Pink Cross, supported by the Swiss Lesbian Organisation, argues that these comments amount to “inciting people to crime or violence,” and handed a lawsuit to the public prosecutor of Canton Graubünden in eastern Switzerland on Monday. If found guilty, Huonder faces up to three years in prison.
In a statement, Bastian Baumann, Director of Pink Cross, said: “As a figure of authority within the church, Vitus Huonder accepts that his demand will meet with approval among Christians and other fundamentalists and could be followed obediently.” Baumann also said that the bishop had crossed a “red line.”
Baumann later told Newsweek that while Pink Cross does not oppose the Bishop quoting controversial passages of the Bible, the group believes that calling upon his followers to interpret the words literally, is “dangerous.”
“We believe in freedom of expression, and taking quotes from the bible is fine,” Baumann said. “But then he said the words should be applied to real life, which is the equivalent of calling for the death penalty for gay people. We were worried about that. He is the leader of a big church, and he was calling for people to follow his words, and we thought this could be dangerous.”
Huonder has since issued an apology, saying his comments were misunderstood. “I am sorry if my 50 minute lecture in Fulda on 2 August 2015, which dealt with the biblical basis for marriage and family, was understood as diminishing homosexual people,” his statement reads. “This was not my intention. During the lecture I quoted several uncomfortable passages from the Old Testament to do with marriage, sexuality and family. I want to clarify that I… would in no way wish to diminish homosexual people.” It’s not clear why Huonder references a different date of the speech to the one in the Pink Cross statement.
Baumann says the group does not accept the bishop’s apology. “There is no question in this case of what he was talking about—there was no misunderstanding. We don’t need charity or mercy from the Church at all, we don’t accept his apology.”
It is not the first time Huonder’s comments have landed him in trouble. Earlier this year he called for a priest in Switzerland to be sacked for blessing a lesbian couple, according to the UK-based online newspaper Pink News.
Living the truth in love: The director of Courage on homosexuality and the synod
By Kerri Lenartowick, August 10, 2015
Fr. Paul Check discusses his hopes and concerns for the upcoming Synod on the Family and its consideration of pastoral approaches to those Catholics with same-sex attractions.
Father Paul Check is the executive director of Courage, an international apostolate of the Catholic Church, which ministers to persons with same-sex attractions. This week, Courage is hosting a conference titled “‘Love One Another as I Have Loved You’: Welcoming and Accompanying Our Brothers and Sisters with Same-Sex Attraction.” Speakers at the conference include Dr. Janet E. Smith, Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit, and Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto.
In light of the discussions surrounding the upcoming Synod on the Family, to be held in Rome this October, CWR spoke with Father Check about the Church’s response to homosexuality and various related foundational questions and challenges.
CWR: Maybe you could start by telling us about the Courage apostolate and what it hopes to achieve.
Father Paul Check: The Courage apostolate represents an underserved part of our Christian community: a voice and a heart that is not well known, and that belongs to men and women with same-sex attraction who trust that what the Church teaches with regard to chastity is true and leads to fulfillment, the cross notwithstanding. We also represent another underserved group of people to whom we want to be available: parents, sometimes other family members, or friends of those who are living the homosexual life. Those loved ones feel the strain of separation, in the sense that they cannot rejoice in a way of life that they believe is contrary to the good of their son or daughter, family member or loved one.
Our work is to assist, in very practical ways, that expression of filial piety and trust, as well as a willingness to suffer, on the part of these two groups: to help them to know that they have a place in the Church, that they are loved by the Church, that they are loved by Christ, that their struggle is not in vain, that they are indeed walking with and toward Christ, and that there are others who want to walk with them and assist them in growth and in intimacy with the Lord, and his mystical body the Church.
CWR: There has been a lot of discussion regarding the upcoming Synod on the Family, and the Church’s response to homosexuality—but what do you think the relationship is between these concepts: the idea of “family” and the idea of “homosexuality”? Why is there a relationship there?
Father Check: At the foundation of this discussion, culturally and then ecclesially, is the reflection on the Church’s role and ultimately her authority to speak in the name of Jesus Christ about marriage, family life, chastity, and sexual intimacy. While this is certainly a discussion about particulars of how people love and receive love, and who those people are, and what those relationships are, I think foundationally this is at least as much a discussion of ecclesiology as it is morality.
I think what the synod is investigating and ultimately what the Pope will write about it in a post-synodal exhortation when it comes is why the Church holds the position that she does: not to impede human happiness but to ensure it, to further it. Once we have questions relating to happiness before us, then we have to have a way to understand how it is that we can be sure that we are happy and where we will find fulfillment.
This is particularly important for the young as they are formed in truth. We do have some of those means, of course, internal to the human person, with regard to conscience and the virtues, but typically we need confirmation and guidance and example from outside ourselves to verify for us which path we’re on. So I think that homosexuality, divorce and remarriage, alternative kids of families, and other issues that the synod is investigating all join on the question of the Church’s authority to be able to discuss this—which it implies, of course, by the synod itself.
If the Church doesn’t have authority to pass judgment on these questions, then it is nothing more than a deliberative body. (I mean the Church, not the synod. The synod is a deliberative body.) The authority rests with the Holy Father to make decisions. Implied in the synod, is, it seems to me, a clear statement that the Church has not only a role in discussing these things, but in laying forward a clear path. That’s where we see, I think, a union of all these questions.
CWR: Do you anticipate that anything truly new will come out of the synod, in terms of the Church’s teaching?
Father Check: Not in terms of doctrine. I think if there’s anything that we might call unique—and that can be a bit of an ambiguous term—if there’s something that would appear to be unusual, or what we haven’t thought about before, then I think that we will only find that that will fall into the realm of pastoral practice. And that itself, pastoral practice, can be open to some vulnerability and ambiguity.
CWR: The working document that was just released recently recommends that “diocesan pastoral plans reserve special attention to the accompaniment of the families in which persons of homosexual tendencies live, and to those same persons.” What do you think is meant by this?
Father Check: I can tell you what we try to do, and have been trying to do, in that regard. Part of our apostolate, which is called EnCourage, is devoted to family members and loved ones. If you look at the goals of EnCourage on the website, you see that they’re really not directed toward the person with same-sex attraction or the person who is living a homosexual life. In other words, the Church doesn’t view the parents or family members as means to get to someone else to effect change. When people come to us, understandably they’re dismayed, or worried, or frightened, or angry, or confused, about what it is that they should do for their children. And that’s understandable.
If a child is injured or sick, whether it’s a young child or an adolescent, or an adult child, the parent quite naturally feels in his or her heart the proper desire to want to intervene and get between the child and the source of danger. The difference here, of course, between bodily harm, in the form of illness or injury, and the question of homosexuality is that typically, the person who is the subject of the parent’s concern does not see homosexuality as any kind of threat or danger to their happiness if they act on the feelings that they have. In that sense it seems to me that we can’t force people to accept things or do things or think about things in a way that’s not attractive to them. Certainly we always have prayer and sacrifice—the good means that we have in the spiritual realm—but our concentration, to get back to your question about accompaniment, is to help the parents and loved ones deepen their own relationship with Christ, because that is what they have control over. We could say that the more that someone lives a holy life, the more they are available to God’s grace to be instruments that he wants them to be in the lives of others, according to his providence. We’re not trying to instrumentalize that relationship, we’re only recognizing what we know from the communion of saints: that people who have lived a holy life are the ones that are most likely to have the most profound and lasting influence on the lives of others, as Christ himself did, and does. So that’s where our emphasis is with regard to accompaniment.
In the family of Courage and EnCourage, we have quite a bit of experience—as well as all of the treasures of the Church’s experience over 2,000 years—about how to understand these problems of the heart and how we can be in such pain on the one hand but at the same time have trust and hope. And that’s where I think we really do our best work: instilling a deeper trust in God’s providence, a deeper trust in the goodness of God, a deeper hope that again, according to his providence, as St. Paul said, nothing can separate us from the love of God.
CWR: Would you say that these pastoral forms of accompaniment can be adjusted, or ought to be adjusted, based on the culture in which they find themselves? The recent US Supreme Court ruling legalizing “gay marriage,” for example, has really ramped up the culture wars, so to speak. Is that going to change the environment in which the pastoral practice is done and therefore change the type of practice?
Father Check: That’s a question where we’ll have to wait and see what it looks like. On the one hand, yes, I have very real fatherly concerns for the future of our apostolate and how we will be allowed to do our work unimpeded and whether that will be the case down the line. On the other hand, I would say that nothing has changed, except that we now are perhaps a little bit more free of the concern that the Church has properly had about influencing things in the civil order: we are free just to concern ourselves with the bold proclamation of the Gospel.
While I understand and see the importance of the civil right called religious liberty, and the Church must avail herself of that, the complementary piece of the Church’s work must be the proclamation of truth, of the moral teaching, so that we are helping people understand that chastity is part of the Good News. We are helping them to understand that only the complementarity of the sexes and only the rightly-understood procreative potential of the sexual faculty and its use will lead people to the fulfillment of the desire that they have, irrespective of their sexual attractions.
The other real question here is: what does it mean to be human? Is there something which binds us all together as what might have been called in another time “the family of man”? Is it only a minimalist perspective that says you and I agree we won’t inflict bodily harm on each other, or moral, spiritual, physical harm? Is it only sort of a minimalist perspective that’s really very individualistic, that says you and I just have to agree that we’re not going to hurt each other in these ways? Or is there something that might be called maximalist that suggests that we are united in a deeper sense by what distinguishes us as human: the desire for love, and truth and intimacy in ways are recognizable across culture, across religious boundaries, across ethnicity, across time?
This of course was one of the major themes of St. John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor, when he asserted just that—that there is a universal human nature that binds us all together in the family of man.
CWR: In the Relatio from 2014, there was some interesting language regarding the idea that homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer the Christian community. This was interpreted by homosexuals within the Christian community as saying that their sexual orientation was valuable in itself, and a gift to offer in itself. What do you think about that?
Father Check: This is a cause and effect question: working from effect back to cause, I think, is something that we want to do very thoughtfully and carefully. What I would say here is that the assertion that the particular qualities and gifts of men and women of same-sex attraction are seated in the homosexual tendency—that assertion, to me, has not been demonstrated.
I would say that the good qualities that they have—there’s no question about their many virtues—are seated in their humanity. They are seated in their response to grace and their own personal development of virtue and not in the hope of sexual inclination. It doesn’t seem to me to make logical sense to say that that which the Church considers objectively disordered and leads to sin if acted upon can at the same time be the source of virtue. That is an assertion that is unproven and logically would be hard to demonstrate. There isn’t any question of the virtues and the good qualities, and the gifts and talents, the thoughtfulness, and many different things that people with same-sex attraction have—but the cause and effect, I think, is another matter.
CWR: How would you respond to those practicing Christians or practicing Catholics who do feel that their homosexual inclination, even not acted upon, is part of their identities?
Father Check: That’s also a foundational question. The Church believes and teaches us that the twofold expression of human nature is male and female, not homosexual and heterosexual.
In my work in this field now, for eight years in my current job and more than that, having started a Courage chapter in 2003, I understand homosexuality first to not be a question of chastity or sex. It is first a question of identity and someone’s understanding of who they are.
I would say generally speaking, not just with regard to this topic, we can make mistakes about our identity. But in particular to men and women with same-sex attraction, I would invite them to consider St. Paul’s words in Romans 8:28, when he says that God works for the good in all things for those who love him. So we’re back to the question of cause and effect here. Can God bestow great grace on someone in and through a particular circumstance and their response to it? Yes! I think we can see that more obviously in things that are not so much related to the controversial topic of sex, where people transcend and overcome all kinds of very real struggles, whether they’re bodily or moral or spiritual. But I would say that the hope is not in a mistaken notion of who we are, which would lead to a mistaken notion in cause and effect: it is the understanding that it is Jesus Christ who illumines the mind and heart to a proper and complete understanding of identity. This was a central theme of the second Vatican Council in Gaudium et Spes 22: “Christ the new Adam fully reveals man to himself in his most high calling.” Then, it was a central theme in the pontificate of St. John Paul II. I think it continues now with a particular relevance to the topic of homosexuality.
CWR: If the synod fathers were to ask you for advice regarding pastoral practice, what advice would you give? In particular, advice about helping people find their true identity and deal with the difficulties of homosexual attractions?
Father Check: The first piece of advice I would give would be to listen to the voice of those people for whom this is a lived reality and who have placed their trust in Christ and in the Church. Their perspective is the one that, in my mind, has not yet been heard. It was not heard by the extraordinary synod, to my knowledge.
What I would want to say to the synod fathers is this: there are people, men and women, young and old, some married, many single, who have invested their trust in a truth that many have quickly set aside as being something unrealistic. That group of people have often—not always, but often—lived the life that now enjoys the protection of the civil law here in the United States. What they have found in living that life is that the fulfillment that they sought did not come to them. In fact, they often suffered greatly in different ways. And so in that sense I think they verify what we know, because the Church tells us this: sin leads to suffering. Sin leads to unhappiness. Sin leads to misery. And in this conversation of course, we need to make a distinction on the one hand—pleasure, satisfaction, amusement, entertainment, contentment—those sorts of words, none of which are necessarily bad, and on the other hand—fulfillment, lasting and deep fulfillment.
What I would say to the synod fathers is that the collective voice of experience of the people that we’re trying to serve says very plainly: living the homosexual life does not lead to lasting and deep fulfillment. That shouldn’t surprise us, because we have all of the Christian anthropology to understand that that would be true. But the grammar of today is, even in some places in the Church, not the grammar of Christian anthropology. It is often based on lived experience or personal narrative: so let’s make use of those things. I think in that sense we have a body of wisdom and lived experience that would be helpful.
Beware of unintended consequences on the divorced and remarried (A liberal perspective)
By John L. Allen Jr., August 8, 2015
Some years ago, I was in Africa working on a book and found myself in a car with a senior African bishop. At one point his cell phone rang, and, looking at the number, he said he needed to take the call.
The caller turned out to be a deeply faithful Catholic woman the bishop was trying to console. Her husband had walked out on her, leaving her penniless to care for four children. Out of spite, he also refused to go along with an annulment — a finding from a Church court that theirs was not a valid marriage, freeing both to remarry.
In desperation, the woman remarried outside the Church and was struggling with the fact that her situation made her, under Church law, ineligible for Communion. The bishop finished the call, and then turned to me in obvious frustration.
“You know what kills me?” he said. “I can’t give her Communion, even though it’s the rascal who left her who created this mess …. It just doesn’t seem fair.”
The episode returned to mind this week, as Pope Francis once again took up the topic of divorced and remarried Catholics.
On Wednesday, the pontiff called for greater compassion for such folks, but didn’t address whether the Communion ban should be relaxed. That issue proved intensely polarizing at a summit of bishops in Rome last year, called a “synod,” and will be on the docket when the bishops gather again this October.
Francis made a few points on Wednesday that seemed to back change and others to discourage it, including stating that remarriage after divorce “contradicts” the sacrament of marriage. Parsing him is important, because while a synod can float ideas, the pope decides.
One hopeful moment for those supporting reform came when Francis referred to a 1981 document from Pope (now saint) John Paul II that said it’s important to “discern well” among different situations, such as the difference between “suffering” a break-up and “provoking” it.
That common-sense distinction represents a powerful argument for the reform camp.
When German Cardinal Walter Kasper argued for readmitting some divorced and remarried believers to Communion in a celebrated speech before the College of Cardinals in February 2014, he cited abandoned spouses who remarry for the good of their children and who can’t walk away from their new unions without doing further harm.
Kasper and his allies insist they’re not proposing to repeal Church teaching that marriage is permanent. Instead, they say, people who remarry after divorce would be admitted to Communion only after careful discernment, presumably including how much responsibility they bear for the failure of the first relationship.
It’s worth pondering, however, how this kind of “discernment” might work in practice.
For the sake of argument, let’s say the pope authorizes bishops around the world to invite divorced and remarried Catholics to Communion on a case-by-case basis, and in turn, the bishop authorizes parish priests to make those calls.
Suppose you’ve got two people whose marriage broke up, both of whom have remarried. Also suppose Father X allows one party to come to Communion, on the basis that he or she wasn’t at fault or has done appropriate penance, but not the other.
Human nature being what it is, how do you suppose that other party would react?
In some cases, at least, the second party would doubtless cry foul.
