16

Gangsters

Cardinal Baldisseri

 

 

Among the powers that be at the Vatican there are apparently some using gangster tactics.  Father Z brings us the news:

 

Remember the Five Cardinals Book™? Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church helped to turn the tide – in a good way – during last October’s Synod of Bishops.  It was simultaneously released in English, Italian, French, German and Spanish.  It is going to be issued in: Polish, Portuguese, Hungarian, Croatian, Slovak, and Czech. It contains essays of five cardinals, of the archbishop secretary of the Vatican congregation for the Oriental Churches, and of three scholars direct at the notions suggested by Walter Card. Kasper in the opening discourse of the consistory in February 2014.  It blew the Kasper proposals and arguments out of the water.

You will also remember that Synod members were up in arms because of the manipulations and machinations of the staff of the Synod office.  Remember all the controversies about whether texts of speeches would be released?  About what could be reported?  About how the mid-term report was produced?  About certain strange paragraphs that didn’t reflect the discussions of the Synod?

There’s more.

Here is something of the story that you don’t know, because at the time it couldn’t be told.

The people who crafted the Five Cardinals Book™ wanted to make sure that Synod members had copies, at least in English or Italian, as the Synod was starting up.  Therefore, they sent copies to every member of the Synod (quite a few) through the Italian post to each member’s personal mailbox near the Synod Hall which was set up individually by the Vatican Post.  Remember, Vatican Post is the postal service of a sovereign nation that has laws.  The Book was sent in individually addressed and franked envelopes.  They weren’t just envelopes with someone’s name on them shoved into the slots by whomever.  They were properly sent postal items.

When the organizers of the Synod realized what had been sent to the members of the Synod, someone removed all the envelopes from the members’ mail boxes!

That’s called theft.   That’s called illegal.   They stole people’s mail.  Please correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t that a crime in, I think, every country?   The Vatican City State… that’s a country… isn’t it.

That’s how frightening the Book is to those who want to overturn the Church’s practice and, therefore, teaching.

The Kathnet piece, by  Manfred Ferrari, indicates that the heist was ordered by Card. Baldisseri, who is the head of the office of the Synod of Bishops.

At the end of the piece, Ferrari adds:

[…]

“This episode took place in the Vatican and not in the Kremlin. As I told it to a friend who, in those days, traveled back to Africa, he smiled at me mildly and said, “Manfred, what’s bothering you. Here in South Sudan things aren’t any better … “

There were inquiries made about what happened to the Book.  Only a few of the Synod participants out of the some 200 received their copies… before they were boosted.  The Governor of the Vatican City State would have a legal obligation to look into the situation.  No?

I cannot underscore enough how important the Five Cardinals Book™ was during the Synod.  It is still important.  It is still under attack.  

The Five Cardinals Book™ addressed the foundations of the odd proposals made about Communion for the divorced and remarried, and it demolished them.  Since then, pretty much everything that has come out in favor of the Kasper proposal has not actually dealt with the arguments in the Book.

Instead, they just repeat the same ol’ same ol’ and then suggest that anyone who doesn’t agree is the enemy of mercy and of Pope Francis.  [CUE DIABOLICAL SURPRISE MUSIC HERE] Continue Reading

9

Cardinal Newman’s Theory of Development of Doctrine and the Synod

 

 

Back during Lent in 2010 I did a series looking at Cardinal Newman’s theory regarding the Development of Doctrine:

 

Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman, among his many other services to the Church, clarified the concept of development of doctrine as opposed to corruptions of doctrine that occasionally fasten on the Church and are shed off by the Church over time.

Newman posited seven notes, I would call them tests, for determining whether something is a development of doctrine or a corruption.

1.  Preservation of Type

2.  Continuity of Principles

3.  Power of Assimilation

4.  Logical Sequence

5.  Anticipation of Its Future

6.  Conservative Action upon Its Past

7.  Chronic Vigour

Each of these notes are explained by Newman in detail.  The concepts aren’t simple either in theory or in application, at least to me, but Newman does a first rate job of explaining them. 

