Who Are the Modern Day Pharisees?

Tuesday, December 23, AD 2014

5 Responses to Who Are the Modern Day Pharisees?

  • Who are the Modern Day Pharisees?
    The Roman Pontiff, Cardinals Maradiaga, Wuerl, Dolan and Kasper. They are not “pharasitical” in holding to Church teaching as handed down through the centuries, but rather what they think the Second Vatican Council, the bestest, most supercalifragilisticexpeialidocious Council ever, teaches – or should teach.

  • I think the pharisees got involved in politics– our clerics today are encouraged not to do that.
    I know “involvement” is hard to define… (Cuba)
    I remember Fr. Drinan.
    All the loving and generous and, in fact, bleeding, hearts, claim the truth of their “another” religion because it is heartfelt. of course pharisees did and do not plan to be bad or to have bad effects. They are sincere. and to quote my dad…”Sincerely wrong”.

  • The new Pharisees are clearly those who don’t care about the lost people, the ones that don’t won’t to use their hands to save those who are already condemned, those who see liturgy as a new religion and as a ideology rather then as a mean to strengh the links between men and God through the path of mercy and charity.

  • Appearance over the substance they claim— caring about what people think more than if they’re actually promoting the good they argue for, valuing feeling like you’ve done good more than checking the results of the actions.

    Yeah, that’s really hard to connect to a modern movement….. -.-

  • The New Pharisees are those alleged “Go With The Flow” Types, who believe in a repetitive failure for Personal Gain. They are dangerous especially when proved wrong. I went down that road when, as a sworn Peace Officer in New York City, along with one other, we suffered at the Hands of Internal Profiteers, who justify everything with The Words “Everybody Does It.”
    They knew that when two of us followed what the Law actually said and not their private interpretation for personal profit, as well as for the rest of this City’s Legal Fixers, that Justice was served. The conditions were corrected. But these Modern Day Pharisees, like those of Christ’s Time, know that the consequences are of their demise of Power and Personal Revenue Growth, will bear false witness and destroy careers via “Concerns For Mental Health”, which is for preserving their lack of Credibility, via The Gang Tactics which they never hesitate to employ.
    M

Pope Francis, Marriage, and the “End” of Infallibility

Thursday, May 22, AD 2014

Angel

What will it mean if Pope Francis follows the counsel offered by some of his closest advisors, including Cardinal Walter Kasper, and permits divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion?  This prospect has only come to seem more likely given the Holy Father’s much discussed phone call to the Argentine divorcee.  This subject has been much on my mind for the past few months, and now that the worthy Ross Douthat has raised its implications in a highly public forum—and a number of important  Catholic  commentators are writing about it in depth—I think it is time to lay out a few of the scenarios that come to mind. 

Because the options are all rather unsettling, and opinions are deeply divided, it seems most useful to me to present the argument in the form of a three person dialogue, with each character representing a different perspective within the Church.  In the past, some readers have objected to this genre, making assertions such as “fictional dialogues belong in fiction.”  Tell that to Plato, St. Anselm, St. Thomas More, Erasmus, and Peter Kreeft.

To make things a little easier, I will label the characters’ viewpoints right up front:

John Paul: A faithful, orthodox Catholic who attends the most reverent Mass offered at his geographical parish. 

Marcel: A self-identified “traditional Catholic” who attends the Latin Mass exclusively. 

Josip: Raised a Byzantine Catholic, he attends that liturgy. He is politically and doctrinally conservative, but somewhat skeptical of Western conceptions of the papal Magisterium.

 

Marcel:  Hey John Paul! If Pope Francis blows up the sacrament of marriage, will you still insist that Vatican II was a “renewal” of the Church sent by the Holy Spirit?  Or will you finally start giving some thought to the alternative?

John Paul:  This issue is completely separate from the texts of the Second Vatican Council. They are the only aspect of the Council that binds us—and none of them says anything implying that divorced, remarried Catholics are eligible for Communion.  So your question is kind of incoherent.  But go on—what’s the alternative?

Marcel: That we have been witnessing since 1960 the Great Apostasy predicted by a number of apparitions of Our Lady.  That the orthodoxy, and hence the authority, of the popes who supported Vatican II is pretty dubious.

John Paul:  You know what’s dubious?  Private revelations.  You know what’s binding?  General councils of the Church and official statements of validly elected popes.

Josip: What happens if the official statement of a validly elected pope contradicts a fundamental Church teaching?  Such as the indissolubility of marriage, based on the clear words of Our Lord, and infallibly taught by the Council of Trent.

John Paul: That could never happen.

Josip: Yeah, but what if it does?

John Paul: It’s sacrilegious even to play with such hypotheticals. It shows your lack of faith in the Church.

Josip: St. Paul was willing to consider what it would mean if Christ hadn’t risen from the dead.  Divorce seems considerably less earth-shattering than that. What will it mean if Pope Francis does what he seems to hint he will do, which his closest advisors are saying in public he should do?  According to Cardinal Kasper, the Church should give divorced Catholics a “pass” on the Ten Commandments and the words of Christ, and treat their sexual relationships with their new “spouses” as something other than adultery. That’s the only possible implication of allowing them to receive Holy Communion without vowing to refrain from sex.

Marcel:  Which is exactly what the schismatics in the East have been doing for centuries. I’ll tell you what it would mean if “Pope Francis” does this: It will mean that he has lost the Catholic faith—and therefore the office of pope.  The throne will be empty, as some say it was when Paul VI endorsed the heresy of religious liberty, and when John Paul II and Benedict went on to teach it as well.

John Paul: At Vatican I, the Council closed off the idea that a pope could lose the throne through personal “heresy.” Saint Robert Bellarmine had made that argument, but Vatican I rebuked it.

Marcel: What use is infallibility if it doesn’t prevent a pope from endorsing a Council that teaches heresy, then reiterating it in countless public statements and in a Catechism?

John Paul: What use is papal infallibility if a pope can go ahead and teach heresy—God won’t stop him—but then we get to say that he’s no longer pope?  That makes infallibility an empty tautology: The pope is infallible, until he isn’t—at which point he isn’t pope anymore.  The Pharisees would have winced at that kind of legalism.  I certainly can’t imagine Christ winking at it.

Josip: If a pope ever taught heresy ex cathedra—which of course, I don’t expect will happen—it would prove something all right—that the Eastern Orthodox have been right all along. That Vatican I was not an infallible council, and neither were any of the other councils we have held without the Orthodox since 1054.

Marcel: Do you think Our Lord will be winking if the pope contradicts His plain words about divorce and remarriage?

Josip: No, I don’t.  We’ll get back to the implications of that in a minute.  First, I want to deny that religious liberty is a heresy.  Yes, there are many, many papal statements endorsing the persecution of “heretics.” Obviously, the Council Fathers and the pope knew about those statements, which their opponents such as Abp. Lefebvre were constantly quoting in the debates.  Clearly, the Magisterium concluded that those previous statements were not infallible—that in fact, they were wrong, because they endorsed violations of natural law and divine revelation, according to Dignitatis Humanae.  Papal assertions that it is right to imprison Protestants would have been false—like papal statements condemning all lending at interest as sinful “usury,” and statements permitting the enslavement of Muslims defeated in “just wars.” Of course, admitting all this should make us a lot more careful about how much weight we attach to papal statements.  Even when they reiterate “venerable” teachings like the condemnation of all lending at interest, and the embrace of religious persecution, most such statements are not infallible—and quite a number of them, in retrospect, were wrong.

John Paul: It’s unhealthy and impious for faithful Catholics to be sifting papal statements and determining which ones are “wrong.” If the Church decides, at a later date, to override what a previous pope has said, then and only then may we draw such a conclusion.

Marcel: Like good little Communists, we should wait to hear what Moscow decides is the new “party line,” then pretend that we have believed it all along?  I don’t buy it.

Josip: So John Courtney Murray should not have written in defense of religious liberty, since it wasn’t yet Church teaching?  And Catholic bankers shouldn’t have loaned money at reasonable rates of interest, but waited for the centuries to pass until the Church realized that the previous teaching hadn’t been infallible—and in fact, was wrong?

John Paul: That would seem like the safe, obedient course of action.

Josip: And if Pope Francis approves Holy Communion for sexually active divorced Catholics, will it be safe and obedient to accept that as well?

Marcel: It will be proof that he has lost the Catholic faith, and the right to call himself pope.  I bet that the bishops of the SSPX hold an election to find a real pope.

John Paul: I renew my objection to talking about such a development as if it were really possible. But for the sake of argument: If Pope Francis permits this kind of pastoral policy, it will be gravely mistaken—on the order of popes in past centuries allowing choir boys to be castrated to sing in the Vatican.

Josip: Surely this issue has greater implications than that.  How will we explain to homosexuals that they cannot be sexually active outside of marriage, and still receive Communion—when we permit that to heterosexuals?  Even I’m kind of offended by that.  Will anyone, anyone at all, still take the Church’s ban on birth control seriously, when it’s giving people a pass for adultery?  Which one is a more obvious violation of natural law?

John Paul: The pope would not be teaching error, but merely tolerating it.  As in previous centuries, when popes were lax about enforcing clerical celibacy, or allowed the sale of indulgences.

Marcel: No, you’re wrong.  If the German bishops started allowing this evil practice—which they probably already are, because they don’t want people to stop checking the “Catholic” box on their tax forms, and depriving the Church of money—that would be one thing.  But if the pope permits it for the universal Church, that’s something else entirely.  It’s right up there with him personally ordaining a woman as a priest, or adding an eighth sacrament.  It would be heresy, plain and simple.

John Paul: But he wouldn’t be teaching ex cathedra….

Josip: So if this happens, it won’t necessarily prove that Vatican I was wrong and the Eastern Orthodox are right about the structure of the Church. (Though of course, they will still be wrong about marriage—but then they don’t claim to be infallible.)

John Paul: No.

Josip: Or that Marcel is right and that the pope will have lost the throne?

John Paul: Absolutely not.

Josip: But it will prove that papal authority, and the divine protections we attribute to it, are a heck of a lot narrower than we used to think.  It will completely demoralize faithful Catholics who have been relying on papal statements to decide what they believe about critical issues—from war and peace to economics, from birth control to gay “marriage.” In effect, it will say that every papal statement in history is subject to future revision—except for the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption.  Those, at least, will be set in stone.  Apart from that, everyone will be reduced to a kind of cafeteria Catholicism—unless, as Marcel said, they decide to stuff previous Church teachings into the Memory Hole and simply follow the Party Line.  That would make things simpler.  Oceania has ALWAYS been at war with Eurasia.

John Paul: I miss Pope Benedict XVI.

Marcel: I miss Pope Pius XII.

Josip: What do you think really motivates Pope Francis? I don’t think he’s just another post-Conciliar progressive.

Marcel: If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…

Josip: It might in fact be a decoy.

John Paul: It seems to me that the pope is reaching out to the kind of people with whom John Paul II and Benedict XVI somehow couldn’t connect.

Marcel: People who want to claim that they’re “Catholic,” in the same sense that they’re “Irish” or “Italian”?

John Paul: No! I think he’s trying to convert the liberal’s false compassion for the “marginalized” into a genuine Christian concern for the needy.

Marcel: The “needy,” in this case, being prosperous divorced couples in Germany and the U.S.? Weakening marriage, in any way, really hurts the poor.

John Paul:  But I wish that Pope Francis would keep his outreach within the bounds of Catholic orthodoxy.

Marcel: Yeah, that would be nice.  It seems like the least we can ask… of a POPE.

Josip: What if there’s something else going on?  What if Pope Francis thinks that papal claims have been exaggerated, to the point where they needlessly block ecumenism—especially with the Eastern Orthodox?

Marcel: For all his talk of collegiality, he seems to have no problem using his power—against us Traditionalists.

Josip: But if he uses his power this time, to dismantle the traditional teaching on marriage, what would that mean for the authority of the papacy?

John Paul: Assuming the Holy Spirit allows it to happen…

Marcel: …And we don’t see a sudden resignation, “health crisis,” or falling meteorite…

Josip: The doctrinal contradiction would dismantle the papacy too—at least as we have known the papacy since… 1054. Which would remove the main barrier to unity with the East.

Marcel: So you think Pope Francis is practicing ecumenism by “auto-destruction”?

Josip: I don’t know.  Maybe he thinks of it as Perestroika.

John Paul: That’s impossible.  It’s apostasy.  God will never permit it.

Josip: Unless He does. In which case… well then, we’ll know who was right all along, won’t we?

 

John Zmirak is author, most recently, of The Bad Catholic’s Guide to the Catechism. His columns are archived here.