Some would rail that the priest is biased, or that he doesn’t know the whole story. They’d want to appeal to the bishop, and if they don’t get satisfaction, they’d want to take the case to Rome.
That’s been the experience with the annulment process, and it’s hard to see how this would be much different.
Two consequences seem fairly predictable.
First, bishops would probably feel the need for an objective forum to resolve such disputes, which basically means a court. What starts out as a pastoral process could quickly turn into a legal one, with all its contentiousness, delays, and cost.
A legal process would almost certainly be needed to avoid the risk of arbitrary judgments or shopping around to get the desired answer. It’s worth remembering that marriage law in the Church arose in the first place in response to just such challenges.
Part of what drives reformers is a laudable aim to ease the pain of a broken marriage, but the practical reality is that asking clergy to make these judgments may only compound the ugliness.
Second, many pastors might not want the grief, and therefore would be tempted to say yes to almost anyone who asks. (By way of analogy, many civil judges were thrilled with the advent of no-fault divorce precisely because it took them off the hook.)
In that case, the reform motto of “not for everyone and not for no one” might turn out to be more honored in the breach than the observance.
The fact that a new approach might be complicated, of course, isn’t a conclusive argument for saying no, because it may be that solutions can be found. Advocates of change might also argue that however flawed a new system could be, it’s preferable to an unjust status quo.
At a minimum, however, reformers likely will face pressure in October not just to defend their position in theory, but also to explain how it would work in practice.
Pope Francis: welcome with compassion those who have remarried outside the Church
August 5, 2015
Following a month-long hiatus, Pope Francis resumed his Wednesday general audience on August 5 and called for a compassionate welcome to those who have remarried outside the Church.
In doing so, he made no mention of the upcoming Synod of Bishops nor of the controversial proposal to admit those in such situations to Holy Communion.
Citing statements on the same topic by his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, the Holy Father said that the Church should reach out to help those who are in irregular marital situations, aware that there are no “simple solutions” to their problems. Although the Church cannot approve of their marriages, they are “not excommunicated, by any means,” he said, and the Church must help them.
“The Church knows well that such a situation contradicts the Christian sacrament,” Pope Francis told those assembled in Paul VI Audience Hall. The Church, he said, looks upon those in such situations with a maternal heart and “always looks for the good and the salvation of persons.”
Citing St. John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio (no. 84), Pope Francis said that the Church must distinguish between those who caused the breakup of the initial marriage and those who endured it.
Looking at the situation through the eyes of the young children of the new union, Pope Francis spoke of the “urgency of developing in our community a real welcome toward the persons who are living in such situations,” with a careful attention to “language” and “attitudes.”
If we “hold them at a distance from the life of the community, as if they were excommunicated,” the Pope added, how will the children be raised in the faith?
Pope Francis praised his predecessors’ efforts to reach out to those in such situations and cited a growing awareness that “we need a fraternal and attentive hospitality, in love and in truth, towards the baptized” who have established a new union.
Calling upon all members of the Church to manifest the attitude of the Good Shepherd, Pope Francis said pastors should “manifest openly and consistently the community’s willingness to welcome” those in such unions, “that they may live and develop more” in their “belonging to Christ and the Church through prayer, through listening to the Word of God, through frequenting the liturgy, through the Christian education of children, through love and service to the poor, through the commitment to justice and peace.”
Former papal theologian decries ‘rigorism’ on issue of divorce and remarriage
August 7, 2015
On July 30, 2015, the journal Vatican Insider (of the Italian newspaper La Stampa) reported on the recent interview made by the current editor of Civiltà Cattolica, Father Antonio Spadaro, S.J., with the Swiss Dominican, Cardinal Georges Cottier. In it, Cardinal Cottier criticizes the expression “remarried divorcees” as being “too generic” and as too often inadequately “applied in fundamentally different situations.” He also says: “In rigorism there is an innate brutality that goes against the gentle way God has of guiding each person.”
In the interview – which will appear in the next issue of the Jesuit periodical – Cardinal Cottier argues in favor of a mercy that can be interpreted as a liberalizing of the Church’s moral teaching. He says, according to Vatican Insider:
“Mercy is doctrine, it is the crux of Christian doctrine,” the Swiss cardinal said. “Only a narrow-minded person can defend legalism and imagine that mercy and doctrine are two separate things. In this sense, today’s Church has realized that no one, no matter what their [sic] position, can be left alone. We need to guide people, both righteous and sinners.”
For Cottier, some “remarried” divorcees may be in such a situation because they have been abandoned by their first spouse, and they then looked for someone to help raise their children. Cottier implied that those cases need a different treatment from those who were the guilty party in the break-up of their first marriage.
According to Vatican Insider, Cottier’s argument runs, as follows:
As far as the term “remarried divorcees” is concerned, the Theologian sees it as “unfortunate” from a canonical point of view: “It is too generic and is applied in fundamentally different situations. It indicates that one or more persons who have divorced from an indissoluble sacramental marriage, have entered into a civil marriage. This second marriage does not annul the first, neither does it substitute for it, because the first remains the only marriage and the Church does not have the power to dissolve it. Pastoral judgment cannot ignore the origin of each of these two unions, it is purely a question of equity.” [Cottier then describes two cases of remarried divorcees, as were just described above.] “These are different cases. The second one involves a “scandal”, while the first is linked to solitude, a difficulty is moving on, vulnerability, need, including [the need] for companionship”. “Generally, in every situation, justice requires certain important factors to be taken into account”: “The duty one has towards the abandoned spouse, who often remains faithful to their [sic] sacramental vows,” “the rights of the children born during the first and legitimate marriage” (“Strangely, the 2014 Synod focused little on this aspect, at least in terms of media coverage”).
In response to the different factual backgrounds of those “remarried” divorcees, Cottier says: What is needed, instead, is “prudent judgment.” He says:
I believe that the solution to some problems should come from the prudent judgment of the bishop. I say this not without hesitation and doubt, seeing division between bishops. My claim refers first and foremost to certain situations where there is a big likelihood of the first marriage being null [from its inception] but it is difficult to provide canonical proof.
Cottier also argues with reference to the changed life-realities: “in accordance with its pastoral mission, the Church always needs to be attentive to historical changes and the evolution of mentalities. Not because it should subordinate itself to these, but, rather, in order to overcome the obstacles that can prevent others from embracing its advice and guidelines.”
According to Cottier, “the existential coordinates of peoples’ spiritual lives must be respected.”
The words “rigorism” and “negative judgment” can be read in the context of the traditional moral teaching of the Church which called sin a sin, and forbade adultery and fornication, according to the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
For Cardinal Cottier, however, the Year of Mercy might bring changes in the Church away from a judging attitude. He hopes “that the Year of Mercy will enlighten the work of the 2015 Synod and will shape it. There are still people who are scandalized by the Church, men and women who, due to a negative judgment which was expressed in an impersonal and insensitive way, have felt a terrible rejection. This is where confessors have a huge responsibility.”
This interview is not the first one published in the recent months by Civiltà Cattolica, whose Jesuit editor, Father Spadaro, is a friend of the pope. The journal has repeatedly promoted the Kasper Proposal and other similar arguments which are strategically now being brought forth, apparently in order to liberalize the Church’s moral teaching on marriage and the family in a laxer or more latitudinarian way.
Among these more progressive voices, Cardinal Cottier himself has been earlier in the news, in 2009, when he argued that Obama in his Notre Dame address had not defended abortion as an absolute right and that the president recognizes the “tragic gravity” of the problem. Cottier also then said that Obama does not defend “relativism,” and that “his words move in the direction of reducing the evil” in trying to make “the number of abortions as small as possible.”
Someone wrote to me:
The Think Tank for Pope Francis’s media standpoint on “Mercy to those who re-marry in Court” seems to be in Mumbai, reference, The Examiner, August 1, page 10, “Ministry to the remarried: the need of the hour.”
Mercy without atonement
Pope Francis wants mercy without atonement for sin and firm purpose of amendment as Catholic teaching has always required.
What Did St Pius X Do Wrong?
By Mundabor, August 6, 2015
I can’t hear anymore all this talk of the new ways how the Church must include, or integrate, or let feel welcome all kind of, obviously, unrepentant sinners.
What exactly did the Church in the time of St Pius X do that was wrong, and why?
Were there, in those times, no adulterers? No children born out of wedlock? No sodomy? Don’t make me laugh!
No. There was a massive amount of sin, because human nature is, after the Fall, automatically predisposed to sin.
Were our forefathers, then, “insensitive” to the “plight” of the adulterer? You bet they were! They were very sensitive to the danger of damnation, and had therefore no time for the rubbish of those who aren’t. If you believe that adulterers are in grave danger of hell all the rest follows; if you waste your time talking about “new ways of accepting them” you simply do not believe that adulterers are in grave danger of hell.
Think of it logically instead of emoting like a seventeen years old girl, and you will realise that there really is nothing in the middle. Every talk of “new” acceptance means an acceptance that does not include: 1) admission of grave sin and grave scandal, 2) repentance, and 3) amending of one’s way and putting an end to scandal. Therefore, any talk of “new” acceptance means making people more comfortable on their way to hell. Crucially, though, it makes the other pew-sitters feel good and sensitive. Sensitivity is the opium of the small “c” catholic.
What did St Pius X do, exactly, that was wrong? Can you give me exact details? Did he not know that the child of the adulterers would feel bad? Of course he did! But you see, the likes of that great Pope were infinitely more interested in the salvation of souls than in the comfort of children! The Blessed Virgin in Fatima makes the children very uncomfortable, and does not give them any of the sensitive rubbish of the modern times!
Nor can you say that in those times such adultering couple and their children were rare. Firstly, and insofar as this was the case, they were rare (or less frequent) because the “insensitive” rules were openly preached and brutally enforced by a strong Church or, among the Proddies, by strong Christian feelings. Secondly, such situations were, actually, very common whenever Christian rules did not arrive, or where they were despised; the slums of (Protestant) Victorian London are a rather striking example of this.
You can’t have your cake and eat it. You can’t uphold Truth, and preserve “sensitivity”. You will never save souls by adapting truth to the sensitivity of children. I was told the brutal truths of hell when I was four. I am sure it did not harm my soul one little bit. Of course it would have hurt me to hypothetically discover that, say, my parents were living in sin. But then again this “hurtful” society created children whose parents were not living in sin! Conversely, it is this stupid sensitivity and fear to hurt anyone that creates the adulteries, the scandal, and the children born out of wedlock!
Was Pius X, then, not inclusive? On the contrary, he was very inclusive of the repentant sinner! Did he feel any need of “new” ways of including adulterers? No, it is very obvious the great Saint did not feel any need for them at all! Was he, then, unaware of how unpleasant it is to be born out of wedlock, or to be condemned by your community for living in sin? Of course he was!
I could go on, but I think I have made the point.
There is nothing wrong in the way the Church has always done things. There can be no way, no way whatsoever, they were wrongly “insensitive” and we must find “new ways” to accommodate any sensitivity that was wrongly neglected before.
Let us realise that all this rubbish talk of finding new ways is the direct consequence of the loss of the fear of the Lord. If the fear of the Lord were still there, the priorities would be arranged differently.
Disagree with this, and you must admit that the Church was “not inclusive” or “not welcoming” in all her past history, all the way up to the enlightened Peron Generation: where air conditioning is evil, God scolds you but does not slap you, and it is necessary to “raise hell”.
St Pius X did nothing wrong. His Church was inclusive in the right way, and it was so out of real charity and love for the salvation of souls. Whatever harshness this charitable mentality caused was the unavoidable consequence of the harshness of the simple truths about salvation and damnation.
It is our generation that does not know what fear of the Lord is, and therefore forgets real charity and sinks in an ocean of diabetes-inducing talk of welcome and inclusion.
Get your priorities straight. The rest will follow from there.
Comment by the author:
We have all the ability – or the duty – to pray for the painless death of the Pope – and his eternal salvation, if he can; which I doubt… – but this does not mean that we can let the disgrace the man is become an occasion of sin for us.
I wish he would die, for the good of the Church. But I pray for his eternal soul too, and when it comes particularly difficult I try to pray more. We hate the Evil Clown, and we hope he will not be inflicted on us for long; but we hope to be all together in heaven one day.
Synod. The Key question: Does Jesus Allow Divorce or Not?
By Sandro Magister, Rome, August 3, 2015
Innocenzo Gargano, an illustrious exegete, explains that he does, and Cardinal Kasper agrees with him.
But the New Testament and the tradition of the Church say the opposite, critics object. A preview of a book by the biblicist Gonzalo Ruiz Freites.
The exegesis of the words of Jesus on marriage and divorce made by the Camaldolese monk Guido Innocenzo Gargano, a famous biblicist and patrologist and a professor at the pontifical universities Gregoriana and Urbaniana, is more and more at the center of the pre-synodal discussion.
In his judgment, in the kingdom of heaven preached by Jesus there is also room for those who today might continue to make use of the faculty of repudiation granted by Moses on account of “hardness of heart.”
Father Gargano does not draw explicit consequences on the doctrinal and pastoral terrain from this exegesis of his. But these are more than inferable. It is no coincidence that Cardinal Walter Kasper, leader of the innovators, cited Gargano in support of his own ideas in his recent interview with the German magazine “Stimmen der Zeit,” also available in Italian translation:
Nochmals: Zulassung von wiederverheiratet Geschiedenen zu den Sakramenten?
Ammissione dei divorziati risposati ai sacramenti?
Gargano has presented his exegesis in two consecutive essays. The first last winter in the theology quarterly “Urbaniana University Journal,” reproduced in its entirety and extensively presented in several languages on http://www.chiesa:
For the “Hard of Heart” the Law of Moses Still Applies January 16, 2015
The second at the beginning of July, in the form of a letter to the curator of this website, also reproduced in its entirety and presented in several languages on http://www.chiesa:
What Jesus Would Say If He Were a Synod Father? July 3, 2015
In his second contribution, Father Gargano revisits and develops the topics presented in the first, taking into account the reactions received up to that point.
Among these reactions there were some that were favorable, but most were opposed, last of all from Luis Sánchez Navarro, full professor of the New Testament at the Universidad San Dámaso in Madrid.
And all of them can be read on the blog “Settimo Cielo,” with links to the original languages:
Matrimonio e seconde nozze. Cosa direbbe nel sinodo sant’Agostino
Che cosa ha detto Gesù sul divorzio. Le due interpretazioni
Divorziato, risposato, comunicante. Una testimonianza
Divorzio sì o no. Il biblista duella col monaco
But Father Gargano received more criticism after his second contribution, which was also duly reported on “Settimo Cielo” with links to the original languages. Among these, that of the Jesuit Horacio Bojorge, founder of the theological magazine of Montevideo “Fe e Razón” and a professor of biblical culture and languages at the faculty of humanistic sciences of the Universidad de la República Oriental in Uruguay:
Da Napoli e da Montevideo. Due risposte alla botta di padre Gargano
Sposi per sempre. Gesù non ha ammesso eccezioni
Da Buenos Aires e dal Massachusetts. Altre due repliche a padre Gargano
And to such criticisms a new one is now added, so extensive that it is about to be released in book form.
The author is Father Gonzalo Ruiz Freites, doctor in biblical exegesis at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, a professor of exegesis of the New Testament and vicar general of the Institute of the Incarnate Word.
The book is entitled “Let man not separate what God has united.” And its subtitle: “A study on the teachings in the New Testament on divorce and remarriage in response to Prof. Guido I. Gargano.”
