Sunday, March 16, 2014


Rorate Caeli can be somewhat reactionary and antagonistic when it comes to the papal Magisterium. Yet they quote the following in a recent Rorate Caeli post that raises legitimate questions and the one who is doing so is the Cardinal from Bologna, Italia. My comments follow the Rorate Caeli posting:

Cardinal Caffarra's firm stance on communion for "remarried":
Its approval would mean complete end
of "Catholic doctrine on human sexuality"

Regarding the wild proposals of Cardinal Kasper made before the last Consistory of Cardinals regarding legitimizing by way of Eucharistic communion the "remarriage" of divorced couples (we could call the Kasper Doctrine of "mariages sauvages"), Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, Archbishop of Bologna, had the firmest possible words in an interview to Matteo Matzuzzi published this Saturday in Il Foglio:

[Regarding Cardinal Walter Kasper's proposal on the possibility of readmitting to communion, after a period of penance, the couples of remarried divorcees who ask for it, following a period of penance, Caffarra says:] "If the Church admits [them] to the Eucharist, she must anyway grant a judgment of legitimacy to the second union. That is logical. But now - as I asked - what to make of the first matrimony? The second, it is said, cannot be a true second matrimony, considering that bigamy goes against the word of the Lord. What about the first one? Is it dissolved? But the Popes have always taught that the power of the Pope does not reach that point: the Pope has no power over a marriage that is ratum et consummatum. The proposed solution leads us to think that the first matrimony remains, but that there is also a second kind of cohabitation that the Church legitimizes. It is, therefore, an extramarital exercise of human sexuality that the Church legitimizes. But with this, the foundational pillar of the Church's doctrine on sexuality is negated. At this point, one could ask: so why are not free [extramarital or premarital] unions approved? And why not relations between homosexuals?" [Excerpt provided by TMNews Italy.]

Cardinal Caffarra naturally got the fulcrum of the matter - indeed, the Kasper Doctrine means exactly that, the demolition in one fell swoop of the entire Catholic doctrinal edifice on human sexuality and the sacrament of matrimony. And that consequence is not at all a coincidence.
MY COMMENTS:  Cardinal Caffarra is making clear to the pope and the upcoming synod the obvious. And he states it succinctly. And he also states the obvious that the more progressive element in the Church in line with liberal Protestantism wants to fundamentally change Scripture and Tradition as well as natural law to accomodate the political pressure upon the Church by powerful political lobbies. My previous post below this one captures what liberal politicians and governments want the Catholic Church to do. 

If the synod on the family fundamentally changes Church teaching of sexuality, then the door is open for us to become just like the Episcopalians. 

I don't believe that will happen and I will wager a bet that it won't. It can't. If it does, the Church will be catapulted  into schism the likes of which we haven't seen since the Great Schism. 
But what can be done to assist those who are divorced and in second civil unions not recognized by the Church as marriage and thus living in a state of objective mortal sin and thus cut off from the Sacraments of the Church which they cannot worthily receive while in this state?
The annulment procedure is the only legitimate external forum for them and the Church could streamline this procedure to make it more pastoral and quite frankly, take the word of the petitioner and respondent without recourse to witnesses apart from them in terms of testimony that could lead to the Church declaring the marriage in question an invalid Sacramental marriage. 

The annulment procedure can also and should also be streamlined for Protestants who have previous marriages and are either married to a Catholic in a civil union or desire to marry a Catholic in the Catholic Church. The simplest thing to do here is to simply establish that the Protestant, either the petitioner or respondent did not understand the true Catholic meaning of marriage, which is grounds for an annulment. That should be easy to do!
The other thing the Pope could endorse when the question of Holy Communion to divorced Catholics in an illicit civil union  is debated is the "internal forum." There is much confusion in the Church and amongst priests and bishops what this means and when it can be used. In fact it is used quite frequently but perhaps illicitly. The internal forum, which is part of the Sacrament of Penance and thus under the seal of this sacrament needs canonical guidelines. I could see this as a possibility also. 


Anonymous said...

Reality = Francis is a liberal

Liberal = No let acne for opposing opinions

A liberal is a liberal is a liberal.

All liberals seek to impose their personal will on others. They all preach tolerance but have none for those who disagree with them.

My prediction: in the name of compassion and mercy Francis will formally teach that remarried divorced Catholics can receive Holy Communion.

The result: a few cardinals and bishops will proclaim him a heretic and no longer pope........schism.

Thank you Vatican II

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

To actually change Scripture, Tradition and natural law would be monumental in itself, but the other monumental project is changing canon law which is very specific in terms of marriage, divorce, civil unions after a divorce and the annulment procedure. What is lacking in canon law are any real canons to govern the internal forum and that could be forthcoming.

