Sunday, September 18, 2016

ROSS DOUTHAT (WHAT AN APPROPRIATE LAST NAME!) OF THE NEW YOUR TIMES NAILS IT! POPE FRANCIS HAS OPENED PANDORA'S BOX!


I won't comment directly on Ross Douthat's opinion piece in the New York Times, but rather will highlight in red what I see as truly important.

Pope Francis and divorce

The sin of a second marriage is not serious enough to justify excluding people of good intentions from the sacraments.



Last weekend, Tim Kaine, the Democratic vice presidential nominee and a churchgoing Catholic, briefly escaped obscurity by telling an audience of LGBT activists that he expects his church to eventually bless and celebrate same-sex marriages.

In short order, his bishop, Francis X. DiLorenzo of Richmond, Virginia, had a statement out declaring that the Catholic understanding of marriage would remain “unchanged and resolute.”

In a normal moment, it would be the task of this conservative Catholic scribbler to explain why the governor is wrong and the bishop is right, why Scripture and tradition make it impossible for Catholicism to simply reinvent its sexual ethics.

But this is not a normal moment in the Catholic Church. As the governor was making his prediction, someone leaked a letter from Pope Francis to the Argentine bishops, praising their openness to allowing some divorced-and-remarried Catholics to receive Communion.
The “private” letter was the latest move in a papal dance that’s been going on since Francis was elected. The pope clearly wants to admit remarried Catholics to Communion, and he tried by hook and crook to get the world’s bishops to agree. But he faced intense resistance from conservatives, who pointed out that this reform risked evacuating the church’s teaching that sacramental marriages are indissoluble and second marriages adulterous.

The conservative resistance couldn’t be overcome directly without courting a true crisis. So Francis has proceeded indirectly, offering studied ambiguity in official publications combined with personal suggestions of where he really stands.

This dance has effectively left Catholicism with two teachings on marriage and the sacraments. The traditional rule is inscribed in the church’s magisterium, and no mere papal note can abrogate it.

But to the typical observer, it’s the Francis position that looks more like the church’s real teaching (he is the pope, after all), even if it’s delivered off the cuff or in footnotes or through surrogates.

That position, more or less, seems to be that second marriages may be technically adulterous, but it’s unreasonable to expect modern people to realize that, and even more unreasonable to expect them to leave those marriages or practice celibacy within them. So the sin involved in a second marriage is often venial, not mortal, and not serious enough to justify excluding people of good intentions from the sacraments.

Which brings us back to Kaine’s vision, because it is very easy to apply this modified position on remarriage to same-sex unions. If relationships the church once condemned as adultery are no longer a major, soul-threatening sin, then why should a committed same-sex relationship be any different? If the church makes post-sexual revolution allowances for straight couples, shouldn’t it make the same ones for people who aren’t even attracted to the opposite sex?

An allowance is not the same thing as a blessing. Under the Francis approach, the church would not celebrate second marriages, and were its logic extended to gay couples, there wouldn’t be the kind of active celebration Kaine envisions either.

Instead, the church would keep the traditional teaching on its books, and only marry couples who fit the traditional criteria. But it would also signal approval to any stable relationship (gay or straight, married or cohabiting), treating the letter of the law like the pirate’s code in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies: More what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules.

The cleverness of this compromise, in theory, is that it leaves conservative Catholics with that letter to cling to, and with it the belief that the church’s teaching is supernaturally guaranteed. Thus, there is no crisis point and less risk of imitating Anglicanism’s recent schisms.

In the short run, this may indeed be clever. (Clearly, conservative bishops have no idea how to handle Francis’ maneuvers.) But how long will liberal Catholics be content with a settlement that still leaves same-sex relationships in a merely-tolerated limbo and that leaves open the possibility that a new pope — an African conservative, let’s say — might reassert the letter of the law and undo Francis’ work?

How long can conservative Catholics persist in waiting for such a pope, and in telling one another — as they’ve been doing, rather miserably, of late — to obey the church of 2,000 years rather than the current pontiff?

And how effectively can a church retain the lukewarm or uncertain if it keeps its most controversial teachings while constantly winking to say, “Don’t worry, we don’t actually believe all that?”

This instability makes it unlikely that Francis will be remembered as a great conciliator or unifier. It’s more likely now that his legacy will be either famous or infamous.

If liberal Catholics have read Providence’s intentions rightly, he will be the patron saint of all future reformers.
If not, he will join a group even more select than the communion of saints: The list of popes who came close — too close — to teaching something other than the Catholic faith.

59 comments:

Gene said...

Bishops and Priests have been winking and saying, "Don't worry, we really don't believe all that," for years. They have been administering completely cynical pastoral care and mouthing hypocritical theology with a condescension that is stunning in its matter-of-fact "we don't give a damn" arrogance for decades.

Anonymous said...

The problem with Francis is the same problem that the majority of bishops have today, they have no backbone.

It's reasonable to come to the conclusion that Francis does indeed believe that adultery is not a mortal sin and is not a reason that these people should not go and receive Holy Communion with the blessing of the Church.

A real man would come out and say what he believes.

But Francis uses off the cuff comments and speech which is deliberately vague and contradictory to get his way.

And then comes the footnote.....the famous footnote that he couldn't even remember. The footnote where he quotes himself, because he can't base most of his beliefs on scripture of the teachings of the saints or previous pope's because they aren't Catholic teaching. A reasoned person doesn't believe he didn't remember that footnote. It's all deliberate.

So my problem isn't that Francis is a material heretic, I've come to grips with that a long time ago. My problem with him is that he won't come out and say clearly what he believes and then let the cards fall where they will. He won't do it because he knows he will be back on the next plane to Argentina. In short he is using cunning and stealth and rumor and uses other prelates to spread his errors. Much like the way teenage girls in high school actdo when they don't get their way. A pope can't change objective Truth and how arrogant to of him to think that he can.

So far Francis has got away with it because he didn't officially teach as pope that I have to believe this stuff in order to be a Catholic. If he did then the validity of his election really needs to be addressed. Francis is a problem and he clearly has problems with the Catholic Faith. Will not one bishop in the world call him out on what he is doing? Burke has been silenced, Athonasius Schneider has been silenced. Not a peep from Scola, Erdo, Cordelione, Morlino, Sample, the bishops of Poland or Africa. Do any bishops care? The faithful remnant are being crushed by this man, but that of course if the goal isn't it. Now go ahead everyone denigrate everything I have said. Don't actually used reason and argue a rational point against what I have said. Just acuse me of being mentally ill, in mortal sin, grumpy crazy etc. I'm not the one trying to rationalize behavior that will send people to Hell. I just really really care that someone else is doing this.