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39 Responses to Pope Francis, Marriage, and the “End” of Infallibility

  • We should be in a pretty pickle if we treated the logical implications of past papal laws, judgments, policies and so on as infallible teachings.
    As Bl John Henry Newman asks, “Was St. Peter infallible on that occasion at Antioch when St. Paul withstood him? was St. Victor infallible when he separated from his communion the Asiatic Churches? or Liberius when in like manner he excommunicated Athanasius? And, to come to later times, was Gregory XIII., when he had a medal struck in honour of the Bartholomew massacre? or Paul IV. in his conduct towards Elizabeth? or Sextus V. when he blessed the Armada? or Urban VIII. when he persecuted Galileo? No Catholic ever pretends that these Popes were infallible in these acts.”

  • http://marymagdalen.blogspot.ca/2014/05/i-am-risking-becoming-bishop-schneider.html

    Bishop Athanasius Schneider answers to Catholics of the above blog.

  • Whatever the pope decides it is adultery: a mortal sin.
    My conscience will rule me.
    I would not do it. But, If I were to leave the warden to live (in sin) with, or to marry, a rich, nymphomaniac that owns a liquor store (or a bass boat and knows how to cut bait), I would have self-eliminated from receiving Holy Communion and likely go to Hell.
    You never can tell. You may go to Heaven or you may go to . . .
    If your value system places the here-and-now ahead of the hereafter you may go to Hell.

    The historical effects of Paul IV’s and Sixtus V’s bulls were to make much harsher English Catholics’ lives and deaths.

  • Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. Whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven!

  • PP: Is that something akin to “General Absolution”? Or, amnesty for illegal aliens?

    Hocus Pocus! Poof! All is right with God and man.

  • Perhaps this is shaping up like Humanae Vitae: everyone THINKS he will allow Holy Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, but then he comes out with a beautiful but short encyclical on marriage that talks about how society’s acceptance of contraception (and denial of the truth of HV) is what got us into this mess of divorce and other messy marriage issues.

    He will affirm marriage. He will affirm the True Presence. He will affirm Catholic teaching on faith and morals, much to the chagrin of his advisors.

    Then we will have 40 years of “Well, that was not infallible.”

    All his advisors will be so upset that he didn’t listen to their magisterial fidelity to the god of Modernity.

  • Oneros
    1 wk, 6 days ago
    I would agree, first of all, that any reform will not touch the three principles: 1) that those who are conscious of mortal sin should not approach communion without confession, 2) that adultery is objectively a mortal sin/grave matter, 3) that sex with a new partner when your spouse from a validly ratified and consummated sacramental marriage is still living…is adultery by definition with no way out of it.

    However, I think that the reform might come more in the area of “pastoral approach.” And yet “pastoral approach” can also mean a development of doctrine (albeit not a reversal of dogmas, such as the above) inasmuch as pastoral approach always “teaches” or has some theoretical foundation.

    I think specifically a few “double standards” need to be addressed:

    First, the distinction between “public” or manifest sinners, and private sinners. This idea causes no end of Phariseeism and hypocrisy in the Church and needs to be phased out of Catholic thought. Unless someone is a vocal heretic or is explicitly publicly excommunicated (no more automatic excommunications either; even Ed Peters supports getting rid of THAT vague and slippery category)…we shouldn’t be presuming anything about their soul.

    Yes marriage is a public act. But that’s not exactly a dogmatic reality: Trent put a stop to clandestine marriages, but it didn’t say that previous clandestine marriages were invalid. So there IS room in theology for “broomstick marriages” because ultimately it is the consent of the man and woman that make a natural marriage. How much we want sacramental marriage/canon law to require beyond that is another question. But ultimately the bare minimum theologically (changeable canon law aside) is the consent of a man and a woman, even in private.

    But either way, remarried couples aren’t having sex in public! Therefore, they should get the benefit of the doubt that they are, in fact, living “as brother and sister” and should not be actively denied communion (refraining oneself, and active denial or withholding by the priest, being of course two different things in the Church’s pastoral policies). “Scandal” is an odd thing to claim: I’ve never known how someone else’s sin is scandalizing me, given that scandal means “to cause someone else to sin.” Mere knowledge of someone else’s sin doesn’t cause me to sin, and it is especially true if I am merely presuming they are sinning. Further, the theology of scandal puts the blame on the original scandalous ACT, not on the knowledge of it. Emphasis on the latter (such as asking couples to receive in another parish where they are unknown)…well, that’s what led to priest abuse cover-ups and such: thinking that even though the scandal had already taken place (the act of molestation itself), that things were somehow made “less scandalous” by containing the spread of the knowledge OF it. That’s just bad moral theology, that’s not how scandal works (see Catholic Encyclopedia), it’s never about “keeping up appearances” (though that’s an unfortunate recent misconception).

    Lots of Catholic couples contracept, etc…the idea that a civilly remarried couple is somehow “manifesting” private acts isn’t applied equally across the board either, as “boyfriends and girlfriends” (though often probably having premarital sex) are given the benefit of the doubt even though their premarital couplehood is manifest (that is, unless, oddly, they move in together/”cohabitate”; another odd distinction from a previous age: I know plenty of couples who live together/share a domicile for economic reasons but are waiting until marriage for sex, and certainly plenty who fornicate who don’t live together! Sharing an apartment isn’t a declaration of sexual activity or even “aping marriage.” Some people are just room-mates, some are room-mates who happen to be “dating.” Modern life is not made up of easy clear-cut social scripts.)

    This leads into the second double standard which I think is the real “meat” of the current problem and the contradictions many people perceive: the distinction between “living in sin” and plain old sinning (which is certainly no dogma!) Many people have noticed the spiritual/moral contradiction that a man who cheats on his wife, repents, confesses and receives communion time after time is just “struggling” and “a sinner like all of us”…but that if people actually have the realism and maturity to formally separate from the relationship that isn’t working, and institutionalize the new one as something stable and responsible…then they’re “living in sin” and unable not just to receive communion, but even unable to be absolved!

    This is one area where I think there is room in Church teaching for some “development of doctrine” with pastoral effects: in the question of what exactly the “resolve to amend” necessary for a valid confession is. What practically does that have to look like, how must it be formulated? The Eastern Christian view sees sanctification as an ongoing “medicinal” process, not a toggle-switch of sanctifying grace; there is a gradualism to it. At the same time, they see confession as very much a prerequisite for communion in general, so there is no sense of letting people receive in a state of sin.

    Most people with any spiritual sense would say that, for example, a loving cohabiting couple are in a better place spiritually than the guy who goes out and hires prostitutes each weekend, feels guilty, swears it off, tries to abstain, only to “slip up” again and again in the guilt-repentance cycle that simply compartmentalizes rather than trying to move towards integration. And yet under current widespread thought in the Church, he can receive communion each week after he confesses, whereas the loving couple is “living in sin” and don’t even have valid intention to be absolved unless they totally rearrange their life and make firm positive acts of “resolve” to do things different with lasting consequences (whereas the habitual sinner’s “resolve” on the other hand, can be merely theoretical and disappear days or even hours later as long as it was “sincere” AT the moment of confession).

    And yet the Apostolic Penitentiary released a vademecum saying, “Sacramental absolution is not to be denied to those who, repentant after having gravely sinned against conjugal chastity, demonstrate the desire to strive to abstain from sinning again, notwithstanding relapses. In accordance with the approved doctrine and practice followed by the holy Doctors and confessors with regard to habitual penitents, the confessor is to avoid demonstrating lack of trust either in the grace of God or in the dispositions of the penitent by exacting humanly impossible absolute guarantees of an irreproachable future conduct.”

    Perhaps, then, remarried couples need merely to uphold the idea that abstinence and living as brother and sister is the ideal, but then as often as they “slip up” just come to confession and mention it like every other sinner, without needing to provide “humanly impossible absolute guarantees.” I’ve seen too many people in a delusional cycle of “this is the last time!” (confess, commune, sin-again, repeat). Maybe the standard for intent to amend in confession need not be so strict or based on unrealistic (and often bad faith) expectations on the part of habitual sinners. A couple who has sex after remarriage can’t be absolved time after time unless they separate or rearrange their whole lives, but no such burdens are really put on the habitual porn user. This double standard needs to be addressed.

    And there could perhaps also be a greater emphasis on the spiritual life as, often, a series of “lesser of two evil” negotiations (also a very Eastern Christian view).

    Finally, there is also the question of internal versus external forum. The interesting thing about the Church’s teaching on annulments is…they are supposed to merely determine, in the external forum, that a marriage was ALREADY invalid. Which means that when a couple remarries and then seeks an annulment…in hindsight, they weren’t actually committing objective adultery ALL ALONG. So there are very real questions as to why a couple who, in conscience, believes they have personal moral certitude (in the internal forum) that their first marriage was invalid…should have to “wait” for the annulment in the external forum. It takes three years only to declare “Oh, well, you weren’t married all along, so you really WERE free to remarry this whole time!” Perhaps the Church could pastorally tolerate couples “anticipating” annulments like this. And even if the annulment comes back negative, annulments are not infallible. There is a tension between internal and external forum here, but one that gives individual souls and pastors room to negotiate, though there would be no public recognition (internal has to remain internal).

    Perhaps the Church could even enshrine in canon law a sort of “automatic conditional radical sanation” of remarriages after an invalid first marriage (even if annulment has not yet been determined in the external forum). In other words, declare that IF a first marriage was in fact invalid in the eyes of God (whether annulled or not), then a second marriage is automatically sanated even if it lacks canonical form (though this would not be established as a public fact unless a public determination was made). That way a couple anticipating annulment won’t be fornicating in the meantime (only to find out, “Oh, guess what, you really were free to marry all along. Sorry for making you wait”) and won’t have to time the sacramental status of their marriage from a later convalidation.

    As a final point, I think the Church could also restore something like “fraternatio” or “adelphepoeisis” to recognizes partnerships that are not marriage. This would apply to remarried couples after divorce, but the logic would seemingly extend seamlessly to same-sex pairs. The idea would be that even if the Church can’t recognize a relationship AS marriage, ie even if it can’t sanction it as sexually active, it nevertheless can recognize and celebrate the relationship/partnership/friendship itself (apart from the sex question) and therefore not leave these people feeling like they are second-class citizens or “merely tolerated.” The official teaching would be that such relationships are supposed to be celibate “like siblings,” but then there is always confession if people “slip up,” and in the case of remarriages, always the possibility (discussed above) that the first marriage really was invalid and so (if the conditional automatic sanation is in place) is a sacramental marriage even if not recognized as such in the external forum, even if in the external forum it is only recognized as this brother/sister non-marital partnership.

    I’ve spoken with Orthodox folk, and it turns out that their biggest guff over us re: marriage isn’t solvable merely some idea that their divorces could be interpreted as annulments. They actually are most concerned over the idea that we think the first marriage simply didn’t exist. I would therefore also add the following as an ecumenical gesture to the Orthodox: the current Catholic thought is that a marriage between two Christians is always the Sacrament, or else “nothing at all” (except a “putative” marriage). The Orthodox, on the other hand, have a view that seems more holistic which says that sacramental marriage starts as a natural marriage (such as exists between two pagans, etc) in the porch of the church, and then is “sacramentalized” by being brought into the Church.

    Perhaps then there is some room here to investigate the possibility (for the sake of reaching out to the East) that even if a marriage is found to not reach the level of an indissoluble sacrament (ie, an annulment), it might still have been a natural marriage (if there was no natural impediment) rather than “nothing at all” and so a subsequent remarriage would be under the Petrine privilege and have a “penitential” tone, recognizing the first relationship that tragically failed as something more than a mere non-entity. It would have to be explored how changeable the “either a sacrament or nothing at all” principle is; Eastern theology certainly doesn’t seem to see it that way, it sees natural marriage as the “matter” of the sacramental version.

    Perhaps the system would look like this: actual annulments in the external forum allowing for a second full-on wedding would be rare (for very basic reasons like first spouse still alive, consanguinity/incest, etc). The existence of invalidity on account of more nebulous psychological reasons wouldn’t be denied, but in such possible cases, it would be more of a private negotiation: remarried couples would only celebrate a “fraternatio” penitential in tone with a caveat something like “IF your first marriage was valid, you’re supposed to live as brother and sister…but of course confession is available. On the other hand, if it was invalid, sacramentally at least if not naturally, then the new marriage is automatically radically sanated, but unless there were an external-forum annulment that determination has to remain a private matter of conscience for you and you can’t act as if the Church is publicly sanctioning your sex life.”

    Anyway, those are my thoughts.

  • Perhaps this is shaping up like Humanae Vitae: everyone THINKS he will allow Holy Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, but then he comes out with a beautiful but short encyclical on marriage that talks about how society’s acceptance of contraception (and denial of the truth of HV) is what got us into this mess of divorce and other messy marriage issues.

    He will affirm marriage. He will affirm the True Presence. He will affirm Catholic teaching on faith and morals, much to the chagrin of his advisors.

    Then we will have 40 years of “Well, that was not infallible.”