Yes, the potential for schism, not now, but later as more moves are made to grant legitimacy to irregular moral situations occurs could lead to a schism similar to what has happened in the world wide Anglican Communion, the worst for them though is the dramatic decline in participating members who move to other Christian traditions.

rcg said...

I will sound pedantic but you wrote that one should establish that the Protestant did not understand the true meaning of Catholic marriage. Does that put us in the position of not recognizing Protestant marriages? How would this extend to other Protestant rituals as sacraments, e.g. Baptism?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

RCG, Martin Luther and all subsequent Protestant Reformers did away with all but two Sacraments, Baptism and Holy Communion. They do not believe marriage to be a Sacrament. Nor do they believe Holy Orders to be a sacrament. While their baptisms are certainly valid if done properly and with the mind of the Church (in an emergency in the Catholic Church a lay person may baptize) their Holy Communion is not valid in the Catholic sense of it, because they don't have a valid priesthood.
Thus if the Protestant doesn't believe that marriage is a sacrament in the sense of Catholic teaching, how can he have a Catholic understanding of Marriage? His institutional denomination doesn't believe it to be a sacrament.

Gene said...

Under the old saying, "if it ain't broke don't fix it," what is the problem with the existing annulment process?

Anonymous said...

I think that the problem with the existing annulment process is that it is bogus. If a person has the right connections, any marriage can be annulled. I have seen it happen...people I know personally...too many times.

Anonymous said...

Cardinal Caffara handed in his resignation to Pope Francis in June of 2013, when he turned 75. As of today the pope has not accepted it. Who wants to bet me that Francis doesn't accept his Eminence's resignation by 12 noon on Monday?

John Nolan said...

In the 1970s it was scandalously easy to get an annulment in the United States, and one of the first acts of John Paul II was to tighten the rules. Annulment is more problematic than divorce; what if the other party doesn't accept that their marriage was no marriage at all? Catherine of Aragon vigorously opposed Henry VIII's attempts to set their marriage aside. What of the children of the non-marriage who are technically now bastards?

By the way, on 16 April 2012 Benedict XVI gave Holy Communion to Horst Seehofer, Minister-President of Bavaria, who is divorced and remarried, and has an illegitimate child from an extra-marital relationship.

Anonymous said...

"By the way, on 16 April 2012 Benedict XVI gave Holy Communion to Horst Seehofer, Minister-President of Bavaria, who is divorced and remarried, and has an illegitimate child from an extra-marital relationship."

By the way thenI guess he (Benedict) was wrong then. Criticizing Francis has nothing to due with him as a person. It has to do with him as pope. Any pope who says or does something against the Faith is wrong. Whether it's Francis or Benedict. When John Paul II kissed that Koran he was wrong.

rcg said...

FrAJM, thanks for the explanation. This still seems like we could have a situation where a person was married in a Protestant ceremony, then applies for a marriage with another person as a Catholic while validly claiming not to have understood marriage before. Why do we wait for a civil divorce? Why then not recognize civil unions? Aren't we saying that civl marriages 'out rank' Catholic marriages? If not, then why not have Catholic marriages without concern for civil recognition?

Nathanael said...

If one uses Catherine of Aragon as an example then one must tell the whole story.

Henry VII was willing to throw Catherine over (and keep the large Spanish dowry) when Prince Arthur died. Regardless of whether Julius II had the power to grant the dispensation (there was debate at the time – even the Holy Father pondered it), the main force behind the annulment was Isabella of Castile (Ferdinand’s main concern was the dowry).

Like he always did (unless it concerned his temper and sexual appetites), Julius II did the expedient thing in granting the dispensation (and, yes, in part given the Queen of Spain’s physical and mental health).

1. The King of Spain didn’t lose his investment.
2. The Queen of Spain secured (or she thought she did) her daughter’s future.
3. Henry VII kept the legitimizing connection to the Houses of Aragon, Castile and Leon.

One can understand Henry VIII’s anger at the failure of Cardinal Wolsey (and others) to secure another dispensation. If Catherine’s nephew had not been who he was is there any doubt Clement VII would have followed della Rovere’s example? One great example of the English Martyrs’ faith in Christ and his Church (in particular the most famous two) is not the great evil of Henry VIII but of the Church itself.

Annulments are an ugly business – one can fool the Church; but one cannot fool Christ. We all know what he said about divorce (not a pastoral statement). But corruption and politics in the Church? Heaven forfend!

It is irritating that some of the faithful still scream like scalded cats every time Francis says something (or does not say something) that “predicts” something that “might” happen.

Anonymous 2 said...

Anonymous at 6:32 a.m.:

“All liberals seek to impose their personal will on others. They all preach tolerance but have none for those who disagree with them.”

