Friday, April 8, 2016

FOR THOSE IN IRREGULAR MARRIAGE OR MARRIAGE LIKE SITUATIONS, NO, NO, NO TO HOLY COMMUNION, BUT YES TO THE ABILITY TO CONFESS AND BE FORGIVEN FOR OTHER SINS WHILE NOT ALLOWING A RETURN TO HOLY COMMUNION!

The anti-Francis gang, those faux Catholics, and the secular press are using an obscure footnote in Pope Francis exhortation that seems to allow for Catholics in irregular sexual unions to receive Holy Communion. WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!

BUT THIS LITTLE FOOTNOTE DOES SEEM TO OPEN THE DOOR TO SOMETHING TRULY NEW AND NOVEL ABOUT THE SACRAMENT OF PENANCE: PARTIAL ABSOLUTION FOR A SERIOUS SIN, LIKE ABORTION, FOR SOMEONE IN AN IRREGULAR SEXUAL UNION WHICH DOES NOT ALLOW FOR REGULARIZING THAT UNION OR IN ANY WAY ALLOWING FOR HOLY COMMUNION!

 What is novel in this approach, is that it is therapeutic and for the forgiveness of a sin that is no longer being committed. It is a partial absolution--something novel and I'd have to study more about it.

Discernment Cardinal Schonborn says, was a key word in Pope Francis’ Exhortation. It is very “Jesuitical” – discernment of spirits – and that leads him to an attitude that was already present in Pope Benedict’s teaching, in Pope [St.] John Paul II’s teaching, that the Church offers help to those who are in so-called “irregular situations”. He adds a little note, where he says, “In certain cases, also, the aid, the help of the sacraments.” That’s all he said.

Cardinal Schonborn states, "I  think it is fairly clear: there are circumstances in which people in irregular situations may really need sacramental absolution, even if their general situation cannot be clarified."

The example Cardinal Schonborn uses actually comes from Pope Francis in describing the situation of  a woman who has committed the grave sin of abortion, who wants to go to confession to seek forgiveness of that sin of abortion, but she is in an irregular marriage not recognized by the Church.

Schonborn says Pope Francis has taught that "a priest  has to help this person to be freed from her burden of having had an abortion for which she is now repentant. Even if the priest can't tell her that her marital situation has been regularized by this absolution, you cannot let her leave the confessional with the burden of her grave sin of abortion she finally had the courage to come and confess. 

Cardinal Schonborn concludes "that was the example he (Pope Francis) had given, and I think it is a very good example for what this little (foot) note could mean in certain cases: i.e. “[…]even the help of sacraments.” 

21 comments:

TJM said...

Would the National Anti-Catholic Reporter ever lie?

Calvin Jansen said...

I will guarantee you that gays and gay couples will come forward to receive and will not be turned away. I am sure it has already happened, and I'll bet gay couples will be bringing the gifts, serving as letters, etc. Practice will trump dogma as it has for many years now. It won't be too long before some Priest tests the waters by marrying a gay couple...just wait.

Jusadbellum said...

The issue being overlooked is HOW COMPLEX the scenarios are:

2 non-baptized people who co-habitate and then have civil marriage
1 non-baptized with one baptized who get civil marriage
2 baptized (non-Catholics) who have civil marriage
1 Catholic with 1 non-Catholic who have civil marriage

and then they all get a divorce and one of the parties goes on to marry a Catholic (civilly).

We can generally say the second union is adulterous (* potentially) but it all presumes the first union was in fact sacramental - that they knew what they were doing and thus truly gave themselves completely to each other. If only 1 of the couple didn't intend a permanent, or exclusive union, or wasn't open to life, there are grounds for a declaration of nullity.

But whom but the people in question can - with the guidance of a priest or canonist - know for sure?

I think this is what's overlooked. One can easily see how a couple might be viewed by 3rd parties to be adulterers while the priest could look into their private circumstances and determine that it's most probable that they aren't in a current state of adultery.

It's a thicket. But the Pope's approach I think is right on: first spell out the beauty and irreplaceable role of marriage which explains why divorce is a sin....and then we can talk about the ways to figure out the particular case.