Anonymous said...

If Bishops are ambiguous on this issue today, think back to the 1960's through the 1970's. They were the years of both a civil and religious revolution. From abortion, divorce, gender reassignment surgery, the Women's Lib movement , birth control, Vatican 2, the married priests campaigns. Its not surprising that a lot of marriages from that era didn't last; everything was a fad and in transition including religious teaching. The sin of the divorced from that era was not entirely the couples fault, it was the tragedy of instability.

That instability eventually sorted itself out. There became liberal versus conservative in both the social and Church environment. People who got married past the (late)1980's through today should have a clear picture of what Catholicism is. The Church should also have a clear grasp on what its teachings are. Those that get married in a Church today know clearly what they are doing. Those getting married civilly but not sacramentally also are making a clear unambiguous choice. These timelines and social backgrounds are important. I hope the Church does not alter its teaching so that they might embrace the confusion of the distant past. I hope it recognizes the civil opponents it is up against, especially the former Catholics and their children.

Had it up to Here said...

The most charitable interpretation of Bergoglio in light of this revelation is that he's mentally ill and either honestly doesn't know what he's saying from one moment to the next (i.e., doesn't recall the footnote, etc.) or is vacillating like mad (if you'll pardon the expression) in an irrational way due to his mental illness. This is a more extreme version of the explanation the spin doctors have been giving us since the moment he got elected, i.e., it's in his nature, it's part of his cultural background, he can't help himself, he's not media-savvy, etc., etc., etc.

The more likely explanation is that Bergoglio knows, and has always known, exactly what he's doing and has had an agenda all along (for which there is ample evidence in his statements and patterns of behavior). Many of us have been arguing this to a greater or lesser extent for years. What's different now is that this letter has revealed to us the man behind the curtain. It has no authority, but it speaks volumes to Bergoglio's intentions, and its contents fit the "agenda" evidence. In other words, the letter reveals Bergoglio, in light of his record, to be a subversive, a heretic, and a liar.

(As an aside, look at the statement--"there are no other interpretations." Of course there are. That's been the whole selling point of Bergoglio's defenders re AL and the paragraph, as well as all of his "out of context" and "off the cuff" remarks. There can always be another interpretation of anything. His sweeping, uncategorical denial of this simple linguistic fact (and his consequent, almost casual, dismissal of doctrine) is the clincher--he's clearly describing what he wants, and thus presumably intended, AL to mean. Maybe, in the light of the Magisterium, it can't mean that--either it has no force if that's what it must mean, or else the Magisterium will impose an orthodox interpretation on it despite whatever intention to the contrary Bergoglio had--but the letter shows that he wanted it to propagate a heretical teaching, or at least he wants it to now.)

Douthat's analysis is depressing. Either the Church will come to her senses, or she won't (and he suggests that she won't). If she does, those of us who still believe in the true Catholic faith need to KBO, in Churchill's phrase, in spite of modernism. If she doesn't, she's not the true faith and nobody owes the least allegiance to her or her leaders.

Charles G said...

Well, this "conservative" is not happy with this allegedly "clever" "compromise" of the Pope, which by design evacuates the teaching of the Church of any practical meaning or relevance, and will lead exactly to the doctrinal ditching of Christianity that we have seen in the Anglican communion. This pontificate has been nothing but one long trial of faith. And if his novel teaching is institutionalised, the gates of Hell will have prevailed, as far as I am concerned.

Dialogue said...

Gene is right. Heresy is merely "coming out of the closet" now, although the closet door has been standing wide open for five decades. It now seems to be the official position that pastors are to "accompany" sinners to damnation. It's crazy, man, just crazy. The prostitutes have become pharisees!

rcg said...

Gene is basically right. Public recurring sin that openly challenges the Church with no meaningful response leaves the faithul only one conclusion.

FWIW, I like the idea of the Pope advertising that paths to reconcilliation exist for all sorts of sin. What bugs my over analytical mind is that he does not include the gates for true contrition and intent to avoid further sin. This gives people the false idea they can wink at God's law or take their soul in for a quick wash at the general act of contrition with no real effort towards self-examination.

At the risk of hijacking this post I sincerely think this is the same, or very similar, error that Caliban displayed in the thread on Liturgical history. The idea that man must craft this law does not mean that it did not come from God. The idea that we are messing with a human law is foolhardy.

Mark Thomas said...

Mister Douthat's claim that His Holiness Pope Francis "clearly wants to admit remarried Catholics to Communion, and he tried by hook and crook to get the world’s bishops to agree" is at odds with the Pope's comments via interviews that he, the Pope, didn't know what would be solved by simply admitting divorced and "remarried" Catholics to Holy Communion.

Also, last year, Pope Francis declared that said Catholics had acted against the "Christian Sacrament." Earlier this year, Pope Francis said "no" to Communion for divorced and "remarried" Catholics.

Unless Pope Francis says otherwise, I will heed the Father Soteto, rather than Russ Douthat:

Via Father John Zuhlsdorf's blog: "Fr_Sotelo says: 13 September 2016 at 1:32 PM

"Nothing in Catholic teaching has changed. Those who were previously in valid marriages, and have since remarried without a declaration of nullity, cannot receive Holy Communion. Period.

"The Pope is trying to direct clergy in those cases where previous validity of a marriage, and subsequent declaration of nullity, are murky, complicated and confusing to sort out.

"These are the cases that even the best, most orthodox seminary professors could never have prepared us for. Everyone: please quit acting, talking, and writing as if every married couple’s history and their cases can be so easily figured out by the rules of canon law.

"The Pope’s comment of “discernment” is quite orthodox because it refers, not to dispensing with rules, but trying to understand how they apply. There really are examples when we know not whether there is actual adultery and sin, or the invalid, previous non-marriage case, which was the tribunal says cannot be processed for a declaration of nullity. "

Pax.

Mark Thomas


"...in the Apostolic See the Catholic religion has always been kept immaculate."

— The Formula (Creed) of Pope Saint Hormisdas

B. C. Caliban said...

rcg - Which parts of the forms of liturgy are matters of doctrine? The seasonal colors of vestments? The arrangement of furnishings in the sanctuary The placement of candlesticks and/or crucifixes on the altar? The proper side for the installation of the statue of the BVM? The materials out of which chalices and/or patens are made? The proper vesture for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion? The existence of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion? The use of Latin?