Two points: First, liberals are not alone in seeking to impose their will on others. This general human tendency may be even more exaggerated in the Western psyche. Oswald Spengler called it “ethical socialism.” See O. Spengler, “Decline of the West” (1928; 1991 Werner Abridged Edition, at pages 176-77) (which I have quoted on the Blog before):

“Western mankind, without exception, is under the influence of an immense optical illusion. Everyone_demands_something of the rest. . . . In the ethics of the West everything is direction, claim to power, and the will to affect the distant. Here Luther is completely at one with Nietzsche, Popes with Darwinians, Socialists with Jesuits; for one and all, the beginning of morale is a claim to general and permanent validity. It is a necessity of the Faustian soul that this should be so. He who thinks or teaches “otherwise” is sinful, a back-slider, a_foe_, and he is fought down without mercy. You “shall,” the State “shall,” society “shall” – this form of morale is to us self-evident; it represents the only real meaning we can attach to the word. But it was not so in the Classical, or in India, or in China . . .

What we have completely failed to observe is the peculiarity of moral_dynamic_. If we allow that Socialism (in the ethical, not the economic, sense) is that world-feeling which seeks to carry out its own views on behalf of all, then we are all without exception, wittingly or no, Socialists. . . . .”

Second, liberals’ intolerance for those who disagree with them is often formulated in liberal circles as “the problem of tolerating intolerance.”

In other words, complex matters cannot easily be disposed of with a simple “label.”

ytc/Cameron said...

rcg said:

"I will sound pedantic but you wrote that one should establish that the Protestant did not understand the true meaning of Catholic marriage. Does that put us in the position of not recognizing Protestant marriages? How would this extend to other Protestant rituals as sacraments, e.g. Baptism?"


Anonymous said...

If we can put aside Catherine of Aragon and Horst Seehofer, does anybody care to comment on my belief that the system of annulment is bogus? We pretend not to allow divorce, but really, I think, we just want to protect our published beliefs by requiring Catholics to jump through a sufficient number of hoops to make our "let no man put asunder" seem legitimate...

John Nolan said...


You write 'the main force behind the annulment was Isabella of Castile'. But we're not talking about annulment here; Catherine was no longer married to Arthur since Arthur was dead. A dispensation was required to remove the impediment of affinity, since Catherine was Henry's sister-in-law, and this is what Julius II granted.

Henry's arguments for an annulment were based on Scripture and theology rather than Canon Law; he was arguing that no-one, not even a pope, had the right to issue a dispensation for the impediment of affinity, but to do so he had to maintain that the marriage between Arthur and Catherine had been physically consummated, something Catherine was prepared to deny under oath.

Clement VII was not the ablest man to occupy the Chair of Peter, but to accept Henry's argument would have entailed agreeing with the principle that popes did not have the authority to issue dispensations in cases of affinity, which of course he could hardly do. There was plenty of precedent for it, and Clement himself had exercised this prerogative himself.

In his biography of Henry VIII J.J.Scarisbrick has a chapter entitled 'Canon Law and the Divorce' in which he points out that Wolsey, as early as 1527, had discovered a defect in Julius II's Bull of 1503. If Catherine's marriage to Arthur had indeed not been consummated then there was no impediment of affinity, merely one of 'public honesty' relating to the premarital betrothal, and the Bull, while leaving the question of consummation open, did not remove this lesser impediment. (If the marriage had been consummated then the removal of the impediment of affinity would also remove that of public honesty.) Julius's Bull was deficient and therefore invalid under Canon Law. Unfortunately by this time Wolsey's star was falling, and the king persisted with a line of argument which no pope could possibly accept. But Wolsey had found a solution to the 'King's Great Matter' which would have averted the Schism.

Ironically, Henry went on to marry Anne Boleyn despite the fact that Anne's sister Mary had been his mistress, and so there was affinity between Henry and Anne. Their marriage was therefore incestuous, although it was Anne who later had to face charges of incest (with her own brother).

Nathanael said...

I was typing fast – all this annulment talk, it is no wonder. And I worried over my Roman numerals before I posted. Humility is the best virtue of all. At least I didn’t type the wrong word later on.

Jumping ahead, I suppose so much of this depends on whether you believe the earnestness of the parties involved. I find them all (with the exception of Catherine) to be less than sincere. But the main force behind the dispensation was Queen Isabella (not her monster of a husband – or the usurper across the sea). The main reason della Rovere agreed to get-along-to-go-along was the Queen of Spain (given the tragic nature of the last years of her life and his own little wars).