And this is its provisional index, with notice of an addition relative to a passage of the letter of Paul to the Ephesians:
I. BRIEF SYNTHESIS OF THE THOUGHT OF PROF. GARGANO
II. JESUS AND THE MOSAIC LAW
1. The expression “the Law and the Prophets” in the New Testament
a. What did Jesus mean in Mt 5:17 with the expression “the Law and the Prophets”?
b. The Mosaic Law did not have a definitive role in the salvific economy of God
c. The various types of precepts in the Mosaic Lw
d. The distinction of the precepts of the Mosaic Law in the NT
e. The Law contained in itself the reference to Christ
2. The meaning of the phrase “I have not come to abolish, but to fulfill” (Mt 5:17)
a. A Judaizing tendency?
b. The meaning of the logion of Mt 5:17-18
3. The meaning of the phrase “until all is accomplished” (Mt 5:18)
III. THE CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE GRANTED BY MOSES
1. The context of the ancient world and Mosaic benevolence toward women
2. A juridical concession of a social nature
3. The motive of ritual impurity
4. The juridical meaning and pedagogical value of the certificate of repudiation
5. A certain decline of the family institution
6. Covenant with God and adultery
7. The text of Mal 2:10-16: covenant with God, adultery, and divine worship
IV. THE HARDNESS OF HEART MENTIONED BY JESUS
1. Hardness of heart (sklerokardia)
2. Hardness of heart and the commandment of love
3. Hardness of heart and the new law
V. THE TEACHING OF JESUS ON DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE
1. The two texts of the Gospel of Matthew
a. The text of Mt 19:3-9
b. The text of Mt 5:31-32
c. The explicit abolition of the provision that allowed repudiation
2. The texts of the Gospels of Mark and Luke
a. The text of Mk 10:2-12
b. The text of Lk 16:16-18
VI. THE TEACHING OF JESUS ON DIVORCE IN THE WRITINGS OF S. PAUL
1. The text of Rm 7:1-4
2. The text of 1 Cor 7:10-11, 39
*The following is a preview of the conclusion of the upcoming book, without the footnotes.
IN RESPONSE TO FATHER GUIDO INNOCENZO GARGANO
By Gonzalo Ruiz Freites
(From: “Let man not separate what God has united.” The final chapter: “Conclusions”)
The teaching of Jesus on divorce and remarriage, present both in the synoptic Gospels and in the writings of Paul, is unanimous and definitive and forms part of the revelation of the New Testament, received and faithfully guarded by the Church. This is a teaching of divine-apostolic origin, absolute and universal, that prohibits divorce and, in the case of the remarriage of one who has divorced, considers the second union as adultery.
The hypothesis of Father Guido Innocenzo Gargano has no support in a serious exegesis of the texts he has studied – in their literal sense, in the immediate context, and in the entirety of the revelation of the New Testament. His is a failed attempt, moreover, because he has selected the texts that he wanted to consider on the basis of his preconceptions and not of the pre-comprehension of the faith of the whole of the New Testament. He has also studied them in an exceedingly partial manner, without the slightest exegetical analysis of the texts or their context. Finally, he has forced them in order to draw conclusions that are in accord with the preconceptions with which he began.
We are reminded of the words of St. Jerome, when he teaches that the one who studies the sacred text must adhere above all “to the exact interpretation,” and that “the duty of the commentator is not that of presenting personal ideas but rather those of the author who is being commented upon.” Otherwise, he adds, “the sacred orator is exposed to a grave danger, one day or another, on account of a mistaken interpretation, of making the Gospel of God the Gospel of man.”
For Gargano, Jesus approved the certificate of repudiation as a merciful concession. He approved, therefore, the adultery that resulted from this. The consequences of such reasoning are disastrous, even if Gargano does not explicitly deduce them. Jesus is supposed to have come not to abolish anything, but to take into account the concrete situation of the sinner. He is therefore supposed to have come not to call all sinners to leave their situation of sin by calling them to conversion (cf. Lk 5:32). For some there would be another way, that of the Mosaic law. In this manner Jesus would not heal the nature wounded by sin. He would instead let the sick continue being sick. He himself would have to be contented with being unable to attain the “skopòs” desired.
Gargano’s confusion is great, and his conception of salvation seems more Protestant than Catholic: it lacks an adequate theology of grace. In such a position there is no room for the grace infused into the heart of man, which makes him a new creature by healing his wounds from the inside and elevating him to the supernatural order through formal participation in the divine life. It is in this way that the “skopòs” of the salvific work of Christ is attained!
Moreover, to affirm once again the validity of Mosaic law for salvation, even if entering as “the least” in the kingdom of heaven, is gravely contrary to the revelation of the New Testament, and as a result to the Christian faith. If the Mosaic law is still a way of salvation, Christ would have died in vain.
It is also very grave to seek to impose the validity of the precepts of the ancient law on Christians. Many times while writing these lines I have thought of Paul’s cry in the letter to the Galatians, against those who were seeking to “Judaize” in this sense the Christians who had come from the Gentile world. After saying “I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification were through the law, then Christ died to no purpose” (Gal 2:21), the apostle continues: “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh?” (Gal 3:1-3).
It is clear that the teaching of the Lord is new in the Hebrew world, where divorce and remarriage were permitted on the condition of issuing a certificate of repudiation. It is in this context that Jesus prohibits the possibility of divorce and remarriage with his absolute precept: let man not separate what God has joined (Mk 10:9; Mt 19:6).
The primitive Church, therefore, had to face this problem both for the Jews who embraced the faith and for the pagans who were accustomed to the legal validity of the practice of divorce. From the beginning, however, the Church was faithful to its Lord. The Pauline text of 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 attests to how the authority of the Lord’s commandment prevailed in the face of all the permissiveness of the ancient world, both Jewish and pagan. This firmness is due to faith in the commandment given by Jesus himself: “Let man not separate what God has joined.” This conviction upheld throughout the centuries the Church’s teachings on this matter.
The mission of Jesus is entirely characterized by mercy for sinners. It is however a mercy that leads to conversion and change of heart, as He himself defines it: “I have not come to call the just, but sinners to repentance” (Lk 5:32). Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery, but neither did he say to her, “Go and get a certificate of repudiation, then you can continue to live just as before.” Instead, clearly, he commanded her: “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11).
Jesus does not command things that are impossible. For the necessary change of heart He brought with him the new law, the grace of the Holy Spirit poured into hearts (cf. Rm 5:5). With his grace it is possible to fulfill all of his commandments, including the precept of not uniting “more uxorio” with a person who is not one’s spouse, even if this means having to bear one’s cross every day (cf. Lk 9:23). To think that living chastity is not possible for one who has failed in his marriage means not believing, in point of fact, in the interior grace of God, which makes the old man into a new creature (cf. 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15). It also means thinking that the Lord commands us to fulfill that which is impossible, de facto nullifying the grace of God with which everything is possible, in spite of our weaknesses.
One key for understanding the thought of Father Gargano is found in his letter to Sandro Magister, when he distinguishes between “objective truth” and “subjective truth” in the moral-existential field. The distinction is unacceptable in the sense proposed by the author and opens the door to every sort of moral relativism, where one’s own conscience becomes the supreme norm of action even when it does not correspond to the objective truth or to the law of God. The truth is objective by definition. Subjective reality can correspond to the truth or not correspond to it. In the latter case this is not a matter of “subjective truth,” but of error, and it is a work of mercy to correct the one who errs. To love the sinner also means this, according to the teaching of the Lord (Mt 18:15-17; cf. Ephesians 6:4; Hebrews 12:5-11).
Vatican Council II, in “Dignitatis Humanae,” indicated that man must govern himself with his conscience, but it also taught that “all men are bound to seek the truth, especially in what concerns God and His Church, and to embrace the truth they come to know, and to hold fast to it.” And this because of the dignity of the human person, according to which men are “impelled by nature and also bound by a moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth. They are also bound to adhere to the truth, once it is known, and to order their whole lives in accord with the demands of truth.” And later: “Further light is shed on the subject if one considers that the highest norm of human life is the divine law-eternal, objective and universal-whereby God orders, directs and governs the entire universe and all the ways of the human community by a plan conceived in wisdom and love. Man has been made by God to participate in this law, with the result that, under the gentle disposition of divine Providence, he can come to perceive ever more fully the truth that is unchanging.
Wherefore every man has the duty, and therefore the right, to seek the truth in matters religious in order that he may with prudence form for himself right and true judgments of conscience, under use of all suitable means.”
In the formation of their conscience, Christians must however also consider the doctrine of the Church, oriented to the salvation of all according to the plan of God the savior, “who wants all men to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth” (1 Tm 2:4). It is by the will of Christ that the Catholic Church is the teacher of truth. Its mission is to proclaim and to teach authentically the truth that is Christ, and at the same time to declare and confirm authoritatively the principles of the moral order that arise from human nature itself. In teaching all the truth contained in the Gospels, therefore, the Church does nothing other than obey the commandment of the risen Lord: “Go therefore and make disciples of all peoples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19-20). In this “all” is included the teaching on divorce and remarriage.
The Church, following the model and teaching of its Lord, has always taught that exquisite mercy must be shown to persons who find themselves in irregular situations concerning marriage. A mercy, however, that did not take into account all the teachings of the Lord in this matter would be a false mercy, being wholly or partly deprived of the truth. It would even be a cause and source of many evils, as Saint Thomas teaches in his commentary on the beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount: “Justice without mercy is cruelty; mercy without justice is the mother of dissolution.”
Only the truth makes man completely free. That truth which is the person of Jesus, the “Verbum abbreviatum” that encapsulates all of the Scriptures, old and new. He is the truth that is expressed in all his words, without cutbacks or discounts. He is the truth that is at the same time the way to life, to eternal salvation, the only goal of our Christian existence (John 14:6). This is what Saint Peter, the first pope, confessed when many were abandoning the Lord because they found his words “hard”: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You alone have words of eternal life” (John 6:68).
Email received, August 3, 2015
“The final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family!” —Sister Lucia to Cardinal Carrafa
This battle will reach a climax at the Synod on the family in Rome in October. That’s why I urge you to:
Sign the filial appeal to Pope Francis
to defend the family at the Synod
The spiritual war over marriage and homosexual sin has shifted from the U.S. Supreme Court to the Catholic Church.
See this revealing quote from the New York Times:
“[Mitchell] Gold told me that church leaders must be made (our emphasis) ‘to take homosexuality off the sin list.'” (Frank Bruni, NYT, Bigotry, the Bible and the Lessons of Indiana, 4-3-15)
The liberal German Cardinal Walter Kasper
told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that the topic of same-sex couples at the last Synod was “only a marginal topic, but now it becomes central.”
Even a cardinal, Cardinal Kasper, defended the Irish vote in favor of homosexual “marriage,” saying: “A democratic state has the duty to respect the will of the people; and it seems clear that, if the majority of the people wants such homosexual unions, the state has a duty to recognize such rights.”
So, Sister Lucia was right. The final battle is about marriage and family and it is taking place at the Synod on the family, scheduled for Rome in October 2015, where Cardinal Kasper will be one of the presenters.
That’s why it’s urgent that you:
Sign the filial appeal to Pope Francis to defend the family at the upcoming Synod in Rome.
You and I know that the Catholic Church is the moral compass of the world. As the Church goes, so goes the world.
However the Catholic Church is under attack.
AT STAKE: Marriage and the family as God intended it to be.
THE THREAT: Acceptance of divorce, cohabitation and some sort of recognition of homosexuality as something positive.
THE RISK: The Catholic Church being pushed into a great universal schism.
You see, many leftist bishops in Rome will try to contradict Our Lord’s teaching on marriage during the upcoming Synod on the Family in 2015.
It actually already happened in November of 2014 but they lacked a majority.
However there were many good bishops and cardinals on the right side and we the faithful can do our small bit by supporting the Pope and the good bishops.
Many small bits can become a big bit and make a big difference.
Please help and sign the appeal asking the Pope to stand firm in the upcoming Synod on the Family.
Become part of this massive, latter times battle for marriage.
Appeal to Pope Francis to save the Family
It is especially important now because the battle is raging and it seems the tide is turning in the right direction.
Cardinal Kasper is one of the main proponents in the Synod proposing the most radical liberal reform in Church history…
Tradition Family Property
‘Married’ lesbian approved as head of Catholic day care in Cardinal Marx’s diocese
July 31, 2015
The website of the German Bishops’ Conference, katholisch.de, reported yesterday on the first case of a practicing homosexual permitted to remain in a position at a Catholic Church institution despite a flagrant and public violation of the Church’s moral law.
The woman who heads a Caritas Day Care Center in Bavaria, had been asked in April to leave her position due to her announcement that she was going to “marry” a woman. The decision has now been rescinded, according to Fr. Hans Lindenberger, head of the Caritas in Munich, Germany.
Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who is the Archbishop of the Diocese of Munich, has agreed to implement the Church’s new Labor Law on August 1. The new Church Labor Law, approved by the German Bishops’ Conference at the end of April 2015, drastically liberalized the Catholic Church’s disciplinary rules in Germany. In the past, employees who did not live according to the Church’s moral teaching might have been asked to leave their position in institutions of the Church.
Three German bishops, Bishops Stefan Oster, Rudolf Vorderholzer, and Gregor Hanke, have decided not to implement the new Church law in their own dioceses.
Bishop Stefan Oster of Passau explained his stance in a recent Facebook post. He asked rhetorically whether the Church’s institutions would not lose their Catholicity even more than they already have with the new regulations. Would the service institutions which say “Catholic” on the outside have any faith on the inside, he asked. Are people working there from Christian conviction or only on the basis of what is professionally and economically viable? He warned that it was a self-imposed secularization of the Church.
Bishop Oster is under pressure from the priests of his diocese to give in to the new law. Twenty liberal priests in the diocese have issued a public letter asking the bishop to relent.
Holy Communion for divorcees is again on the agenda: as the Synod approaches, the Pope Emeritus has quietly spoken again
Pope Benedict has quietly spoken (PA)
The ‘silent’ Pope Benedict has ways of being heard; and he is still being listened to.
I begin with the “working instrument” (which in Vaticanese means “preparatory document”) for the October session of the synod of bishops on the family. This, says Sandro Magister, “is showing itself to be ever more disappointing for the champions of change”.
The document reproduces in its entirety the final report of the synod of October 2014, which itself marked a clear retreat from the pretentiously entitled “Relatio post disceptationem” which was, you will remember, published halfway through the synod, and which as Magister says was “the result of a sneak attack by the innovators immediately repudiated by most of the synod fathers”.
It’s clear that no repetition of the sneak attack is going to be allowed, and that Cardinal Kasper (widely supposed at the time to be a ‘mentor’ to Pope Francis) is not going to be allowed once more to call the shots on this. Perhaps Cardinal Kasper’s most insolent stroke had been to quote the words of one Joseph Ratzinger (implying that he had Pope Benedict’s support) in support of his arguments in favour of giving Holy Communion to the civilly divorced and remarried.
What happened was this. Long ago, in 1972, writing as a priest of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, Joseph Ratzinger published an essay which argued for access, under certain limited conditions, to Communion for the divorced and remarried. While affirming the indissolubility of marriage, Ratzinger and other authors appealed to certain passages in the Church Fathers that seem to allow leniency “IN EMERGENCY SITUATIONS”.
In 1977, Ratzinger was appointed Archbishop of Munich and Freising; in that capacity he participated in the 1980 Synod on the Family, where he stated that “it will be up to the synod to show the correct approach to pastors” in the matter of Communion for the divorced and remarried.
The concluding document of that synod, Familiaris Consortio (1981), found that “reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons, such as for example the children’s upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they ‘take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples.'”
Days after that document was issued, Cardinal Ratzinger was appointed prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.”
Then, in 1991, a canon lawyer, Fr Theodore Davey, suggested that Confession and spiritual direction could open up the way for the divorced and remarried to receive Communion, and cited Ratzinger’s 1972 essay in support of his position. Cardinal Ratzinger quickly retracted the “suggestions” of his 1972 essay as no longer tenable, because he made them “as a theologian in 1972”.
Finally, Pope Benedict amended the text of his 1972 essay; the new version excluded the crucial final paragraphs quoted by Cardinal Kasper. This was seen as a repudiation by Benedict of Kasper, who had been liberally quoting the essay to justify his calls for a more liberal church teaching on remarriage.”
Now, Archbishop Georg Gänswein has given an interview, in which he gives “his views” on the issue of Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried. They are of course, identical with those of Pope Benedict, for whom he has been working since 1996. In 2012, he was appointed Prefect of the Papal Household and, with the new Pontificate, Pope Francis confirmed him in that post. Hence, Archbishop Gänswein is the only person in the history of the Church who has served two Popes contemporaneously. He lives with Pope Benedict: he concelebrates with him in the morning, they pray the rosary together, and walk together for about a half hour in the Vatican Gardens. Thus, when he speaks, he is universally understood to be reflecting the views of Benedict XVI.
This is part of what he said in his interview, about the “challenge” of “Christians who are in a marital situation theologically called ‘irregular’… persons who have divorced and remarried civilly”:
“We must help them, certainly, but not in a reductive way. It’s important to get close to them, to create contact and maintain it because they are members of the Church as everyone else, they are not expelled and even less so excommunicated. They are supported, but there are problems in regard to the sacramental life…. The question of access to the sacramental life must be addressed sincerely on the basis of Catholic teaching … twenty years ago, after a long and laborious negotiation, John Paul II didn’t accept that remarried Christians could accede to the Eucharist. Now, we can’t ignore his teaching and change things.”