    All his advisors will be so upset that he didn’t listen to their magisterial fidelity to the god of Modernity.

    [br]

    Wow. You make the comparison to HV like it was a *good* thing. It was a complete, unutterable disaster. Yes, it preserved the Church’s teaching on paper–and that was it. The reality was that it was only paper. Pope Paul then proceeded to allow a culture of open dissent and the flouting of Church teaching on a level that swallowed the Catholic university system and entire national episcopal conferences (see, e.g., the Winnipeg Statement). The bottom line? Maybe–maybe–10 percent of Catholics observe the teaching. You want to know why Catholics–even mass attending ones–favor gay marriage and abortion? Because with HV they saw there was no cost to shelving Church teaching. NONE. The culture of dissent is so ingrained it can’t be eradicated at this point.

    [br]

    And, frankly, your vision is the very best case scenario–Church teaching is defended on paper, but raised expectations cause a HV-style blowback in the Church which lead to it being cast aside. Hurray?

    [br] But the best case scenario is not going to happen–you haven’t been paying close enough attention to the Pope’s statements and actions.

  • I don’t think Jesus would approve of all this legalistic foolishness. This conversation also reminds me of the Little Flower, who had headaches reading anything other than the Gospels.

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  • In response to “P. Plante on Thursday, May 22, A.D. 2014 at 10:39am: Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. Whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven!”
    cf. Jn 15:5: “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty; for cut off from me you can do nothing.”

  • What on earth is going on? This is madness. I was brought up in what appears today be a very “traditional Roman Catholic family”. The parish grammar school. The local Augustinian High School, and a a few years at a Jesuit University.

    From my understanding of the Deposit of Faith (de fide definta/ infallibly defined) which I am to believe is the fullness of revelation found in the Scripture, the Church Fathers teachings, doctrinal counsels, Synods of Bishops called by the Holy Father and “statements” made by the Holy Father Ex cathedra (Papal Bulls), not general statements or personal opinions made in conversation with others. That being said, one would assume that the Holy Father’s “statements” would be much more carefully stated. Dare I say “guarded”? To do so otherwise would be an invitation for scandal, would it not?

    If the “Popes, any Pope” were to teach or promulagate that which is contrary to the Faith He would ipso facto ex communicate Himself from the One, Holy, Apostolic, Roman and Catholic Church founded by our Lord Himself. There have been Anti-Popes in the past why not in the present or the future?
    In light of the Feast of Ascension andthe Feast of Pentecost upcoming, all our Lord promised His little flock was: “…fear not and, know that I am with you until the consumation of the world”. and “…for I must leave you for a short while and return to the Father to prepare a place for you for, if I do not the Paraclete will not come…”. and in His prayer for unity “..that all may be one as the Father and I are one”. And, His instructions to Peter and the Apostles, Peter being first in primacy, “…if you hold bound upon the earth it shall be bound in Heaven and, that which you loose upon the earth shall be loosed in Heaven..” All in compliance with the Divine law. I believe when and if Sacramental Matrimony is conferred our Lord’s teaching on the indisollubility of Marriage/Sacrament of Matrimony would thusly apply. Atleast, that’s who I’m go’in with. There does not appear to be much “wiggle room” for those who like to “dance”. Pope or otherwise.
    No statute can make any unlawful act lawful, it only confers license for a FICTION to comit an act that remains UNLAWFUL. (see legal abortion)

    enjoy

  • The two upcoming Synods are on “the Family”, not “divorce and remarriage”. The Christian Family founded on the marriage between one man and woman for life, on the conjugal charity of that couple in human, total, exclusive, love which is open to new life. Divorce and remarriage is only one ‘shadow’ that partially prevents the Good News of Marriage and the Family to shine in the splendor of truth. Other ‘shadows’ are cohabitation, polygamy [in Africa] and so called ‘gay marriage’. The Synods, I believe, will tackle the anthropological [vision of the human] issues underlying marriage and the family and I would bet, actually ‘receive’ Saint John Paul’s teaching on sexuality.

    WHat I am about to say concerns elements within the Church, not the wider society or the media. There are those who do not really believe we have received any revelation (read: Gospel) concerning sexuality, marriage and the family. They do not see why the Church doesn’t get with the program and accept what the wider society has come to accept in the midst of this vast cultural revolution which we are immersed in. Many of these members of the Church believe that the culture sets the agenda for the Church. They will be deeply distressed that the Church will be upholding her teaching on the indissolubility of marriage and the nature and elements of conjugal charity [Humanae Vitae]. Within the Second Vatican Council the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation [Dei Verbum] is the fundamental document and ultimate interpretative key among the four fundamental documents [On Liturgy, Church and Church in the Modern World]

    On the other hand there are those members of the Church who frankly seem to fail to recognize that the Church has been dealing with the pastoral issues of marriage and family from the very beginning of the Church. It is the Sacrament of Reconciliation and with the canons that the Church has addressed this fundamental aspect of her ministry and life. Whatever sins she looses, they are loosed in heaven; whatever sins are held bound, they are held bound. Here is where the so called ‘changes’ MAY occur. However these are not doctrines but disciplines within the Church [of course the Sacrament of Reconciliation-Penance itself is an actual sacrament/doctrine etc]

    As the Church moves forward, there are two things to keep in mind. First, the two synods are expressions of the ‘synodality’ of the Church. At Synods as at Councils of the Church, all sorts of things are stated, positions and even sides taken. However, it is the ‘consensus’ coming out of the Synod which will be the key-the content and direction it takes. Just because some bishop from some place says ‘something’ in terms of the approaching synod, (especially with twenty-first communications) just take it in and don’t get into a panic etc

    The other real issue which the Church needs to address in some manner-better sooner than later-is what the Church and world witnessed back in the 60’s during the Ecumenical Council. The media feeding popular opinion and being fed by media smart but rather shadowy (and sometimes sinister) personages in the Church (i.e some theologians) were already forming their own ‘Council of media-popular opinion’. No one can deny this existed and you can see the handwriting on the wall already on this. The Church in some way will have to address this distinct but related issue before the “synod of the media’ overwhelms the actual ‘Synod of Bishops’

  • You have shown the difficulty of writing this fictional dialogue! It is hard not to put your own interp into the mouths of the characters, or at least color the characters according to you own understanding of them.
    I wouldn’t think John Paul would have said: “the texts of the Second Vatican Council. They are the only aspect of the Council that binds us”.
    I hadn’t read very much further when I came to this speed bump:
    John Paul: You know what’s dubious? Private revelations. You know what’s binding? General councils of the Church and official statements of validly elected popes.”
    That just sounded out of character to me if the argument is to show JPII’s “side” of the story.
    Anyway, my thought is that John Paul would not have responded in that way… so then the dialogue takes a certain fork in the road after that… and that road as you have laid it out, leads to the broken authority, disappearing Church scenario that is part of understanding Vat 2 as a rupture.
    It seems that the teaching Authority of the Church has already disappeared – the foundation, the rock, the authority of Peter – is cracked and crumbling and Vatican II is implicit as the crack in the rock, by your story line, because of J.C. Murray and Dignitatus Humanae?

  • A very good article. I don’t think I could contribute an analysis any better than the many that have already been written.
    So I will do what I do best, focus on the trivial and inconsequential.
    So here goes….
    Isn’t that picture a weeping angel from Doctor Who? 🙂

  • As an abandoned husband and father, I have seen, starkly, where Francis is heading. Marriage already means nothing. His “pastoral”
    approach has long been mainstream.

    The Catholic Church is imploding and deserves it. His methods have simply hastened what it already a “messy divorce”.

    If Francis had any good will, he would jettison his plan for a synod of bishops unless they were only the audience, in a gathering of contentious annulment respondents, especially those with some children, so these men could actually hear some truth and some harsh realities. He should also have our adult children speak as well.

    But I do not believe the horrors they would hear would move them to
    actually begin to defend marriages.

    I cannot imagine any course of action that will “save” the Catholic Church. Not really.

  • But the best case scenario is not going to happen–you haven’t been paying close enough attention to the Pope’s statements and actions.

    Dunno. The man is erratic. The conclave made a wretched error, ’tis true.

  • John Paul is right it won’t be ex cathedra. That means infallibilty is intact no matter what he says.
    I’ve heard that in the hierarchy of truths ecumenical councils are on the top, then papal encyclicals, then everything else. This isn’t the end of the world either way.

  • That’s a low quality dialogue. I look forward to the days when no one in charge has a personal investment and attachment to Vatican II. Then we can cut it up and move on with actual tradition instead of the manufactured ones from recent decades.

  • Naughty! you have Marcel referring to “Pope Francis” i.e. in quotes. The SSPX are not sedevacantist.

  • Perhaps, we should take comfort in the words of Cardinal Manning: “The enunciation of the faith by the living Church of this hour, is the maximum of evidence, both natural and supernatural, as to the fact and the contents of the original revelation. I know what are revealed there not by retrospect, but by listening” “Do you or do you not believe,” he asks, “that there is a Divine Person teaching now, as in the beginning, with a divine, and therefore infallible voice ; and that the Church of this hour is the organ through which He speaks to the world ? If so, the history, and antiquity, and facts, as they are called, of the past vanish before the presence of an order of facts which are divine namely, the unity, perpetuity, infallibility of the Church of God: the body and visible witness of the Incarnate Word, the dwelling and organ of the Holy Ghost now as in the beginning.”
    Bl John Henry Newman was of the same mind, “There is, I repeat, an essential difference between the act of submitting to a living oracle, and to his written words; in the former case there is no appeal from the speaker, in the latter the final decision remains with the reader… I can fancy a man magisterially expounding St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians or to the Ephesians, who would be better content with the writer’s absence than his sudden reappearance among us; lest the Apostle should take his own meaning out of his commentator’s hands and explain it for himself.”

  • I think there is a distinction to be made. It is possible for the Pope to decide that in our current society most marriages are entered into with a presumption that divorce is an option and if the couples “fall out of love” the appropriate course is to divorce. Obviously if either person enters into a marriage with this belief they lack the intent to a lifelong commitment and were never married. ( Their marriage is invalid) , for this reason a prenuptial agreement is almost prima faciae evidence for an annulment. and thus many Catholics might be able to get an annulment via an internal forum. Now I am not asserting I agree with this line of reasoning entirely, as it leaves itself open to great abuse and may effectively undermine marriage ( which in many ways is on life support already), but the Pope could reason this way and not contradict any doctrine or teaching of the Church. I think if we go down the divorce and remarriage route this is what we will see. The practical consequences of this however will likely play themselves out as a further Protestantization of the Catholic Church. It is a lot easier to believe that God would expect marriage to be permanent, then that he becomes substantially present in the Eucharist. We should all be saying the Rosary for the Church, since we are headed for a cliff at present.

  • I, and I’m sure at least a few others, who would dearly love to see the “extraordinary rite” become more accessible and available, find the characterization of “Marcel” a painful stereotype that somehow tars us by implication.

  • Dan Allman,

    I appreciate your statement. The problem of characterization by stereotype may be a useful rhetorical flourish but it actually creates more ‘smoke’ than ‘heat’ or ‘light’. Many on this list would characterize me as the John Paul character-but that is not me either.

    The Extraordinary Rite is a beautiful form of the much larger Latin Rite [there are several forms of it]. There is a problem however when people in any ‘rite’ [and here I speak of my own “Ordinary Form” as well as any others] either want to make ‘our’ rite ‘the only rite’ or even worse, into an ideological camp which in fact impairs and often harms the catholicity and unity of the Church.

  • All of the doctrines and statements re marriage are based on interpretation of what Jesus said via the lens of western cultural thought. Divorce was allowed by God in the Old Testament and the process was prescribed in detail in the law. God in his grace and mercy allowed divorce and remarriage. Jesus was talking to the Jewish religious leaders and the upholders of Jewish religious law. He was saying that they weren’t following the law and men separating from their wives weren’t following the proper procedures and granting them bills of divorcement – thereby causing them to commit adultery in their new relationships. Putting away or separating was not the same as divorcement and a certificate of divorce is required by God to properly end a marriage otherwise people who remarry are in a state of adultery.
    The teachings of the churches both Catholic and Protestant have created a mess regarding divorce and remarriage and bound people in ways that God in his grace and mercy never ordained.

