Thursday, 6 March 2014

On Marriage and Civil Unions

For someone who, we are told, is obsessed with the simplicity and humility of Our Lord Jesus Christ and nothing but Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Vicar of Christ on Earth, His Holiness Pope Francis has a strange gift of making things a little more complicated than they need to be. If Our Lord had talked with the vague ambiguity of Francis, which, more and more, it appears, seems to give way to 'worldliness' or the 'spirit of the world', I have a feeling Our Lord could have lived to a ripe old age on Earth.

His full interview can be read here. Despite this series of 'apologetics' by Pope Francis ("I'm sorry I can't change the unpopular teachings, guys, but let's talk about the 'pastoral solutions' that translate as 'licences to sin'...") is it beyond the Successor of St Peter's wit, if he is to discuss the 'challenges of modern living' for Catholics, to mention the vocation to chastity to all Catholics who are not united in Holy Matrimony and to repeat, even quietly, that married couples are called by the Church to be open to the transmission of human life which can only take place licitly through natural, human reproduction?

That way, as well as going to Confession, the two homosexuals living together might think of fostering holy, brotherly love, rather than bonking each other. Those in irregular relationships might think of fostering chaste love, rather than imperiling their souls. Those who experience 'unwanted pregnancies' might think of keeping and nurturing the child, rather than destroying it by abortion or abortifacient contraception and 'emergency contraception'. Those using IVF treatment might consider abandoning it. Married couples, indeed, might think of being open to the gift of human life, rather than closing the door on the creative power which is His right in their marriage, in which the couple can have the privilege of co-operating.

By now all priests and Bishops around the World will have heard His Holiness's call to apply the medicine of mercy to the penitent, as if, under Benedict XVI, priests were chasing poor sinners out of their Confessionals at the slightest mention of vice. Surely, Lent is a good time - a perfect time in fact, for His Holiness to 'teach all nations' and to teach them all that God has taught and revealed to His Church, to issue a clarion call to repentance - especially the medicine of chastity, as well as prayer, fasting and alsmgiving - in this holy season of grace and mercy, not just for priests and bishops, but for all of us.

Let us pray that His Holiness is laying the groundwork for that. If His Holiness the Pope does not teach truth and virtue, as well as mercy, to sinners, then some will begin to wonder whether His Holiness recommends The Lord of the World, not as a warning and consolation to the Church, but as an instruction manual.

The worrying thing, as we approach the Synod this year, is that, for Pope Francis, it would seem, dissent does not seem to be a thing greatly to be worried about, or perhaps does not even exist at all in the epoch, the moment, the age of Franciscan mercy.

"In a social milieu that encourages the expression of a variety of opinions on every question that arises, it is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate. It is the truth revealed through Scripture and Tradition and articulated by the Church’s Magisterium that sets us free." ~ Pope Benedict XVI

"Fraternal and open confrontations foster the growth of theological and pastoral thought. I'm not afraid of this; on the contrary, I seek it." ~ Pope Francis

So, its war over Ukraine and war over Truth at the same time!

"His wisdom is a gift of God." ~ Pope Francis on Pope Emeritus Benedict


philipjohnson said...

this bishop of rome is a nightmare!he is instrumental in the prophecies of fatima in which our blessed lady said that the world will suffer greatly unless it repents of its sins.2017 is one hundred years from these visitations.he doesn't even know that he is part of these nightmares.he is damaging the church greatly.god bless .philip johnson.

Larry Betson said...

May our dear precious Lord and his Holy Mother illuminate our Popes mind and heart. What we need more then ever in the Church is clarity not ambiguity. Boy do I miss the lucid truth that Pope Benedict taught. Mercy without the charity of truth is a stumbling block. If I love my neighbor then in kindness I need to speak clearly and truthfully about what our Lord teaches in season and out season. Thank you for posting this. We need pray real hard and do sacrifice for our Holy Father. Please God help your Church.

Liam Ronan said...

I do not know what Pope Francis may intend or his words portend beyond that which has already been authoritatively permitted for years in respect of Catholics who have divorced and then entered into a civil marriage.
As matters have stood for years now divorced and civilly remarried Catholics may receive the Holy Eucharist under the following circumstance:

Pope John Paul II wrote:

“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.” (Familiaris Consortio, 84)"

On 14 September 1994 Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the CDF issued a letter to all of the Bishops of the Catholic Church concerning the reception of Holy Communion by divorced and remarried members of the Faithful within which letter Cardinal Ratzinger stated:

"The faithful who persist in such a situation may receive Holy Communion only after obtaining sacramental absolution, which may be given only "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, for example, for 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'"(8). In such a case they may receive Holy Communion as long as they respect the obligation to avoid giving scandal."