You see, these are not doctrinal matters, while the question of marriage/divorce/Holy Communion is doctrinal.

The error here is the attempt to elevate of non-doctrinal matters to the level of doctrine.

Adam Michael said...

"Mister Douthat's claim that His Holiness Pope Francis 'clearly wants to admit remarried Catholics to Communion, and he tried by hook and crook to get the world’s bishops to agree' is at odds with the Pope's comments via interviews that he, the Pope, didn't know what would be solved by simply admitting divorced and 'remarried' Catholics to Holy Communion."

Did Pope Francis ever indicate that he did not want to admit the civilly remarried to Holy Communion or did he simply mean that his program of Church reform should not be distilled to simply reintroducing some members of the Church to the sacraments, but was about a deeper, more fundamental re-envisioning of the Church's relationship to personal conscience, accompaniment, and the living of the Christian life in the modern world? I think it is the latter since Amoris Laetitia is not primarily about sacramental participation of those in "irregular" situations (but neither does it exclude it), but is about a broader and deeper conversion of thought that makes greater provision for personal conscience and concrete circumstances in the living of the objective moral law.

Adam Michael said...

"The Pope’s comment of 'discernment' is quite orthodox because it refers, not to dispensing with rules, but trying to understand how they apply. There really are examples when we know not whether there is actual adultery and sin, or the invalid, previous non-marriage case, which was the tribunal says cannot be processed for a declaration of nullity."

Fr. Sotelo (and Dr. Jeff Mirus, as well) are creating impressive sounding situations that attempt to frame Pope Francis' words in a traditional interpretative box. However, Amoris Laetitia is broader than these situations. For example, article 301 of AL notes that if one discerns that they are not able to leave an objectively immoral situation without further sin, he or she may not be guilty of the mortal sin involved in their "irregular" situation (which, as an aside, can logically extend beyond the civilly remarried and include the cohabiting and even same-sex couples). This is much broader than troubles with a marriage tribunal or even the extreme case of duress of the civilly remarried person outlined by Dr. Mirus at Catholic Culture.

I think we should be more honest and let Pope Francis and his true intentions speak for themselves. We do nobody a favor by twisting his words and intentions into a hermeneutic that is foreign to his recorded words and actions.

Victor said...

The comments here are too rigid, as is Mr Douthat's article. What concerns the Holy Father are the extreme cases. Take for instance a Catholic couple who gets married in a Catholic Church, they beget children, and everything is fine until Satan tempts one of them, say the husband, to accept the worldly way of sex. He no longer believes in God, leaves Catholicism and his wife, and finds another younger more attractive partner. What is the wife supposed to do in that situation, stuck with the kids, and not allowed to have any boyfriends, and not even allowed to remarry? She is left holding the bag all alone, as it were, through no fault of her own, and, rather, the Church seems to penalise her for it should she find Mr Right. That certainly does not seem like a merciful way for the Church to behave, that is, in condemming the victim. This is an extreme case, but it happens more often than one would like. People do change. How should the Church deal with this? Would an annulment be possible in this case when the marriage was contracted maturely and with the proper intentions? Probably not, yet re-marriage with Mr Right would certainly help her and the kids. And through receiving the Eucharist, she could at least have solace in Christ.

Dialogue said...

Caliban,

Doctrine is teaching, and our rites do, indeed, teach.

Dialogue said...

Victor,

Jesus said whoever divorces his wife and remarries commits adultery, a description which does not obviously preclude the remarriage you describe. Perhaps in his own confused way of thinking and speaking, the Holy Father only wishes to address such victims.

B. C. Caliban said...

Dialogue - But the rules and regulations for rites are not doctrine.

TJM said...

B.C. Caliban, does the "B. C." stand for "Before Christ" meaning you are a pagan? Pope Francis is just doing the job Vatican Disaster II started, destroying the One, Holy, Catholic, Roman and Apostolic Church." Any cleric who votes for the Democratic Party aka the Abortion Party is an apostate and is excommunicated latae sententiae. I would refuse the sacraments from any of them and challenge these girliemen to a fist fight, including you Before Christ Caliban.

Anonymous said...

I believe Francis knows exactly what he's doing. If he were "man" enough to admit in public what he believes and what he wants then out the door he could indeed go. There are canon lawyers who say that if a pope commits a public statement of heresy then he becomes a heretic and it only takes a group of cardinals/bishops to come out and state that a pope has committed public heresy and is no longer Catholic and, therefore, can no longer be pope. I believe Francis is on notice of this - hence he tried to get the decision made for him at the synod but came up against a brick wall of Cardinal Pell and others. Therefore he issues the vague LA and then sends private letters stating his position. However, now that the letter has become public it may be that if he has declared his own work of AL heretical he may have to face the consequences of it. Not to mention the liberals will be pressing him to go public. Interesting times are ahead ...

Jan

B. C. Caliban said...

OH! I have been challenged! OK - I accept.

But, according to the rules for such "gentlemanly" pursuits, the person who is challenged gets to choose the weapon.

Pistols? Nah, too loud.

Sabers? No, too swashbuckly.

Disc(Frisbee) Golf? I dunno, my carpal tunnel has been flaring up of late.

I must choose something appropriate for TJM, something that fits his mien. Something appropriate to his way of thinking, his attitudes, his capacities. Hmmm...

I KNOW! The perfect choice.

TIDDLYWINKS at 12 paces!

You, sir, are to select the location. I would suggest that we find rowboats on the western shore of Manhattan and cross the Hudson to Weehawken where, with our seconds, we shall engage in the battle.

I shall alert the media!

Mark Thomas said...

Adam Michael said..."I think we should be more honest and let Pope Francis and his true intentions speak for themselves. We do nobody a favor by twisting his words and intentions into a hermeneutic that is foreign to his recorded words and actions."

Is it twisting Pope Francis' words to note that he declared publicly this year that Catholics (in valid marriages) who divorced and "remarried" are not permitted to receive Holy Communion?

Is it twisting his words to note that during his August 5, 2015 A.D. General Audience, His Holiness Pope Francis said of divorced and "remarried" Catholics:

"The Church is fully aware that such a situation is contrary to the Christian Sacrament."

Is it twisting his words to note that in regard to his letter to the bishop in Argentina, Pope Francis concerned himself with difficult, exceptional cases related to the topic in question?

That said, it is certainly acceptable to question whether it's advisable to pursue the pastoral approach that Pope Francis favors (perhaps favors).

Thank you

Pax.

Mark Thomas

Jusadbellum said...

Who doesn't think that their situation is the exception?