I posited that Newman’s seven tests could be used to look at various teachings of the Church to see if a particular teaching was a development of doctrine or a corruption that had crept temporarily into the Church.  Now Father Juan R. Velez has taken the seven tests and applied them to the giving of communion to people divorced and remarried whose first marriages have not been annulled by the Church:

 

Newman’s seven tests are as follows:

1. Preservation of the type or identity happens when a doctrine or belief retains its type from start to end. Newman gives as an example the external development of Christianity into the Roman Catholic Church. Throughout the ages it has maintained its identity as “a religious communion claiming divine commission,” a well organized and disciplined body” which faithful to its founder is considered as fanatical, superstitious and ignorant by its persecutors. The Church remains true to its type in the view of the world, and this unity of type serves as a guarantee of its development.

2. By continuity of principles, Newman explained: “A development, to be faithful, must retain both the doctrine and the principle with which it started.” He enumerates various Catholic principles such as: dogmas as irrevocable supernatural truths, the principle of faith, the sacramental principle derived from the doctrine of the Incarnation, the mystical interpretation of Scripture also derived from the doctrine of the Incarnation, and the principle of grace (325-326).

3. Assimilative Power refers to interpenetration of doctrines. “A living idea becomes many, yet remains one” (186). Newman referred to doctrines and rites, which were assimilated slowly and carefully and with much difficulty over time.

4. Logical Consequence does not refer to a syllogism, but to a gradual growth that, although unintentional, has a logical character, and an “evident naturalness” (191).

5. Anticipation of its future means that there are “early intimations of tendencies which afterwards are fully realized (…) in accordance with the original idea” (196).

6. Conservative Action requires new doctrines to protect earlier doctrines. In the words of St. Vincent quoted by Newman, it is profectus fidei non permutatio (progress in faith not its change into something else). He gives as an example devotion to St. Mary that, far from corrupting doctrine about Christ’s unique mediation, “subserves, illustrates, protects the doctrine of our Lord’s loving kindness and mediation” (202).

7. Lastly, chronic Vigor (or vigorous action from first to last) refers to the duration of ideas whereas something corrupt cannot be long standing.

Applying these tests, Newman came to believe that Catholic doctrine on Purgatory, original sin, devotion to the saints, prayer for the deceased is true doctrine. He was aware that there were disagreements between the hierarchy before a teaching was settled. He explained in support of the existence of doctrinal development:

I grant that there are ‘Bishops against Bishops in Church history, Fathers against Fathers, Fathers against themselves,’ for such differences in individual writers are consistent with, or rather are involved in the very idea of doctrinal development, and consequently are no real objection to it; the one essential question is whether the recognized organ of teaching, the Church herself, acting through Pope or Council as the oracle of heaven, has ever contradicted her own enunciations. If so, the hypothesis which I am advocating is at once shattered; but, till I have positive and distinct evidence of the fact, I am slow to give credence to the existence of so great an improbability. (120-121)

One example of true doctrinal development is the dogma of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. We can verify this by applying to it the seven tests Newman described:

1. The Role of Mary is not changed; there is preservation of the type or identity.

2. Mary is honored because she is the Mother of God, which is a continuity of principle of the honor given to God.

3. Although Christians believed early on that the saints intercede in heaven for their brethren on earth, the belief in the Virgin Mary’s special intercession as the Mother of God grew among Christians.

4. It stands to reason that Christ would honor his mother. The dogma is a logical consequence of Christ’s teaching and example.

5. The Archangel announced to Mary her mission, and at the Visitation Elizabeth and Simeon praised her. In this, we see an anticipation of future honors given to her.

6. Celebrating this Marian privilege reminds us of Mary’s Role. Thus, the liturgy has a conservative action on its early beliefs and practices.

7. Chronic vigor or vitality can be observed in the celebration of Mary’s life and her union with Christ, which exerts new energy in the life of the faithful of all ages.

The question of Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics

Having examined Newman’s tests, we now examine if they apply to the doctrine that Communion for divorced and remarried persons is an authentic development. In other words, what would Cardinal Newman have said in his intervention at the Synod for Families?

First, however, we should reaffirm, as Pope John Paul II did in the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, that divorced and remarried Catholics remain part of the Church. As members of the Church, they should be accepted and helped to live the faith. They should be encouraged to pray and to seek a path of reconciliation with God. Those who have a just cause should be helped to obtain a declaration of nullity of the previous bond and helped to receive the sacrament of marriage. All should be understood and supported with prayer and friendship.