Pope Benedict’s teachings, underlining those of Pope John Paul, were summed up by him in Sacramentum Caritatis, the concluding document of the 2005 Synod on the Eucharist, in which he stressed the Church’s continuing pastoral role towards the civilly divorced and remarried “where the nullity of the marriage bond is not declared and objective circumstances make it impossible to cease cohabitation, the Church encourages these members of the faithful to commit themselves to living their relationship in fidelity to the demands of God’s law, as friends, as brother and sister; in this way they will be able to return to the table of the Eucharist, taking care to observe the Church’s established and approved practice in this regard.”
Now, says Archbishop Gänswein, “Clearly the Church doesn’t close her eyes in face of the difficulties of [the] faithful living in difficult situations. However, the Church must give sincere answers that are oriented, not to the spirit of the times, but to the Gospel, to the Word of Jesus Christ and to the Catholic Tradition.”
Pope Benedict, I think we can assume, has quietly spoken once more; and his influence continues.
Cardinal Kasper, I predict, will not speak on this subject again: if he does, he will be generally repudiated. Except, perhaps, in Germany; but that is another problem.
Our Lady’s E-Newsletter:
All or Nothing: Final Battle Being Fought!
[T]he Catholic Church is getting ready for round two of the Synod on the Family, which is obviously designed to change the Church’s teaching about divorce, remarriage and reception of the sacraments. Homosexuality will also be on the agenda, apparently for the purpose of discovering something wonderful or redeeming about sodomy and the moral values of those who practice it. (See: http://fatima.org/perspectives/ef/perspective748.asp)
Sister Lucy warned us of this diabolical disorientation that has become our reality. She also said something about the final battle now being fought: Satan’s attack would focus on the family and marriage (see: http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2015/06/cardinal-what-sister-lucia-told-me.html). Can there any longer be any doubt about what is at stake at the coming Synod on the Family in October? And the outlook for the Synod is not promising.
In human terms, we can have very little hope. It is only by recalling that all things are possible with God, that we can pray for the Pope and the Church, pray for the consecration that will deliver us, and find in our hearts the peace that only trust in Our Lord and Our Lady can bring us.
By email from Gordon Jacobs, Mumbai:
Subject: Sent from Paul Kramers id Date: Sat, 25 Jul 2015 07:48:00 +0530 Traditionalist
I expect that major events that will set off a chain reaction that will eventually bring the world to ruin will begin in September: … Antipope Francis will begin to align the Catholic Church with the agenda for the One World Religion. Then, with the synod in October, Bergoglio will attempt to change the Catholic religion into something different than it has ever been and cannot ever be.
See Rejecting Francis: Rev. Paul Kramer Becomes Sedevacantist
Cardinal Erdö: The Central Question for the Synod Is “What is Christianity?”
Natural religion, or divinely revealed by Jesus Christ?
By Diane Montagna, Vatican City, July 21, 2015
The Church’s teaching on marriage has always been “difficult and provocative,” Cardinal Peter Erdö of Hungary said recently. And the Church “needs to keep this serious fact in mind” as she seeks to “address the situations of the world today.” For the Hungarian prelate, in fact, the central question in the lead-up to the October Synod on the Family is: “What is Christianity?”
Cardinal Erdö, the General Relator of the Synod of Bishops, was speaking June 23rd, at a press conference held at the Vatican to present the Instrumentum laboris [working document] for the upcoming Synod.
In the time reserved for questions, several reporters asked about paragraphs 122 and 123 of the working document, which deal with the controversial proposal that the Church admit divorced and civilly “remarried” Catholics to Holy Communion. Paragraph 122 was one of three passages rejected by the Synod Fathers last October in the Vatican, having failed to gain the required two-thirds majority.
On hand at the briefing were two other key figures in the October Synod: Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops; and Archbishop Bruno Forte, Special Secretary of the Synod.
Cardinal Erdö’s comments were poignant and well received, yet gained little attention in the media. We therefore publish his remarks here below.
Question by Gianni Giannelli, of Vatican Insider: I believe my question ties in to the last one. What impedes Eucharistic Communion in the case of a failed marriage is called “adultery.” The question is this: Is it possible to consider — and I believe it’s right to consider “adultery” to be a married man who during the day is with his wife and at night is with his lover — but is it possible to consider it “adultery” — which impedes access to the Eucharistic — in a situation 15 years after the failure of the first marriage, after 10 years of living with another person faithfully, and with children. Can we say that it’s “adultery” in the same way? The element of time seems to me a determining factor … I have the impression from this Instrumentum Laboris that everything and nothing is promised. Let’s hope that letting one’s ‘yes’ mean ‘yes’ and ‘no’ mean ‘no’ also goes for the Synod.
Cardinal Erdö: The issue is a deep one, and we cannot provide an exhaustive answer with a brief response. There are serious matters here, because the central question of the synod is ultimately: “What is Christianity?” If we are a natural religion, then we should reflect philosophically on the world, on human experience, and seek a solution which perhaps changes with each generation. Or are we the disciples of Jesus Christ, who was a concrete historic person with a concrete teaching, and with whom we connect history, tradition, and whose teaching is identifiable enough.
Therefore, with great respect we need to examine the Bible. With passion, we need to seek the personal Face of Jesus Christ and his voice, and naturally we also do so through the tradition of the Church.
And we see precisely in this disciplinary tradition that the teaching of Jesus on adultery was a very demanding teaching, even scandalous in his own day. Even his own disciples said: “If this is the way it is, it’s not worth it to marry.” Therefore, it wasn’t the widespread opinion in Judaism in his time. Even the Rabbis in Galilee in the times of Jesus, whose teaching is now better researched and more widely known, had other opinions, which were different from this. And so the teaching of Jesus was very strong.
Regarding the tradition of the Church, there were unexpected issues raised at Councils, and the Church repeated the words of the Gospel. I can give you the example of the first text in the history of Christianity in Hungary. It was the Council of Szabolcs, under St. Ladislas at the time of Gregory VII, which said: If a man finds his wife with another man, he should send her away. But if the wife repents, he can take her back. If he doesn’t take her back, the wife can’t remarry, but neither can the husband. So it was a very strong discipline in comparison with customs of the Hungarians who were still close to paganism. It was very firm. And yet the Church wanted to defend this position.
Therefore, the Church has always known that her message on marriage contains something difficult and provocative. We need to keep the seriousness of this fact in mind, and yet still seek to address the situations of the world today, because our mission is directed to the world today.
1 out of 5 readers’ comments:
The great question of 21st century Christianity is whether people who have grown up with a modernistic Jesus will allow themselves to be confronted by the historico-traditional Jesus. The modernistic Jesus “loves” everyone, tolerates all, avoids judging, doesn’t harsh one’s mellow. The historic-traditional Jesus rebukes people, gets angry at hypocrisy and corruption, constantly disciplines his disciples, and talks about how most are on the wide-and-easy road to Hell. Will modern ‘Christians’ even recognize that historical Jesus? And if they do, will they turn away because He contradicts so much of what made Jesus acceptable to them as they grew up in today’s modern culture?
Synod. The Preparatory Document’s Arabian Phoenix
By Sandro Magister, Rome, July 14, 2015
Everybody says there is one, what it is nobody knows. It is the “penitential way” to communion for the divorced and remarried. The Dominican theologian Thomas Michelet lays bare the contradictions
From the theological faculty in Fribourg, Switzerland, the French Dominican theologian Thomas Michelet is calling attention to an obscure passage of the “working instrument” of the synod on the family, preparatory to the session next October.
The obscure passage is in paragraph 123 of the working document. Which begins by taking it for granted that “a great number agree that a journey of reconciliation or penance, under the auspices of the local bishop, might be undertaken by those who are divorced and civilly remarried.”
Michelet first of all points out that it is not known how and when it was determined that “a great number agree.”
And then, above all, he observes that the content of this presumed “agreement” is anything but clear, according to how the “Instrumentum laboris” talks about it. As for the Arabian Phoenix in “Così fan tutte” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: “Everybody says there is one, what it is nobody knows.”
This lack of clarity – Michelet cautions – would also end up making the concluding proposals of the synod ambiguous, opening the way to pastoral practices so diversified as to undermine the unity of the doctrine concerning the indissolubility of marriage, even if in words it is reaffirmed as intact.
From this comes the urgency of clarifying as soon as possible what is meant by “journey of penance,” at the end of which there would be reopened that access to the Eucharist which continues to be precluded for the divorced and remarried.
In the prestigious magazine “Nova & Vetera” of the theological faculty of Fribourg, Fr. Michelet already advanced last spring the proposal to restore in updated forms what in the ancient Church was the “ordo paenitentium,” for all of those who find themselves in a persistent condition of discrepancy from the law of God but undertake a journey of real conversion that can last many years or even a whole lifetime:
Synod. The Proposal of a “Third Way” (1.5.2015)
But now Michelet is coming back to the issue by entering into the thick of the synodal discussion. In his judgment, the proposal of Walter Kasper and of those who, like him, want to grant the divorced and remarried access to communion even though they remain in their situation of life, is not in keeping with but opposed to the authentic mercy of God.
Not only that. This concession would make a second civil marriage “the only sin for which it would be possible to obtain forgiveness without renouncing the sin itself beforehand,” as well as undermining at the root the authentic meaning of the sacraments of marriage, of the Eucharist, and of penance.
Completely different, instead, is a penitential journey that would remain faithful to the commandments of Jesus and to the tradition in the Catholic Church, like the one already illustrated by Michelet and now presented again here.
The following – in an exclusive for http://www.chiesa – is the complete text of the new contribution from the Dominican theologian.
“INSTRUMENTUM LABORIS.” THE PENITENTIAL WAY
by Thomas Michelet, O.P.
The “Instrumentum laboris” of the synod on the family of next October, published on June 23, 2015, is now available in several European languages, allowing one to get a more precise idea of it. There has been talk on http://www.chiesa of a “cold shower for the innovators,” of “putting on the brakes on communion for the divorced and remarried and on homosexual unions” (Sandro Magister, June 30). For my part, I find myself instead between relief and disquiet. Even if it is true that some additions to the “Relatio Synodi” of October 18, 2014 move in this direction, a reason for rejoicing, there remain some ambiguities that demonstrate that the battle is not yet won and that the serious threats to the integrity of the Catholic faith have not gone away.
Here I will concern myself with just one point, that of the “penitential way” (third part of the “Instrumentum,” chapter 3, no. 122-123). Article 122 incorporates no. 52 of the “Relatio Synodi,” which was one the three not formally approved by the synod of bishops in October of 2014, because of the lack of the required two-thirds majority. It was even the most soundly rejected article, with only 104 placets and 74 non placets (when instead there were 125 placets and 54 non placets for no. 41; 112 placets and 64 non placets for no. 53). So then, according to the “Instrumentum laboris,” by now “a great number agree [on the hypothesis of] a journey of reconciliation or penance” (no. 123).
122 (n. 52 della “Relatio Synodi”). The synod fathers also considered the possibility of giving the divorced and remarried access to the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist. Various synod fathers insisted on maintaining the present discipline, because of the constitutive relationship between participation in the Eucharist and communion with the Church as well as her teaching on the indissoluble character of marriage. Others proposed a more individualized approach, permitting access in certain situations and with certain well-defined conditions, primarily in irreversible situations and those involving moral obligations towards children who would have to endure unjust suffering. Access to the sacraments might take place if preceded by a penitential practice, determined by the diocesan bishop. The subject needs to be thoroughly examined, bearing in mind the distinction between an objective sinful situation and extenuating circumstances, given that “imputability and responsibility for an action can be diminished or even nullified by ignorance, inadvertence, duress, fear, habit, inordinate attachments, and other psychological or social factors” (CCC, 1735).
123. Concerning the aforementioned subject, a great number agree that a journey of reconciliation or penance, under the auspices of the local bishop, might be undertaken by those who are divorced and civilly remarried, who find themselves in irreversible situations. In reference to “Familiaris Consortio”, 84, the suggestion was made to follow a process which includes: becoming aware of why the marriage failed and the wounds it caused; due repentance; verification of the possible nullity of the first marriage; a commitment to spiritual communion; and a decision to live in continence.
Others refer to a way of penance, meaning a process of clarifying matters after experiencing a failure and a reorientation which is to be accompanied by a priest who is appointed for this purpose. This process ought to lead the party concerned to an honest judgment of his/her situation. At the same time, the priest himself might come to a sufficient evaluation as to be able to suitably apply the power of binding and loosing to the situation.
In order to examine thoroughly the objective situation of sin and the moral culpability of the parties, some suggest considering The Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church concerning the Reception of Holy Communion by the Divorced and Remarried Members of the Faithful of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (4 September 1994) and The Declaration concerning the Admission to Holy Communion of the Faithful who are Divorced and Remarried of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts (24 June 2000).
So the “Instrumentum laboris” no. 122 simply reuses as-is no. 52 of the “Relatio synodi,” which had not been accepted by the synod fathers with the required majority and therefore in theory should not be part of this text. It is simply followed with a new number (no. 123), which in addition to affirming the agreement on this hypothesis established at the time adds various references to texts of the magisterium that in fact were lacking in the “Relatio synodi,” as well as a pastoral proposal that remains very general.
A “common agreement”?
It must be recalled that between the “Relatio synodi” and the “Instrumentum laboris” there was the phase of the questionnaires in the dioceses, of their return to the episcopal conferences, without forgetting the work of various theologians, institutions, and universities, as well as the summation of all this work produced in Rome. Thus the reflection was able to develop the approach of both sides, which was the more or less recognized objective of this year of hiatus between the two sessions of the synod.
The fact remains that this affirmation of a “common agreement” comes as a bit of a surprise: does it refer to the synod fathers, who in fact had not met together again since then? Or, in a broader way, to the episcopal conferences? Or even to the whole people of God? The test does not specify.
Moreover it is not a given that this “common agreement” concerns the proposal of the same “Relatio synodi”; perhaps it concerns only “the hypothesis of a journey of reconciliation or penance,” which is broader and can be understood in many ways.
One can imagine that those who previously supported no. 52 of the “Relatio synodi” still support it. But what have the others done, those who ruled it out? Have they just changed their minds after thinking it over? Or have they been reassured by the addition of these few references to texts of the magisterium that shore up this proposal and correct it in a more traditional direction? Or are they instead satisfied by the fact that the idea of a “journey of reconciliation or penance, under the auspices of the local bishop” is a bit more developed and that there are thoughts of submitting this process to the discernment of a priest deputized for it, which would allow many “adaptations”? The reasons for such agreement, if it is possible and even probable, are also multiple and variegated.
But above all it may be feared that this new unanimity is rather the effect of a broad and fluctuating process of development that would seem to leave everyone satisfied, the “innovators” as well as the “conservatives,” but not for the same reasons and not with the same interpretation.
In short, it may be feared that the agreement remains apparent rather than concrete and that the indefiniteness of the proposal conceals a true and profound dispute that threatens to last for a long time, even in the final proposals of the next synod if there is not greater precision. There would be the risk of a declaration of principle on the doctrinal level that would not be discussed by anyone, but would then open the way to the most highly varied pastoral practices that would in fact involve very different doctrines. After a few years, we would find ourselves facing the fait accompli of these practices and of the doctrinal change that they imply and that they would have brought into common acceptance. This is why clarity must be brought immediately to this issue, its presuppositions, its stakes, its ins and outs, so that all of this may be done in truth.
What kind of penitential journey?
According to some commentators, there has been a move from the idea of an “all or nothing,” of an immediate admission or a persistent refusal of access for the divorced and remarried to the Eucharist, to what could seem like a “third way”: the idea of an admission conditional on the completion of a penitential journey, on which everyone finally seems to be in agreement. Great, but concretely, what sort of process would this be? What would be its specific steps?
It seems to us that the fundamental alternative is the following.
Would it be sufficient if there were a time of penance with its duration to be determined by the bishop (or by a priest deputized for this), followed by an admission of the divorced and remarried to the Eucharist just as they are, without even the slightest change of life with respect to the disordered situation in which they find themselves?
Or would this time be a journey not only of penance and repentance, but also of genuine conversion and change of life; the duration of penance being in this case that which would be necessary for obtaining this conversion?