  • That sounds plausible Jane, if I hadn’t read the text for myself.
    Just so we are talking about the same thing:
    Matthew 19.1-15

    19 When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. 2Large crowds followed him, and he cured them there.

    3 Some Pharisees came to him, and to test him they asked,
    ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?’
    4 He answered, ‘Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning “made them male and female”,
    5 and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”?
    6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’
    .
    7 They said to him, ‘Why then did Moses command us to give a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her?’
    8 He said to them, ‘It was because you were so hard-hearted that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but at the beginning it was not so.
    9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery.’*

    10 His disciples said to him, ‘If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.’
    11 But he said to them, ‘Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given.
    12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.’

    not based on western interpretation, look at the Church Fathers.
    sample: Athenagoras (about 177 AD) “Plea for the Christian”

    A person should either remain as he was born, or be content with one marriage; for a second marriage is only a specious adultery. “For whosoever puts away his wife,” says He, “and marries another, commits adultery”; not permitting a man to send her away whose virginity he has brought to an end, nor to many again. For he who deprives himself of his first wife, even though she be dead, is a cloaked adulterer, resisting the hand of God, because in the beginning God made one man and one woman, and dissolving the strictest union of flesh with flesh, formed for the intercourse of the race.598

    http://theology1.tripod.com/readings/fathersofthechurch.htm

  • What is infuriating about this piece is not that the argument it fictionalizes is implausible, but that it it does nothing to resolve them. I agree with Ross Douthat—we need to take seriously the possibility that the Synod will do something earth-shatteringly stupid and start thinking through the implications. Not just satirizing (albeit well) the ensuing conversation. As others have said before, the best-case scenario is “Humanæ vitæ II,” which is catastrophe. And it’s all downhill from there. Unless Francis resigns or is recalled to the head office before the Synod, and his replacement stops it, we are in for the roughest ride in generations.

  • Anzlyne

    The issue of second marriages, even after the death of a spouse was a vexed one in the early Church and Anthenagoras’s remark that “he who deprives himself of his first wife, even though she be dead, is a cloaked adulterer” had many supporters.

    St Jerome famously took a middle path, saying that, whilst he did not commend second marriages, he did not condemn them.
    In the East, the rite for second marriages has a penitential character and is seen as a concession (economia) to human frailty and, in the West, the rule that a woman might receive the Nuptial Benediction (the blessing at the end of the Pater Noster in the Nuptial Mass) is a relic of the severer view.
    Again the rule that men who had married twice (or who had married a widow) are irregular and cannot receive Holy Orders is universal in the East and applied in the West too, but subject to the dispensing power, until the 1983 Code of Canon Law.

  • “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” I am not speaking of marriage between a man and a woman, I am speaking of the Sacrament of Matrimony instituted by Jesus Christ. If Divine Wisdom chooses that Matrimony is to be between a man and a woman exclusively, leaving out the Creator, procreation cannot happen. The begetting of children cannot happen without the Creator.
    .
    Since Adam and Eve, in the garden, when God brought Eve to Adam, the first marriage, God created marriage as surely as God created Adam and Eve. God is a part of every marriage. Jesus raised marriage to the dignity of a Sacrament.

  • Mr.Price is right about H.V. The Pope drew an authoritative line in the sand and then watched passively as Priests created a storm that obliterated it.

    And now he too will be canonised

  • The Pope drew an authoritative line in the sand and then watched passively as Priests created a storm that obliterated it.

    The Pope is not in a position to discipline priest bar in spot circumstances. Bishops have to do that. The trouble with Paul VI is that the Holy See interfered with Cdl. O’Boyle’s attempt to do that and this set a bad example.

    That having been said, the disciplinary breakdown in the Church was pretty comprehensive at the time and it’s doubtful other bishops were inclined to do much (and were preoccupied with other disasters as well). Some years ago, Louis Tarsitano and Patrick Henry Reardon offered some reminiscences about life in minor and major seminaries prior to 1970 and in the period succeeding. Leon Podles has also offered his memory of seminary life ca. 1966. Recall the Rudy Kos case? The salient decision on his admission to seminary was made in 1974. Here, there, and the next place there was a mad insistence on keeping the sacramental assembly line rolling. That had to have severely vitiated the inclination of bishops to discipline errant clergy (over and above losses from departures from the priesthood).

  • Pope Paul VI had Universal Jurisdiction and he should have dropped the excommunication bomb on the Curran 600 the day they went public confessing their heresy

  • The dissent from within, from the clergy down, is what will destroy the Church – but not completely…. there will be a remnant.

  • Amateur Brain Surgeon wrote, “Pope Paul VI had Universal Jurisdiction and he should have dropped the excommunication bomb on the Curran 600 the day they went public confessing their heresy.”

    As Art Deco points out, we know that Rome pursued exactly the opposite course. The Congregation for the Clergy decreed that Cardinal O’Boyle of Washington should lift canonical penalties against those priests whom he had disciplined for their public dissent from Humanae Vitæ. George Weigal has called this the “Truce of 1968.”

    We had been here before. I have always seen a quite remarkable similarity between the “Truce of 1968” and the “Peace of Clement IX” during the Jansenist controversy.

    In both cases, after the Church had been riven by a decade-long dispute, a papal document had been issued that was intended to be definitive and in both cases, the original quarrel was immediately forgotten, whilst argument raged over the scope of papal authority to decide the question at all.

    In the Jansenist case, in 1664, Alexander VII decided to require the subscription of the clergy to Innocent X’s bull of 1653, condemning the Five Propositions. There was enormous resistance, particularly in France and the Low Countries, with widespread and vocal opposition from bishops, theologians and the lower clergy.

    Peace, of a sort, was achieved, when Pope Clement IX brokered an agreement that neither side would argue the question, at least, from the pulpit. The “Peace of Clement IX” lasted for about 35 years and ended in 1705 when Clement XI, in Vineam Domini Sabaoth declared the clergy could no longer hide behind “respectful silence.” Eventually, in 1713, he issued Unigenitus and demanded the subscription of the clergy to it. There was even more resistance, with a cardinal, 18 bishops and 3,000 priests appealing to a future Council (and being excommunicated for their pains, in 1718). As late as 1756, dissenters were still being denied the Last Rites.

    Will the “Truce of 1968” end in a similar fashion?

  • Francis is not a seething modernist. He is not some wily really smart politician trying to reach out to more people while retaining crypto-orthodoxy. He is not trying to connect with the East. All three interlocutors are wrong. He is just not the most dazzling PR guy, savvy politician, or theologically minded person to sit on the throne for the past century or two. A vague set of opinions, rather than a clear ideology or theology; friendly chatting and speculation, espousing a lack of clear presentation; and a belief that to be taken seriously he has to impress the cool liberal kids, characterize the learn-as-you-go papacy. He just says stuff. He just does stuff. He was raised Catholic, gets asked questions about religion, rather like your friend down the street. Except he can quote more authors – I mean, he could if he wanted to, but he probably thinks that would bore people more than analogies about Martians and stories about how he rode the bus to work; so, he doesn’t.

  • George Weigel opined:
    .
    “the Truce of 1968 “decreed that Cardinal O’Boyle should lift canonical penalties against those priests who informed the cardinal privately that they agreed that the Church’s teaching (in Humanae Vitae) on “the objective evil of contraception” was “an authentic expression of [the] magisterium.” The Congregation explicitly avoided requiring that the priests, who had dissented publicly, retract their dissent publicly”.
    .
    Some 46 years later:
    .
    “…The Truce of 1968 taught theologians, priests, and other Church professionals that dissent from authoritative teaching was, essentially, cost-free…(ii) taught bishops inclined to defend authoritative Catholic teaching vigorously that they should think twice about doing so, if controversy were likely to follow; Rome, fearing schism, was nervous about public action against dissent…and (iii) Catholic lay people learned…“that virtually everything in the Church was questionable: doctrine, morals, the priesthood, the episcopate, the lot.” Thus the impulse toward Cafeteria Catholicism got a decisive boost from the Truce of 1968…” http://eppc.org/publications/the-truce-of-1968-once-again/
    .
    Should any Catholic really be concerned about the fate of nineteen rebel priests whose public dissent from Pope Paul VI’s teaching yielded so much tainted fruit.
    .
    It is written that “By their fruits, ye shall know them.” Matthew 7:16.

  • Slainté asks, “Should any Catholic really be concerned about the fate of nineteen rebel priests whose public dissent from Pope Paul VI’s teaching yielded so much tainted fruit?”
    Insofar as that fate was the result of the decision of a Roman dicastery (probably with Papal approval), yes. Like Clement IX’s failure to discipline the four French bishops that dissented from Regiminis Apostolici, it produced precisely the results that George Weigal describes; it weakened the supporters of papal authority and strengthened its opponents.
    The “Peace of Clement IX” produced a whole generation of the “duped Jansenists” and the “Truce of 1968” has produced a similar effect.
    Suppose the subscription of the clergy had been required to the central dogmatic teaching of Humanae Vitae, namely, “No member of the faithful could possibly deny that the Church is competent in her magisterium to interpret the natural moral law. It is in fact indisputable, as Our predecessors have many times declared, that Jesus Christ, when He communicated His divine power to Peter and the other Apostles and sent them to teach all nations His commandments, constituted them as the authentic guardians and interpreters of the whole moral law, not only, that is, of the law of the Gospel but also of the natural law. For the natural law, too, declares the will of God, and its faithful observance is necessary for men’s eternal salvation,” I believe the overwhelming majority would have subscribed.
    It would not, of itself, have resolved the question of pastoral prudence in its teaching and application: “we know,” says Lord Macaulay, “through what strange loopholes the human mind contrives to escape, when it wishes to avoid a disagreeable inference from an admitted proposition. We know how long the Jansenists contrived to believe the Pope infallible in matters of doctrine, and at the same time to believe doctrines which he pronounced to be heretical,” but the principle of the authority of the Magisterium would have been put beyond question.

  • MPS, if the rebellious 19’s dissent was limited solely to the teachings contained in Humanae Vitae, might they not have just claimed “conscience” as a basis for their dissent?
    .
    Instead, they attacked magisterial infallibility. In effect, they sought to cast doubt on the entirety of infallible teachings held by the Church…possibly a way to renegotiate dogma in line with a “living and evolving faith”?
    .
    How then does the Church discipline would be reformers without turning them into martyrs (especially in the chaotic 1960s)?

PopeWatch: Surprise

Wednesday, October 23, AD 2013

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

PopeWatch would suggest that a good rule to follow in regard to the pontificate is that the tea leaves may not be as easy to read as one would expect.  For example, it has been widely thought that Pope Francis is interested in allowing divorced and remarried Catholics whose prior marriage has not been annulled by the Church to receive Communion.  Based upon an article appearing today, that may not be the case.  Father Z gives us the details:

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading...

14 Responses to PopeWatch: Surprise

  • Guess I am not that impressed. It is not enough to simply restate that divorce and remarriage (sans declaration of nullity) is wrong/sinful, and then compounding the issue by taking Communion. There needs to be action–those who are promoting/allowing the taking of Communion by the divorced/remarried need to be shipped off to a monastery somewhere, under vows of silence so they may study the issue from the point of view of the Church, etc.

    Failure to enforce this will only result in what is currently happening with the contraception/sterilization/abortion issue–yes, we’ve had a couple of Encyclicals. We have study groups about them. We have various groups dedicated to teaching NFP, praying in front of abortion clinics and doing sidewalk counseling, post-abortion healing, etc. We also have Nancy Pelosi, Kathleen Sebelius, and the majority of Catholics who have no moral qualms about the use of contraception and sterilization, including those working in the medical field. Many young Catholics are supportive of gay/lesbian “marriage.”

    I’m actually quite sympathetic to the divorced/remarried. Truth be told, this is the one teaching of Christ that I’d like explained away, abandoned, dumped in the trash. Alas, it is a little difficult to do so since the words of Christ were crystal clear.

  • I may be missing something here, but this is my take on this new document. My guess is that this part of the document described by Sandro Magister will prove to be the exception that swallows the rule (there’s that ugly word “rule” again):

    “But Müller also recognizes that in a context like that of the present “invalid” marriages are very numerous.

    “Exactly as Pope Francis had noted, again on the return flight from Rio de Janeiro, when he recalled that his predecessor in Buenos Aires, Cardinal Quarracino, used to say: “For me half of marriages are null, because they get married without knowing that it is forever, because they do it for social convenience.”

    “But if null marriages are so great in number, how will the diocesan tribunals be able to examine all of them, juridically ascertaining their invalidity?

    “Müller does not pose this question explicitly in his document. However, he cites a 1998 article by Joseph Ratzinger republished in “L’Osservatore Romano” of November 30, 2011, in which the predecessor of Pope Francis explored the pros and cons of a hypothetical solution: the possible recourse to a decision in conscience to receive communion on the part of a divorced and remarried Catholic, in the event that the lack of recognition of the nullity of his previous marriage (on account of a sentence maintained to be erroneous or because of the difficulty of proving its nullity in the tribunal procedure) should contrast with his well-founded conviction that the marriage is objectively null.

    “It can be presumed that the synod of bishops of October 2014 – to which Pope Francis has entrusted the question – will examine precisely this “Ratzinger hypothesis” in order to innovate in this matter, albeit with the reaffirmation of the absolute indissolubility of marriage.”