It should also be mentioned that in the Church’s history there have been doctrinal developments in matters regarding marriage. A notable one is the doctrine on the canonical form of marriage. The Council of Trent mandated that a sacramental marriage should have as witness a qualified representative of the Church, normally the pastor of the parish church.

Although marriage situations vary, the following is an application of Newman’s tests to the general consideration of the proposed doctrine of Communion of divorced and remarried persons.

1. Acceptance of Communion for divorced and remarried persons does not preserve the type of marriage, which entails indissolubility. The type of marriage with Christ’s permanent love for the Church, his bride, is broken.

2. This new doctrine establishes a new principle, namely that in some cases marriage is dissoluble; marriage is not permanent. There is thus a discontinuity with earlier doctrine.

3. The proposed doctrine seems to assimilate the Christian practice of mercy and forgiveness, but it contradicts others such as justice with regard to the obligations that derive from the nature of marriage. It is doubtful that it can pass the test of assimilative power.

4. Communion in these circumstances does not follow the penitential practice present since the early Church by which a person in a state of sin must leave the situation of sin and follow a path of conversion before being reconciled to the Church, thus coming into Communion.

5. Christ’s teaching about the permanence of marriage and the sin of adultery does not anticipate in any way this new doctrine of divorce and remarriage, and less of Communion for those who are sadly in this situation.

6. Admission to Communion of divorced persons who have entered a second bond does not have a protective action on the practice of marriage in the Church. Instead of having a conservative action, it weakens marriage by removing one of the consequences to divorce and remarriage.

7. Newman would also argue that the proposed doctrine would not add vitality to the Christian reality of sacramental marriage. On the contrary, the practice of divorce and remarriage, and in some places of Communion for persons divorced and remarried, have become more accepted.

Given this analysis, it is very doubtful that the doctrine on Communion for divorced and remarried persons proposed by Cardinal Walter Kasper can be considered authentic development of doctrine. Fr. Juan José Perez Soba has pointed out the doctrinal errors of Cardinal Kasper’s position on the marriage bond (Zenit.org, March 25, 2014). It is in no way the doctrinal development that St. Vincent of Lérins and Blessed Cardinal Newman envisioned. At the Synod Newman would instead argue how Sacred Scripture and Church Tradition uphold the indissolubility of the marriage bond.

Furthermore, Newman would caution against haste in questions of possible doctrinal development: “The theology of the Church is not random combination of various opinions, but a diligent, patient working out of one doctrine from many materials. The conduct of Popes, Councils, Fathers, betokens the slow, painful, anxious taking up of new truths into an existing body of belief” (366). Continue Reading

6

Bravo Father Longenecker!

Father Longenecker

 

Father Dwight Longenecker has an appeal to the Pope in Crisis magazine:

 

I have heard the words of my Holy Father and taken them to heart. I sincerely want to be that kind of priest.

 

However, I can only do this if the timeless truths of the Catholic faith are firmly defined and defended. The dogmas, doctrines and disciplines of the Catholic faith are the tools of my trade. They provide the rules for engagement, the playbook for the game, the map for the journey and the content for the mercy and compassion I wish to display. The historic teachings of the Catholic faith, founded on the teachings of Christ the Lord, revealed by divine inspiration and developed through the magisterium of the Catholic Church provide the method for my mercy, the content for my compassion and the only saving truths I have to share.

 

This is teamwork Holy Father. I can only do the job you want me to do if you do the job you have been called to do. With the greatest respect and love, please don’t feel that it is your job to tinker with the timeless truths. If my job is to be the compassionate pastor for those in the pew and beyond, then your job is to be the primary definer and defender of the faith. I can’t do my job if you don’t do yours.

Yes, I know you want to inspire us to be that kind of compassionate pastor, but to be honest, I find that inspiration elsewhere. I remember meeting Mother Teresa of Calcutta and being inspired by her compassion. I am inspired by St Damien of Molokai, St Maximillian Kolbe, St Isaac Jogues and a host of other valiant and radiant souls. While your example of compassion, humility and simplicity is stunning and attractive, your most important work is to define and defend the teachings of the Catholic Church so that together we can all proclaim it and live it with the compassion, mercy and forgiveness we all agree is necessary.