DJR said...

"FOR THOSE IN IRREGULAR MARRIAGE OR MARRIAGE LIKE SITUATIONS, NO, NO, NO TO HOLY COMMUNION, BUT YES TO THE ABILITY TO CONFESS AND BE FORGIVEN FOR OTHER SINS WHILE NOT ALLOWING A RETURN TO HOLY COMMUNION!"

I do not understand the headline. It is not the teaching of the Catholic Church.

One cannot go to confession and be forgiven without a firm purpose of amendment.

During confession, if an adulterer confesses other sins besides adultery but refuses to give up his/her adultery, not only is the adultery not forgiven, but neither are the other sins.

In fact, the confession becomes a sacrilege and is yet another mortal sin.

Specifically, where is teaching of the Catholic Church that supports the proposition contained in the headline?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Yes, this raises eyebrows and is why I bring it up because it is novel. Yet, can a person seek forgiveness of one sin, as grievous as it is, and in fact excommunicates the person, but is not forgiven for living with someone who isn't technically their spouse, which by the way is not an excommunication offense?

In terms of an invalid or bad confession, I'm not sure if that is actually a dogma of the Church or simply a discipline to be able to be forgiven for one thing in order to lift an excommunication but not of another.

Anonymous said...

Firm Purpose of Amendment: "If we wished to rely only on our own strength, or primarily on our own strength, the decision to sin no more, with a presumed self-sufficiency, almost a Christian Stoicism or revived Pelagianism, we would offend against that truth about man with which we began, as though we were to tell the Lord, more or less consciously, that we did not need him. It should also be remembered that the existence of sincere repentance is one thing, the judgement of the intellect concerning the future is another: it is indeed possible that, despite the sincere intention of sinning no more, past experience and the awareness of human weakness makes one afraid of falling again; but this does not compromise the authenticity of the intention, when that fear is joined to the will, supported by prayer, of doing what is possible to avoid sin." - (St.) Pope John Paul II

NOTE: "... the existence of sincere repentance is one thing, the judgement of the intellect concerning the future is another:..."

ALSO: "...it is indeed possible that, despite the sincere intention of sinning no more, past experience and the awareness of human weakness makes one afraid of falling again; but this does not compromise the authenticity of the intention,..."

DJR States: "In fact, the confession becomes a sacrilege and is yet another mortal sin."

This MAY or MAY NOT be the case. Mortal Sin does not happen - cannot happen - without the "sufficient reflection" and "full consent of the will" of the (potential) sinner.

Woody said...

Well, here in Texas we used to say you can only hang once, so in the case of partial absolution, what is the point, if you are still going to hang?

George said...

St. Paul to St. Timothy: "Wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have made shipwreck of their faith."

Many today accept the teachings and philosophies of men which mix falsehood with truth. These teachings and philosophies, like the men who proposed them, will one day pass away. If a conscience which is not correctly formed is the arbitor of your decisions on moral matters, know that its usefulness for making correct decisions on moral matters is contingent on one's spiritual state, and that persistent sinfulness affects its proper functioning .A necessary obligation exists both on our part and on the help of others, that it be correctly formed. Can you not look around and see what happens when man follows his own inclinations and false teachings? Can you not see the example of those true faithful who are in religious communities and Churches, and not see that following God's teachings can provide good benefit to transform our fall human nature into the image and likeness of our Creator? Only the Word of God, the instructions He gave us, are true and reliable because our God is Truth itself. His teachings are the true and reliable guide for us which will never pass away and which will remain to guide those who will heed them until the end of the Ages.


One needs to tread carefully when putting forth the principle of the" inviolability and primacy of conscience", lest it causes ourselves and others to be led astray.

DJR said...

Anonymous said: DJR States: "In fact, the confession becomes a sacrilege and is yet another mortal sin."

This MAY or MAY NOT be the case. Mortal Sin does not happen - cannot happen - without the "sufficient reflection" and "full consent of the will" of the (potential) sinner.