The choice between the two alternatives is particularly decisive.
In the first hypothesis, which to us seems to converge with the one formulated by Cardinal Kasper (apart from errors of interpretation on our part), marriage after divorce would be the only sin for which it would be possible to obtain forgiveness without renouncing the sin itself beforehand. This seems contrary to the Gospel, to the authentic mercy of God who shows mercy to the sinner without closing his eyes or forgetting the sin, but rather by transforming hearts. It therefore cannot be the way chosen by the synod, which can only want to remain faithful to the doctrine of the Gospel, and it would be right for this to be stated clearly.
Some faithful or pastors come to the point of denying that there could be a situation of sin here. But then why do penance? And if there really is a sin, how can it be forgiven unless it is left behind? It seems to us that these errors stem from a grave loss of the sense of mystery in general, and of the sacraments in particular. Of marriage, in which it is no longer seen that the fact of remarrying when the spouse is still alive is adultery, while Christ teaches this explicitly (Mk 10:11-12). Of the Eucharist, which is no longer received as the sacred body of the Lord but rather as the simple sign of a social bond whose privation means only exclusion from the group. Of penance, in which confusion is created between regret and repentance, between penance and conversion. It is not enough, in fact, to “regret” having placed oneself in an impossible situation; one must also really want to get out of it, with the grace of God. This is why it is also not good enough to propose a journey of penance for the past action that is regretted, if this journey of penance is not also aimed at transforming the future and at opening upon a true way of salvation, a journey of grace, an itinerary of holiness.
In the second hypothesis, the final admission to the Eucharist could take place beforehand only in the three situations already established by the magisterium (Familiaris Consortio no.84, and other texts): either the resumption of cohabitation (that of the first marriage, which is the only valid one); or the effort to live “as brother and sister” (which is equivalent to being exonerated from cohabitation while still respecting the other obligations of marriage, meaning the exclusivity promised in marriage but also the duty of mutual assistance); or the death of the spouse, permitting a real new sacramental marriage (a situation that obviously is not to be desired). It could be that other situations might come up, but at this point there is no telling what they might be; or it does not turn out that those who have presented them so far have given proof of their conformity with authentic Catholic doctrine (Scripture, tradition, and magisterium).
A new way?
This second hypothesis – that of maintaining the current discipline – is therefore the only one that seems conceivable to us, granting that one wishes to be faithful to the Word of Christ. Does this mean that we are talking about an absolute rejection of any change with respect to the present situation? Not necessarily. Even in fidelity, there is always the possibility of a new development, of a “surprise of the Holy Spirit.”
First of all, there are various ways of presenting the matter. Either as a door that is closed and the rejection of any way of salvation, or rather as a pilgrimage in which the one who undertakes a journey of happiness is already on the right path, even if he is not able to conform immediately to all the aspects of life in the Spirit according to the Gospel. This second way of acting, which should be decisively preferred, in fact consists in integrating the law of incrementalism presented by Pope John Paul II in “Familiaris Consortio” no. 84, without creating confusion with its inverse figure, that of incrementalism of the law (which would be the first hypothesis of which we just spoke).
Moreover, it remains to be acknowledged that some pastoral practices faithful to this teaching of Pope John Paul II have already been established since that time, demonstrating that they can give good fruits of grace. For example, it has happened that some “divorced and remarried” couples have manifested, in making the decision not to receive communion anymore, such faith and such profound respect for the Eucharist that the bishop has allowed them to keep the real presence in their homes, in order to nourish their journey of conversion through Eucharistic adoration. So these pastoral practices exist, but not in all countries of the world; and it must be admitted that even when they are present and in use they are known to few. So it would be right for the synod to promote these, give thanks for those who have obeyed the call of the Holy Spirit to discover and explore them in prayer and in experience, take stock of the fruits that have already been obtained and of those still to be hoped for, and indicate in a clear way that this direction is a good one to follow.
In order to move forward along this line of innovative fidelity defined by Pope John Paul II, we ourselves have made the proposal of an updating of the “ordo pænitentium,” the restoration of this ancient order of penitents of Christian antiquity that long survived in tandem with the current form of the sacrament of penance. This “ordo” could find renewed interest, because it took place over a long period of time and in stages marked by liturgical celebrations. It was considered sacramental right from the stage of the imposition of ashes, not only in the final stage of absolution. It also had the advantage of demonstrating well that the sinner was not excluded from the Church, because he was part of an “ordo,” and was therefore on the contrary urged to nourish himself on the Church’s treasury of graces in listening to the Word of God and participating in its life of prayer. Just as the emergence from the regime of Christendom procured the grace of the rebirth of adult baptism, it could also lead to the rebirth of these orders of penitents in what was most evangelical about them, without reviving, obviously, the excesses that were not connected to their essence. Thus the penitent would have a prophetic mission to accomplish in the Church: that of urging greater respect for the Eucharist and greater consideration of one’s sins.
Allow us to suggest this article for further information:
“Synode sur la famille: la voie de l’ordo paenitentium”, “Nova &Vetera”, 90/1 (2015) 55-80.
I thank Sandro Magister for presenting this on May 1 on his website:
Synod. The Proposal of a “Third Way”
Which gave the pontifical council for the family the possibility of reposting it on its website on May 9, in five languages:
The Proposal of a “Third Way”
The original article of “Nova & Vetera” was written in French. A priest in South Africa, Fr. Lewis, found it so important to make it known to a wider public in view of the synod that he offered to translate it into English. If other persons would like to do the same for the Italian and Spanish, they would be welcome.
Presentation of the Eighth World Meeting of Families
Vatican City, June 25, 2015
This morning in the Holy See Press Office a press conference was held to present the Eighth World Meeting of Families, to be held in Philadelphia, U.S.A., from 22 to 27 September this year, on the theme “Love is our mission. The family fully alive”. The speakers were Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family; Archbishop Charles Joseph Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. of Philadelphia with his auxiliary, Bishop John J. McIntyre, and Jerry and Lucille Francesco, a couple from the same archdiocese, now married for fifty years.
Archbishop Paglia emphasised that the Meeting is a valuable opportunity to place the family at the centre of the Church and of civil society. “It is a duty”, he said, explaining that the meeting is about and for families, who are its protagonists and main recipients. “The family builds the Church and sustains society. … During the days of the conference, we will present the results of some international research that has scientifically studied this positive influence. The family constantly asks for help and support in the entire ecclesial community – and in the next few days I will write to all the monasteries of the world to ask them to accompany these very important days with their prayers – and from civil society as a whole, which cannot remain indifferent to such beauty and goodness that is so effective and so viable”.
The prelate went on to highlight the global nature of the event, and the hope that it will be seen and reported on worldwide. “The family is the heritage of all humanity, at every latitude, in every culture; it is blessed by all religions. That is why we wanted a significant presence of other Christian denominations and of major world religious traditions. … We are working so that delegations from around the globe and especially from the world’s poorest local Churches will be present. Philadelphia will be a great worldwide celebration of families: in the spectacle, we will be able to get a glimpse, we will have to show the beauty and the possibility of all humanity becoming a single family of peoples. It is the dream of peace; it is God’s dream”.
This universality will be enshrined in the final gesture of the meeting: the archbishop revealed that at the end of Mass on Sunday, 27 September, Pope Francis will give the Gospel of Luke, “the Good News of God’s mercy, which is Jesus, to families from big cities on the five continents: Kinshasa, Africa; Havana, America; Hanoi, Asia; Sydney, Australia; and Marseilles, Europe. This is a symbolic gesture that will announce the sending of a million copies of this book to the five cities involved. We want the Gospel of Mercy to be announced in the great cities of the world so that they may build bonds of love between them, in the Church and in society”.
The archbishop of Philadelphia gave some data on the Meeting, which more than a million people are expected to attend, and from which representatives of more than a hundred nations have registered. So far 6,100 volunteers have offered assistance of various types and the event organisers intend to make more than 5,000 buses available. More than 1,600 people have signed up to the “Host a Family” programme.
For more information on the events linked to the meeting, see http://www.worldmeeting2015.org/
Presentation of the Instrumentum Laboris of the Synod: “The vocation and the mission of the family in the Church and contemporary world”
Vatican City, June 23, 2015
This morning in the Holy See Press Office a press conference was held to present the Instrumentum Laboris of the 14th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the theme, “The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and contemporary world” (4-25 October 2015). The speakers were: Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops; Cardinal Peter Erdo, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary, general rapporteur of the 14th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops; and Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieti-Vasto, Italy, special secretary of the 14th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.
The Instrumentum Laboris, explained Cardinal Baldisseri, is divided into three parts following the structure of the Relatio Synodi, demonstrating the close link between the Third Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October 2014, dedicated to “The pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelisation”, and the upcoming Ordinary General Assembly. The first part, entitled “Listening to the challenges of the family”, relates most directly to last year’s Synod, while the second, “Discernment of the family vocation”, and third, “The mission of the family today”, introduce the theme of the next one.
The cardinal highlighted certain novelties in the first part, which refer principally to the anthropological-cultural, socio-economic and ecological contexts, “now happily enlightened by the new Encyclical letter Laudato si'”. The challenges, he explained, are “poverty and social exclusion, old age, widowhood, bereavement in the family, disability, migration, the role of women, emotional life and education in sexuality, and bioethics”.
In the second part, “Discernment of the family vocation”, the Relatio Synodi is enriched with an extension of the themes regarding natural marriage and sacramental fullness, indissolubility as a gift and a duty, family life, union and fruitfulness, the missionary dimension, faith, prayer, catechesis, the intimate bond between Church and family, the young and fear of marriage, and mercy.
The third part, devoted to “The mission of the family today”, begins with a broad-ranging reflection on the family and evangelisation, and explores in depth a number of other issues such as the family as subject of pastoral ministry, nuptial liturgy, renewed language and missionary openness.
The general secretary of the Synod of Bishops noted that it makes reference to “the family and ecclesial accompaniment, the streamlining of procedures for causes for annulment, the integration of faithful in irregular situations, the eventual introduction of a penitential route, the pastoral problems regarding mixed marriages and disparities of worship, as well as questions related to responsible procreation, reduction of births, adoption and fostering, respect for life from conception to natural end, and education of future generations.
“The reference to the economic hardship experienced by many families, who run the risk of being subject to usury, is very relevant”, he added, “as is the socio-political commitment of Christians in favour of the family, also in the international context. In this regard, it would be useful to re-propose the Charter for the Rights of the Family, linked to the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man”.
Cardinal Baldisseri illustrated the work of the Secretariat of the Synod Council between one assembly and another, which began in November 2014 with the presentation of the “Lineamenta”, composed of the Relatio Synodi and a series of 46 questions relating to the reception and deepening of this Synod document. The “Lineamenta” was sent to the synods of the sui iuris Oriental Catholic Churches, to the Episcopal Conferences, to the dicasteries of the Roman Curia and others, with an invitation to respond by 15 April 2015. The Secretariat General received 99 answers from the competent bodies, along with 359 observations sent freely from dioceses, parishes, ecclesial associations, grass-roots groups of faithful, civil movements and organisations, etc. The inter-synodal period has thus been shown to be “a valuable opportunity for listening to what the Spirit says to the Church in the plurality of her components”.
Finally, with regard to the methodology of the upcoming General Assembly, it was mentioned that it is Ordinary and not Extraordinary like the previous one and, in accordance with the suggestions of the members of the Synod, “it will continue with the project of the development of the Synod taking a dynamic approach more suited to our times”.
The Synod fathers reiterated the need to avoid a “long series of individual interventions, as has happened in previous Synod assemblies, to ensure that they are better distributed in the time available and not presented one after another. The importance of the Circuli Minores was noted, as was the need to maintain the principle of thematic order. Thus, the three weeks of the Synod will be divided in correspondence with the three parts of the Instrumentum Laboris. The first week will be devoted to the first part of the document, the second to the discernment of the family vocation, and the third to the mission of the family today. “At the end of the third week, time will be set aside for the preparation of the final text of the document, which will be presented to the Assembly for the final modifications, to be inserted into the text before its final approval. The method will ensure the opportunity to intervene on the part of all those entitled to do so, including at the end of the day, and will enable more time to be assigned to the Circuli Minores. It is expected that a final document will be produced and consigned to the Holy Father”.
With regard to information during the Synod Assembly, the cardinal mentioned the Holy Father’s affirmation that “the Synod is a space in which the Holy Spirit can act, not parliament. The Synod Fathers are invited to express themselves with parrhesia. They will be free to communicate with the media at their discretion and with responsibility”.
Vatican Document Holds Firm on Birth Control, Divorce, Gays
By Cathy Burke,
June 23, 2015
Despite Pope Francis’ controversial media comments, the Vatican is reportedly holding a traditional line on hot-button issues including birth control, divorce and remarriage, and homosexuality. A 78-page Vatican document written in Italian and released Monday lays out positions ahead of an October bishops’ meeting on the family, restating previously adopted positions on many divisive issues, according to the National Catholic Reporter.
For example, the Vatican reaffirmed its prohibition on the use of birth control, didn’t offer any new options for Catholics banned from taking Communion if they’re divorced or remarried – and gave little attention at all to the issue of outreach to homosexuals, according to NCR. “While we want the synod to help renew the church’s pastoral outreach to families, we don’t anticipate change in church dogmas,” Antoine Renard, the French president of the European Federation of Catholic Family Associations, told NCR. “But there are clearly significant divisions over the synod already – we can expect a battle when it eventually convenes.”
Pope Francis has stirred controversy with moves to shift focus away from some issues that’ve alienated modern Catholics – like same-sex marriage and abortion – and toward issues of poverty, inequality and social justice – and even climate change.
The newly released document hasn’t reflected “any of this positive movement which is in the air,” Francis DeBernardo, the executive director of New Ways Ministry, a “Catholic LGBT advocacy” group, tells IBTimes.
“Bishops’ conferences have noted that their nations’ Catholics have responded critically to the official negative attitude toward lesbian and gay people,” DeBernardo added. “None of this is reflected in the document.”
Worse, the document shows a “stunning ignorance” with its use of the term “homosexual tendencies” to characterize sexual orientation, DeBernardo charges.
“For church leaders to continue to use ‘homosexual tendencies,’ which seems to connote impermanence as well as simply a controllable desire to act and not a personality trait, reveals a stunning ignorance of the topic, as well as a disrespectful attitude towards lesbian and gay people,” he tells IBTimes.
The October synod of bishops is the second of two on family issues called by the Pope; the newly released document is viewed as a barometer of how the conference will unfold, IBTimes reports.
2 out of 59 readers’ comments:
1. No Pope can change Church teaching that has been taught always and everywhere by the universal church. Homosexual activity is disordered and sinful. Homosexual people like single heterosexuals are called to live celibate lives.
2. This article really illustrates exactly what I despise about LGBT rhetoric which is the insistence that because they have “homosexual tendencies” that they must indulge those “homosexual tendencies” or be incomplete as a person. The desires of the flesh do not define us and most certainly are not the most important or core of our personalities. It’s like saying a desire to have a cheeseburger defines who we are. Especially in relationship to the church the whole of LGBT rhetoric is incompatible just as the rhetoric of the sexual “revolution” that birthed it is incompatible. Yes Christ counseled mercy and forgiveness for sinners or all types but he did not do so in order to celebrate the sin or the flesh. He did it to provide a path out of the darkness so we could be transformed and made worthy of heaven though we never can be of our own effort.
Synod guiding document: families need the Church’s message of mercy
By Elise Harris, Vatican City, June 23, 2015
(CNA/EWTN News) The document set to guide this year’s synod discussions on the family touches on hot-button issues such as homosexuality and divorced and remarried couples, stressing that mercy is something every family needs from the Church. “For the Church it’s about starting from the concrete situations of families of today, all are in need of mercy, beginning with those who suffer most,” the document reads. Published June 23, the document said that although mercy doesn’t break with the essential truths Church teaching is founded on, it could be communicated better, particularly in regards to irregular family situations such as separations, mixed marriages and divorce.
The Church’s role, it says, is to accompany families as Christ did with the disciples on the road to Emmaus. “We must give our journey the healthy pace of proximity, with a respectful gaze full of compassion, but which at the same time is healthy, free and encourages one to mature in the Christian life,” the document reads, quoting a speech of Pope Francis.
“To be close to families as a companion on the journey means, for the Church, to assume a wise and diverse attitude…the Church adopts, in an affectionate sharing, the joys and hopes, sorrows and anguishes of every family.”