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

“If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law. Consequently, they cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists.
For the same reason, they cannot exercise certain ecclesial responsibilities. Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence.”

On June 24, 2000 Declaration of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts published “Concerning The Admission To Holy Communion Of Faithful Who Are Divorced And Remarried”

The Pontifical Council stated:

“c) the manifest character of the situation of grave habitual sin.

Those faithful who are divorced and remarried would not be considered to be within the situation of serious habitual sin who would not be able, for serious motives – such as, for example, the upbringing of the children – “to satisfy the obligation of separation, assuming the task of living in full continence, that is, abstaining from the acts proper to spouses” (Familiaris consortio, n. 84), and who on the basis of that intention have received the sacrament of Penance. Given that the fact that these faithful are not living more uxorio is per se occult, while their condition as persons who are divorced and remarried is per se manifest, they will be able to receive Eucharistic Communion only remoto scandalo.”

The reasons for these merciful remedies (above) is, in my estimation, to encourage such brothers and sisters to understand that they have gravely sinned (at least objectively); stand in danger of being damned; must be reconciled to God through the Sacrament of Penance by way of an admission of sin, an expression of (imperfect) contrition, and a firm intention to live a life of complete continence thereafter.

Julia Mc said...

Francis recently said, it is not a question of changing doctrine, rather “it is a matter of going into the issue in depth and bringing it about that the pastoral practice takes account of situations and of what is possible for persons”. This will be discussed at the synod, he added. So why don't you shut your mouths and let the Holy Spirit do its work through the synod, and in the meantime stop getting your knickers in a twist!

Lepanto said...

According to one priest in our parish, Jesus showed 'flexibility' in His teaching methods and so should we. How this adds up to his hinted suggestion that the Church 'give the nod' to same sex 'marriages' as the priest appeared to be hinting, I don't yet understand. No doubt the Pope will provide an explanation when that part of the wedge is reached.

Anonymous said...

To me this is the worst interview yet it is even more subtle and insidious in its modernist implications than the others and people are getting used to the notions that he is constantly harping on about. Oh my!

This interview has hardly caused a stir on the English-speaking Catholic blogsphere and it is loaded with revolutionary ideas all mixed up with apparent orthodoxy.

What a trial we are living as Catholics..

Have a blessed Lent Mr. Laurence.


Liam Ronan said...

@Julia Mc...
Sorry. I thought there was a questionnaire being circulated by the top echelons of the Church in the run-up to this event and, as questionnaires are want to imply, the free flow of ideas was not only being solicited, but welcomed.
The comments you see here and there are the natural by-product of the doors and windows being open that breath of the Holy Spirit might exhale where It will. Peace.

Jacobi said...

For some time now it has been clear that the concept of “Protestantism” has evaporated, that protestants are simply secularising and adapting to the current fashions of society.

There is a danger now that the Catholic Church is heading in the same direction. I trust the Holy Father is aware of this.

The pressure to normalise all forms of homosexual activity, is being driven, in society at large and now in the Church, by a minority, possibly about 1 ½ % of the population.

It seems now that another minority is driving the Catholic Church towards accepting a heresy, namely, the abandonment of the doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage. The feelings of the majority of married Catholics who have stuck together through thick and thin appear to be of no consequence.

If the Church compromises, and turns a blind eye to sex outside of valid marriage between a man and a woman, either explicitly or even implicitly, then we have a major crisis on our hands, and probably another great schism, as with the Protestant Reformation.

One further point. Personally, I doubt if the motives of even one in ten of divorced and remarried Catholics is the well being of children, even less the desire to receive the Body and Blood of Our Lord. No, I suspect it is to receive social acceptance of their irregular situation.

tro said...

The message seems to be: "We won't formally change doctrine; we'll just ignore it, and call it being 'pastoral'".

Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...

' Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence.'

seems pretty clear, but then who am I to...

Liam Ronan said...

You state your opinion is:

"I doubt if the motives of even one in ten of divorced and remarried Catholics is the well being of children, even less the desire to receive the Body and Blood of Our Lord..."