I know the Synod on the Family is an attempt to make the church more compassionate and caring, but with respect, this is not best done at the Vatican or diocesan level but on the parish level. I was taught that subsidiarity is a Catholic principle: that solutions to problems and ideas for initiatives are best taken within the local community. Compassion, mercy and the struggle with family issues happens every day at the parish level. You know that from your own work at the front line as a priest and bishop. At the Vatican level the discussion is theoretical and theological as it should be. If you try to tinker with these matters at the global level it doesn’t help. It makes life more confusing and frustrating for us at the local level.

Here is an example: twice in the last week I have had to deal with Catholics in irregular marriages. One woman married outside the church and told me that she thought it was now okay for her to come to communion because, “The pope has changed all those old rules.” Another man has divorced his wife and is living with another woman. He also assured me very confidently that it was now fine for him to come to communion because, “Pope Francis has changed the rules.” I know you mean well Holy Father, and I admire and like you, but this process on which you have led us is not helping. Continue Reading

18

What Do We Tell Him?

Pope Francis Facepalms

 

‘I am not a pillar of the Church, but more like a flying buttress — I support the church from the outside.’

Winston Churchill

 

 

Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently in defense of the Faith that I have named him Defender of the Faith, has a question for us:

 

 

I have a serious question for which I’d like a serious answer.  And I’m not going to provide any commentary of my own just yet; I’m much more interested in what you guys think.  But should we flying buttresses of the Catholic Church, to borrow Churchill’s analogy, start seriously worrying right about now?

In considering the principle of gradualness in the divine salvific plan, one asks what possibilities are given to married couples who experience the failure of their marriage, or rather how it is possible to offer them Christ’s help through the ministry of the Church. In this respect, a significant hermeneutic key comes from the teaching of Vatican Council II, which, while it affirms that “although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure … these elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward Catholic unity” (Lumen Gentium, 8).

Realizing the need, therefore, for spiritual discernment with regard to cohabitation, civil marriages and divorced and remarried persons, it is the task of the Church to recognize those seeds of the Word that have spread beyond its visible and sacramental boundaries. Following the expansive gaze of Christ, whose light illuminates every man (cf. Jn 1,9; cf. Gaudium et Spes, 22), the Church turns respectfully to those who participate in her life in an incomplete and imperfect way, appreciating the positive values they contain rather than their limitations and shortcomings.

In this respect, a new dimension of today’s family pastoral consists of accepting the reality of civil marriage and also cohabitation, taking into account the due differences. Indeed, when a union reaches a notable level of stability through a public bond, is characterized by deep affection, responsibility with regard to offspring, and capacity to withstand tests, it may be seen as a germ to be accompanied in development towards the sacrament of marriage. Very often, however, cohabitation is established not with a view to a possible future marriage, but rather without any intention of establishing an institutionally-recognized relationship.

In the West as well there is an increasingly large number of those who, having lived together for a long period of time, ask to be married in the Church. Simple cohabitation is often a choice inspired by a general attitude, which is opposed to institutions and definitive undertakings, but also while waiting for a secure existence (a steady job and income). In other countries common-law marriages are very numerous, not because of a rejection of Christian values as regards the family and matrimony, but, above all, because getting married is a luxury, so that material poverty encourages people to live in common-law marriages. Furthermore in such unions it is possible to grasp authentic family values or at least the wish for them. Pastoral accompaniment should always start from these positive aspects.

Various Fathers underlined the necessity to make the recognition of cases of nullity more accessible and flexible. Among the propositions were the abandonment of the need for the double conforming sentence; the possibility of establishing an administrative means under the responsibility of the diocesan bishop; a summary process to be used in cases of clear nullity. According to authoritative propositions, the possibility should then be considered of giving weight to the faith of those about to be married in terms of the validity of the sacrament of marriage. It needs to emphasized that in all these cases it is about the ascertaining of the truth over the validity of the obstacle.

As regards matrimonial suits, the speeding-up of the procedure, requested by many, as well as the preparation of a sufficient number of operators, clerics and lay people, dedicating themselves to this, requires an increase in the responsibilities of the diocesan bishop, who in his diocese might charge a specially trained priest who would be able to offer the parties advice on the validity of their marriage.

In the same way the situation of the divorced who have remarried demands a careful discernment and an accompaniment full of respect, avoiding any language or behavior that might make them feel discriminated against. For the Christian community looking after them is not a weakening of its faith and its testimony to the indissolubility of marriage, but rather it expresses precisely its charity in its caring.