The working document, or “Instrumentum Laboris,” has been compiled by the Vatican department in charge of organizing the synod to guide this October’s discussions. Divided into three parts, it builds on the final report of last October’s synod, also incorporating suggestions from Church entities like bishops’ conferences and even individuals who freely sent their opinions.
The final Instrumentum was reviewed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith before its publication, according to a source familiar with the document.
The first part, titled “Listening to the challenges of the family,” focuses mainly on themes surrounding last year’s synod. The second, “Discernment of the family vocation,” and third, “The mission of the family today,” address the themes to be discussed during this year’s discussion.
Set to take place Oct. 4-25, this year’s ordinary synod will reflect on the theme “Jesus Christ reveals the mystery and vocation of the family” will gather more than 200 Bishops and representatives from all over the world. The conclusions of the gathering will be used by Pope Francis to draft his first Post-Synodal Exhortation, which can be expected in 2016.
Last year’s synod spoke of the need to communicate the Church’s message of mercy more clearly to divorced couples and individuals with homosexual tendencies. This year’s document affirms the need, saying that persons in these situations shouldn’t feel excluded from the Church.
At the beginning of this year’s Instrumentum the synod fathers emphasized the indissolubility of marriage, which is a sacrament that has been designed to reflect the love of the Trinity.
“Jesus himself, referring the primitive design of the human couple, reaffirmed the indissolubility of marriage between man and woman, while saying ‘for the hardness of your heart Moses allowed you to denounce your wives, but in the beginning it was not so.'” Marriage indissolubility “is not intended as a ‘yoke’ imposed on men but rather as a gift to the persons united in marriage,” it read. However, it also stressed the need to express the Church’s mercy in a stronger way to couples who have been divorced and civilly remarried.
Integrating couples in these situations into the life of the Church requires “an attentive discernment and an accompaniment of great respect, avoiding any language or attitude which makes them feel discriminated against and which promotes their participation in the life of the community,” the document says.
To care for such couples “is not a weakening of faith and witness of the indissolubility of marriage for the Christian community, but rather it is precisely in this care that charity is expressed.”
The document stressed that an unsuccessful marriage is “a defeat for everyone,” and that after becoming aware of one’s own responsibility, each person needs to regain confidence and hope. Everyone, it says, “needs to give and receive mercy.”
Also addressed is the debate surrounding access to communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, which was one of the most debated issues of last year’s gathering.
In the document it is noted that various opinions have been expressed by synod fathers on the topic, including suggestions to keep the current practice. Others have asked that each individual case be examined, and that couples in special circumstances be allowed to receive the Eucharist after completing a journey of penance and reconciliation guided by the local bishop.
The document emphasizes that the question is still being discussed, and that particular emphasis should be given to the distinction between “objective situations of sin and extenuating circumstances.”
It is also noted that the Church’s message of mercy extends to men and women with homosexual tendencies.
Although “there is no foundation whatsoever to assimilate or establish analogies, even remotely, between homosexual unions and God’s design for marriage and the family,” persons with homosexual tendencies, the document says, “ought to be welcomed with respect and delicacy.”
It reiterated that “each person, regardless of their sexual orientation, must be respected in their dignity and welcomed with sensitivity and delicacy, both in the Church and in society.”
However, the document condemned as “unacceptable” the fact that the Church is often pressured by international organizations to support laws allowing same sex “marriage” as a condition for giving financial assistance to poor countries.
Other themes addressed in the document and up for discussion during the October gathering are the pastoral concerns and care for civilly married or cohabiting couples, and the streamlining of the marriage annulment process, which many synod fathers have asked to be “more accessible” and possibly free of cost.
Also addressed was the possibility of globally unified pastoral guidelines for the care of divorced persons, the lack of which has raised “confusion and division” and produced “a burning pain in those who live a failed marriage, (and) who at times feel unfairly judged,” the document said.
The increasing fear of young people to get married, the betterment of the marriage preparation process and the accompaniment of couples in the first years after marriage were also addressed.
Polish bishops vow to resist change at synod on the family
June 15, 2015
Polish Church delegates will ‘stick to the understanding of Paul VI and John Paul II’, according to a bishops’ conference spokesman
Poland’s Catholic bishops have pledged to resist changes to Catholic teaching on marriage and family life at October’s synod on the family at the Vatican and rejected demands for reform by German-speaking Catholics.
“Polish Church delegates will certainly stick to the understanding of Popes Paul VI and John Paul II,” said Msgr. Jozef Kloch, spokesman for the Polish bishops’ conference. “As the Vicar of Christ, the Holy Father will decide what can be accepted. In this sense, we’ve nothing to fear. At the Second Vatican Council, there was also intense debate, so arguments and conflicts are quite normal,” he said.
The priest spoke after the bishops approved a position paper for the synod during meetings on June 9-10.
In a June 12 interview with Catholic News Service, he said the Polish church was determined to resist calls for reform on issues such as homosexuality and Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics.
He added that there were no plans to publish Polish responses to a questionnaire circulated to dioceses by the Vatican with the “Lineamenta,” or outline, for the October 4-25 synod.
“Those responsible have said the responses were unanimous and unambiguous. There’s no support for change in Poland,” Msgr. Kloch said.
“This wasn’t an academic research project, just a survey to help the Apostolic See know our position, nothing more. I don’t think our bishops would place the results on such a high level as to publish them.”
In a survey published on March 10 by the government-owned Public Opinion Research Centre, up to three-quarters of the Poles surveyed said they disagreed with their Church’s stance on homosexuality, contraception and extramarital relationships, and favoured changes to Catholic teaching on issues such as divorce and clerical celibacy.
KAI, Poland’s Catholic information agency, said the survey had been “inspired” by last October’s extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family, adding that 61 percent of respondents had said they expected Pope Francis to make “significant changes in Church teaching.”
However, Bishop Jan Watroba of Rzeszow, chairman of the Polish Church’s Family Commission, told KAI that responses to the Vatican questionnaire had shown a “unanimous position” by “broad circles of clergy and faithful,” adding that no Polish Church groups expected “any adaptation of Church doctrine or moral teaching.”
Meanwhile, Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki of Poznan, bishops’ conference president, confirmed that the Polish responses had been sent to the synod secretariat in Rome.
“We aimed to produce a distinctive position, which wouldn’t represent the voice or views of this or that bishop, but of our whole conference,” Archbishop Gadecki said at a June 11 Warsaw news conference.
“We certainly won’t be going in the theological direction presented by certain German-speaking circles. We believe the output of Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and recent statements by Pope Francis, are enough to view Church teaching as a continuum, not as a revolution,” the archbishop said.
Synod preparations have provoked controversy in Europe, where some Catholic bishops, notably in Germany, have argued for a more liberal approach to marriage and family issues.
On May 9, the Central Committee of German Catholics voted unanimously to demand that the synod bless of same-sex partnerships and second marriages as well as support a “reassessment of contraception methods” and “a clear positioning against the still-existing exclusion of homosexuals.”
However, such changes reforms were rejected when Catholic bishops from Eastern Europe met in May in Bratislava, Slovakia, to plan a coordinated stance for the synod.
Archbishop Gadecki, who chaired the Bratislava meeting, warned in a keynote speech against “modifying the Church’s discipline” for those in unmarried relationships, and urged “people with homosexual tendencies” to undergo therapy.
Kasper’s Communion proposal ‘insults Christ’: Pope Francis’ liturgy prefect
Rome, June 11, 2015
(LifeSiteNews) Cardinal Robert Sarah, the highly respected prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments at the Vatican, appointed in 2014 by Pope Francis, has made it abundantly clear since last October’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family that any attempt to detach Catholic teaching from “pastoral practice” is a form of “heresy and a dangerous schizophrenic pathology.”
Speaking on May 20 at the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Rome, at the presentation of the Cantagalli book series “Family, Work in Progress”, the cardinal sent a clear message to Cardinal Walter Kasper and followers.
Kasper has been the main protagonist since the 2014 Consistory in “suggesting” Communion for divorced and remarried and continues in this vein up to the present with much support from the German Bishops.
Cardinal Sarah is having none of it, stating that “the African Church will strongly oppose any rebellion against the teaching of Jesus and the Magisterium.”
“Regarding mercy? The fact is that we are not precise in using the Christian word ‘mercy’. And without explaining [what this word means] we deceive people. Mercy [makes us] close the eyes not to see sin… The Lord is ready to forgive, but if we come back, and if we are sorry for our sins,” he said. “Christ was merciful but he affirmed that to breach marriage is adultery. We cannot interpret these words differently – it is a sin [to do so] and the sinner without repentance cannot receive the Body of Christ.”
“If some countries are doing this already (giving the Eucharist to the divorced and remarried) they are insulting Christ, it is a desecration of his Body and they are guilty because they are doing it knowingly,” the cardinal said.
“To permit in a particular diocese that which is not authorized by the Synod signifies to ‘desecrate Christ,'” he continued. “We deceive the people by talking about mercy without knowing what that word means. The Lord forgives our sins, but if we repent. … I think that it is more courageous to stay with Christ on the cross, and be faithful to his words. It is not easy to live the Gospel.”
And on a high-note of encouragement to other prelates and the faithful, the Cardinal made clear that, “The challenge for the Church is to fight against the current, with courage and hope without being afraid to raise her voice to denounce the deception, manipulation and false prophets. Over 2,000 years the Church has confronted many headwinds but with the help of the Holy Spirit, her voice was always heard.”
Referring to the use of certain words that are not appropriate for the Church and need clarification, he said, “It is clear that it is wrong for the Church to use words that are used at the U.N. We have our vocabulary to explain what we believe. If the Eucharist is only bread we can also give it to divorced people who breach the alliance.”
“I think we have to weigh up the words we use, because people have heard the bishops [and] the Pope and hope that there will be a total change,” he said. “And even if today we are hearing a new direction in the words of the Holy Father – the people don’t believe us – because they believe that there will be a change, there will be a revolution, but it is not true because the Doctrine does not belong to anyone but to Christ, to the Church.”
Talking about going out to help those in need, he weighed in on the testimony Christians are giving today in different parts of the world. “It is easy to go to the outskirts… But who are we going with? If we don’t bring Christ, we bring nothing! I think that the most courageous thing to do is to remain as a Christian, as many Christians are doing right now – they are dying in Pakistan, the Middle East, and Africa.”
Comparing offering help for those in need to the secular goliaths of today attacking Christian families at every level, he said, “I am not saying that we shouldn’t go out to bring the Gospel, but the courage we need to bring is that of going against the current because the world no longer tolerates the Gospel.”
“The ongoing debate is drugged because oftentimes even the journalists place the Pope against the Curia, which is not true,” he said. “But people think we are against each other and think that the Pope said he is in favor of giving Communion to the divorced [people] and even this is only an interpretation of his words.”
“As Ratzinger said, a right that is not based on morality becomes injustice. For this reason it is necessary to keep in mind the context of secularization in which we live… The distancing of whole parts of modern society away from Christianity goes hand in hand with ignorance and the rejection of doctrine and cultural identity.”
Regarding the Synod’s General Assembly in October 2014, the cardinal said, “It was clear that the real focus was not and is not only the question of the remarried-divorced persons, but, whether the doctrine of the Church is to be considered as an unattainable ideal, unachievable and therefore in need of a downward adjustment to be proposed to today’s modern world. If things are like this then it necessarily requires a clarification if the Gospel is Good News for man or an unnecessary burden which is no longer possible.”
In answer to which ideologies to fight against today, the Cardinal unmasked the deceit and lack of true love behind them. “Today one of the most dangerous ideologies is that of gender, according to which there are no ontological differences between man and woman, and the male and female identity would not be written in nature. … To say that human sexuality does not depend on the identity of man and woman, but a sexual orientation, such as homosexuality, is a dreamlike totalitarianism, and is a real ideology which negates the reality of things. … I don’t see a future in such deceit.”
“One thing”, he said, “is to respect the homosexual person, who have a right to genuine respect, another thing is to promote homosexuality. Also the divorced-remarried people have a right to genuine respect but the Church cannot promote a new concept of the family. The homosexual people are the first victims of this drift. … The Church’s job is to announce the Christian doctrine and the truth of conjugal love bringing man to full realization.”
Bishops plot revolution on Church teaching at secret Rome meeting
Rome, May 29, 2015
(LifeSiteNews.com) A private meeting convened by the presidents of the German, Swiss, and French bishops’ conferences was held on Monday at the Pontifical Gregorian University, the Jesuit university under the Holy See, in anticipation of the Synod on the Family to be held in October. The objective was clearly to push for changes in “pastoral practice” as regards Communion for the divorced and “remarried,” as well as the welcoming of Catholics living in “stable” same-sex unions.
Clearly, traditional Church teachings condemning contraception are also under attack, and more particularly Humanae vitae which has long been seen by progressives as the major repellent that caused many Catholics to distance themselves from the Church over the last half century.
A group of representatives of the meeting are said to have been received by the Pope at the end of the day.
Amongst the 50 or so participants, Cardinal Reinhard Marx was the star of the event. Marx is a member of Pope Francis’ “G9,” and well known for his support for the “Kasper agenda” and as a prominent defender of the “value” of homosexual unions. All were not promoters of radical pastoral changes in the Church, but many are known for their liberal approach.
The meeting had the stamp of officialdom due to the presence and implication of Archbishop Georges Pontier, the progressive head of the French Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Markus Büchel, his Swiss counterpart, and Marx. Büchel, who favors the ordination of women priests, was quoted before the opening of the Extraordinary Synod as saying that Pope Francis would not change doctrine nor touch the indissolubility of marriage, but that he did think there could be a new approach to pastoral praxis in line with Cardinal Kasper’s suggestions: “I hope we can make a step forward,” he said.
But while the invitation to the event was made in the name of the presidents of the bishops’ conferences, only those bishops invited were informed of the event and most bishops were not aware it was to take place.
Four other bishops took part in the “Day of Reflection”, including Mgr. Jean-Luc Brunin from France who will represent France in the upcoming October Synod together with Mgr. Pontier of Marseille and Cardinal Vingt-Trois of Paris. Also present on Monday was Mgr. Bruno Feillet of Reims, France, substitute for the Synod, who is known to express a traditional stance on marriage and moral theology.
There were also theologians, professors, priests and even members of the media who were invited on the provision that they would not publish detailed reports of the meeting, the objective being to give them “background” in view of the Synod. The full list of participants was published by Edward Pentin, the respected Vaticanist of the National Catholic Register.
The proceedings took place behind closed doors, and all participants were required not to speak publicly about the meeting, especially concerning who said what.
The meeting would probably have been kept secret if Jean-Marie Guénois, of the French daily Le Figaro, had not leaked the information on May 23. Sources in Rome say the leak was clearly not planned by the organizers. Cardinal Reinhard Marx was visibly irritated and uneasy when hailed in the street as he was leaving the meeting. Edward Pentin adds the cardinal argued that he had every right to be there in a “private” capacity.
The fact that the information was leaked probably explains why the German bishops’ conference published a communiqué about the meeting but it says little more than the invitation to the event. The wording of the communiqué – translated* by the Rorate Caeli traditionalist blog – contains no overtly revolutionary statements but stresses the participants desire to approach Church teachings from a new standpoint, including “new insights from anthropology, as well as from sociology,” as well as taking into account new ways of living that “do not follow traditional patterns any more” in a “highly complex and pluralistic society.” In many ways, the wording of the communiqué points to the rationale of Cardinal Kasper and his followers, who aim to justify profound change in pastoral attitudes under the appearance of gaining more “credibility” with modern man. *See immediately below
The answers of German, Swiss, and French lay people to questionnaires circulated in the wake of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family following the guidelines of the controversial Lineamenta were given due attention: most of them reveal a tragic ignorance of the Church’s teachings and their justification.
The only official account of the meeting was given in a communiqué of the German bishop’s conference (translated here by Rorate Caeli), which says little about the actual discussions. Participants were requested not to quote the declarations of the participants by name in public.
Some information about the meeting itself did find its way into the press, which is in line with a desire to create “agitation” – Marxists would say “agit-prop” – in favor of the revolutionary proposals touted there.
Marco Ansaldo, of the liberal Italian daily La Repubblica, quoted several participants as having supported formal recognition of homosexual unions by the Church, stopping short of marriage. “An innovative viewpoint. No one objected. Confrontation recedes into the distance,” he writes. This is echoed by Figaro, which writes that no one present opposed the idea of homosexual unions being recognized by the Church.