How many of our annulments occur before a civil divorce and the Catholic individuals involved have gone on to seek other mates?

Isn't it most often the case that a Catholic marriage is ruptured by divorce (called in AL "an evil") and then one or both of the still sacramentally bound individuals gets romantically involved with another person (i.e. adultery)?

Isn't it the case that impending civil marriage/attempted Church wedding plans then lead one or both of the still sacramentally married individuals to seek of the Church a decree of nullity of this presumed valid and licit sacramental marriage so as to be morally free to enter into this already begun romance?

Isn't most of the reasoning already, ab initio, a matter of going back in memory to re-imagine what they were feeling, thinking, emoting, etc. so as to discover some sort of unforeseen, hidden impediment to a valid sacrament that none of them discovered until after their civil divorce?

Yes, I would hazard a guess that this is how the vast majority of cases goes. EVERYONE thus is thinking that their case is the exception, not the rule.

It's the rare couple who civilly divorces and remains celibate and then asks the Church for a decree of nullity BEFORE they become romantically involved (i.e. adultery) with other individuals.

Note, Our Lord did not quibble or provide loopholes or allow for 'nuance' when teaching on marriage. St. Paul gives us some nuance with respect to the "Pauline privilege" (non-believer marrying a Christian which is considered a common law but not ipso facto a sacrament). Our Lord distinguished only between a marital covenant and fornication (thus marriage is not created by the mere fact of copulation).

I fear that in attempting to find a loophole we will argue ourselves into dissolving any security we can possibly have in the indissolubility and certainty of sacramental marriage. The civilizational effects of the loss of security in marriage will dissolve the remnants of Western civilization.

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

I know, I know...to progressives, what Jesus actually taught is besides the point, right? But here's what Jesus says in Matthew 19:

"And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.

The disciples said to Him, “If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry.” [Hmmm, did they catch on or what?]

But He said to them, “Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given. “For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.”

"NOT ALL MEN CAN ACCEPT THIS STATEMENT." It appears many of them are bishops of the Church... :-)

Bee

Adam Michael said...

"Is it twisting Pope Francis' words to note that he declared publicly this year that Catholics (in valid marriages) who divorced and 'remarried' are not permitted to receive Holy Communion?"

Unless Pope Francis is being coached by Hillary Clinton, his meaning is more complex than you are mentioning since he clearly envisions and approves some circumstances in which these Catholics can receive Holy Communion.

"Is it twisting his words to note that during his August 5, 2015 A.D. General Audience, His Holiness Pope Francis said of divorced and "remarried" Catholics . . ."

Most definitely, it is. Nobody who closely follows this issue affirms that Pope Francis does not believe in the indissolubility of marriage or does not believe that civil remarriage is an objective sin against chastity and the goods of marriage. I do believe that he affirms this. However, judging from his other comments (most recently in his Argentinian letter)and especially in Amoris Laetitia, he believes that an undetermined number of the civilly remarried are not guilty of this mortal sin because of the concrete circumstances of their lives (which are much broader than the mental constructs of either Fr. Soleto or Dr. Mirus). In order to properly interpret someone's words, you must take into account all of their written and verbal statements, not only those which suit your argument or those which are currently accessible.

"Is it twisting his words to note that in regard to his letter to the bishop in Argentina, Pope Francis concerned himself with difficult, exceptional cases related to the topic in question?"

In this case, it is worse than a twisting of words, it is arbitrarily limiting the meaning of the Pope's words to situations with which you (or other conservative Catholics) are most comfortable. Nobody gives you this interpretive authority.

rcg said...

There are three groups affected by this situation: the people who never understood the concept of marriage as the Church does; those who understood it but have forsaken that practise; and those who understood it and support it. I think it is obvious that Pope Francis is primarily concerned with the second group but what I am not so sure is clear is that many clergy were or are in the second group as well. It is only natural that there is a bewildering forest of marital circumstances to address. What we do know is that there is mercy available to all if they will only accept it. What is dismaying is not that so many erstwhile Catholics are in this situation. I don't begrudge a serial adulterer kneeling at the rail next to me if I have any hope that he is not only trying but being led correctly to acknowledge his situation and accepting his mercy in the most contrite and humble way he can manage. What I foresee from Pope Francis' "marketing" campaign is a lot of people disappointed as the rich young man who had to give up his riches to follow Christ. We all want our sins 'grandfathered' and it can't work that way

Adam Michael said...

"We all want our sins 'grandfathered' and it can't work that way"

Thank you for saying this, rcg. And this is the heart of the problem, isn't it? The point about our sins being tolerated is obscured by only focusing on the distribution of Holy Communion to civilly remarried Catholics. Reception of Holy Communion is in many respects a passive action, which does cloak somewhat the brazenness of uprepentant sin. In truth, the new papal policy (which was inaugurated with Amoris Laetitia, which the new memo only confirms) also permits the Sacrament of Penance to be administered to those in objective adultery. This means that adulterous couples can proceed through an examination of conscience, experience the wise counsel of a priest, and yet refuse to confess committing habitual adultery, because under the new papal policy this may now be subjectively a venial sin, and thus free matter, in the Sacrament of Penance. Oh the height of hubris and nonsense!

Like Fr. Gerarld Murray on EWTN noted - we are all called to conversion. To dismiss this and exclude a group of objective mortal sinners on the basis of the difficult circumstances of life or duress is to make provision for every perversity and is a mark of a Church that is gravely ill in her human element and desparetly needs the witness of traditional Catholics who understand that the Rock of St. Peter is an unassailable and unmoveable foundation of Faith, not a goalpost that neo-conservatives move every few years (on that note, didn't Dr. Jeff Mirius oppose communing pro-abortion politicians ten years ago?).

Mark Thomas said...

Adam Michael, is the following information correct from the Catholic News Agency?

Thank you.

-- Pope Francis penned a private message in regard to "complex situations" that concern Catholics who divorced and entered into new unions.

-- The pastoral response said ministry to the divorced-and-remarried must never create confusion about Church teaching and the indissolubility of marriage, but may also allow access to the sacraments under specific limits.

-- Pope Francis is not talking about “unrestricted access” to the sacraments or as if “just any situation would justify" that.

-- “What is proposed is a discernment which adequately distinguishes each case,” it said.

-- It emphasized a process of discernment for a penitent accompanied by a pastor. The pastor must emphasize the fundamental proclamation of Christ. This path calls for the priest to show pastoral charity in welcoming the penitent, listening carefully to him, and accepting the penitent’s “upright intention and good purpose to place his entire life in the light of the Gospel and to practice charity.”