As regards the possibility of partaking of the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, some argued in favor of the present regulations because of their theological foundation, others were in favor of a greater opening on very precise conditions when dealing with situations that cannot be resolved without creating new injustices and suffering. For some, partaking of the sacraments might occur were it preceded by a penitential path – under the responsibility of the diocesan bishop –, and with a clear undertaking in favor of the children. This would not be a general possibility, but the fruit of a discernment applied on a case-by-case basis, according to a law of gradualness, that takes into consideration the distinction between state of sin, state of grace and the attenuating circumstances.

Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?

The question of homosexuality leads to a serious reflection on how to elaborate realistic paths of affective growth and human and evangelical maturity integrating the sexual dimension: it appears therefore as an important educative challenge. The Church furthermore affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman. Nor is it acceptable that pressure be brought to bear on pastors or that international bodies make financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations inspired by gender ideology.

Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners. Furthermore, the Church pays special attention to the children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasizing that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority. Continue Reading

10

Cardinal Burke on the Relatio

Raymond Cardinal Burke

 

Raymond Cardinal Burke is one of many clerics speaking out against the Relatio, go here to read all about it, at the Synod on the Family:

 

Cardinal Burke responded late yesterday to questions from Carl E. Olson, editor of Catholic World Report, about his concerns, his view of the mid-term report, and why he thinks a statement from Pope Francis is “long overdue”.

CWR: In what way is information about what is happening in the Synod being either manipulated or only partially reported and made public?

Cardinal Burke: The interventions of the individual Synod Fathers are not made available to the public, as has been the case in the past. All of the information regarding the Synod is controlled by the General Secretariat of the Synod which clearly has favored from the beginning the positions expressed in the Relatio post disceptationem of yesterday morning.

While the individual interventions of the Synod Fathers are not published, yesterday’s Relatio, which is merely a discussion document, was published immediately and, I am told, even broadcast live. You do not have to be a rocket scientist to see the approach at work, which is certainly not of the Church.
 
CWR: How is that reflected in the Synod’s midterm document, released yesterday, which is being criticised by many for its appeal to a so-called “law of graduality”?

Cardinal Burke: While the document in question (Relatio post disceptationem) purports to report only the discussion which took place among the Synod Fathers, it, in fact, advances positions which many Synod Fathers do not accept and, I would say, as faithful shepherds of the flock cannot accept. Clearly, the response to the document in the discussion which immediately followed its presentation manifested that a great number of the Synod Fathers found it objectionable.

The document lacks a solid foundation in the Sacred Scriptures and the Magisterium. In a matter on which the Church has a very rich and clear teaching, it gives the impression of inventing a totally new, what one Synod Father called “revolutionary”, teaching on marriage and the family. It invokes repeatedly and in a confused manner principles which are not defined, for example, the law of graduality.
 
CWR: How important is it, do you think, that Pope Francis make a statement soon in order to address the growing sense—among many in the media and in the pews—that the Church is on the cusp of changing her teaching on various essential points regarding marriage, “remarriage,” reception of Communion, and even the place of “unions” among homosexuals?

Cardinal Burke: In my judgment, such a statement is long overdue. The debate on these questions has been going forward now for almost nine months, especially in the secular media but also through the speeches and interviews of Cardinal Walter Kasper and others who support his position.

The faithful and their good shepherds are looking to the Vicar of Christ for the confirmation of the Catholic faith and practice regarding marriage which is the first cell of the life of the Church. Continue Reading

19

All is Well!

 

 

If a Pope decreed that all Catholics must paint their bottoms yellow,  I suspect Mark’s only response would be to inquire what shade.

Donald R. McClarey

For those of you disturbed by the Relatio of the Synod, go here to read about it, Mark Shea explains at length why you are simply a misguided “Reactionary”:

The latest in months of Reactionary panic (ongoing since March 2013 with the election of Francis) was on display last week in the fears about “gradualism” being discussed at the Synod. What’s gradualism? Gradualism is the common sense fact that conversion usually takes a long time and sinners typically require baby steps to change.  Calah Alexander, who is, like Yr. Obdt. Svt, a wretched sinner, has some rather appreciative words for gradualism. To which I say, “Hear! Hear!” I’ve never met a confessor who was not a gradualist and I doubt you have either. Indeed, most confessors I know tend to discourage gigantic vows of massive instantaneous conversion, particularly with entrenched sins. Why? Because when we fail to keep them, as we almost surely will, we can fly to the opposite end of the spectrum and despair. So the counsels tend to be “slow and steady wins the race”.