    In short, the Church will reaffirm the absolute indissolubility of marriage, but will further liberalize the availability of declarations of nullity, as well as the so-called “inner forum” thing that Magister refers to as the “Ratzinger hypothesis”.

    And I’m not convinced that, at least in the short term, this isn’t the correct solution. We know we have at least a generation of poorly catechized Catholics who have gotten married for all sorts of reasons without a proper grounding in the Church’s teachings on marriage. Cardinal Quarracino was probably correct in his assessment that “… half of marriages are null, because they get married without knowing that it is forever, because they do it for social convenience.” Perhaps, in the short term, the Church should be more, for lack of a better word, liberal in its assumptions about how many marriages are in fact sacramentally invalid.

    However, the Church’s position going forward should be this:

    “Okay, going forward, now you’re on notice. To get married in the Church, you’re going to have to go through INTENSIVE catechetical training on the indisolubility of marriage. Converts are going to have to go through that same training as part of RCIA, and once they’re in the Church have their marriages convalidated in a Catholic marriage rite. After that, then we REALLY mean business that those marriages are FOREVER. No declarations of nullity will be granted except in the cases of obvious invalidity.”

  • It is a good essay. I’d be happier if it were linked on the Vatican website, or issued as an actual CDF Note of some kind. As a Vatican guy once said, “it’s not Denziger.”

    I’m inclined to agree with Jay, and say that the necessary medicine of mercy has to be coupled with a reinforcement of the indissoluble understanding. Marriage isn’t simply “One Man, One Woman.” It’s “One Man, One Woman, Forever.”

    Another area for fruitful examination involves cases of abandonment, and the Church needs to mandate a free annulment process.

  • What Dale said (especially the part about agreeing with me 😉 ). And I definitely agree on mandating a free annulment process. Some dioceses already do this – I know the Diocese of Richmond, for example, has a free process.

  • “For me half of marriages are null, because they get married without knowing that it is forever, because they do it for social convenience.” –

    But, wasn’t that pretty much true at the time of Christ? Weren’t marriages pretty much arranged by the parents whether or not the couple (especially the girl/woman) in question really wanted it that way. And would they have had any knowledge “that it is forever”? If they had, would anyone have asked Christ about divorce/remarriage, which appears to have been pretty rampant at that time as well?

  • The annulment process is free in the Archdiocese of Detroit, too.

  • Pingback: Divorced & Remarried Catholics - BigPulpit.com
  • So just what does all this stuff about “In sickness and in health, richer or poorer .. till death us do part etc” mean ? Or was that also changed after V II ? I remember being quite terrified by the undoubted permanence of the vows when we uttered those words but it gave us such confidence and trust.

    Are Marriage Vows made to be broken ? If so they are not vows, not promises, just empty phrases.

    Marriage is for life, a very short thinking session will lead you to that conclusion, so stop looking for chinks in the Church’s armour with all this muttering about annulment. Talk about the cost of the annulment process is a distraction. If the marriage fails irrevocably, that is it. You are apart and you sleep alone. Chastity reigns for the unmarried and the separated. Equally. Plus, if you are separated, there is always the chance of a reconciliation, a truly wonderful solution.

    OTH, proper, thorough preparation before entering marriage, with emphasis on zero contraception and the thrill and beauty and privilege of children is many years overdue. For a start, it should be explained from the pulpit and shown why it is such an aid to Heaven. It’s a fair guess that this particular sin is leading more people out of the Church than any other.

  • I want to affirm the “rule of thumb” offered by Donald at the very beginning of this article. I have stated in other posts that Pope Francis is very hard to categorize if one uses the oft used ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’ ideologies-even if liberals in the media or even within the Church attempt to claim him. I am convinced of his rooted ness in the Gospel (which is the full teaching of the Catholic Church). I am also convinced that those Catholics who desire TLM have nothing to fear. This will be continued (point of fact, the Italians Bishops asked him to pull back on TLM and he refused)

    We are in a major paradigm shift in the history of the Church. The last shift took place when we moved from the Medieval Era to the Modern Era. That shift, resisted at first within the Church-the resulting in the breaking away of the Reformation (actually a reaction to the shift) and certain elements of the Humanist-Scientific forces (who were pushing forward at a rapid pace) eventually gave us the Tridentine Church. Today, however we are moving from the Modern to Post Modern era. Romano Guardini wrote of t his shift in his small but deep The End of the Modern World in 1950. I was at first stunned to see that the ‘end’ was perceived then and not in the more familiar 60’s. Vatican II, like the Council of Trent for its era, sought to enable the Church to continue in Her identity and mission for this new era.

    Each of the popes since VaticanII have attempted to serve and lead the Church further into this era. Blessed John Paul II needed to bring the initial years of ‘experimentation’ with an ethos of almost anything goes, to an end. He also needed to begin adjusting the Church to the new world wide politics emerging at the end of the Cold War. His gifts both pastoral and theological were extraordinary. Pope Benedict brought his theological gifts, especially on the Wor of God, to bear making the Revelation of God as first, foundational and central to the Church. Now Pope Francis seems to want to bring his own gifts to the mission of the Church both in evangelization and the pastoral aspect of the Church. His approach is more radical-rooted in the Catholic Tradition than many suspect.

    As we move further into this new historical context, we are going to witness older and seemingly more traditional approaches (I am not speaking here of TLM) lose their power to assist the Church in her mission. These traditional approaches are not the same as Tradition. Many are approaches that were considered to be novel and even radical at the beginning of the age of Trent.

    The whole pastoral work of the Church is going through a seemingly drastic evaluation, assessment and adjustments in order to further the mission of the Church-not change in Teachings but change in our response to our post modern world

  • “As we move further into this new historical context, we are going to witness older and seemingly more traditional approaches (I am not speaking here of TLM) lose their power to assist the Church in her mission. … Many are approaches that were considered to be novel and even radical at the beginning of the age of Trent.” – Botolph
    I wish I could approve of this optimism of Botolph, but a reading of a newly published pivotal book, The Second Vatican Council: An Unwritten History, by Robert De Mattei, shows starkly that Vat2 definitively and deliberately broke with Catholic tradition. The debates and subsequent “anti-schematas” that became the 1st two Constitutions, On the LIturgy (Sacro.Concilium) and Dei Verbum, specifically were formulated as a break with the past, which is why there are all the trap doors in each of them. Augustin Bea, by emphasizing bibilicism alone, intended to completely supplant the long history of Church interpretative meaning and higher authority. With regard to SC (Liturgy), Cardinal Dopfner, Lienart and Leger specifically advocated “a modern liturgy that has meaning for modern man” (an actual quote) and abandonment of the traditional Catholic liturgy entirely. Dopfner actually had the temerity to assert that “the Roman Breviary … is not suitable for priests today, but were for a past time when priests had nothing to do but fill up their day with prayers.” —which was why Breviary of S Pius V, S Pius X, and S Charles Borromeo was thrown on the ash heap. In December 1962, John XXIII inscrutably placed Dopfner, Lienart and Suenens effectively in charge of the commission for guiding all the further documents of V2, with the predictable effect and outcome: a break with the past.

    So, whether it is with regard to any church disciplinary practice (divorce and re-marriage, priestly celibacy, even traditional marriage, and sacraments), Botolph, respectfully, is mistaken. This break represented by the time-bombs of Vatican II as others have called it, this break will continue to whirl madly out of control. One must go back and correct the damage. Read De Mattei’s book: it is an incontrovertible collection of fact.

  • For the sake of brevity as well as clarity, I am going to set aside discussion on the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy which Steve Phoenix in referring to the radical traditionnalis Robert De Mattei declares broke with the received Tradition (as distinct from traditions) of the Church. I will simply state that the Catholic Church does not accept this hermeneutic of disruption-even in the much discussed area of the Sacred Liturgy.

    More specifically I want to direct our attention to the radical critique of thevDogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation. Notice the actual title of the document. It is considered and named to be Dogmatic. This means that as authoritative as the Constitution on the Liturgy and the Constitution on the Church in the Modern World are, the Constitutions on.Divine Revelation and.on the Church have been elevated further as Dogmatic

    For a second, let us look at this radical critique. It says that this dogmatic constitution on Divine Revellation has contradicted dogmatic teaching of the Church in her Sacred Tradition handed down by the College of Bishops in union with the Succesmsor Peter,, the Pope.. An Ecumenical Council is an extraordinary act of this College of Bishops in union with the pope, and authoritatively promulgated by the success mor of Peter at the time. Trent, Vatican I and Vaticam II all are Exumenical Counsils of the Church ( the latest examples of such precious gifts)

    The question remains can an Ecumenical Council in reality, substantially (rather than simply perceived or misunderstood) break with and/or contradict the received Tradition of the Church ? The answer is a resounding “NO”! If it could happen that means that Christ’s promise of the Spirit Paraclete and that gates of hell shall not prevail against thevChurch busily on Peter are empty. Does anyone really want to say that?

    Protestantism believes that the Spirit andonded the ‘institutional Church’ with the end of the New Testament era, or with the Constantinian era, Orthodoxy believes the last authoritative Council was Nicaeav II in 784 and it holds to the Tradition of the Church up until 1054 zealously. The Old Catholics would not accept Vatican I and broke away stating VaticanI was not guided bt the Spirit. Are we sadly seeing another breek in the Church caused bt those who see Vatican II as a radical break? The difference.here is that both the so called Progressives in. The Church and radical Traditionalists hold to this same hermeneutic of discontinuity pulling at the Church from the two extreme spectrums found in today’s Church

  • I guess persons like Botolph have a programmed function key for the word “radical” and perhaps also “radical traditionalist”: it permits them to negate facts more easily. But, Botolph, it would be best for you to read the monumental fact-gathering of Roberto de Mattei with an open-mind first—or at least just read it, you clearly havent—and you would learn something.

    You would learn that discontinuity is inherent in Vat2’s documents, such as in Sacro.Conc. (On the Liturgy), when the voting members by imposing a new liturgy contradicted both the Council of Constantinople and the Council of Trent, as well as the Code of Canon Law (1918 version, no. 1257), all 3 of which state only the Holy Father can change the Mass of the Catholic church—not even a dogmatic constitution. This is what is meant by a break in continuity. It would be good for you to know that the diaries of Congar, Schillebeeckx, and Rahner, and others, which are now available to us, show there was a deliberate and concerted effort to undermine the Holy See and the Magisterium and tradition, and to replace them all with a purely “biblical” and modern basis of “church”. It would be good for you to know the mind-sets of cardinals like Dopfner, who felt the Roman Breviary should be “discarded” (a quote), disregarded the destruction of Catholic unity that a shared prayer, just as the pre-1962 Mass, provided to the Catholic Church. When Max Thurian, a Protestant observer, asked if now he could “say” the Novus Ordo Mass, one of the periti emphatically affirmed, “Yes,”, a protestant minister can celebrate the same service. That was their goal, a rejection of the Mass of Trent and the ages, for a “modern liturgy for modern man”, according to Julius Dopfner.

    Nor would it be safe to take refuge in the validity of ecumenical councils — just for example, the 2nd Council of Ephesus, and an “ecumenical” council in its day, obviously we now call the “Robber Council” since it affirmed Monophysitism as “catholic” doctrine, in its time. We now know that councils have to be judged by history and St Vincent of Lerins’ rule, “what the Catholic Church has always taught in all places at all times.”

    Or, Botolph, I would be careful: because the argument of people like Kung and Rahner and Congar and their ilk was essentially that “ecumenical councils invalidate the need for a papacy completely.” That is part of the problem we are dealing with — the crippling non-intervention of John XXIII and Paul VI, even when they themselves observed the process of “auto-destruction” (Paul Vi’s own words).

    Finally, if you compare what deMattei’s research corroborates with Romano Amerio’s similar work (Amerio was reputedly the highest non-ordained Catholic peritus present @ Vat2), you see them both document a brazenly deliberate effort to break with the past.

  • Steve,

    It is indeed interesting that you state that my response is “programmed”. You have taken only those who see things with and after Vatican II as a discontinuity, as a disruption. Who is the programmed? You mention the Robber Council as an ecumenical council (at least for a time). At no time was that synod recognized by the pope this is the authority needed for a synod to be considered ecumenical and Catholic

    Where is the Catholic Church today? It is where the people gather with and under the authority of the bishops in full communion with the Pope, the Successor of Saint Peter

  • Botolph is in fact programmed in his auto-replies (and may have a programmed function key for the following: “radical traditionalist”, 2x’s; “radical critique,” 2x’s; use of “radical” 5x’s in about 200 words) because he demonizes information sources that trouble him (such as Roberto deMattei’s exhaustive history on Vat2, which he clearly has not bothered to read) and thinks he effectively dismisses them.