Let us say for the sake of argument that you are correct that as few as 1 in 10 divorced and remarried Catholics is motivated by a desire to receive the Holy Eucharist. Even so, recal:

"How think ye? if any man have a hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and go unto the mountains, and seek that which goeth astray?" Matthew 18:12

The Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist are available to divorced and remarried Catholics even now if only they will conform their lives to the instructions given by Holy Mother Church (see my citations above).

The scandal is that those exceptions are never spoken of and yet they might mean the difference between salvation and damnation for the divorced and remarried Catholic!

It is useful to keep in mind the parable of the publican and the Pharisee and the account of the Prodigal Son's Elder brother when our gorge raises up at the thought of forgiveness for the divorced and remarried. Too many, to my mind, want them to be punished severely without hope of forgiveness. Spiritual shadenfreude.
No one is arguing (at least not me certainly) that the Church must change the doctrine of indissolubility of marriage. Only that there is a remedy for those who repent.

Liam Ronan said...

"Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. But he answered his father, 'Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!' Then the father said to him, 'Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.'” Luke 15 28:32

"The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, 'God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax-collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.' But the tax-collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted." Luke 18: 11 - 14

Annie said...

Don't become a deacon, Laurence, whatever else you may do. You belong to a dwindling number of bloggers that are able to tell the truth.

Anonymous said...

This is a disgraceful comment. The deposit of Faith does not change. It is the failure to teach the doctrine of the Faith and morals that has so many souls in the dreadful state that they are in. Truth is unchanging, and the Church's duty is to bring the truth to all souls whereby they may be saved.

Anonymous said...

Please give your support to Deacon Nick Donnelly of Protect the Pope blog, who it appears has been closed down for speaking the truth about the great scandals in the Church, thereby doing a critical service to the Church and many souls. The voices upholding the truth of the Faith and morals are very few. Will all be silenced, one by one, to the great detriment of souls?

Jacobi said...


I don’t think we are in disagreement.
As for the one in ten, they have a simple solution, as you have pointed out
“assuming the task of living in full continence, that is, abstaining from the acts proper to spouses”

Regarding the examples of the missing sheep and of the prodigal son, we assume that we have repentance, and not that, as regards the prodigal for instance, he has come back for a couple of weeks to relax, chill off, or whatever the expression is nowadays, and then is off again.

The divorced and remarried always have the option of mercy, just as all sinners have. All they have to do is to go to Confession, make a firm purpose of amendment never to commit that sin again, carry out their penance, and then behave accordingly.

My point is that this lobby in the Church is pushing for special treatment because so much of Catholicism has become secularised and therefore many Catholics, particularly where sex is concerned, just like everyone else in secularised society, want to have their cake and eat it.

They are required to observe continence. Tough, I agree. But then so are lots of people, religious, widows(ers), chaste homosexually inclined, and indeed any Catholic who is not married. That is quite a lot!

We all have a cross to bear, some people indeed have several, so what’s so special about them?

ps : on reflection maybe I have been a bit harsh in my assessment. Maybe one in ten should read one in five?

Liam Ronan said...


How many times have we been to confession in our lifetimes, confessed all of our sins with a firm purpose of amendment, determined to behave accordingly, avoid mortal sin, and subsequently fell flat on our faces by way of relapsing into the same sin(s)?

What do we do? Through God’s Grace, we dust ourselves off and again beg God’s Mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Thus, over a lifetime perhaps, God’s Grace becomes stronger and stronger in us, and we find it easier to avoid sin, and may still hope of being saved.

I think there are no sins which can only be confessed once and forgiven once in a lifetime, i.e. recall Our Lord's seventy times seven.

The Prodigal you posit in your example would not have forgiveness from a Father who can read the human heart.

Notwithstanding, for a sin to be forgiven in confession imperfect contrition suffices, i.e. fear of God and eternal damnation.

I do not think there are many who go to confession thinking they can pull a fast one on God.

Yes, many bear the cross in their lives. The Church, (through the instructions I had referenced earlier) would be both St. Veronica and Simon of Cyrene to these.

But let us not kid ourselves. Neither of us is wearing rose-tinted glasses.

The issue here is not about sinners desperate for such Mercy as may be had (that implies an admission of sin). This is about a clique of theologians and laymen who want the doctrine on the indissolubility of marriage changed to permit divorce because, like prideful Lucifer, they shout ‘Non Serviam!’.

Pray for the Pope and pray for those who eschew the Mercy of God available to them. Peace to you, Jacobi!

Jacobi said...


I don't think we are disagreeing?

And peace to you.

Liam Ronan said...

Nay. Not a'tall a'tall.

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