Unfortunately, Reactionaries (who tend to lack people skills) tend also to understand “gradualism” to mean “Let’s gradually change basic Church teaching until it conforms to the world, the flesh, and the devil.”  When they hear “gradualism” they don’t hear “How can the Church welcome sinners and help them to become saints by baby step?”  They hear “How can we slowly pervert the teaching of the Church until  abortion and gay marriage are the eighth and ninth sacraments?” Continue Reading

4

Bizarre Days At the Vatican

Bizarro Days

 

 

Robert Royal at The Catholic Thing is reporting from Rome and his one word description is a good summary of what is going on:  bizarre:

I have been in Rome, by my rough count, 100 times during my adult life. Some visits had to do with secular matters of culture or politics, most with questions related to the Catholic Church. But I think I can say without the slightest doubt that yesterday was the strangest day I’ve ever passed in the Eternal City.

By now, almost everyone interested in Catholic matters knows about what can only be called the truly bizarre document that the Vatican released Monday: the relatio summing up the first week of work by the Extraordinary Synod on the Family. I was at the press conference after the release and it, too, was a very strange thing indeed. More on that below. But before you despair – I can tell you that there were some questions from utterly astonished old Vatican reporters in that room and journalists walking around in shock outside for hours after – things are both bad and maybe also not so entirely bad as they might first seem.

First, the bad. For reasons that may only be know to certain figures involved – or to the God who searches the human heart – a document coming from the Vatican now has passages like these:

    50.        Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?
     51.        The question of homosexuality leads to a serious reflection on how to elaborate realistic paths of affective growth and human and evangelical maturity integrating the sexual dimension: it appears therefore as an important educative challenge. The Church furthermore affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman. Nor is it acceptable that pressure be brought to bear on pastors or that international bodies make financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations inspired by gender ideology.
     52.        Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners. Furthermore, the Church pays special attention to the children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasizing that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority. [All emphases added.]

If you find your head spinning at the language italicized above, you aren’t the only one. Several of the journalists in the room put very carefully worded questions to the four members of the press conference panel, trying to elicit clarifications. I’m sorry to say that with the exception of Cardinal Erdö, every one of them engaged in a level of spin unworthy of a Church that seeks to proclaim the truth about the Good News of our redemption by Jesus Christ.

I won’t mention the names of respondents out of respect for the nakedness of our fathers. But let me suggest some of the dynamic in the room. One female reporter for RAI Radio, the Italian state-run broadcast services, asked pointedly in response to the last section above about the rights of children, whether they don’t have a right to be raised by a male father and a female mother (an argument that in Europe, especially in France, has been very prominent)? The reply from an exalted cleric was to enter a thicket of platitudes about parental rights to educate a child, which no one objects to or has ever objected to, insofar as they were intelligible. But the fundamental question of having a real mother and a real father went entirely untouched – by a prince of the Church talking about a burning current question.

Similarly, an American journalist raised a question about the absurd phrase in section 50: “Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community.” In one way, of course, this is true, since all people have gifts and qualities. The journalist wanted to know, however, whether the Synod fathers were saying that homosexuals have gifts to offer precisely because of their homosexuality? That seemed to be implied.
Continue Reading

6

PopeWatch: Archbishop Gądecki

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

If you are alarmed by the Relatio, the mid-term report from the Synod on the Family, go here to read about it, you are in good company as Rorate Caeli informs us:

 

 

In an interview with Vatican Radio, the President of the Polish Episcopal Conference did not hesitate to say that this document departs from the teaching of John Paul II, and even that in it can be noticed traces of the anti-marriage ideology. According to Archbishop Gądecki, this text also highlights the lack of a clear vision for the synodal assembly.

“Referring to the issues of marriage and family, certain criteria are being applied that raise doubt. For example, the criterion of gradualism. Can you really treat cohabitation as gradual, on the path to holiness? Today, the discussion also highlighted that the doctrine presented in the document is marked by the sin of omission. As if the world’s view prevailed and everything was imperfection which leads to perfection… Attention was paid not so much to what this document says, but to what it does not say. Speak about the practical exceptions, but we also need to present the truth. Also, the points that speak of children entrusted to same-sex couples are formulated somewhat as if this situation is being praised! This is also a defect of this text, which should be an incentive to fidelity, family values, but instead seems to accept everything as it is. It created an impression that the teaching of the Church has been merciless so far, as if the teaching of mercy were beginning only now.”