Ansaldo continues: “It is clear that we are experiencing a new pastoral reality,” a French monsignor remarked, while a woman professor of theology stressed that longer lives are “moving the frontiers of fidelity”: “But the discipline of the Church today is far from immobile. After a failure, after having been abandoned, one can engage in a new life with someone else. These problems are coming to us through teachers as well as through lay believers.” Applause followed, says Ansaldo, and the discussion moved on.
A German bishop is quoted as saying: “The ‘dogmatists’ say the teaching of the Church is fixed. But development does exist. And we need developments on sexuality.”
A Swiss priest and teacher speaks of “pulsions and desire,” “caresses, kisses and coitus in the sense of ‘coming together,'” Ansaldo recalls. Freud is quoted. “A lack of sexuality can be compared to hunger, to thirst.” The speaker would prefer sexual demands to be made in terms of: “Do you desire me?” “That is how sexual desire for the other can be joined to love.”
The meeting went on, Ansaldo says, to discuss communion for divorcees (“How can we refuse it, as if it were a punishment, to people who have failed and who have found a new partner with whom they have started a new life?”) As to the sufferings of children of divorcees, a priest comments: “In confession we often hear adolescents who ‘auto-accuse’ themselves of the divorce of their parents. But sometimes, separation is even a good thing.”
“All these words seem revolutionary, when spoken by men wearing clerical garb,” writes Ansaldo.
They also sound like deliberate provocation.
One of the main themes of the meeting was to ask for a new “theology of love” in which “sexuality” is seen as an “expression of love” and “developments” are necessary. “How can the diverse forms of love be assessed in a differentiated way by moral theology? What is the ‘added value’ of sacramental marriage in comparison with other forms of life?” the invitation to Monday’s meeting asked.
If the Church so badly needs a new “theology of love”, that demand amounts to reducing Saint John Paul II’s “theology of the body” to a negligible quantity. It also points to a clear desire to scrap the teaching of Humanae vitae, of which the theology of the body is a monumental and deeply insightful commentary and foundation.
This is corroborated by the presence of the French director of the National service for family and society of the French Bishops’ Conference (CEF), Monique Baujard. Baujard is nearing the end of her term at the CEF: she is well known in France as an opponent to Humanae vitae and she is also a supporter of “abortion rights.” Father Eberhard Schockenhoff, a German specialist and a prominent advocate for pastoral change, was also present: he not only supports homosexual clergy but is also known for criticizing Humanae vitae.
Clearly, the progressive party who had hoped to “manipulate” the Extraordinary Synod last October are far from giving up. On the contrary, Monday’s meeting is a sign that they are working from within the very heart of the Church in order to create more agitation and to obtain support.
And to that end, they need the press. Edward Pentin quotes one observer who predicted, speaking of the invitation extended to media representatives, that “they will be used to promote the agenda of the subject matter under discussion in the weeks leading up to the Synod.”
Faithful Catholics certainly have the obligation to resist.
*So, what did the “Progressive” Bishops discuss in their secret Pre-Synod meeting?
May 27, 2015
The meeting was first made public by Le Figaro (see here), and took place on Monday in the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, run by the Jesuits — it was later characterized as a routine meeting.
What was exactly discussed there? The German Bishops’ Conference made public the anodyne communiqué at the end of this post, but today’s Italian daily Il Foglio has more revealing snippets of the confidential conference, obsessed with same-sex caresses and marital infidelity:
And who knows if in the post-synodal relatio to be given to pope Francis will be present also the expressions on “caresses, kisses, and coitus understood as a coming together” that resounded in the venerable halls of the Roman university directed by the Jesuit Fathers. After all, one of the participants focused his own conference on the verification that “sexual stimulus represents the basis for a long-lasting relationship“, while a colleague affirmed with great certainty that, “with the lengthening of lifespans, also the borders of fidelity are changed,” and that, in sum, being together with the same partner for decades can be quite annoying in the end.
Let us hope the actual transcripts of each conference delivered in this secret German-Swiss-French “Progressive” panel are made public soon. The faithful around the world must know what is being planned by some bishops and their theologians.
Now for the German communiqué:
German Bishops’ Conference Press Release
26 May 2015
Day of Study of the Presidents of the Swiss, French, and German Bishops’ Conference in Rome
“The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and in the Contemporary World”
Upon an invitation from the [three] Presidents of the Swiss, French, and German Bishops’ Conference, members of the three Bishops’ Conferences, participants of the Synod, professors of theology, members of the Roman Curia, as well as journalists met yesterday in Rome for a Day of Study at the Pontifical Gregorian University. The invitation came out from the yearly meeting of the three Presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences which had earlier taken place [this year] in January and in Marseille [France].
Under the overall theme of the upcoming October  Synod of Bishops “The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and in the Contemporary World,” the 50 participants discussed various themes for the upcoming Synod. The Presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences were especially interested in reflecting upon the Biblical and theological foundations of the topic of the Synod and to discuss the problems that dominate the current debate concerning marriage and the family.
In the first part of the Day of Study, there were reflections made concerning a Catholic Hermeneutic of the Bible on the basis of the words of Jesus about divorce: The words of Jesus concerning marriage and divorce have to be interpreted in the context of his entire proclamation and of the tradition of the Church. According to the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation in the Second Vatican Council, Dei Verbum, the understanding of tradition is the cause for progress in the history, namely, because of the study and the consideration of the faithful, their understanding of spiritual things, and because of the teaching of the magisterium.
In the second part, there followed various considerations about a theology of love which considers sexuality as a precious gift of God as an expression of love. A further development of the theology of love is necessary, which follows up on the tradition of the moral-theological differentiations and which integrates new insights from anthropology, as well as from sociology.
In the third part of the Day of Study, the topic discussed was the challenge to accept the gift of one’s own life and to understand such a biography, also theologically, in this light: socially, in a highly complex and pluralistic society, the individual has a greater responsibility for one’s own way of life. Often, it does not follow traditional patterns any more. The personal concepts of life and the conscientious decision of the individual play a greater role. Biographical developments have consequences for the moral view of life. To this [complex], the pastoral approach of the Church concerning marriage and the family has to respond.
All the presentations and all the discussions were able to propose approaches for finding a place for marriage and the family in the Church and in the world. At the same time, the Day of Study made it obvious that further discussions about the future of marriage and the family are necessary and possible and shall be enriched by a further and intense theological reflection. [Rorate translation by Dr. Maike Hickson]
By Edward Pentin,
The Register‘s Rome correspondent, May 27, 2015
Monday’s unannounced study-day at the Pontifical Gregorian University, organized by the heads of the Swiss, French and German bishops’ conferences, was attended by at least nine bishops from those countries.
We publish their names below along with most of those who were also present.
The meeting, which aimed to explore various “pastoral innovations” ahead of the Synod on the Family in October, and reflect on a new “theology of love” that critics say would pave the way for Church recognition of same-sex relationships, was not advertised, even at the Gregorian.
The Austrian Catholic internet site Kath.net reported Wednesday that they had learned, via episcopal sources, that many bishops “not sympathetic” to the issues discussed were “neither informed nor invited to the meeting.”
“Also only a certain ‘elite’ among media representatives were invited,” it added. “Many other journalists from Catholic media from German-speaking countries were not even told about it.”
Matthias Kopp, the long-serving spokesman for the German bishops’ conference who was present at the meeting, told me Wednesday that “high-ranking curial officials” were also invited to the meeting but were unable to make it due to the Ordinary Council of the Synod of Bishops attended by Pope Francis on the same day. Kopp said the study-day was planned before they knew of the synod meeting.
Some of the journalists there reported on the event (Izoard and Ansaldo) and Father Hagenkord of Vatican Radio was a moderator, but that raises the question about the role of the other media representatives present who haven’t so far reported on it. Part of the reason may have been because everyone was instructed not to attribute authorship of the statements to the speakers under a kind of Chatham House Rule. But another possible reason may have been because they are to help further the agenda of the reformers before, during and after the upcoming synod.
Another question the study-day raises is who financed it? If, as Cardinal Marx told me, he was there in a private capacity, does that mean German Church tax revenue wasn’t used to finance the meeting? It’s unlikely that faithful German Catholics would want their taxes spent on a study-day aimed at Church recognition of same-sex relationships — the new so-called “theology of love”.
Rome Study Day of the presidents of the Swiss, French and German Bishops’ Conferences in Rome on the theme of the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops:
“THE VOCATION AND MISSION OF THE FAMILY IN THE CHURCH AND THE WORLD TODAY”
Cardinal Reinhard Marx, president of the German Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop of Munich and Freising
Archbishop Georges Pontier, president of the French Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop of Marseille
Bishop Markus Büchel, president of the Swiss Bishops’ Conference, Bishop of St. Gallen
Bishop Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabrück, Germany
Bishop Heiner Koch of Dresden-Meißen, Germany
Bishop Felix Gmür of Basel, Switzerland
Bishop Jean-Marie Lovey of Sitten, Switzerland
Bishop Bruno Ann-Marie Feillet of Reims, France
Bishop Jean-Luc Brunin of Le Havre, France
Father Hans Langendörfer SJ, secretary general, German Bishops Conference
Father Hans Zollner SJ, professor of psychology, vice-rector, Pontifical Gregorian University
Father Achim Buckenmaier, professor of dogmatic theology in the “Akademie für die Theologie des Volkes Gottes” Institute of the Pontifical Lateran University, Rome; consultor to the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization
Father Andreas R. Batlogg SJ, professor of philosophy and theology, chief editor Stimmen der Zeit
Father Alain Thomasset SJ, professor of moral theology at Centre Sèvres, France
Father Humberto Miguel Yañez SJ, dean of moral theology, Pontifical Gregorian University
Father Eberhard Schockenhoff, professor of moral theology at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Germany
Father Philippe Bordeyne, professor of theology, Institut Catholique de Paris
Professor Thomas Söding, professor of biblical theology at Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany
Professor Werner G. Jeanrond, theologian, Master of St Benet’s Hall, Oxford, England
Professor François Xavier Amherdt, theologian, University of Fribourg, Switzerland
Professor Erwin Dirscherl, dogmatic theologian, University of Regensburg, Germany
Professor Monique Baujard, director, Service National Famille et Société at the French bishops’ conference
Professor Eva Maria Faber, dogmatic and fundamental theologian and rector of Chur Theological College, Switzerland
Professor Thierry Collaud, theologian, University of Fribourg, Switzerland
Professor Francine Charoy, professor of moral theology, Institut Catholique de Paris
Professor Anne-Marie Pelletier, biblicist at the European Institute of Science of Religions (IESR)
Msgr. Markus Graulich SDB, prelate auditor of the tribunal of the Roman Rota
Marco Impagliazzo, President of Sant’Egidio lay community
Simon Hehli, journalist, Neue Zürcher Zeitung
Tilmann Kleinjung, ARD television correspondent
Michael Bewerunge, ZDF television correspondent
Jörg Bremer, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Vatican and Italy correspondent
Frédéric Mounier, correspondent, La Croix, Catholic daily, France
Marco Ansaldo, journalist, La Repubblica (Italian daily)
Antoine-Marie Izoard, director, I-Media French Catholic news agency, Rome
Father Bernd Hagenkord SJ, director of Vatican Radio (German edition)
5 out of 59 readers’ comments:
1. Come on Pope Francis, excommunicate them.
2. You know this guest list could be a convenient Dossier for a Canonical investigation like they did with the LCWR.
3. Sadly we have dissidents like Cardinal Kaiser, et al in the upper echelon of the Catholic Church. These dissidents who cannot follow Catholic doctrine should have been excommunicated. Pope Francis’ appointment of clergy like Bishop Koch (same-sex proponent) is shocking.
4. And they wonder why there is no faith in Europe!!! You brood of vipers!! Your efforts to dismantle the church will have eternal consequences.
5. HOLY MOTHER of GOD!! Must of the priest are Jesuits.
6. Without miraculous intervention Pope Bergoglio is not going anywhere. He was placed in office for a purpose that appears to be well on its way to being accomplished. He knew this meeting was going to happen, he wanted it to happen, and he let it happen. This is his party, and he is enjoying every moment of it. We just don’t know what is good for us. Talk about clerical imperialism. He comes from an ecclesial body often accused of sleeping with right-wing South American dictators. Be assured, the “Left” has learned a lot from the “Right” and here we go again…
7. In the 1930s Moscow gave orders to have men infiltrate the seminaries so as to destroy the church from within. Many priests, bishops and cardinals are now using their power to do just that.
In the early 1950s, Mrs. Bella Dodd provided detailed explanations of the Communist subversion of the Church. Speaking as a former high ranking official of the American Communist Party, Mrs. Dodd said: “In the 1930s we put eleven hundred men into the priesthood in order to destroy the Church from within.” The idea was for these men to be ordained and progress to positions of influence and authority as Monsignors and Bishops. She stated that: “Right now they are in the highest places in the Church” — where they were working to bring about change in order to weaken the Church’s effectiveness against Communism. She also said that these changes would be so drastic that “you will not recognise the Catholic Church.” Dodd gave testimony on communist infiltration of Church and state before the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s.
Confidential Meeting Seeks to Sway Synod to Accept Same-Sex Unions
Around 50 participants, including bishops, theologians and media representatives, took part in the gathering, held at the Pontifical Gregorian University.
By Edward Pentin,
The Register‘s Rome correspondent, May 26, 2015
A one-day study meeting — open only to a select group of individuals — took place at the Pontifical Gregorian University on Monday with the aim of urging “pastoral innovations” at the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the Family in October. Around 50 participants, including bishops, theologians and media representatives, took part in the gathering, at the invitation of the presidents of the bishops’ conferences of Germany, Switzerland and France — Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Bishop Markus Büchel and Archbishop Georges Pontier.
One of the key topics discussed at the closed-door meeting was how the Church could better welcome those in stable same-sex unions, and reportedly “no one” opposed such unions being recognized as valid by the Church.
Participants also spoke of the need to “develop” the Church’s teaching on human sexuality and called not for a theology of the body, as famously taught by St. John Paul II, but the development of a “theology of love.”
One Swiss priest discussed the “importance of the human sex drive,” while another participant, talking about holy Communion for remarried divorcees, asked: “How can we deny it, as though it were a punishment for the people who have failed and found a new partner with whom to start a new life?”
Marco Ansaldo, a reporter for the Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica, who was present at the meeting, said the words seemed “revolutionary, uttered by clergymen.”
French biblicist and Ratzinger Prize-winner Anne-Marie Pelletier praised the dialogue that took place between theologians and bishops as a “real sign of the times.” According to La Stampa, another Italian daily newspaper, Pelletier said the Church needs to enter into “a dynamic of mutual listening,” in which the magisterium continues to guide consciences, but she believes it can only effectively do so if it “echoes the words of the baptized.”
The meeting took the “risk of the new, in fidelity with Christ,” she claimed. The article also quoted a participant as saying the synod would be a “failure” if it simply continued to affirm what the Church has always taught.
The closed-door meeting, masterminded by the German bishops’ conference under the leadership of Cardinal Marx, was first proposed at the annual meeting of the heads of the three bishops’ conferences, held in January in Marseille, France.
The study day took place just days after the people of Ireland voted in a referendum in support of same-sex “marriage” and on the same day as the Ordinary Council of the Synod of Bishops met in Rome. Some observers did not see the timing as a coincidence.
The synod council has been drawing up the Instrumentum laboris (working document) for the October synod on the family. Integrated into the document will be the responses of a questionnaire sent to laity around the world. Those responses, particularly from Switzerland and Germany, appeared to be overwhelmingly in favor of the Church adapting her teachings to the secular world.
Why the Lack of Publicity?
No one would say why the study day was held in confidence. So secret was the meeting that even prominent Jesuits at the Gregorian were completely unaware of it. The Register learned about it when Jean-Marie Guénois was the first to report the information in a story in Le Figaro.
Speaking to the Register as he left the meeting, Cardinal Marx insisted the study day wasn’t secret. But he became irritated when pressed about why it wasn’t advertised, saying he had simply come to Rome in a “private capacity” and that he had every right to do so. Close to Pope Francis and part of his nine-member council of cardinals, the cardinal is known to be especially eager to reform the Church’s approach to homosexuals. During his Pentecost homily last Sunday, Cardinal Marx called for a “welcoming culture” in the Church for homosexuals, saying it’s “not the differences that count, but what unites us.”