    To others who may want to know the truth, namely that Vat2 is discontinuous with Catholic tradition, let us just look at the argument that “dogma” was defined @ Vat2 (something Botolph believes). Yet Paul VI affirmed the opposite, “Differing from other Councils, this one was not directly dogmatic, but disciplinary and pastoral.” (Paul VI, General Audience, August 6, 1975)

    Benedict XVI affirmed the same: :”The truth is that this particular Council (Vat2) defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council.” (Address to the Chilean Episcopal Conference, according to Il Sabato, 1988) JP2 repeated this same position (Angelus address, Oct. 27, 1985):
    “Pope John conceived this council as an eminently pastoral event,” i.e. not dogmatic.

    Let’s just look at Sacro. Conc (On the Liturgy): no where was the Traditional Latin Mass abolished in the text of SC—yet it was forbidden by Vat2! Even by its own document, SC contradicts Vatican II: the liturgy is to remain normatively Latin (no. 36), Gregorian chant is the proper musical form (no. 116), and the pipe organ is the normative liturgical instrument (no. 120). Is that the way the liturgy is celebrated in your parish each Sunday? If so, they must be “radical traditionalists?”

    The theological “experts” who advised the bishops and cardinals —Congar, Rahner, Kung, Chenu, others—quickly formed their own clandestine operations with deliberate efforts, well-documented now in their own personal diaries, to break with “ultramontanism” and in fact to contest the authority of the pope and place all authority in “a council of bishops” (see deMattei, The 2nd Vatican Council, an Unwritten Story).

    Card. Suenens exulted that Vat2 had become “1789 in the Church”, a new French Revolution and specifically a break with the past. Even then-Cardinal Ratzinger commented in 1988: “The Second Vatican Council has not been treated as part of the entire living tradition of the Church, but as an end of Tradition, a new start from zero. The truth is that this particular Council defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council; and yet many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of super dogma which takes away the importance of all the rest. (1988 address, Chilean Episcopal Conference).

    Yves Congar, one of the Vat2 periti, remarked with quiet satisfaction that “The Church has had, peacefully, its October revolution.” Schillebeeckx admitted, “We have used ambiguous phrases during the Council and we know how we will interpret them afterwards.” Congar also affirmed that Vatican II’s Declaration on Religious Liberty is contrary to the Syllabus of Pope Pius IX, saying: “It cannot be denied that the affirmation of religious liberty by Vatican II says materially something other than what the Syllabus if 1864 said…”

    Just look at the deliberate change (apparently by Weakland and Bugnini: see Weakland’s memoirs, “A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church”) of the words of institution of the Eucharist, “This is the cup of My blood…which will be shed for you and for all.” Again, Ratzinger had to change this back to its original wording (“for the many”) after nearly five decades of error in the Novus Ordo Mass. Why? Because Hans Urs Von Baltasar had influenced the conciliar members with his concept of universal salvation.

    So it is not my “radical” imagination, since even emeritus Pope Benedict agrees with me, that there was in fact a rupture with the past having occurred at Vat2 and there was a deliberate break with the continuous teaching and tradition of the Catholic Church.

It's About the Children. Seriously.

Wednesday, August 4, AD 2010

I must confess that today’s judicial ruling out of California which overturned Proposition 8 has riled me up, suprisingly so. I heard about the ruling while listening to the livestream of a tech podcast in which one of the three podcasters is a lesbian (previously “married” in CA) and the other two (middle-aged married men) evidently supported the decision. The ease with which they threw out bromides (“finally, equality!”) bothered me, primarily because it revealed two things: 1. a group of intelligent people couldn’t grasp that there might be real objections to same sex “marriage”, and 2. as I’ve noted previously, too many (probably most) Americans simply don’t understand the essential nature of marriage. Simply put, the state’s interest isn’t strong feelings or commitment… it’s children. And — to state the obvious — a homosexual relationship isn’t structured towards procreation the way marriage is.

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29 Responses to It's About the Children. Seriously.

  • Well said.

  • Exactly. Americans, even conservative Protestants, have removed children from marriage. Without a procreative intent, admittedly, there is little reason to ban gay marriage. Or incest for that matter.

  • Americans?

    Westerners. America still has the highest birth rate in the Western world, and Utah has the highest birth rate out of all the states.

    Supposedly “family friendly” Europe cut children out of the picture a long time ago. All of the welfare provisions, reduced work weeks, paid maternity/paternity leave didn’t do a damned thing to reinforce families or birth rates.

    This is because Europe not only removed children from the marriage, but God from their lives and culture. Mormon Utah thrives for exactly the opposite reason. When will Catholics get it?

  • Actually, welfare did help increase the birth rate in Europe. The Scandinavian countries have the highest birth rates in Western Europe.

  • How would things look if marriage were dead? Out-of-wedlock births, acceptance of any cohabitation arrangement, the presumption that any relationship in non-binding…exactly what we have today. Marriage is dead as a norm in the West. There are only pockets and subcultures that preserve it.

    We talk about the “war on Christmas”. Christmas has been stripped of its old meaning and given a new purpose; a few of its traditions are unthinkingly continued. By the time the courts started enforcing “holiday pageants” in public schools, the war was long lost. That’s exactly what’s happened to marriage.

    Maybe my blood sugar is low or something, because even I am not usually this pessimistic. I’m just not seeing any reason to be encouraged.

  • Marriage is dead as a norm in the West.

    Yes, this is what I’ve been saying about the SSM debate all along. To those who ask, “How is SSM going to harm your (traditional) marriage?” I say, “It’s not — the damage has already been done. I just don’t see the reason to codify the death of marriage in law.”

  • Marriage is certainly in disrepair in the west. Many forces contributed to that, but the disentanglement of sex, children and marriage via modern birth control options is certainly a key part of it, resulting in the normalization of premarital sex, cohabitation, divorce, serial monogamy, etc. That said infidelity (i.e., extramarital sex) is still largely unaccepted in the US. Marriage may be in the ICU, but it is not dead yet.

  • Pingback: Supporting Gay Marriage: It’s Not About the Children. Seriously. « Agree to Disagree
  • The trolls are out.

  • restrainedradical wrote Thursday, August 5, 2010 A.D. at 8:29 am
    “Actually, welfare did help increase the birth rate in Europe. The Scandinavian countries have the highest birth rates in Western Europe”.

    The birth rate in Sweden is 1.67 children born/woman (2010 est.), i.e., less than replacement. Much of this is probably due to immigrant populations.

  • It seems to me that there is an assumption that the U.S. is a fine moral country.
    The opposite seems to be true. The number of child murders continues to increase.
    Poverty is widespread despite “Wars on Poverty” [because of?].
    The immigration question continues to fester. {On what moral basis can immigrants be denied entry?].
    The continued base treatment of Indians reeks to heaven.
    Justice Ginsberg speaks of “undesirable populations”.
    Multi-skillionaires give much money to killing babies in this country and abroad.
    Pornography becomes more and more widespread like a plague.
    Actors are treated as moral gurus, because their faces are familiar, not because they know how to behave.
    To put it succinctly: what is it in the U.S. which gives it any claim to be a light unto the nations?

  • I’m not sure I understand the argument. People who don’t procreate shouldn’t get married? Then where are the rallies against childless marriages? Why aren’t we banning people whose disabilities prevent them from having children from marrying? Or the elderly? Why aren’t we protecting the procreative institution of marriage from these barren impostors? And what about adoption? Since adoption by same-sex couples would challenge your argument, you must be against that, too. In which case, shouldn’t we stop straight couples from adopting, too? Those children may be in need of care, but of course the bigger need is for people to have their own babies. Please help me understand how we can include the disabled, the elderly, adoptive parents and those who are childless by choice into the Prop 8 campaign, because clearly we’re leaving a lot of people out.

  • Thanks for the comment, Maisha. You raise a common but good question with regard to our position, and it’s one that certainly seems to follow from my post. I somewhat oversimplified the argument last night, but in so doing left the door open for your objection. Let me see if I can offer at least a beginning of a response.

    Our position is that marriage is an institution in which a man and a woman come together with a desire to grow more deeply in love and with an openness to children, *even if children are for some reason impossible for them*. For us, the act of marital love — sexual union — is itself ordered towards procreation, even if in at any particular time procreation is impossible (perhaps due to infertility, because the woman is not in the fertile stage of her cycle, or whatever). So in the case of an elderly couple beyond childbearing years, the sexual union remains structurally oriented towards procreation.

    Such is obviously not the case for the same sex couple, however: same sexual acts of their nature cannot be procreative, while — all things being equal — heterosexual acts are always structurally procreative.

    That’s the beginning of a response… let me know where I’m unclear, and I’ll try to clarify.

  • When I comment on subjects like this my post is in danger of being deleted, which is ok, I have to answer to God for me, not whomever does the deleting.

    That being said:

    With the Catholic Church, the children are really just pawns. The real battle is keeping the pews full, I think for the power that gives the Church. I would like to think otherwise but I really do not, based upon personal experience.

    When divorce happens, the Church does and says nothing, to heal a marriage, when it is clear to the Church, as they have all the evidence they need in nullity cases, that a marriage has simply been abandoned and the abandoner has taken the spoils, including the children.

    Rather, should not individual priests and bishops in authority, address the situations, especially when these are presented to the Church for nullity investigations and work, tirelessly, pastorally and with canonical strictures, to restore marital union? Especially so when nullity is shown NOT to exist?

    No such thing happens, at all!

    No, Chris. I do not agree it is about the children. It is about power and control, although it should not be that way.

    If you must delete this, go ahead. I did not mean any disrespect by it. I just commented on my personal experience and from what I have heard from others, who have been through it.

    Regarding marriage, I believe, the chemical inability to make the sperm/egg do not invalidate, the inability to “perform the act” necessary for procreation, either physiologically or psychologically, is what validity and hence, real marriage, hinges on, provided the people are free of all other impediments.

  • If I’m following you correctly, Karl, two comments come to mind.

    First, there are programs present in the Church which try to heal broken/dying/weak marriages… Retrouvaille comes to mind.

    Second, I’m not sure what you think clerics can do to get two people back together who refuse to do so.

    Can you elaborate or clarify?

  • Going there would hijack the topic. I simply wanted to infuse my personal experience into my comment.

    I have never, once, seen the slightest concern for the scandal and abuse our five children have experienced by any of the priests or bishops who were supposed to pastor them. To this day the scandal is encouraged.

    Our acceptance of divorce has prepared the groundwork for this “dumbingdown” of marriage.

    It is about the children and their souls, that is clear, but I do not see the Catholic Church as having the moral high ground. Not over divorce, Chris.

    God is teaching his Church, if it will listen to spouses like myself and others who have seen its evil deeds, to repent and to LISTEN. Bur for twenty years, the ears of the Church have been sealed, in my personal experience.

    I hope, whatever it takes to break the back of the dead consciences of the Catholic intelligencia, lay and clerical, is done. They do not listen. They listen to “experts” they DONOT

  • LISTEN to their victims.

  • The Church must defend marriage, period, not selectively in the face of a homosexual challenge.

    It must cease allowing its teachers to stress the “benign” nature of divorce. It must do so with strong canonical sanctions. It must hold to account, with formal canonical sanctions those who abandon marriages, particularly when they do not seek counsel from the bishop or when they abuse those few specified canonically allowed circumstances when separation is allowed.
    Wrongful divorce must not be unaddressed, in public and those who refuse, without substantive, serious reasons, to work, endlessly if necessary, at reconciliation, especially if there are children involved, should be formally and very much in public, be admonished and in short order, formally excommunicated, if the refusal to work toward healing the marriage continues. All those who cooperate, formally, with the support of the unrepentant, should similarly be held to account, with more vigor if they are a religious or in any position of authority/importance in the Church.

    The Church has lost all credibiliy due to its generations of laxity regarding marriage. This is constantly used against the Church and justifiably so.

    Unless this is addressed and addressed, last year, the Church is the hypocrite it is so often accused of being.

    May God have mercy on His, very unfaithful Bride. It is those of us who are struggling to be faithful to both our spouses and our faith, who God requires
    His Bride to listen to. The Pope and the rest of the Catholic clergy need to understand how much harm they do each day our cries are left unanswered with almost anything but disdain, from those who should know better.

  • Karl,
    When you write that “the Church” has been moving in the direction of accepting divorce, I believe you should modify that by saying many [most?] priests and bishops have been moving in this direction. And it is, as you rightly note, part and parcel of the sexual scandals. Once start hedging – even in the smallest manner – on matters of Church teaching, the hedging simply grows.
    The hierarchy is mealy mouthed when it comes to the use of the pill. Most of the pills are abortifacient. All of them sterilize. How often do priests and bishops note this? How often do they remind the faithful that they are committing a mortal sin by the use of the pill?
    But I believe there is a mistaken notion that our bishops, as such, are a saintly lot. They are not. You have but to read a bit of the history of the episcopacy to realize that bishops do not contribute much to the list of saints, to those we are enjoined to emulate. They are for some reason a timid lot.