Continue Reading

41

Catholicism Lite Triumphs at the Synod

Catholicism Lite

 

 

The Synod on the Family has issued a document summarizing the discussions so far.  It is perhaps the most mealy mouthed Church document that I have ever read, which is saying something considering the competition for that title over the past fifty years.  Here is the heart of the document:

 

 

 

46.        In the same way the situation of the divorced who have remarried demands a careful discernment and an accompaniment full of respect, avoiding any language or behavior that might make them feel discriminated against. For the Christian community looking after them is not a weakening of its faith and its testimony to the indissolubility of marriage, but rather it expresses precisely its charity in its caring.

     47.        As regards the possibility of partaking of the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, some argued in favor of the present regulations because of their theological foundation, others were in favor of a greater opening on very precise conditions when dealing with situations that cannot be resolved without creating new injustices and suffering. For some, partaking of the sacraments might occur were it preceded by a penitential path – under the responsibility of the diocesan bishop –, and with a clear undertaking in favor of the children. This would not be a general possibility, but the fruit of a discernment applied on a case-by-case basis, according to a law of gradualness, that takes into consideration the distinction between state of sin, state of grace and the attenuating circumstances.

     48.        Suggesting limiting themselves to only “spiritual communion” was questioned by more than a few Synodal Fathers: if spiritual communion is possible, why not allow them to partake in the sacrament? As a result a greater theological study was requested starting with the links between the sacrament of marriage and the Eucharist in relation to the Church-sacrament. In the same way, the moral dimension of the problem requires further consideration, listening to and illuminating the consciences of spouses.

     49.        The problems relative to mixed marriages were frequently raised in the interventions of the Synodal Fathers. The differences in the matrimonial regulations of the Orthodox Churches creates serious problems in certain contexts to which have to be found suitable responses in communion with the Pope. The same applies to inter-religious marriages.

Welcoming homosexual persons

     50.        Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?

     51.        The question of homosexuality leads to a serious reflection on how to elaborate realistic paths of affective growth and human and evangelical maturity integrating the sexual dimension: it appears therefore as an important educative challenge. The Church furthermore affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman. Nor is it acceptable that pressure be brought to bear on pastors or that international bodies make financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations inspired by gender ideology.

     52.        Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners. Furthermore, the Church pays special attention to the children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasizing that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority.

The transmission of life and the challenge of the declining birthrate

     53.        It is not difficult to notice the spread of a mentality that reduces the generation of life to a variable of an individual’s or a couple’s plans. Economic factors sometimes have enough weight to contribute to the sharp drop in the birthrate which weakens the social fabric, compromising the relationship between generations and rendering the view of the future less certain. Being open to life is an intrinsic requirement of married love.

     54.        Probably here as well what is required is a realistic language that is able to start from listening to people and acknowledging the beauty and truth of an unconditional opening to life as that which human life requires to be lived to its fullest. It is on this base that we can rest an appropriate teaching regarding natural methods, which allow the living in a harmonious and aware way of the communication between spouses, in all its dimensions, along with generative responsibility. In this light, we should go back to the message of the Encyclical Humanae Vitae of Paul VI, which underlines the need to respect the dignity of the person in the moral evaluation of the methods of birth control.

     55.        So help is required to live affectivity, in marriage as well, as a path of maturation, in the evermore profound welcoming of the other and in an ever-fuller giving. It has to be emphasized in this sense the need to offer formative paths that nourish married life and the importance of a laity that provides an accompaniment consisting of living testimony. It is undoubtedly of great help the example of a faithful and profound love made up of tenderness, of respect, capable of growing in time and which in its concrete opening to the generation of life allows us to experience a mystery that transcends us.

The challenge of education and the role of the family in evangelization

     56.        The fundamental challenge facing families today is undoubtedly that of education, rendered more difficult and complex by today’s cultural reality. What have to be considered are the needs and expectations of families capable of testifying in daily life, places of growth, of concrete and essential transmission of the virtues that provide form for existence.