-- “This path does not necessarily end in the sacraments, but rather it can guide one to other ways of joining more in the life of the Church,” it said. This include a greater presence in the community, participation in prayer groups, and commitment to various ecclesial services for those who have divorced-and-remarried.

-- “If one comes to recognize that in a specific case, there are limitations that attenuate responsibility and culpability, particularly when a person believes that he would fall into a subsequent fault of harming the children of the new union, Amoris laetitia opens up the possibility of access to the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist. These sacraments in turn dispose the person to continue to mature and grow with the power of grace.”

-- Adequate discernment of each case deserves “special care” in examples such as a new union that arose from a recent divorce or the situation of someone who has consistently failed in his family obligations.

-- The document also warned of situations where a person justifies or flaunts one’s situation “as if it were part of the Christian ideal.”

-- The document stressed the importance of the examination of conscience as well as the need to avoid confusion about Church teaching. In some cases it may be appropriate that access to the sacraments takes place in “a discreet manner” when conflicting situations can be foreseen.

-- “But at the same time the person should not stop accompanying the community so that he or she grows in a spirit of understanding and of welcome, without this involvement creating confusion regarding the teaching of the Church about the indissolubility of marriage.”

Pax.

Mark Thomas

Adam Michael said...

Mark Thomas,

Also, regarding Pope Francis' comments about the civilly remarried and their reception of Holy Communion, he also said the following, "What the Church wants is for you to integrate yourself into the life of the Church. But there are those who say, 'No, I want to receive Communion, and that's it' — like a rosette, an honorary award. No. Reintegrate yourself." Also, the same Pontiff noted, "It's a work towards integration; all doors are open. But we cannot say from here on they can have Communion. This would be an injury also to marriage, to the couple, because it wouldn't allow them to proceed on this path of integration."

If these were the only words of Pope Francis on the issue and Amoris Laetitia did not permit some reception of the sacraments by the civilly remarried in footnote 351 of paragraph 305 or the recent letter clearly outlining the new papal policy did not exist, you may have a valid interpretive argument. However, these other documents do exist and mean that Pope Francis' words about the reception of Holy Communion by adulterers do not mean clear rejection, but must occur as a broader program of ecclesial re-integration. Again, in order to have a correct argument and interpretation, we must take all written and verbal words into account and not only those we see before us or find convenient. Anything else is sheer dishonesty.

Adam Michael said...

Mark Thomas,

I trust that you would not mislead me by posting false news stories from Catholic News Agency and I trust that the Catholic News Agency is reputable. So, yes, I do believe that this information is correct.

These quotes simply confirm that there is now a "conscience clause" in the living of objective morality in the Church. Yes, the sacraments may be administered "discreetly" (not mandatory), and it's true, not everyone applies (but could apply if the kids get too upset), but it also remains true that one of the gravest of mortal sins can continue because one or both of the couple is not a free agent (but will, of course, regain their agency if the true spouse dies and Mr. and Mrs. Civilly Remarried go to St. Ann's for their well-attended wedding).

Anonymous said...

Mark Thomas is a trick - on an earlier post he attempts to say that Benedict XVI proposed civilly remarried Catholics should be able to receive communion. Mark Thomas is absolutely aware that Francis views are just that. Mark, in case you've missed it, the letter to the Argentine bishops stating that AL can only be read as Catholics living in irregular relationships can receive communion. Please don't waste our time any more by posting stuff in a forlorn endeavor to say the contrary to what Francis has now clearly stated. AL is not and never was orthodox Catholic teaching as Francis has now admitted. The Vatican has now confirmed that the letter to the Argentine bishops was written by Pope Francis:

"The document covers a variety of issues, including some of the most controversial aspects of the two-year synod on the family. In a move with far-reaching consequences, Pope Francis stated in the letter that “there is no other interpretation” of Amoris Laetitia other than that contained in the document drafted by the bishops of Buenos Aires, a text which, according to the Osservatore Romano report, leaves open the possibility in some cases of the acceptance of sexually-active unmarried couples receiving the Holy Eucharist."

http://aleteia.org/2016/09/13/vatican-confirms-pope-francis-letter-to-argentine-bishops-on-amoris-laetitia-is-authentic/

Mark Thomas, the only thing left for you to say in your completely misguided defense of AL is to say Francis's views on AL are mistaken.

Jan

Mark Thomas said...

Jan, the bishops of Alberta and the Northwest Territories last week declared that Amoris Laetitia "upholds the Tradition of the Church."

Jan, I don't have a "completely misguided defense of AL." I have only a guided understanding of AL. My understanding of Amoris Laetitia is guided by the Magisterium of the Church.

My bishop, who is in communion with the Church's bishops and, most important, His Holiness Pope Francis, has declared that Amoris Laetitia is 100 percent orthodox.

Jan said..."AL is not and never was orthodox Catholic teaching as Francis has now admitted. The Vatican has now confirmed that the letter to the Argentine bishops was written by Pope Francis:"

AL has been confirmed time and again by my bishop and one bishop after another as orthodox. Therefore, Jan, I must conclude that your claim of heresy related to AL and the letter to Bishop Fenoy of Argentina is incorrect.

Throughout the Eastern and Western Churches, via celebrations of the Divine Liturgy, God's holy priests commemorate Pope Francis as the orthodox guardian of the Faith.

The Holy People of God present during the Divine Liturgy say "Amen" to the commemoration of Pope Francis as the orthodox guardian of the Faith.

Jan, the Catholic Church — Militant, Triumphant, and Suffering — is united, via the Divine Liturgy, in Her commemoration of Pope Francis as Her orthodox guardian of the True Religion.

Jan, I am compelled to ask the following:

Should I believe Holy Mother Church's assessment that Pope Francis is orthodox, or your assessment that Pope Francis is heretical?

Jan, I side with Holy Mother Church's assessment of Pope Francis. Do you agree that that is what God expects of me and, for that matter, each of us?

Thank you.

Pax.

Mark Thomas


"...in the Apostolic See the Catholic religion has always been kept immaculate."

— The Formula (Creed) of Pope Saint Hormisdas

Henry said...

This thread reminds me of the classic advice to homilists: If you can't say it in 10 minutes, then it's not worth saying.

The analogue for blog comments might be: If you can't say it in 100 words, then it's not worth reading.

At any rate, that's my criterion for whether to spend my time reading a comment, or to simply ignore it.

Consequently, I have not read most of the comments above. Some of them may well be genuinely interesting and informative. But, unfortunately, I'll never know.

