Monday, May 12, 2014


Sandro Magister of the Chiesa Blog (press) prints a very good letter from a missionary as to why the Church cannot and will not change her teaching of the indissolubility of a truly Sacramental Marriage. My comments follow this great letter:


by Carlo Buzzi

Dear Sandro,

Here in Bangladesh we teach the catechism and to be clear we say that every sacrament has four elements: the minister, the matter, the formula, the miraculous event.

In baptism the minister is any person, the matter is water, the formula is “I baptize you. . ." and the miraculous event is that one becomes a child of God.

In confirmation the minister is the bishop, the matter is oil, the formula is “I baptize you. . ." and the miraculous event is that one receives the power of the Holy Spirit.

In confession the minister is the priest, the matter is sin, the formula is “I absolve you. . ." and the miraculous event is the forgiveness of sins.

In the Eucharist the minister is the priest, the matter is bread and wine, the formula is “This is my body. . ." and the miraculous event is that bread and wine become the body and blood of Jesus.

In marriage the ministers are the spouses themselves, the matter is their bodies and souls, the formula is the promise and the miraculous event is that they become as one person.

We teach that the sacrament is called this because it produces a supernatural event that cannot be seen with our eyes but is grandiose and real in the eyes of God.

With regard to marriage, we explain precisely that the miraculous thing is that after the promise before God the two spouses become united in one person as if they had been put together with superglue or fused at a thousand degrees.

Now, if this miraculous reality is taken away from Catholic marriage, what should we put in its place?

I have made a reflection of my own.

We know very well that there exists the baptism “of blood” and also the baptism “of desire,” just as valid as that of water.

Those who have remarried, if they are truly aware of their situation, can make the communion of desire.

In the reception of the sacraments there is the objective part and the subjective part. It is known that the most important thing is the great grace connected to the sacrament. But I could ruin this grace and even commit sacrilege if I approach communion casually or unworthily.

Now for these remarried, who all told have trampled a bit on the Christian meaning of suffering, of sacrifice, of forbearance, of penitence, and have forgotten that Jesus went up upon the cross and that the cross, when it comes, is the way for every Christian to drawn near to the Redeemer, it is a bit presumptuous to appeal to the mercy of God when before they have taken it so little into account.

In the subjective sense, I think that for them it is much more essential that they limit themselves to the desire for communion, instead of receiving communion itself.

The voluntary acceptance of this fasting will be very good for their souls and for the sanctity of that Christian community which is the Church.

But taking the route traced by Cardinal Kasper would cause serious harm:

1. It would make the Church superficial and accommodating;
2. One would have to deny the infallibility of the chair of Peter, because it would be as if all the previous popes had erred;
3. One would have to take as fools all those who gave their lives as martyrs to defend this sacrament.

Perhaps I have made my contribution to this diatribe, which I hope will end soon.

So long and many warm greetings from Bangladesh, which is emerging in so many things and is no longer a country to be shoved aside.

Father Carlo

Sirajganj, May 5, 2014

MY COMMENTS: Let's face it, we know, or at least I know, that many Catholics who are in irregular moral situations, that is compromised morally when it comes to the objective moral teachings of the Church, receive Holy Communion every Sunday.

We have young Catholics who delay marriage well into their 20's and 30's who are sexually active and receiving Holy Communion and many who receive Holy Communion with only "minor" mortal sins, do so anyway.

We have young and not so young heterosexual and homosexual couples living with their significant others and without the benefit of either marriage or explicit enabling permission, who receive Holy Communion regularly.

We also have Catholics who were married in the Catholic Church, divorced legally and remarried to another person outside of the Church's Sacrament of Holy Matrimony receiving Holy Communion regularly and without compunction with or without the counsel of popes, bishops or priests and deacons.

But despite all the subjective subterfuge of the Church's moral law, the objective moral laws of the Church still stand and uncompromisable.

I personally believe in a clairvoyant way that the upcoming Synod on the Family will not throw out the Church's teaching on the indissolubility of a proven sacramental marriage that may have ended in a legal separation what the state calls a divorce (decided after the external forum for an annulment has shown the marriage in question to be an actual sacramental marriage. First of all no pope and no synod of bishops and even no ecumenical council can do such a thing or else the Church will defect from the moral truth and go into schism which might take generations to overcome and restore orthodoxy.

Therefore, I don't believe Cardinal Kaspar's recommendations will be passed for these cannot be passed, that one in a recognized sacramental marriage who leaves that marriage and lives with another in a civil union would be given a blanket permission to receive Holy Communion.

However, what the pope and a synod can do and more that likely will do is to streamline the annulment procedure and add other grounds for an annulment which is always an ecclesiastical court procedure in the external forum and publication of its findings or judgments.