One could make a case in which Catherine could have allowed herself to be put aside for the good of the Church. But her own pride (and rightly so to some extent) vis-à-vis her father’s famous affairs at court could not allow any other situation (she masked her mother’s violent temper behind her piety – that is how I read Catherine anyway). Clement VII could have found a way to placate everyone if the Holy Roman Emperor didn’t have him by the throat. Why? Money and revenues from the Church in England. The whole affair reeks of the corruption of the Church during the time period. Poor Cardinal Wolsey – but would the Holy See have allowed the solution? Or would they have stalled and stalled as they did hoping the problem would go away (or solve itself).

All this is squarely my opinion – I do not vouch for its historicity among the scholars. It is a long time since I have read the sources (with the exception of the devotional works of the martyrs tangled in this sad period of Church history).

My major point in the matter (to get to why Catherine matters) was that anyone (if they know the right people) can get an annulment. One hand washes the other. This is how the world (and the Church) works – and how it has always worked. Regardless of how difficult it is made – it is the way of humanity to find ways around God’s given laws. It is what sinners do. But the way some people carry-on one would think the Church cannot survive a bad (in their minds – not mine) pope. Give Our Lord some credit – he is running the show.

George said...


"Why do we wait for a civil divorce?"
The Church recognizes the authority of civil legal jurisdictions to regulate marriage. An annullment presupposes a divorce and so I don't see that one would be considered, let alone granted, without there being a divorce. If one were granted,and the couple failed to secure a divorce, what a fine kettle of fish that would be.

"Why then not recognize civil unions?"
Why not recognize common law marriages? The way court decisions have been going lately will civil unions be around much longer? The Church's position is that to recognize such arrangements would harm that which it considers to be a proper and valid marriage.

"If not, then why not have Catholic marriages without concern for civil recognition?"
The two go hand in hand. The civil aspect of marriage covers property rights, debt obligations, tax benefits etc. The sacramental aspect covers the obligations of spouses to each other and any children in accordance with God's laws.

Pater Ignotus said...

"Divorce" is recognition that a (civilly)valid marriage is dissolved.

"Annulment" is the recognition that a (sacramentally) valid marriage never existed.

Divorce says that a marriage existed, but is no more.

Annulment says that a marriage never existed.

In an annulment, a union is not "put asunder" because a union never existed.

Many who jump through the hoops are not granted a decree of nullity.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

PI not quite right and a perpetuation of a common myth that confuses so many like yourself. Marriage as a sacrament never existed but as a holy union it did. That holy union is dissolved but it always was a marriage. Any marriage you witnesses between a Catholic and a non baptized person is not a sacrament but it is a legal marriage and a holy union in the eyes of the Church.

John Nolan said...


It was accepted in Canon Law that dispensations could be granted in the case of affinity or even consanguinity, as these concerned ecclesiastical rather than divine law. In the case of royal marriages, such dispensations were almost routine.

The idea that Henry would have got his annulment had the pope not been afraid of offending Charles V was a staple of Protestant historians (who dominated Reformation history until the 1990s). It ignores the fact that arguments of the Henrician party, which had strongly Lutheran connotations, were weak in terms of exegesis (many exegetes held that Deuteronomy trumped Leviticus as far as the levirate was concerned, particularly as it had a bearing on the patrimony of St Joseph himself) and were clearly contradicted by Canon Law.

The corruption or otherwise of the Church in the early 1530s is therefore a red herring. No pope was going to accept that papal dispensations from canonical impediments, which had a long pedigree, contravened divine law. In fact Innocent III, the greatest pope of the High Middle Ages and the most eminent jurist of the thirteenth century, had issued dispensations for impediments similar to those which Julius II removed in the case of Henry and Catherine in 1503.

It's a sad, indeed a tragic period in English history, but blaming the pope and the Church and letting Henry off the hook won't wash.

Nathanael said...

I make no grand defense of Henry VIII – a tyrant and wicked man if there ever was one. “Clement VII could have found a way to placate everyone if the Holy Roman Emperor didn’t have him by the throat. Why? Money and revenues from the Church in England.” I stand by this because I believe it to be true. To be placated does not mean one is given exactly what one wants. And in the beginning of the crisis, Henry was more malleable.

Anonymous said...

PI & Fr McD, I KNOW the difference between a divorce and an annulment. My point is that the Church (if one has sufficient "connections" and knows the ropes) can and will annul a marriage. They will make the ridiculous decision and will state that a marriage "never existed", when you and I and the parties involved and God Almighty ALL know that a marriage damned-well DID EXIST. The loopholes are big enough that, with a little bit of guidance anybody can easily step through them. Like I said before, I've seen it happen many times, and if you are both honest about it, you have too.

John Nolan said...

Ironically the Church of England, which was founded so that Henry VIII could have his marriage annulled, has no annulment process.