TJM said...

Instead of fighting among ourselves, we should put blame where blame is due - Pope Francis himself who in his own words "go out there and mess things up." He has done that in spades. Time for this papacy to be over.

had it said...

When someone talks about a situation being "difficult" or "complex," it's often a prelude to destroying a bright line that he finds inconvenient. The end result is the exceptions that we create for these complex situations end up swallowing the rule.

Can someone who is in a state of mortal sin receive any sacrament except for the sacraments of the dead, i.e. baptism or sacramental confession/absolution? Yes or no? Where's the complexity or difficulty in answering this?

Next, if someone is divorced and remarried, and there is no decree of nullity, and he continues to cohabit with his new putative spouse and hold her out as his spouse, and he meets the three requirements for mortal sin, may he receive communion? Yes or no?

If the answer to both of those questions is "yes," then isn't the only justification for allowing this person to receive communion that he fails to meet one or more of the requirements for mortal sin?

Possibilities: 1) Adultery isn't grave matter. 2) Our adulterer doesn't know what he's doing is grave. 3) His free will is compromised, e.g., his new "spouse" is just so hot that not only can he not keep his hands off her he can't even quit publicly holding her out as his legitimate spouse, even though he knows what he's doing is wrong. 4) His marriage (or "first" marriage, if you please) is presumed invalid despite all appearances to the contrary and contrary to canon law (and if that's the case, then I guess we can or must presume all marriages invalid).

So which of these four "complex situations" is Bergoglio addressing here?

rcg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

"His marriage (or "first" marriage, if you please) is presumed invalid despite all appearances to the contrary and contrary to canon law (and if that's the case, then I guess we can or must presume all marriages invalid)."

No, we cannot presume all marriages invalid. This is an example of the Slippery Slope fallacy. This logical fallacy is the argument that a position is not consistent or tenable because accepting the position means that the extreme of the position must also be accepted.

rcg said...

Henry, I plead guilty. I often post and find myself accreting ideas when I should be ablating. The good posts, like you describe, are like Churchillian quotes, but the bad ones are like American sitcoms with 'laff tracks'. Worse, is when someone responds to the crap response and encourages more of it. Again, I plead guilty.

There is a story about Silent Cal Coolidge who was challenged by a pushy socialite that she had bet her husband that she could make him say more than the his customary three words at her dinner party. "You lose", he replied and never spoke again the rest of the evening.

Fixed a couple of hillarious typos.

Adam Michael said...

"4) His marriage (or "first" marriage, if you please) is presumed invalid despite all appearances to the contrary and contrary to canon law (and if that's the case, then I guess we can or must presume all marriages invalid)."

I want to develop this point (albiet, in a different direction from your intended point) - if our new civilly remarried couple is so compromised in their moral agency that they cannot freely consent to committing acts of habitual mortal sin, how can they then attain the agency to contract a valid marriage (for example, if the true spouse dies)? Dr. Mirus, Mark Thomas, and the other purveyors of the nasty need to answer this. The answer may be somewhat uncomfortable, as it will reveal that the living presence of the true spouse is in fact the direct or indirect cause of the adulterous couple's loss of moral volition (because the true spouse lives, the new couple cannot contract a valid marriage, and are thus "forced" to continue in objective immorality for the sake of the children, which demonstrates a lack of moral consent), which upon the true spouse's demise, makes possible the adulterous couple's return to free moral agency (a positive good, by all accounts).

Clearly, the new papal policy penalizes the faithful and rewards the unfaithful, and even makes the heroic witness (and even the continued earthly existence) of the abandoned spouse a nuisance that hinders the free consent of the new adulterous couple.

In short, friends, you are being lied to and sold a sacramental racket that offends all that is good, and rewards all that is wrong.

Adam Michael said...

"3) His free will is compromised, e.g., his new 'spouse' is just so hot that not only can he not keep his hands off her he can't even quit publicly holding her out as his legitimate spouse, even though he knows what he's doing is wrong."

I love your spirit and humor. Hehe, yes, that is what it boils down to. Trophy "wife" anyone?

Pause to think about the implications of this. I am surrounded daily by beautiful women. I know, and the purveyors of the nasty would agree with me, that if I deliberately chose to lust after them through deliberate unchaste thoughts, words, or actions, I would be guilty of mortal sin. I am held to high moral standards (sometimes even when I don't want to be), but those living in habitually chosen mortal sin are not because they cannot really choose because their choice of chastity may require sacrifice (did the early martyrs know about this caveat, what about St. Thomas More?). Since wily spouses and children seem to be the linchpin in this arrangement, I guess it is too bad that I do not have a wife who threatens to depart with my children if I don't lust after other women (what a hypothetical woman, eh?).

This is where the logic of the new papal policy ends - foolishness and laughter.

Anonymous said...

"Clearly, the new papal policy penalizes the faithful and rewards the unfaithful..."

On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

Adam Michael said...

The only "calling" that the new papal policy does was condemned by the Prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 5:20, "Woe to you that call evil good, and good evil: that put darkness for light, and light for darkness: that put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter."

Making provision for habitual adultery makes you a purveyor of nastiness and certainly not a doctor of souls (if you still persist in being viewed as a doctor of souls, you are a dirty one that commits immoral malpractice).

Mark Thomas said...

Adam Michael, I understand your concerns about the discussion at hand. But at the very least, we have to trust that the Magisterium will implement a pastoral policy that is orthodox. Whether such a policy would face manipulation from priests who would be lax in dealing with murky cases of divorced and "remarried" Catholics is a concern.

But let us trust that the Apostolic See will establish an orthodox pastoral approach to assess complex cases of divorced Catholics who've entered into new unions.

Pax.

Mark Thomas

Adam Michael said...

Mark Thomas,

Nobody can argue with your appeals to faith in the indefectibility of the Church. My only concern is that by attempting to bury true concern by hiding (or worse, justifying) moral deviation, our Faith may become fideism, wherein we accept as true pastoral policies that derive from the hierarchy, regardless of whether the content of these policies correspond to the truth of Christ.

Unfortunately, Pope Francis is on record for permitting adulterous couples (and regardless of the "murkiness" involved - as members of the Mystical Body of Christ, civilly remarried Catholics are subject to her ecclesiastical laws and judgments and can no more in conscience declare and act as if their marriage is invalid than couples without a civil divorce and remarriage may) to commit adultery, while receiving the Sacraments of the Church. This is abhorrent and a violation of the Church's immemorial traditions that safeguard her Faith.

