For the record: Cardinal Burke’s latest address on the Synod and “Annulment” Reform. Rorate reminder: 2015 Synod poised to assaultHumanae Vitae too.
… His Eminence also noted that certain problems could arise in connection with Pope Francis’ new marriage nullity legislation, promulgated on September 8th.
He commented respectfully that these revisions to the Code of Canon Law, which among other things eliminate the required confirmation of nullity decrees by a tribunal of second instance, will require “very careful interpretation and application” in the light of the Church’s long canonical and doctrinal tradition. Cardinal Burke referred to his own chapter in the aforesaid book, in which he recalls his earlier experience as a Monsignor in the Apostolic Signatura during the period 1971-1983, when the 2nd instance tribunal confirmation of nullity decrees was almost completely suspended in the United States. Cardinal Burke repeated in his lecture what he said in the book: that the American experiment in “streamlining” the nullity process led in practice to a serious laxity which became widely perceived as “Catholic divorce.” It seems this was one reason why the 1983 Code restored the obligatory second instance review (which had been introduced by Benedict XIV back in 1740).
After his talk, in answer to a question as to what Catholics should do if the upcoming Synod of Bishops should take a “strange turning,” His Eminence gave an immediate two-word answer that drew a big round of applause: “Stay faithful!” Those two words well summarize the whole thrust of Cardinal Burke’s courageous and outspoken witness at this time of division and uncertainty over grave moral issues in today’s Church. May God bless, strengthen, and protect him!
Paragraph 137 addresses a key document of the modern Magisterium, Humanae Vitae, in a way that both calls the force of that teaching into question and proposes a method of moral discernment that is decidedly not Catholic. This approach to discernment contradicts what has hitherto been taught by the Magisterium of the Church about moral norms, conscience, and moral judgment, by suggesting that a well-formed conscience may be in conflict with objective moral norms.
As Catholic moral theologians and philosophers, we feel morally obligated to speak out against the distortion of Catholic teaching implicit in paragraph 137. If endorsed by the Synod, the defective text of the Instrumentum laboris would lead to confusion among the faithful. Paragraph 137 should be removed and replaced by a paragraph that speaks of the conscience in a more precise fashion, that celebrates the wisdom and beauty of Humanae Vitae, and that helps spouses to appreciate that the graces are available to them to live out God’s plan for the gift of sexuality.