  • Unfortunately too true. We must remember that the priesthood and episcopacy are charisms, gifts for the good of the Church, and not holiness. A mother at home raising her children may have a far greater place in heaven than many a bishop.

  • How is SSM going to harm your (traditional) marriage?

    That is really the incorrect question – it should be “How is SSM going to strengthen marriage as an institution?”

    And the answer is, it is not. It will only further hide the now barely recognized fact that the proper end of intercourse is procreation.

  • I think there’s a real serious question whether ANY church in the USA takes marriage seriously–with (ironically) the possible exception of the Mormons. Among Catholics, even those who cannot remember the number of the commandments, let alone the content of the list, can tell you that when we want to divorce and remarry in church, we just get an annulment on some (frequently bogus) “psychological” ground. This happens no matter how long the supposedly invalid marriage has lasted or how many children it produced. This last point is especially important; the annulment regime now in force is saying that it is NOT important to stay married “for the children’s sake.”

  • ron chandonia, I agree that there have been serious abuses in Catholic Church annulments. But the idea of an annulment does not hinge on whether the apparent marriage lasted many years, nor on how many kids there are, nor on whether it is better for the kids’ sake to stay together. If a couple never did get married to begin with, despite appearances, then it means that they have been living an error for however long the apparent marriage has been going on, whether short or long. I accept that a long-lasting arrangement suggests that there must have been a real commitment to permanence, but there are other commitments needed for the marriage to have taken place to begin with.

    I know a couple who got married 20 years ago, and got an annulment 2 years ago: the guy had been a pornography addict and sexual deviant the entire period. He was incapable of a real commitment to marital fidelity at the time of the wedding, because he was addicted to porn.

    The Church usually states that if a couple has kids, they both have a deep, serious obligation to see to their welfare even if a divorce or annulment occurs. How can it be better for the kids for the Church and society to pretend that a marriage took place when it didn’t. I should think, generally, that a couple with young kids, who discover that they never did truly marry, ought to ask themselves whether they might have a moral obligation to actually make real the apparent marriage that they had been living in action, for the sake of the kids. But of course, nobody discovers this without a marital breakdown, and at that point it is often difficult to establish that it really would be better for the kids if their mom and dad got married even when they hate each other.

    Given that at least 30% of heterosexuals don’t seem to have a grave problem with the very idea of homosexual marriage, it is probable that many, many people don’t understand marriage enough to actually form a marriage bond with another person. Given that, it should not be surprising that many annulments are granted correctly.

  • May one not also ask what is the difference between gay “marriages” [sodomy] and marriages in which the female uses the pill to sterilize herself? Marriage is not even chiefly for procreation. Procreation is an added blessing. To reject that blessing is to reject the Almighty.

    Consider also the vow “until death”. As Harry Truman remarked “if a man will not keep his word to his wife, to whom will he keep it”? The Church does not prohibit divorce when it is but separation. It prohibits divorce – it points out the breaking of the vow – for “remarriage”.

  • Gabriel,
    It is my understanding that the Church does not so much prohibit divorce as simply not recognize it. Indeed, while legal separations may be favored over divorce as such, I believe that the Church understands that divorce under civil law is often necessary in order to ensure protection of the weak — usually but not always the wife or children. Consequently, what is not permitted is remarriage (absent an annulment of course), since the first (without an annulment) the marital sacrament remains in place and remarriage constitutes adultary.

    Thanks for the Truman quote. I was unaware of it.

  • How mislead and scandalous these comments are.

    How easily you have swallowed the Kool Aid of divorce to think that it is anything but condemned.

    Do you reacall it says…..God Hates Divorce. How easily man has rejected the expressed Will of God and searches for rationalizations for his sins.

    Watch and learn as society and the Catholic Church decay for their self-serving attitudes, especially towards marriage. The reconing will come.

  • Karl,
    Emoting about Kool Aid is not productive. While I’m hardly an advocate of divorce, and it is certainly true that the rate of broken marriages is scandalous, the fact is that obtaining a divorce in and of itself is not understood by the Church to be a sin. Indeed, the Church views a civil separation and a civil divorce indentically. Neither has any effect whatsoever on the marital Sacrament. The Church recognizes that the parties are not morally enjoined from selecting whichever legal route leads to greater justice under our civil law system. This is especially important in the case of serious abuse. Neither legal approach, however, permits “re-marriage” in the Christian sense, even if civil divorce does so under civil law. The sin occurs if a person bound by the marital sacrament to his spouse remarries or otherwise has relations with another regardless whether the married couple are separated, divorced, or neither. Note the important fact that the Church does not view civil divorce as disturbing the status of a Christian marriage.
    Of course, as I noted the rate of divorce is evidence of deep and disturbing problems within our society. The wounds, especially to children, are incalculable. But divorce is a symptom of sin, not the sin itself. This is pretty straightforward Church teaching.

  • Karl,
    Catechism 2383:
    “The Church teaches that the separation of spouses while maintaining the marriage bond can be legitimate in certain cases. The Catechism states: “If civil divorce remains the only possible way of ensuring certain legal rights, the care of the children, or the protection of inheritance, it can be tolerated and does not constitute a moral offense.”

    Which is to say “divorce” is a civil separation, not a breaking of the marriage vow.

Red vs. Blue Families

Tuesday, May 11, AD 2010

It’s fairly common for advocates of more liberal social policies to point out that “red states” tend to have higher rates of divorce, teen pregnancy, etc than “blue states”. This is taken to suggest that, however much conservatives may go on about “family values”, it is actually more liberal social values which are best for families. Ross Douthat does a good job of addressing this mentality in his column from last Sunday, in which he takes a closer look at some of these “family values” statistics.

Today, couples with college and (especially) graduate degrees tend to cohabit early and marry late, delaying childbirth and raising smaller families than their parents, while enjoying low divorce rates and bearing relatively few children out of wedlock.

For the rest of the country, this comfortable equilibrium remains out of reach. In the underclass (black, white and Hispanic alike), intact families are now an endangered species. For middle America, the ideal of the two-parent family endures, but the reality is much more chaotic: early marriages coexist with frequent divorces, and the out-of-wedlock birth rate keeps inching upward.

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20 Responses to Red vs. Blue Families

  • There are more problems with this book that I’ll outline in about a week. I have the post 3/4’s written but have to run some regressions and what not. I imagine you and your fellow travelers will largely be in agreement with me.

  • You read Douthat’s piece and came away with a completely different impression of it than I did. Of course, in my blog post on the subject, I did acknowledge that I may have been reading Douthat’s piece through my Ross-colored glasses, which probably tends to somewhat negatively distort anything written by the guy.

    I probably could have just let this one go, but for his gratuitous swipe at Bristol Palin.

  • I probably could have just let this one go, but for his gratuitous swipe at Bristol Palin.

    I thought it was pretty obvious from the context that he was characterizing the authors of the book as the kind of people who would make such a comment rather than taking a swipe at her himself. Judge for yourself:

    This is one of the themes of “Red Families v. Blue Families,” a provocative new book by two law professors, Naomi Cahn and June Carbone. The authors depict a culturally conservative “red America” that’s stuck trying to sustain an outdated social model. By insisting (unrealistically) on chastity before marriage, Cahn and Carbone argue, social conservatives guarantee that their children will get pregnant early and often (see Palin, Bristol), leading to teen childbirth, shotgun marriages and high divorce rates.

    I could be wrong, but it never occurred to me to read it otherwise. He is laying out their argument in that paragraph; and the rest of the editorial is critical of that simplistic portrayal of Red America, and (implicitly) the kind of people who would cite Bristol Palin as the exemplar of backwards redstate America. Notice, the conclusion of the piece:

    By comparison, the “red family” model can look dysfunctional — an uneasy mix of rigor and permissiveness, whose ideals don’t always match up with the facts of contemporary life. But it reflects something else as well: an attempt, however compromised, to navigate post-sexual revolution America without relying on abortion.

    Translation: Red State America does not take abortion as an easy way out; this decision has consequences that aren’t always pretty, but it also reflects a lived moral conviction.

  • MZ,

    Sounds interesting. I’ll keep an eye out for it. (In the mean time, I’ll try to figure out if I should be flattered or perplexed at having “fellow travelers”.)

    Jay,

    Yeah, I didn’t get that he was rolling over to the book’s thesis at all, but rather refuting it. But while I want to argue with anything Rod Dreher says, Ross Douthat doesn’t fall in that camp for me.

  • Yeah, I didn’t get that he was rolling over to the book’s thesis at all, but rather refuting it.

    I’m with Jay on this one – it sounded like it was Ross himself backing the authors’s thesis.

    There is an easy way out of this morass, of course. Douthat could have, at some point, made an affirmative denunciation of the thesis and spelled out why the authors were mistaken. Instead we get a subtle jab that leaves the reader perplexed as to what exactly Douthat’s personal point of view is.

  • It was pretty clear as written, Paul; certainly Darwin and most of the commenters at the New York Times picked it up quickly enough. Douthat’s point is that attitudes toward abortion – not abstinence education or an emphasis on marriage or the simple stupidity of people in Red America – account for most of the differences we see in out-of-wedlock birth, early marriage (and accompanying divorce), etc.

    The contemporary liberal narrative downplays this fact. Abortion is becoming increasingly unpopular, so liberals want to argue that increased access to contraceptives will reduce the need for abortion, and that it is cultural conservatism that, in effect, increases the abortion rate. Douthat just points out this argument doesn’t square with the facts; teen pregnancy is lower in blue states primarily because abortion is more prevalent. That’s why Darwin and Chris Burgwald flagged the article; it refutes a central part of the contemporary liberal diagnosis of red state America – the myth of social conservatism increasing the abortion rate.

  • Jay:

    I’m normally a Douthat fan, but I did think this article was weirdly written for some reason so while I noted as Darwin did that he ultimately refuted the thesis, that I didn’t feel great about him doing so. Not sure why.

  • The whole concept of the book is wrong-headed I think in its analysis of Red and Blue states. There are really very few states that fit in that category. For example I live in Blue Illinois. Outside of Chicago and some of the suburbs, most of Illinois has life conducted along the lines of a Red State by the lights of the book. The reverse is true of Red States, Texas for example, with large urban enclaves. This mixed quality of the states would have to be taken into consideration when looking at statistics regarding marriage and divorce. Additionally, I think we are at the beginning of a political era where the Red and Blue divisions may soon seem like relics as much as the divisions between the Whigs and the Jacksonian Democrats do today. The political landscape is changing rapidly, as I think Illinois will demonstrate in the fall.

  • “teen pregnancy is lower in blue states because abortion is more prevalent”

    Well, actually it would be teen BIRTH rates that would be lower in those states. I have seen lists of nations with the lowest teen pregnancy rates and the lowest teen birth rates side by side, and they are NOT identical, so statisticians do have a way to compile those statistics separately. (Switzerland, for example, is in the bottom five nations as far as teen birth rate, but does not have the same ranking for teen pregnancy rate.)

    If Douthat’s theory is true, blue states would have the same or possibly even higher teen PREGNANCY rates, but lower teen birth rates, the difference being due primarily to abortion.

    The only other possible cause for such a disparity would be a high rate of miscarriage or stillbirth due to poverty or poor medical care; that might be a factor in some Third World countries but probably not so much in the U.S., even in areas of extreme urban decay.

  • Also, figures in some of the red states may be considerably skewed by the impact of (illegal) immigration.

  • There is an easy way out of this morass, of course. Douthat could have, at some point, made an affirmative denunciation of the thesis and spelled out why the authors were mistaken.

    There is little indication from his writing that Ross Douthat has the background to have much critical engagement with a piece of quantitative social research, so he would be advised to tread rather carefully in commenting on that. It’s regrettably been years, but I have done this sort of work on this sort of topic and (judging from the literature I reviewed and my own analyses) you generally get ambiguous results.

    Of course, the book could be flawed in all kinds of ways that a layman could spot quite readily. Awful lot of groupthink in academe.

    But while I want to argue with anything Rod Dreher says,

    The bulk of what Brother Dreher has to say is he is upset. No point to arguing with that.

  • Well, actually it would be teen BIRTH rates

    Yeah, mistyped.

    The bulk of what Brother Dreher has to say is he is upset. No point to arguing with that.

    Heh. A little harsh, but there’s a lot of truth there.

  • If Douthat’s theory is true, blue states would have the same or possibly even higher teen PREGNANCY rates, but lower teen birth rates, the difference being due primarily to abortion.

    While the terms are being used a bit interchangeably in the comments here, Douthat does successfully make the distinction, and the data he links to does indeed bear this out. For instance:

    Alabama has a pregnancy rate for 15-19 year olds of 73 out of every 1000 women. Connecticut has a rate of 57. For in Alabama only 20% of those pregnancies end in abortion, while in Connecticut 53% do. West Virginia has a teen pregnancy rate of 62, which is the same a Rhode Island’s rate of 62 — but in West Virginia only 17% of those pregnancies end in abortion while in Rhode Island 42% do.