A person in an adulterous union presumably knows that his/her union is adulterous and presumably knows whether he/she intends to retain that union. If that person goes to confession with the explicit intention of remaining in the adulterous union, that confession is a sacrilegious confession, a mortal sin.

That is the perennial teaching of the Catholic Church. It has nothing to do with "discipline."

The very idea that someone purporting to be Catholic would dispute the above shows the depth of the crisis the Church is in.

No one ever questioned this "in the old days."

DJR said...

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...
Yes, this raises eyebrows and is why I bring it up because it is novel. Yet, can a person seek forgiveness of one sin, as grievous as it is, and in fact excommunicates the person, but is not forgiven for living with someone who isn't technically their spouse, which by the way is not an excommunication offense?

In terms of an invalid or bad confession, I'm not sure if that is actually a dogma of the Church or simply a discipline to be able to be forgiven for one thing in order to lift an excommunication but not of another.


If a teaching is "novel," then it cannot possibly be Catholic, as Catholic teaching cannot change.

A person may "seek forgiveness" of a mortal sin, but if he/she intends on retaining a separate mortal sin, neither sin is forgiven, and the confession itself becomes a sin.

A person who confesses, say, abortion, but who intends to retain an adulterous relationship, is not shriven of the abortion or the adultery, and the confession becomes a sacrilege, i.e., a mortal sin.

This is the perennial teaching of the Church. Anyone who says anything different, regardless of rank, is in error.

Mark Thomas said...

Father McDonald, is James Carroll's understanding of Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation valid?

http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/new-morality-of-pope-francis-joy-of-love

The New Yorker April 8, 2016

The New Morality of Pope Francis

By James Carroll

For years, priests have been quietly defying the Vatican on family issues. Now Pope Francis has brought them out of the shadows.

I could have used Pope Francis’s latest apostolic exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia” (“The Joy of Love”), when I served as a Catholic priest, almost half a century ago. I was ordained in early 1969, a few months after the promulgation of “Humanae Vitae,” the Vatican’s resounding condemnation of “artificial birth control,” which would define my future. Like many priests of my generation, I declined to affirm the birth-control teaching.

Oddly, perhaps, this approach did not make me an outlaw renegade. Priests like me, in counselling our fellow-Catholics, operated under the rubric of the so-called pastoral solution, which allowed us to quietly defy Vatican dogma when the situation seemed to call for it.

In the confessional booth or the rectory parlor, we could encourage our parishioners to decide for themselves, by examining their own consciences, whether the doctrine of the Church applied to them in their particular circumstance.

The fact that, a generation later, the vast majority of Catholics disregard “Humanae Vitae” shows how effective the pastoral solution has been. But this solution has always been offered as an option in the shadowy private forum—in those off-the-record consultations between confessor and penitent.

Catholic lay people have made their declaration mainly by having about two children, like everybody else, and going regularly to Communion, with no questions asked. There has been a tacit understanding, as if the seal of the confessional itself applied, that this nearly universal choice to disobey the Church not be spoken of. Why? To protect the myth of the immutability of doctrine.

Pope Francis has now brought the pastoral solution out of the Catholic shadows. “The Joy of Love” is his concluding exhortation after the Synod on the Family, which unfolded in the course of the past two years.

Comparable in scope, compassion, and eloquent wisdom to last spring’s climate-change document, “Laudato Si’,” this new statement is, in effect, the Pope’s summary and conclusion about the questions raised at the Synod, which found itself focussed on whether divorced and remarried Catholics can receive Communion.Francis takes that up.

He says, all but explicitly, yes they can. But it is how he does so that lends this declaration its revolutionary significance.

Formerly, in accordance with the Catholic doctrine of the “indissolubility” of marriage, the divorced and remarried were officially shunned. They remained in the pew while most others in the church went forward to the Communion rail. But that shunning is history.

“It is important that the divorced who have entered a new union should be made to feel part of the Church,” Francis declares. How that feeling is expressed in practice is to be determined, he writes, not by “a new set of general rules, canonical in nature and applicable to all cases,” but by “a responsible personal and pastoral discernment of particular cases.”

When human experience, with all of what the Pope calls its “immense variety of concrete situations,” is elevated over “general principles,” a revolution is implicit.