     57.        In this Church can carry out a precious role in supporting families, starting from Christian initiation, through welcoming communities. What is asked of these, today even more than yesterday, in complex as well as mundane situations, is to support parents in their educative undertaking, accompanying children and young people in their growth through personalized paths capable of introducing them to the full meaning of life and encouraging choices and responsibilities, lived in the light of the Gospel.

 

Conclusion

     58.        The reflections put forward, the fruit of the Synodal dialog that took place in great freedom and a spirit of reciprocal listening, are intended to raise questions and indicate perspectives that will have to be matured and made clearer by the reflection of the local Churches in the year that separates us from the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of bishops planned for October 2015. These are not decisions that have been made nor simply points of view. All the same the collegial path of the bishops and the involvement of all God’s people under the guidance of the Holy Spirit will lead us to find roads of truth and mercy for all. This is the wish that from the beginning of our work Pope Francis has extended to us, inviting us to the courage of the faith and the humble and honest welcome of the truth in charity. Continue Reading

14

PopeWatch: Synod Question Mark

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With the Synod on the family coming up in October, Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa tells us what we know right now:

 

Francis began with the distribution, one year ago, of an open-ended questionnaire on all the questions concerning the family, from contraception to communion for the divorced, from de facto couples to marriage between homosexuals. And some national episcopates, with the German-speaking ones in the lead, revealed their results, igniting expectations of liberalization in the discipline of the Church.

But then, above all, Francis gathered a consistory of cardinals in Rome last February as a dry run for the upcoming synod. And to whom did he entrust the introductory presentation? To the German cardinal Walter Kasper, who back in the early 1990’s was a combative supporter of getting rid of the ban on communion for the remarried, but was defeated and reduced to silence, at the time, by John Paul II and Joseph Ratzinger.

Kasper’s talk is the only part of that consistory that has been made known, all the rest has remained secret. But to judge by the subsequent public forays of some of the cardinals, it is clear that the resistance to the changes proposed by Kasper has been and continues to be entrenched, belligerent, and authoritative.

Among the resisters who have come out into the open are cardinals Gerhard L. Müller, prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, Raymond L. Burke, Timothy M. Dolan, Marc Ouellet, George Pell, Fernando Sebastián Aguilar, Carlo Caffarra, Angelo Scola, all generally classified among the conservatives. But there are also cardinals viewed as progressive, like the Austrian Christoph Schönborn, who are joining the coalition against Kasper.

All of these will find themselves at the synod in a no-holds-barred fight against Kasper and his not equally solid supporters.

The fact that the “reactionaries” Caffarra, Scola, and Aguilar have been invited to take part in the synod by Francis himself has significantly chilled the enthusiasm for the current pope.

The American Jesuit Thomas Reese, the former director of the magazine “America” and an influential opinion maker, an all-out fan of Jorge Mario Bergoglio at the beginning of the pontificate, after this latest blow has moved definitively into the opposing camp, against what for him is a betrayal of the awaited revolution.

But the battle has just begun. The upcoming synod will not draw  any conclusions. It will have a second round in October of 2015. After which it will be not the synod, but Pope Francis, who decides what to do. Continue Reading

19

PopeWatch: Pressure

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One of the biggest mistakes thus far of the current pontificate is those idiotic questionnaires which were ordered in preparation for the synod on the family in October, at least, judging from what Sandro Magister at Chiesa is reporting, that might well be the private assessment of Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri:

Finally, on Monday the 24th and Tuesday the 25th of February there will be a meeting of the council of the general secretariat of the synod of bishops, coordinated by the new cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri.

That assembly will begin to evaluate the responses to the questionnaire concerning the upcoming extraordinary synod in October, also dedicated to the pastoral care of the family.

The episcopal conferences of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland have already seen to spreading all over the world, through detailed press releases, the responses that have come to them, tipped very much out of balance toward the progressive side.

But this diffusion has been judged as a “unilateral initiative” and “not correct” by Baldisseri, who reiterated in an interview how the publication of these materials, which were supposed to have been sent “confidentially” to the Vatican, were by no means authorized.

Not only that. The new cardinal – also in the same interview published in the “Quotidiano Nazionale” on February 11 – also defined as “a possible interpretation” that which sees the release of the data as a form of pressure for influencing the work of the synod. Continue Reading