Cardinal Marx is also not alone, among those attending the meeting, in pushing for radical changes to the Church’s life.
The head of the Swiss bishops, Bishop Büchel of St. Gallen, has spoken openly in favor of women’s ordination, saying in 2011 that the Church should “pray that the Holy Spirit enables us to read the signs of the times.” Archbishop Pontier, head of the French bishops, is also known to have heterodox leanings.
The meeting’s organizers were unwilling to disclose the names of everyone who took part, but the Register has obtained a full list of participants. They included Jesuit Father Hans Langendörfer, general secretary of the German bishops’ conference, who has been the leading figure behind the recent reform of German Church labor laws to controversially allow remarried divorcees and homosexual couples to work in Church institutions.
Among the specialists present was Father Eberhard Schockenhoff, a moral theologian. Faithful German Catholics are particularly disturbed about the rise to prominence of Father Schockenhoff, who is understood to be the “mastermind” behind much of the challenge to settled Church teachings among the German episcopate and, by implication, at the synod on the family itself.
A prominent critic of Humanae Vitae (The Regulation of Birth), as well as a strong supporter of homosexual clergy and those pushing for reform in the area of sexual ethics, Father Schockenhoff is known to be the leading adviser of the German bishops in the run-up to the synod.
In 2010, he gave an interview in which he praised the permanence and solidarity shown in some same-sex relationships as “ethically valuable.” He urged that any assessment of homosexual acts “must take a back seat” on the grounds that the faithful are becoming “increasingly distant from the Church’s sexual morality,” which appears “unrealistic and hostile to them.” The Pope and the bishops should “take this seriously and not dismiss it as laxity,” he said.
Father Schockenhoff has also gone on record saying that moral theology must be “liberated from the natural law” and that conscience should be based on the “life experience of the faithful.”
He has also insisted that the indissolubility of marriage is “not seriously called into question” by admitting remarried divorcees to holy Communion, writing a book to push his thesis in 2011 entitled “Opportunities for Reconciliation?: The Church and the Divorced and Remarried.” He has further proposed that the term the “official Church” should be done away with because of a growing gap between the institutional Church and the Church of the faithful.
Also present were Marco Impagliazzo, president of the Sant’Egidio lay community; Jesuit Father Andreas Batlogg, professor of philosophy and theology and chief editor of the liberal periodical Stimmen der Zeit (Voices of the Time) — the journal has devoted its June issue to same-sex relationships and the synod — and Salesian Msgr. Markus Graulich, prelate auditor of the tribunal of the Roman Rota, one of very few Curial officials to attend. Some of those participating, such as Msgr. Graulich, took part in the previous synod.
Also noted were the large number of media representatives. Journalists from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, German broadcasters ZDF and ARD, the Italian daily La Repubblica and French-Catholic media La Croix and I-Media were also present. Their presence was “striking,” said one observer, who predicted they will be used to promote the agenda of the subject matter under discussion in the weeks leading up to the synod.
Monday’s meeting is just the latest attempt to subtly steer the upcoming synod in a direction opposed by many faithful Catholics. A statement on the study day released by the German bishops’ conference May 26 said there was a “reflection on biblical hermeneutics” — widely seen as code words for understanding the Bible differently from Tradition — and the need for a “reflection on a theology of love.”
Critics say this, too, is undermining Church teaching. By replacing the theology of the body with a “theology of love,” it creates an abstract interpretation that separates sex from procreation, thereby allowing forms of extramarital unions and same-sex attractions based simply on emotions rather than biological reality. Gone, say critics, is the Catholic view of marriage, which should be open to procreation.
The statement, which conspicuously failed to mention sin, ended by saying that “further discussion on the future of marriage and family is necessary and possible” and that it would be “enriched by a further, intensive theological reflection.”
This, too, is code for wanting a change in teaching, giving the impression that the doctrine in these areas is open to change. But for the Catholic Church, it is a settled issue.
“Imagine if the Church accepted homosexual relationships,” said one source speaking on condition of anonymity. “Ultimately, that is what these people want.”
5 out of 274 readers’ comments:
1. It is the cafeteria Catholics who agree with the pope. People like me who are faithful Catholics have problems with this pope. He has German bishops, including his sidekick, Cardinal Kasper, who want to change the teachings of the church, and he sits by idly and says nothing. Cardinal Marx said that the Catholic Church in Germany is not part of the Roman Catholic Church, and again, the pope says nothing.
2. Some of the German bishops declare that they are not am arm of the Roman Catholic Church in Rome, A Swiss bishop calls for women ordination, and we don’t hear a peep from the pope.
3. I have read some say that these Cardinals and Bishops who are promoting the destruction of the family are heretics. At first I thought that this was too harsh a term. Now I think it is true.
Take for example, Cardinal Kasper. He is around 84 years old, he witnessed the time leading up to Adolf Hitler, he saw how the propaganda was used to move the German people to be more accepting and even support the persecution and murder of millions of Jews, he saw through the use of the media, the conversion of the German people to a people willing to participate in the imprisonment and killing of Catholic priest, polish, gypsies, and many other groups. In 1930 they would have never dreamed of doing what they themselves were involved in just 10 years later.
If only the Catholic Church in Germany would have stood up against Hitler early on, publicly told people that supporting Adolf Hitler was wrong and that they should fight against him, I am sure that he would never have been able to do what he did. Yes, Catholics were a minority in Germany at the time but they had tremendous influence.
I can’t believe the Cardinal Kasper can’t see that by supporting the anti-family agenda of the left, he is in fact supporting ever more dramatic anti-God change and ultimately, in fact, bringing about the persecution of the Catholic Church by the people and governments of the world.
Never has evil been defeated by sitting backing and not saying anything. The only chance Catholics have is to stand up and fight this diabolical agenda. Of course, prayer is the most important, prayer for strength and bravery during the coming persecution, prayer for strength and bravery to stand up for what is right, both among our peers and against those that support the diabolical agenda. We must stand up for God, or he will not stand up for us in the final judgement. He died for us, are we not willing to at least face the wrath of our peers. As he said, I came not to bring peace, but a sword.
4. If these modernists could show me one place in the Bible where Jesus said modify what I have taught you for the times you live in perhaps they might have some grounds for discussion. On the contrary our Blessed Lord told us they would hate us because of Him just as they hated Him before us. The Truth never changes and these folks would be better served to leave the Catholic Church if they want a protestant faith.
5. I think it may be time to write a letter to the pope, expressing my hope that he not be swayed away from the moral truths that the Church has held for her 2,000 year history through all types of persecution. God help us if a group of heretical priests, bishops and cardinals move the Church off her bedrock of faith to the quagmire of cultural demands to recognize immoral behavior.
The silence of the Synod on life and family issues was deafening. It’s time to speak up
By John Smeaton, May 11, 2015
(LifeSiteNews) When the pro-life movement came into existence almost fifty years ago it was in response to the legalisation, and rapid spread, of abortion around the world. Our task was to secure legal protection for unborn children.
However, in recent decades we have witnessed the culture of death expand into new areas of human life; including, for example, the most vulnerable unborn children of all – newly-conceived human embryos – who are more and more threatened by the giant anti-life in-vitro fertilisation industry, just as newly-conceived human embryos have been threatened for many decades by the pharmaceutical industry and by so-called “contraceptive” drugs and devices, which also work by stopping newly-conceived embryos from implanting in the womb.
The culture of death, based on contraception and abortion has also expanded to our children at school who are threatened by destructive anti-life, anti-family sex education. It has spread more and more to targeting and eliminating the disabled, the sick and the elderly who are threatened by euthanasia and “assisted suicide.” And the very nature of marriage and the family – the exclusive lifetime union of a man and a woman, open to life and committed to the nurture and protection of their children – is being undermined and denied by those who hold power and influence.
The consequences of all this is catastrophic, not only for millions of individuals, but for the whole of our increasingly globalised society.
A deafening silence
The silence of the Synod last October was deafening – on abortion, on contraception, the foundation stone of the culture of death, on euthanasia and assisted suicide, on pornographic anti-life sex education, on the suppression of parents as the primary educators of their children, and on the indoctrination of children into the homosexual ideology.
There is every reason for us as pro-life leaders to focus on this scandalous silence on these moral crimes in the Synod documents, for the sake of giving witness to Christ who founded the church, for the sake of authentic church renewal, for the sake of the pro-life movement and for the sake of our families who have been betrayed by the Synod authorities.
The issues at the Family Synod last year which have caught, above all, the attention of the world’s media and political establishment, are, firstly, marriage and, in particular the reception of Holy Communion by divorced persons living in invalid civil unions; and secondly, homosexual unions.
The treatment of these issues was summed up, amongst others, by Cardinal Raymond Burke. He said that the interim Synod report was “a gravely flawed document and does not express adequately the teaching and discipline of the Church and, in some aspects, propagates doctrinal error and a false pastoral approach”.
Marriage: the greatest protector of children, born and unborn
Why should the pro-life movement care about such this?
Voice of the Family and the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children care about this because sacramental marriage, binding a man and a woman together in an indissoluble union, is the greatest protector of children born and unborn.
In November 2011 the national council of the Society for the Protection of Children, our organisation’s policy-making body, elected by its grassroots volunteers, passed, without opposition, a resolution to defend marriage and to oppose so-called “same-sex marriage.”
The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), as a pro-life organization, decided to fight against “same-sex marriage” legislation for two reasons: First, statistical evidence on abortion clearly shows that marriage as an institution protects children, both born and unborn; secondly, “same-sex marriage” represents an attempt to redefine marriage, thus undermining marriage and family life, as a growing body of academic research clearly shows. It is this undermining that lessens the protection for unborn children that true marriage provides.
No other grouping offers such a high level of that security and stability that human beings need to flourish. Research shows overwhelmingly that children growing up within marriage do better in terms of health, educational success, happiness, careers and their own marriages. It is precisely because children matter, that real marriage between one man and one woman matters so much.
The destruction of traditional family structures has very grave consequences for all members of society, but it is children, born and unborn, who are especially vulnerable. Government statistics show that in Britain children conceived outside of marriage are four-to-five times more likely to be aborted than those conceived within marriage.
Additionally, same-sex couples are now demanding the right to have children– making it even more difficult for pro-life groups effectively to oppose surrogacy and in vitro fertilisation. According to peer-reviewed research, for every baby born by IVF, 23 are either discarded, or frozen, or used in destructive experiments, or miscarry. Defending the right to life of unborn children will increasingly be viewed as an attack on the rights of homosexual couples.
Homosexual indoctrination thus leads to increased contempt for the sanctity of human life.
Historically, our nations’ laws protected unborn children from being killed, and so, quite logically and rightly, pro-life movements worldwide have worked tirelessly to restore, or to uphold, such laws. By the same token, historically, families based on the indissoluble union in marriage of a man and a woman, have provided children, both born and unborn, with their best hope of life and fulfilment in life … so, quite logically and rightly, pro-life movements worldwide must work tirelessly to defend marriage and the family.
The studied ambiguity of the Synod authorities’ published documents on the questions relating to homosexual unions in general and on children brought up by homosexual couples is of huge significance for the pro-life movement. If the Church at the highest levels insists on imposing its will on these matters, without prejudice to Catholic doctrine which can never change, and continues to proclaim an ambiguous message which gives aid and comfort to the homosexual lobby in our countries back home, our pro-life work may effectively all but disappear off the world map.
The Kasper proposal: A ‘stalking horse’
So, we must ask, why is sacramental marriage now being challenged at the highest levels in the Church?
Cardinal Pell has publicly stated that the Kasper proposal, to allow divorced and ‘remarried’ Catholics to receive communion, is a “stalking horse” being proposed by “radical elements” within the Church “who want wider changes, recognition of civil unions, recognition of homosexual unions.”
Let us be clear: Cardinal Pell is telling us that there are figures, at the highest levels of the Church, who want the Church to approve of homosexual unions. Indeed, the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Cardinal Nichols, one of the Synod fathers, has twice indicated publicly that the Church may one day recognise such unions.
Faced with this new threat, not only to our faith, to our families, and to our children, but also to the existence of the pro-life movement itself what can the Catholic laity, and non-Catholics too I would say, do? Everyone has a stake in this matter.
In the first place we must follow the call made by the Latvian archbishop, the Archbishop of Riga, Archbishop Stankevičs, and commit ourselves to prayer. We must pray unceasingly for the pope, for the cardinals, for the bishops, and for clergy, religious and laity that we may all remain firm and unyielding in our profession of the gospel.
“But though we,” says St. Paul, “or an angel from heaven preach a gospel to you other than that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema” (Gal. 1:8).
Secondly, we must remember that we, the lay faithful, have both the right and the duty to make known to our pastors our views about the crisis engulfing the Catholic Church.
We have a right and a duty to require from our clergy and from the Holy Father unwavering obedience to the natural law and the teaching of the Church. No authority, not even the pope, has the power or the right to alter in any way that which has been revealed to the Church by Almighty God.
Canon 211 of the Code of Canon Law states: “All the Christian faithful have the duty and right to work so that the divine message of salvation more and more reaches all people in every age and in every land.”
This is followed by Canon 212, which states: “The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.
According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.
There’s nothing left…but the family
The most notable achievement of the pro-life movement is that we exist. Yes, pro-life organizations have enjoyed successes and saved lives. We’ve also had our setbacks. But, brutally realistically, we’re tiny – compared with the overwhelming reach of the culture of death, and compared with the universal reach of the Catholic Church in particular. That’s why Catholics – and everyone who has an interest in the common good – must study what’s happening at the highest levels in the Catholic Church and take action and we must have the maturity to speak out when things are badly wrong at the highest levels of the Church.
Moreover, the pro-life movement must embrace the defence of marriage or face defeat. Embracing the defence of marriage is primarily about handing on what we know to be the truth about the nature of marriage to the next generation, upon whose shoulders the burden of the pro-life struggle is rapidly falling: that marriage is the exclusive lifetime union of one man and one woman which is open to life and committed to the nurture and protection of their children; I refer in particular, of course, to the inseparability of the unitive and procreative dimensions of the marriage act.
I think in a sense, speaking on behalf of the oldest pro-life organization in the world, after nearly 50 years, our work is just beginning. Where do we begin? We begin with empowering families, with empowering mothers and fathers as primary educators. Parents, as the primary educators of their children, must find ways of teaching their children, including our older children who have fled the nest, the truth about the sanctity of human life and its transmission, the truth found in Humanae Vitae and in Evangelium Vitae and in Familiaris Consortio, because we have the right and the authority to do so and because, at this point in human history, the overwhelming majority of Episcopal leaders, who also have authority, are failing to do their duty.
There’s nothing left out there, except the family, based on the marriage between a man and a woman, to pick up the billions of broken babies, the billions of broken lives, and start again. We as leaders of pro-life and pro-family groups must help them to do that.
Cardinal Pell: I expect the Synod will ‘massively endorse’ tradition on communion for divorced and remarried
By John-Henry Westen and John Jalsevac, May 10, 2015
(LifeSiteNews) Speaking to a gathering of over 120 international pro-life leaders and hundreds of other guests in Rome on Saturday, Cardinal George Pell said that he expects that the upcoming Ordinary Synod on the Family will “massively endorse” the Church’s traditional teachings on communion for divorced and “remarried” Catholics.
“Christ is very clear about divorce … and not quite as important, but nearly as important, St. Paul is very clear about the conditions that are required for a proper reception of communion,” he said. “I think in fact that the synod will massively endorse the tradition.”
The cardinal was answering a question following his keynote address about what role the teachings of St. John Paul II on the family should play in the Church. “The teaching of St. John Paul the Great is the teaching of the Church,” the cardinal said. “I believe that the (Synod) delegates will recognize that the Christian tradition of St. John Paul the Great, Benedict, the council of Trent … I don’t anticipate any deviation.”
The Rome Life Forum was launched by LifeSiteNews in 2014 and is now run by Voice of the Family, a coalition of dozens of pro-life and pro-family groups. Pro-life leaders gathered for two days of private strategy sessions, before a public portion during which Cardinal Pell gave his address.
Also in attendance at the public afternoon session was Cardinal Raymond Burke. He and Pell have been among the strongest voices raising concerns about the way last October’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family – the prelude to the upcoming Ordinary Synod – was used by what Cardinal Pell has called a small group of “radicals” to promote an agenda to undermine the Church’s teachings.
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