Monday, October 6, 2014


The hysteria or euphoria, depending on your ideology, concerning Pope Francis and the Synod on the family revolves around the perception that the Synod on the Family will change Catholic doctrine as it concerns the indissolubility of marriage.

Vatican Radio gives a predominant place on its website to Cardinal Burke with an interview with him. You can read it by pressing HERE.

Cardinal Burke was also one of several contributors to a book, entitled Remaining in the Truth of Christ, intended to help the Synod and the Pope as they work to renew the Church’s commitment to the pastoral care of families.

Listen to the interview:

Folks, this is the pastoral reality today, like it or not:

1. Many Catholics today feel that the Church is irrelevant to their lives especially when it comes to sex. Like it or not, the prevailing non-Catholic ideologies concerning sex and its purpose influence Catholics more than what the Church teaches based on Scripture, Tradition and Natural Law.

2. Thus, these Catholics come to  Mass sporadically or not at all.

3. Because of cafeteria Catholicism, many Catholics who come to Mass feel they must receive Holy Communion no matter what. There is no real personal understanding of mortal sin or what the impediments are that would prevent them from receiving Holy Communion.

4.  Even Protestants today are offended when they are not invited to receive Holy Communion at a Catholic Mass.

5. Many Catholics who are in irregular marriages feel their irregular marriage is better than their original marriage. These Catholics who attend Mass and otherwise take their Catholic Faith seriously choose to receive Holy Communion. Often priests are not aware of their irregularity.

6. The greater problem for me as a pastor has to do with non-Catholics who want to become Catholic who themselves may have been married only once but their spouse who does not want to become Catholic has a previous marriage to them. The non-interested party has no intention of participating in an annulment procedure.

7. Sometimes non-Catholics who want to become Catholic may have entered a first marriage at a young age and divorced rather quickly. Some 25 or more years later they are in a happy second marriage; have no idea where their first spouse is and have no interest in contacting that person. How can we ask them to go through a full-blown annulment?

What happens is that many priests make it up as they go. We either ignore these irregular situations or we improvise and leave it in the hands of God and the individual consciences of the people involved.

Some priests will validate an irregular marriage without the benefit of an annulment. This is clearly wrong and could lead to that priest's suspension.

Isn't it time for a more cogent and defined pastoral doctrine for situations such as these that does not call into question what actual sin is or gives people the belief that their actual sins really don't matter and they don't need to repent and make a firm purpose of amendment in order to worthily receive Holy Communion.

Will relaxing the annulment procedure in some circumstances in order to allow non-Catholics to become Catholic or Catholics who can't get an annulment for technical reasons lead to a further loss of the sense of actual sin, especially mortal sin?

Should Catholic priests or worse yet, rank and file lay Catholics act as policemen and actually prevent those in mortal sin from receiving Holy Communion or should we teach that each adult Catholic will have to answer to God for their sins and having received our Lord in a state of disgrace? No one is barred from Holy Communion unless publicly excommunicated by the pope or the local bishop?

Do we need a pastoral theology that is elevated to a doctrine and will Pope Francis through the Synods on the Family (remember this first one only sets the agenda for next year's synod) which is based on the pastoral practice of the Church, practiced from the earliest times?


Anonymous said...

"Isn't it time for a more cogent and defined pastoral doctrine for situations such as these that does not call into question what actual sin is or gives people the belief that their actual sins really don't matter and they don't need to repent and make a firm purpose of amendment in order to worthily receive Holy Communion."

Well ignoring sin isn't exactly going to work. I mean that's been going on for the last 50 years in the Church. That's why the majority of Catholics don't care what the Church teaches anyway and also why it doesn't alienate them. It's because they don't care. I propose an entirely new approach.

Here is a completely novel idea. How about bishops, priests, brothers, sisters teach the Catholic Faith in totality and without compromise? Here is the answer to all the problems, here it comes and it is revolutionary.........repent and believe in the Gospel. Confession is the answer to sin. I know, I know, this is pie in the sky dreaming. I mean just because Our Lord Himself instituted this sacrament as THE way to show His mercy through the Church He founded it does not mean that people like Kasper or other bishops of major European cities will like it. But I am a revolutionary.

JBS said...

I like how you put the question, Father McDonald.

Perhaps we need to build a clearer definition of pastoral care as the "salvation of souls", rather than as the building of self-esteem. While self-esteem is not something to be neglected in pastoral care, it may need to suffer a little in the effort to save the soul for Christ.

The Christian who remarries after divorce is living in sin, and so cannot inherit eternal life. Therefore, difficult as this is for a pastor to admit, it does not seem very pastoral/salvific for us to assume the original marriage isn't valid before it has been thoroughly investigated and formally judged invalid. Granted, it can be easier for me to write this than it is to apply it. But a divorced and remarried Christian will go to Hell, and that should disturb us much more.

JBS said...

"There are some who are disturbing you and wish to pervert the Gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel other than the one that we preached to you, let that one be accursed!"

"I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery."

Nathanael said...

I agree 100 percent.

The pastoral reality must be looked at. Regardless of the actual words of Our Blessed Lord on marriage. We all know he "really" didn't say those words. It is the invention of the early Church.

How can we even be sure of the historicity of the Resurrection itself? Or the Virgin Birth? The Transfiguration? The multiplication of the loaves and fishes - Martha just got busy in the kitchen the night before because Peter and Andrew caught over their limit and they had to hide it from an official.

Open communion? Sure. Why not! The last thing Jesus of Nazareth did was offend the faithful of his time. And maybe he was really the son of a Roman soldier and a poor peasant girl. It makes more sense than angels, stars, and wise men from the East.