Additionally, the theoretical underpinnings of the new papal policy, as outlined in Amoris Laetitia (consider paragraph 301) envision broad inability to make a full and conscious choice in committing mortal sin for those in various states of immorality, thus confirming Ross Douthat's column.

So, yes, we hope for a worthy pastoral practice, but that is not what we have. Only by calling out and refuting the travesty can we one day hope to arrive at the practice that you and we all seek.

had it said...

Anonymous at 12:06:

I would take issue with your characterization of my statement as a fallacy. Slippery slopes do exist and aren't necessarily fallacies. In this case, a general presumption of invalidity logically follows from (in fact, is required for) the presumption of invalidity in one unremarkable case--unless we can formulate a rule by which marriages (or putative marriages) in one category are presumed invalid and marriages (or putative marriages) in another category are presumed invalid. That would require, among other things, categorization and criteria therefor.

Right now--or up until the advent of Bergoglio, and particularly his "Joy of Sex" encyclical--we had that. (Among other things, all marriages are--or were--presumed valid until proven otherwise (See Canons 1058-61)). Now Bergoglio has thrown that into massive confusion by stating that many/most such marriages are invalid, while simultaneously treating second "marriages" sans annulment as, at least in some sense, valid (insofar as they arguably lack some element of mortal sin/adultry/infidelity/something). Thus, if the person I describe (we'll call him Tudor) was in a presumptively invalid marriage, I must ask: what makes his marriage presumptively invalid while everyone else's was presumptively valid? And if everybody else is in Tudor's shoes, then aren't their marriages presumptively invalid as well?

had it said...

Anonymous at 3:36:

Ummm . . . the doctor's job isn't to help the patient continue to be sick. It also isn't to incentivize people to _get_ sick because of the perks that they get as patients. And it isn't to give the sick patient something that will make him even worse (i.e., giving the Eucharist to someone who is in mortal sin). In light of this, isn't your quotation a bit misplaced?

Anonymous said...

had it - Um, yes, and the Eucharist is a healing remedy. It is not a reward for those who are behaving.

If only the righteous receive communion, then no one receives.

Priests may often - and rightly - encourage those who are struggling with sin and who think they should refrain from taking communion - to continue doing so because the Eucharist is a source of strength and healing.

The Church is a Field Hospital. Whether one comes in walking or on a stretcher to the emergency room, it is healing that is offered.

Adam Michael said...

Anonymous,

Your words regarding the salvific importance of continued reception of Holy Communion applies only to those whose sins are venial, not mortal. Yes, the Church is the divinely established hospital for sinners. However, for those who are spiritually dead through mortal sin, there exists the Sacrament of Penance. Those who deny this attack the Catholic Church and have no logical grounds on which to believe anything about the Holy Eucharist, since it is from the same authoritative, infallible Church that both teachings (those regarding the ineligibility of those in mortal sin from receiving Holy Communion and the teaching on the salvific help provided by the Blessed Sacrament) derive.

had it said...

Anon at 7:31: For the second time (assuming you're the same person as anon. 3:36) you've either misunderstood or misrepresented the point. The Eucharist does not and cannot heal someone who is in a state of mortal sin and lacks contrition. In fact it puts a person in that state into an even _worse_ position (doesn't seem possible, but that's what Scripture and the Church have explicitly taught for 2000 years.)

Further, please don't quote "reward" at me. That wasn't my word (although it certainly can be argued that we are rewarded with heaven for persisting, with God's help, in grace). I prefer "incentive." And yes, the Eucharist most certainly does incentivize people. Perhaps it shouldn't, but the Church herself recognizes and even promotes this in ways and concepts such as excommunication and imperfect contrition.

Adam Michael's point was that if a person who is presumably in a state of mortal sin may officially receive the Eucharist while someone who is in a state of grace may not, then is that not an incentive for someone to descend into or remain in the state of mortal sin? If reception of the Eucharist is the great benefit you evidently hold it to be, and thus something that is sought after, then the answer must be "yes." And if all this is the case, then something is dreadfully wrong. This is the point that Adam Michael was making, and with which I agree, and which you either apparently cannot or will not grasp.

Anonymous said...

No, we are not "rewarded" with heaven for persisting in grace. A reward is earned and we cannot, in any way, shape, or form, earn God's grace.

We are gifted with heaven - a gift that is freely given.

Had it said...

Anon at 8:35,

And again you dodge the issue. My statement on reward was clearly an aside.

But if you wish to persist in arguing over "reward" rather than address the main point Adam Michael and I are trying to make, then you can take it up with St. Paul: "For [God] will reward every man according to his works: to those who by perseverance in working good seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. There will be . . . glory and honor and peace for every one who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality." Rom. 2:6–11; cf. Gal. 6:6–10. This is one of the bases for the Catholic teaching on merit. The word "reward" is also translated in various Catholic versions as "render," "repay," and so forth. Or you can take it up with Christ: " Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven." Matthew 5-12. Now can we quit chasing this red herring?

Anonymous said...

I don't agree that the question of "reward" is a red herring. I think it underlies much of the argument on this matter. If "reward" is understood as payment earned or benefit earned, then the question becomes "Is grace unmerited or merited?"

Some see communion as a reward for being free from mortal sin. Good Christian! Here's a treat for you.

Some see communion as a source of healing, a source of strength, a source of conversion, even.

Adam Michael said...

"Some see communion as a reward for being free from mortal sin. Good Christian! Here's a treat for you."

What you fail to understand (due to either poor catechesis or feigned ignorance) is that among its many graces, Holy Communion provides the faithful with the graces necessary to avoid mortal sin. Again, if you deny this and persist in advocating for the admission of mortal sinners to Holy Communion, you defy the very Church that gives you this beautiful teaching on the prevenient grace of the Holy Eucharist, and have no grounds to believe anything about the Blessed Sacrament since the Church would be an inconsistent messenger of Christ's truth, waiting for the latest papal policy to revise her sacramental understanding.

Anonymous said...

Mart Thomas, your problem is that Francis himself has written that AL can only be interpreted as leaving it open that Catholics remarried civilly can receive communion - that is not orthodox Catholic teaching. Go argue the point with Francis and tell him he's made a mistake and that in fact AL opens no door ...

Jan

Anonymous said...

So, AM, if grace is needed to avoid mortal sin, and it is, and if Holy Communion is a source of unlimited grace, and it is, and if the sinner asks for Holy Communion, and we do, what sense does it make to deny the grace to one who so desperately needs it?

had it said...