Francis explains: “It is true that general rules set forth a good which can never be disregarded or neglected, but in their formulation they cannot provide absolutely for all particular situations.”

Pax.

Mark Thomas

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

MT, yes, what James Carrol says is true and I was taught what he describes in the 1970's seminary and it was called the "new morality." However, this exhortation matures that theology a great deal and the basis of one's conscience has to be rooted in what the Catholic Catechism teaches which we did not get in the 1960's and 70's.

Usually moral decisions of great magnitude made in the context of conscience were circumstantial to a certain extent. One has a moral issue, one consults the Church, one consults family members, one prays and one decides. Usually this had more to do with birth control, abortion, and medical issues.

Yes, Pope Francis is very 1970's but in a mature way, it's a new 1970's and a mix of old and new.

Anonymous said...

DJR - "Presumably" is your operative word.

You might have said that the confession is "presumably" or may be "objectively" mortally sinful. But since you cannot know the heart and/or mind of the penitent, let alone what he or she "presumably" knows, making the statement that, "In fact, the confession becomes a sacrilege and is yet another mortal sin" is presumptive.

Do you think that a person in an irregular relationship stays in that relationship knowing, without doubt (or presumption), that his/her choice is going to land him/her in hell?

That a Catholic would presume to judge what he cannot know shows the crisis of trust in God's grace to change and in the hope that motivations can be purified.

Your statement also presumes that it would be better for the sinner, who you presume has no "firm purpose of amendment," should stay away from the grace available in the Sacrament of Penance. That is a terrible idea.

It is also a terrible idea to think that a sinner should stay away from Penance until he/she has a perfect purpose of amendment, since none of us, you and me included, ever gets to that point.

Mark Thomas said...

Father McDonald, I haven't read the Exhortation. Therefore, I can only go by what you and others have said about the document. Father, in regard to what James Carroll said, if I understand you correctly, Mr. Carroll has a point when he said that the Exhortation is revolutionary and has opened the door to communion for divorced and remarried Catholics.

Father, you noted that the Exhortation "matured" the "new morality" theology into a 1970s-type "new and old" mixture. But that means that a certain portion of the horrific "new morality" is featured in Pope Francis Apostolic Exhortation.

Therefore, Mr. Carroll is correct in that at least to some extent, in regard to Holy Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, Pope Francis has opened the door for adulterers to determine for themselves as to whether they wish to receive Holy Communion.

Either Pope Francis has declared (other than to live as brother and sister) that divorced and remarried Catholics are not permitted to receive Holy Communion or that divorced and remarried Catholics are free to make that decision themselves.

Father, if I have missed something here, then please correct me.

Pax.

Mark Thomas


Mark Thomas said...

Father McDonald, the following appeared some time ago on the EWTN web site:

In "Concerning the Reception of Holy Communion by Divorced-and-Remarried Members of the Faithful" the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in a letter to the world's bishops on October 14, 1994 said,

7. The mistaken conviction of a divorced-and-remarried person that he may receive holy communion normally presupposes that personal conscience is considered in the final analysis to be able, on the basis of one's own convictions, to come to a decision about the existence or absence of a previous marriage and the value of the new union. However, such a position is inadmissible. Marriage, in fact, both because it is the image of the spousal relationship between Christ and his church as well as the fundamental core and an important factor in the life of civil society, is essentially a public reality. [/library/curia/cdfdivor.txt]

By this document the Holy See affirmed the continuous theology and discipline of the Catholic Church that those who are divorced and remarried without a Decree of Nullity for the first marriage (whether that marriage was made within or outside the Catholic Church) are in an objectively adulterous union that prevents them from honestly repenting, receiving absolution for their sins, and receiving Holy Communion.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Father McDonald, again, I have not read yesterday Apostolic Exhortation by His Holiness Pope Francis. All that I can do is ask the following:

Did Pope Francis reaffirm via his Exhortation the above teaching from the CDF? If he did, then James Carroll is wrong about Pope Francis having opened the door for adulterers to receive Holy Communion.