I just hope the next time President Obama does something screwy the USCCB will not invoke the two saints they have in the past. Would they still be martyrs? I bet Anne Boylen wished for modern men like those we have now in the Church today.

I don't want to sound angry; I am not. It is funny to the point if the giggles. But if Rome can afford to be so generous to the majority (as you put it) then why can't they afford to be generous to the minority?

Anonymous said...

May I suggest that attempts to admit people not in a state of grace to holy communion amount to a denial of the Real Presence of Christ and of the Mass as re-presentation and participation in the Sacrifice of the Cross? Is not the practice of universal holy communion plainly contrary to belief in the Real Presence and the Mass as Sacrifice rather than communal meal (in which all present would naturally share)? Surely we all know faithful believers who attend Mass religiously every Sunday without (because of impediments) ever receiving communion. As well as unbelievers who blithely receive holy communion unworthily every Sunday. Don’t your 7 remarks simply say that clear and constant teaching about the Eucharist and the Mass is the answer to all this confusion among the uninformed?

Nathanael said...

Does anyone think the Holy Father could apologize for the non-recognition of another Pontiff of the marriage of Anne Boylen? After all, there was a pastoral need then as now. It would go a long way in healing old wounds and maybe bring an ecumenical springtime. This is what is needed isn't it? Break-down the barriers to Christian unity!

I only wish Waugh was alive now; imagine how different his famous novel could be! Maybe Charles could actually marry Julia (or maybe, in a few years, have a civil ceremony with Sebastian with a wink and a nod from the Church). Imagine how much better it would be! Maybe Anne Rice will reimagine it!

I am just so happy we have a forward thinking Church that goes out of its way to help people and not judge them anymore. I only wish I had a time machine to go back and tell Sir Thomas he didn't have to die; he could have stayed at Chelsea after all. Some how I do not think his opinion would change. But people like him are never "with-it" and hip like a real cool guy I know.

JusadBellum said...

I second anonymous and JBS' points. It's really not as hard as the 'professional' theologians are trying to make it.

Preach the truth as truth. don't water it down. don't treat adults like children (in that the level of technical expertise required of adults to handle heavy machinery requires them to attend a trade school etc. but somehow the level of theological expertise required for marriage is laughable and then we wonder why there are 'train wrecks'?)

If 99% of people are going to marry, then shouldn't every year of CCD and religious instruction be geared towards the raising of mature, well educated, and sober young men and women capable of understanding the issues at stake? Shouldn't highschool age Catholics actually be capable of reading Casti Canubi, Humanae Vitae, etc.? they are perfectly capable of reading secular texts of greater length and complexity so why not Catholic doctrinal sources?

Anonymous said...

YIKES....the inmates are taking over the asylum.

Jdj said...

Good question, Father.
The best thing I have read the past few days about our "quandary", penned by Fr. Mark Pilon:
"A crisis seems to have arisen due to an abandonment of this proper relationship, where the law of the Church is now often seen to be in conflict with the law of charity, almost by it’s very nature. Because charity rules supreme, the resolution to this conflict has been to subordinate the rule of law to the rule of charity, as if the two are in conflict."

Read the whole article here:

Joe Potillor said...

God help us, no we do not need to reduce things to the Lowest Common Denominator, this is not math class. It is the salvation of souls, for which the highest bar should be set.

Jdj said...

Sorry, Father, but for some reason only half of the quote from Fr. Pilon went through; the whole excerpted quote I meant to come through was this (the second paragraph doesn't make sense without the first!):

"But there’s another reason that I can’t get too upset with the “Francis problem.” The “problem” is and has been much greater than any one man, even the one who happens to be the pope. It has to do with the proper relationship between law and grace, between the laws of the Church, which have to be consonant with the natural law and the nature of the Church and her sacraments, and the practice of pastoral charity.
A crisis seems to have arisen due to an abandonment of this proper relationship, where the law of the Church is now often seen to be in conflict with the law of charity, almost by it’s very nature. Because charity rules supreme, the resolution to this conflict has been to subordinate the rule of law to the rule of charity, as if the two are in conflict."

Read the whole article here:

MR said...

Cardinal Erdo: affirming magisterial teaching, synod should address difficult pastoral situations

Victor said...

There is that word again: "Pastoral". Since John XXIII started using it to address the whims of the modern world, has anyone managed to define it? Or rather, have there not been so many definitions that it has become meaningless? Or rather, does it not have the meaning that anyone has wanted to give it?
Both Aristotle and Aquinas begin with definitions of the major terms for a discussion, for without an agreement on what one understands by those terms, one merely argues inside paper bags, making a lot of noise but basically saying nothing to anyone.
"Pastoral" may have something to do with leading sheep, so I assume it could mean leading the faithful to heaven. But I have also noticed that in that context it often refers to leading by addressing the affective side of the person, perhaps even the irrational or sentimental side.
One often gains insight by looking at the the contrary of terms. In this case, does the opposite mean cold and insensitive rationality? Surely the Church before V2 was far from being just cold and insensitive, needing a paradigm shift. Whatever the case, that word has been increasingly used as a trojan horse to dismiss the relevance of the Magisterium in the lives of Catholics.

Bill Meyer said...

I am a broken record. Every parish needs to offer a weekly adult class in the CCC. Perpetually.

We are surprised when kids reach their majority and do not know the faith. Look at their parents. If the parents do not have a good formation, how can they effectively instill in their kids a good formation?

It is time, and past time, to stop finding charitable reasons for giving the Eucharist to those in mortal sin. We cannot know their hearts? Really? When Pelosi continues to vote in support of things the Church has condemned, can we not know her heart?

Latae sententiae is the law, but a failure to publicly excommunicate those who are public figures and bring endless scandal on the Church is, I think, also sinful.