  • Regardless of whether Douthat was using her as an example of the kind of people the authors were talking about, Bristol Palin should not have been brought up at all.

  • The bigger point might be the supposed connection between morality and whether one is red or blue. As much as either side tries to convince that it is more moral than the other, neither the public examples, nor the statistics are there.

    If you wanted to analyze the big picture on abortion or divorce, you’d have to draw in economics, religion, and education, among other factors. They used to say the moral majority is neither. It’s still true.

  • Regardless of whether Douthat was using her as an example of the kind of people the authors were talking about

    It’s not that she typifies the type of people the authors were writing about (although she does in some respects). It’s that she is a common example cited by people like the authors. Douthat is laying out the lefty worldview; and Bristol and Sarah Palin references are common. Is that unfair to Bristol? Sure. But I don’t think re-stating the blue state critique of red-state America in its own terms makes Douthat morally reprehensible.

  • Todd,

    I’m not clear that moral conservatives necessarily claim to be more moral than social progressives, they just claim that they continue to espouse morality while their opponents consider it “repressed” or “outdated”.

    Of course, the other point here is that claimed moral beliefs are certainly not the only difference between the populations of “red” and “blue” states. In this sense, although it’s an oft used distinction, trying to make these distinctions is overly broad.

    As I’m sure you’d agree “red” and “blue” (there’s a certain late-Roman quality to how attached we are to these color designations) in the sense of left-politics/right-politics can contain a whole host of contradictory groups within one label. I would imagine that you share much more in moral/cultural outlook with those in the Moral Majority (however distasteful you may find their politics) than you do with the sort of folks who write long self-examining essays about how monogamous marriage doesn’t make sense in the modern world for The Atlantic, even if you might share some of the same favorite politicians.

    Data that I have seen which is more explicitly broken down by actual stated moral beliefs does show that, while as should come as no surprise to anyone those who espouse traditional moral beliefs are far from perfect in their practice of them, people who claim to believe in traditional morality, attend some sort of religious services regularly, etc. do tend to have fewer sexual partners, “wait” longer as teenagers, etc. Whether people claim allegiance to moral norms is not irrelevent to their behavior, even though many do not life up to their own stated ideals.

  • I suspect those on the left have their own moral positions though they may deny that. Just look at the furor over such issues as immigration restrictions, global warming etc. And like those on the right, there are many on the left that do not live up to their moral positions.
    No one is the equal of their ideals. The problem is what ideals are the right ones. Then, how to implement them.

  • Thanks for the comment, Darwin. I suspect that “researchers” on this topic go after their perception of hypocrisy from the Right. In a way, all they have to do is point to select developments in Republican-leaning regions, say “gotcha!” and move on. Point proved.

    I have yet to see a serious across-the-board study that would link abortion, divorce, and other issues with geography, politics, wealth, education, race, etc.. Unfortunately, any serious sociologist who attempted one would either be too biased from the outset, given the polarization of the culture, or would get hammered from both sides of the ideological divide. For now, I think we exist in a state of ignorance when it comes to other people’s morality. And maybe it’s better that way. Heaven knows I have my hands full with my own moral temptations.

    I’m not sure I would equate this situation too much with the parable of the two sons, the one who promised to work then didn’t (conservatives) and the one who declined to give lip service, but then reconsidered and labored (liberals). But we do know there are prominent folk who do not live up to their stated guiding principles. I’m disinclined to credit that as a torpedo to the movement, even ones I disagree with.

    I know, for example, a number of homosexuals who are highly moral people. For some people on the Right, they would trip over the sex and not get any further.

    Sex is a big part of morality, in part because of our culture’s fixation on it, but it’s not the only factor.

  • I grew up in New York and raise my family in NJ, the statistics in this book challenge stereotypes of both liberals and conservatives. However, I just read Frank Luntz’s book, “What Americans Really Want…Really”. Based on polls taken in the U.S. it states that families who regularly attend church and children who are brought up conscious of God and family life are often more aware about the consequences of their decisions and how a religious family life is beneficial to children. Luntz states that children who attend church, eat dinner as a family, take family vacations etc are less likely to take drugs. He also states parents should go over their children’s homework daily. There are tips that can benefit both red and blue families. If rural America and poor areas tend to have higher teen birth rates and unstable families then the U.S. Govt should be working harder to bring quality education and jobs and rescources to these areas especially. Also, many jobs that illegals hold may be desirable to poorer and less educated Americans. Hence, the unfortunate recent bias attacks in Staten Island where people in poorer areas were hostile as illegals came to their neighborhoods and took the jobs available in a sluggish job market. Also, since contraception is so widely accepted since the 60’s the governments role in promoting (politically or financially) contraceptives doesn’t seem so vital in blue states. Teens in middle class blue states are educated and now have the access they need.

You keep using that word… I do not think it means what you think it means.

Friday, November 6, AD 2009

Okay, that’s a heckuva long title for a blog post, but it also happens to be almost perfect for the subject of this particular entry at The American Catholic.

On Tuesday, the voters of the state of Maine — surprisingly — rejected same sex marriage (SSM) and reaffirmed that marriage in Maine is between a man and a woman. Naturally, SSM supporters were shocked and outraged (the Catholic Church appears to be the early target), while supporters of traditional marriage were overjoyed with the results; Maine, after all, isn’t exactly in the Bible Belt.

Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America (CWA), was typical of the latter: “Every time Americans vote on marriage, traditional marriage wins.” And she’s right: when it comes to ballot initiatives, SSM is 0-31.

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19 Responses to You keep using that word… I do not think it means what you think it means.

  • Oleson makes a lot of sense, and my own feelings of despair over the current same-sex marriage debate (despite its repeated losses at the ballot box) have a lot to do with the uncomfortable notion that we’re fighting over the hollow shell of something. If we’re fighting for what everyone else calls “marriage” but is actually the personalist-emotivist vestige of that institution, then we’re doomed to lose the debate. That ship sailed long ago, and it had contraception, divorce, and the sexual revolution stoking its boilers!

    Oleson misses a few points, however, that can be employed in a rational argument for traditional marriage. In addition to the indissoluble and procreative nature of marriage, there are other social/cultural reasons for giving heterosexual marriage preferential treatment. I quite liked the analysis by Canadian professors Katherine Young and Paul Nathanson (neither Christian, one gay) seen here:

    http://catholiceducation.org/articles/sexuality/ho0064.html

    Based on their cross-cultural/historical analysis of marriage, they conclude that the culture surrounding marriage must accomplish several things:
    (1) the bonding between men and women to ensure cooperation for the common good
    (2) the procreative aspect (plus child-rearing at least until adulthood)
    (3) bonding between men and children
    (4) a healthy form of masculine identity apart from “provider” and “protector” which have been joined gradually by women
    (5) the transformation of adolescents into sexually responsible adults.

    One of the most important things a culture can do is socialize its males; marriage (traditionally understood, with all the duties it entails) is one of the best ways to do that. If the culture fails to support heterosexual marriage by taking away the unique, ritualistic way that it encourages men to “settle down” and “grow up”, we’re in for a lot more trouble than we realize. Yet again we see that marriage has a public/social character that is poorly understood by most Americans today.

  • I have long recognized that the word marriage as it is now being debated does not mean what it has traditionally meant. It certainly does not mean what the Catholic Church means when it says the word marriage. I have somethimes wondered if the suggestions to use the word marriage for heterosexual unions and the phrase “civil union” for homosexual unions might be better replaced among Catholics by a suggestion to abandon the word marriage altogether. It has already been hijacked by the broader culture and there really isn’t much we can do about that. Let the broader culture have the word marriage and let that word refer to heterosexual “marriages” and homosexual civil unions. We on the other hand would use the prhase “sacramental unions” and its meaning would be restricted only to what has traditionally been meant by marriage. I know this isn’t the best option – but in the end it might be the most we can salvage from the wreckage that seems to be coming upon us.

  • It seems to me, however, that the grassroots resistance towards same-sex marriage might stem from the recognition of what marriage really ought to be. Though the failure rate is so high for the real, most people still cling to and hope for the the ideal. That’s not a bad thing, when one considers the alternative is a mercenary cynicism.

  • I’d love to think that you are right, cminor, but I tend to think that the resistance is from a (correct) recognition of what marriage ought *not* be, rather than what it *ought* to be… I guess it’s good that they have that, but it’s still pretty paltry.

  • Stephen Leacock summed up the matter concisely: what was once a sacrament has become a contract.

    Which incidentally reduces all children to bastards, having no claim on the progenitors.

  • I think it is true that we are not in a fight to avoid the redefinition of marriage, but that we are in a fight about whether or not to include homosexual couples in an already redefined marriage. As you point out, that is a battle that can’t be won. I do not see how one can support artificial contraception and reject same-sex marriage without at least some hint of bigotry.

    One interesting question follows: will this logic have any purchase on the large number of Christians (Catholic and Protestant) that oppose same-sex marriage but have been using contraception for at least two generations?

  • What about a faithful Catholic couple who entered into marriage with the full knowledge of sterility? Should we not consider that marriage?

  • RR: “at a fundamental level, marriage is oriented and structured towards childbearing, even if pro-creation never in fact occurs” (emphasis added).

    The same thing applies to a couple that marries beyond the age of fertility… while they will never bear children, their relationship remains fundamentally ordered towards them.

  • Can you spell that out further for me? How is a marriage where procreation is a biological impossibility, fundamentally ordered towards childbearing? And where does that leave people like Caster Semenya who have genetic or hormonal abnormalities which make their gender ambiguous?

  • Because the factors which render the act of sexual love sterile are “outside” of the action itself, as well as outside the intentions of the couple (i.e. all things being equal, they wish they *could* bear children).

    I don’t see that the infinitesimal number of people with indeterminate sexuality have any bearing on this debate.

    What’s your larger objection, RR?

  • Thanks. I don’t have a larger objection, just had questions.

  • Gotcha. Just wanted to see if there was another question “lurking” behind these or not… feel free to follow-up or ask another.

  • RestrainedRadical,

    Excellent questions!

  • I think there is some misunderstanding about the question of procreation in a marriage. The text is in Genesis: “Increase and multiply”. As the footnote in my [old] Bible comments “This is not a precept. God addressed the same words to the birds and animals who cannot receive a precept. It is a blessing”.

    Further, we use the word “procreation”. In a sense husband and wife are responsible for the body of the child [confirmed by DNA]. But it is God who creates the soul.

    For the matter of couples beyond child bearing age, consider Abraham and Sarah.

    The point is not to interfere with the conjugal act.

    Contraception [most of which methods are abortifacient] is properly defined as mutual masturbation. It is degrading to both parties, but particularly to offensive to the woman.

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  • It is ironic that the net result is that couples who do not, and never will have children, can get married – but couples who do have children, or who want to have children, will be denied marriage.

    Very directly, the argument that same-sex couples can’t get married because marriage is all about having children, means that hundreds of thousands of children across the US are being denied married parents by people who claim that marriage ought to be all about protecting children.

    Hm.

  • Jesurgislac, if marriage means an institution which is intrinsically about sexual love leading to childbirth & childrearing, and which is intrinsically indissoluble, are you interested in said institution?

  • Jesurgislac, if marriage means an institution which is intrinsically about sexual love leading to childbirth & childrearing, and which is intrinsically indissoluble, are you interested in said institution?

    When I meet the right woman. 😉

    Same-sex couples are as likely to have that kind of marriage as mixed-sex couples.

    It would be possible to deny marriage to any couple who physically/biologically couldn’t have children together – but that would mean no woman past the menopause could be allowed to marry, no man with a vasectomy, no woman with a tubal ligation.

    It’s a question of whether you really believe married parents are beneficial to children. If so, there’s no excuse for denying the children of same-sex couples married parents – but that’s what opponents of same-sex marriage do – usually justifying it by claiming that as they believe the children of same-sex couples are already in sub-standard families, those children should be further discriminated against by being denied the benefits of married parents.

  • Jesurgislac:
    Maggie Gallagher, National Organization for Marriage has done a great job of outlining the custody issues if same-same unions take place. Also, tax disadvantages of marriage now. Interesting to note her stats on how few same-sex attracted pairs actually “marry.” In other words, she completely blows you ideas about how beneficial same-sex unions are just because they call them selves married.
    You might want to consider the marriage question from the civil rights perspective. In this country our rights are alienable because we are endowed with them by a Creator. Highly doubtful the Judaeo-Christian Creator our Founding Fathers had in mind is okay with a contractual arrangment between two adults of the same gender as marriage. Marriage between a man and a woman is first and foremost a covenantual relationship -the first unit of civilization. Family, cland, tribe, nation – follw OT history and you’ll see what I mean.