If Pope Francis did not reaffirm the above from the CDF, then isn't James Carroll correct in that Pope Francis has opened the door for divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion?

Pax.

Mark Thomas

Bernard Fischer said...

Mark Thomas, a ruling by the CDF is not a temporary statement. It is not like a situation where Congress needs to annually fund a program otherwise it lapses (as if Congress would ever fail to spend money!). Unless Pope Francis explicitly refutes the CDF teaching, it's still in force. I'll leave it to others to determine whether it's possible for Francis to "refute" something like that (ie, whether it's a disciplinary or doctrinal statement). In short, the Church's teachings don't become null and void because some Pope in the future neglects to re-state them.

Liberals would like it if that were the case. It would give them flexibility. But that cannot be true. So if Francis talks about "situations" he's not talking about how to get around an earlier rule, he must be referring to how to live according to the earlier rule (ie, this situation may require this response, that situation may require a different one.) But it's all very vague to me, who's never been in an irregular union. There is the chance for chicanery, but there always is.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

MT, the internal forum, as I was taught and reiterated by our now deceased Bishop, Raymond Lessard can be used under the following circumstances for those heterosexuals in an illicit marriage:

The previous marriage was so long ago, that all potential witness are no longer around, i.e. deceased.

Only the couple themselves knew of the dysfunction of the marriage and the circumstances that led to it.

The former spouse will not participate in an annulment procedure under any circumstances.

Thus, on a technicality, they cannot use the external forum, meaning the annulment procedure because there is no way to corroborate the testimony of the previous spouses.

IF within confession, the person wanting an internal solution that would allow them to return to Holy Communion, that person states what I mention above, states the reasons why they were married in the first place and the circumstances that led to the divorce and states that in their "illicit" marriage no scandal is given to anyone, they are responsible spouses, caring for children and home, the priest may give them an internal solution even if there is an active sex life. In other words, if not for the technicalities that prevent an external annulment procedure that would have found that the marriage could have been annulled, it would have been.

This would be only for those who can't go through the formal external forum.

Because Pope Francis as streamlined the external forum procedure and in some circumstance allows for the judgement for nullity to be left to the local bishop, this may lessen the number of people who need simply an internal forum solution.

The other criteria for an internal solution is that the couple agrees to live and siblings, no marital act in other words.

Mark Thomas said...

Father McDonald, thank you for your reply.

Bernard Fischer, thank you for your reply.

I appreciate each man's comments. I can only say that I'm worn out today in regard to the Exhortation and the controversies that have followed its release...and I have even read the Exhortation.

Please pray for me.

Pax.

Mark Thomas

George said...


Anonymous@at 7:42 AM

"Do you think that a person in an irregular relationship stays in that relationship knowing, without doubt (or presumption), that his/her choice is going to land him/her in hell?"

If a person in considering rejecting God's teaching in a serious matter, did believe that in doing so that it was " going to land him or her in jail", how many would do so?

As Catholics we should not presume to know more than we can possibly know and lacking such knowledge, to judge others. In fact we should not judge as God would, but only in certain circumstances in a prudential way. If a Catholic knows someone who is engaged in objective persistent sinful behavior, then prayers for the person and charitable instruction in Church teaching should be proffered for the enlightenment of the individual. It is however an obligation and responsibility to acquire knowledge of what is taught in Scripture and other Magisterial teaching. I have known of those who did not know that a certain thing they were doing was sinful but once they found out, they ceased doing it.

Anonymous said...

George, it may be incumbent on us to acquire knowledge of what is taught in Scripture, but that is the world of "should" and "ought." That does not, however, address the question I posed.

Anonymous said...

DJR at 7:42,

You're confusing two issues: 1) the presumption of knowing whether one is in an adulterous union and 2) committing a mortal sin that will land him/her in hell.

Consider (by coincidence) another use of the term presumption, as in presuming on God's mercy, a danger that I think has generally been very great since the 1960s. I can quite easily imagine a scenario in which a person knows he's in an adulterous union yet believing/hoping that God isn't so mean that he would "send" the adulterer to hell, and rationalizing that belief in a number of ways.