Anon at 11:24:

Yes, you're dodging with a red herring. Communion doesn't heal or strengthen a person who is in an unrepentant state of mortal sin (e.g., continuing to sleep with someone he continues to publicly claim is his spouse while having a presumably valid marriage with another spouse). Rather, it adds to his damnation. If he feels or believes himself healed or strengthened or converted by receiving communion in that circumstance, that subjective feeling has no bearing whatever on this objective fact of his damnation. Everyone and everything from St. Paul to the Baltimore Catechism to canon law has attested to this for 2000 years. Don't take my word for it; go look it up yourself.

But whatever. I don't intend to keep arguing the matter with you since you either can't understand or won't concede that point. Take the last word and utter whatever inanities you wish. As my name indicates, I've had it.

Anonymous said...

A person seeking healing (or even not seeking healing) goes to Mass and receives communion, and, by this, he/she is adding to his/her damnation?

I don't know.

The person is in church at Mass because Grace is operating in his/her life.

If this person needs grace to be converted away from sin and to life in Christ, CCC 1432: The human heart is heavy and hardened. God must give man a new heart.25 Conversion is first of all a work of the grace of God who makes our hearts return to him: "Restore us to thyself, O LORD, that we may be restored!"26 God gives us the strength to begin anew.

If this person needs grace to live in chastity, CCC 2345: Chastity is a moral virtue. It is also a gift from God, a grace, a fruit of spiritual effort. The Holy Spirit enables one whom the water of Baptism has regenerated to imitate the purity of Christ.

You think that I have not understood - I have. You think that you have "won" the discussion - I wasn't aware it was a competition. Dismissing, in advance, another person's comments as "inanities" is a sign that you haven't "had it" and, in fact, have a ways to go to get it.

George said...


"So, AM, if grace is needed to avoid mortal sin, and it is, and if Holy Communion is a source of unlimited grace, and it is, and if the sinner asks for Holy Communion, and we do, what sense does it make to deny the grace to one who so desperately needs it? "

If a person is in a state of serious sin, objectively speaking, but for whatever reason does not meet the three conditions to subjectively be in that state,then it is possible that grace will act within the soul of the person to bring about awareness that their actions are seriously sinful.

If the person is indeed in a state of mortal sin, I'm not sure how you can reconcile your view with Church teaching. Grace is needed for all of us to avoid mortal sin. This should be obvious, since other than this would be to accept pellagianism.
If a plot of land consisyed of hard,clayeous soil, then one would attempt in vain to succeed in growing something on it. Water, being necessary for plant growth would just wash off of it. So, likewise with the soul in mortal sin (barring a miraculous event) no effect of grace would occur.
I've even read that being in venial sin prevents the soul from receiving more abundant graces and blessings which would otherwise be received from Holy Communion.

Furthermore, what kind of example would this give? That one in mortal sin need not go to confession but can just receive communion? Young people especially, having been instructed in Church teaching, would see this as contradicting what they have been taught. Which is: what a mortal sin and venial sin is, and that to receive Holy Communion unworthily is a serious abuse of the sacred body and blood of the Lord, and therefore a sacrilege.

Adam Michael said...

"So, AM, if grace is needed to avoid mortal sin, and it is, and if Holy Communion is a source of unlimited grace, and it is, and if the sinner asks for Holy Communion, and we do, what sense does it make to deny the grace to one who so desperately needs it?"

If a member of the Church is in a state of mortal sin, they are truly "dead" members of the Church. Their mortal sin places them not only in a state that is empty of sanctifying grace, but also a state of spiritual lifelessness and enmity with God. Such enmity with God makes such dead members of the Church not only unable to spiritually profit from the reception of Holy Communion, but would even further their damnation (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:27-29). Since the Church is bound to follow the teachings of her Savior and Founder, Jesus Christ, she may not admit those who are in mortal sin to the pledge of eternal salvation, which is the Blessed Sacrament, anymore than can she affirm that the kingdom of heaven is open to those who commit grave sin (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Such a sacramental discipline would be contrary to the nature of salvation and would bear false witness to the truth of Christ, by promoting a universalism, which denies any eternal consequences for grave sin*

For these reasons, the Church teaches that the grace that is so desperately needed by the mortal sinner is given through their repentance and absolution in the Sacrament of Penance. To argue otherwise is not only to forsake the integrity of the Faith of Christ, it distorts the entire economy of salvation, which the Church, with her Lord and Master, affirms, “Unless you shall do penance, you shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).

*In this regard, it is not surprising that the new neo-conservative justifications for habitual adultery has occurred – it is the sacramental incarnation of Balthasar’s theory of the empty hell – if hell may be empty, maybe nobody commits mortal sin in order to get there, thus maybe everyone has some mitigating circumstances for their grave sins, thus Holy Communion may eventually administered to any Catholic, regardless of lifestyle.

Anonymous said...

If a person in mortal sin is dead, how does grace work upon him/her to go to Mass or to go to confession?

Both of those require openness to grace.

George said...

Anonymous @ September 24, 2016 at 10:10 PM

While there is a commonality among sacraments in that they are instruments and means to God's grace, there are differences between them in form matter and purpose, application and circumstance of use.

The Sacrament of Matrimony for instance, is for a man and woman who wish to be married.

The sacrament of Holy Orders is for those who are to be ordained to the priesthood.

The Sacrament of Confession is specifically and explicitly, for the forgiveness of sins. Confession is a regenerative sacrament in that it "resurrects" the soul of a person who is dead to Christ because of serious sin.

We believe as Catholics that the sacraments were instituted by Christ. Why would He provide us with the Sacrament of Confession if the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist would accomplish the same thing in our souls? I speak here of serious, mortal sin since it is permissible to receive if one is guilty only of minor(venial) sins.

Our life is full of requirements that must be met before we are allowed to do something. One must pass a state mandated driver's exam before being given a license to drive. Even at that, a licensed driver is not permitted to legally drive while intoxicated. So what would be a permitted use would in that case be a serious offense.

The effect of a sacrament on our souls does require co-operating with God's grace. If one were to deliberately conceal a mortal sin in confession there would be no imparting of grace and in fact one would commit a sacrilege. Also, in confessing sins, one must at least have at least imperfect contrition.

It is our obligation as Catholics to know what constitutes a mortal sin and that receiving Holy Communion knowing one is guilty of mortal sin would be a sacrilege.

Anonymous said...

What would any Catholic Priest know of marriage?
Groups of men, not married, running away from the world, living in a seminary have no business giving advice on marriage.
The very idea is silly.