One of the grounds for an annulment and there are many other grounds too, is that one or the one of the partners entering the marriage at the time of the courtship and wedding did not truly understand the Church's teaching on marriage. With all the coloring book catholics out there as well as cafeteria catholics, I suspect that there are many catholics and non-Catholic spouses of Catholics who really do not know or understand the Catholic understand of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony!

The Church could also expand what constitutes grounds for an annulment based on what actually went wrong in the marriage, especially infidelity or mental illness, that was not present or evident in the courtship phase or with the one with these issues not intending them at the time of the wedding.

And as I have written before, the Church could make explicit when the "Internal Forum" could be used after a penitential period of some kind. This means that the external forum was first used and could not go forward because of a lack of evidence due to the non-cooperation of witnesses or the death of actual witnesses.


Anonymous said...

" "minor" mortal sins "

How do I respond to that? I will really really try and be diplomatic because I understand that the plain truth spoken straight from the hip is unbearable to neo cons. So here I go.

There is no such thing as "minor" mortal sins in Catholic theology. That is a term which you made up. And which you have no authority to make up, by the way. Nowhere in the CCC, or St. Thomas Aquinas or St. Augustine or any doctor of the Church or saint or pope or council has ever taught such a thing. The Catholic Church teaches and has always taught that personal sins are either mortal or venial.

The term "minor" mortal sins is something I could see Francis saying. And causing more uproar and confusion. Please Father, stop writing things like that. You have no right as a Catholic priest to publicly teach or propose anything contrary to the Faith. period.... You have no right. The faithful have a right to have the Faith taught clearly, and truthfully. Sins are mortal or venial and that's de fide.

As for the upcoming Synod. Francis personally choose Kasper to give that speech. Francis praised that speech. He did not correct any errors but called it theology done on ones "knees". Kasper is making the rounds worldwide promoting this stuff. Francis is doing nothing to stop him. Francis is a liberal. And a liberal is a liberal is a liberal. They all live to impose their personal views on everyone else. Francis is no different. Francis has shown he doesn't care about the standard procedures that you yourself propose that everyone else follow. He doesn't care about Canon Law, rubrics, tradition/Tradition or the scandal he is causing. He will try and impose this heresy on the Church and a formal schism will ensue.

What I have just written is not uncharitable but true. The pope or any bishop or priest is not above correction when they are wrong. And to betray the very words of Christ Himself is not only wrong but evil. Again I understand that you can't abide truth expressed by some on this blog. But as a grown man that is something you need to deal with, not me.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Thanks for including my quotation marks around "minor." But do you not know what that means in English grammar?

Also intentionally eating a hot dog on Good Friday while reprehensible and a mortal sin is not as morally reprehensible as spitting on your mother's grave on Mother's Day or hacking her to death and then dismembering her body!

Cameron said...

anon.... DEEP BREATH.

Fr. McDonald did not make up anything. The quotes in written English signify that what is being said is figurative.

So Fr. McDonald doesn't actually believe they are minor mortal sins.


Anonymous said...

The Church has NEVER taught that something called a "minor" mortal sin. You made that up. Holy Mother Church teaches de fide that personal sin is mortal or venial. And you have no authority to add, or change or modify that. You are only a priest. Even Francis can't change that. You people are not God. What He has revealed as Truth is the Truth and you can't alter or change it. And as usual you ignore truthful statements ie Francis agreeing with Kasper or that what wrote is NOT Catholic theology. Instead you concentrate on you. It's not about you, it about Truth which is Christ and can't dilute it.

Gene said...

Most instructive…important contrast between the Catholic understanding of sin and atonement and that of Calvinist protestantism. Although we humans make distinctions in our laws among various sins, e.g. murder is more serious than stealing and striking someone is more serious than merely yelling at them, for Calvinist theology (which is most of protestantism) the smallest sin is just as huge a stain on God's holiness as the greatest, and condemns us equally. If God is infinite and perfect goodness, beauty, and righteousness, then any wrongdoing is a blot on His goodness. Imagine the purest white canvas spread across the face of the universe, then take an ink pen and place a tiny stain anywhere on it. It will ruin the entire tableau of God's beauty.
This is why the Calvinist view that Christ hides us or covers us, sort of blocking the consequences of sin from hitting us. Only His purity can cover the stain we have made.
Now, this understanding makes for a powerful Christology, a sort of Christological totalitarianism…the blackness and hopelessness of our sin highlights, even more starkly,. the wonder of His Sacrifice and mercy.
I loved this theology for a long time but, ultimately, it denies the role of the Church and the logic of it leads to universalism, a totally unBiblical
consequence. That is part of why I am here. Anyway, FYI.

Gene said...

Maybe it means sins by minor mortals like Rob and RCG…LOL!

qwikness said...

Uh, Anonymous, the quotes are referring to the thoughts of the others that are of the cafeteria Catholic variety. These are not the thoughts of Father Mac. In context of the paragraph, he is referring to the thoughts of the "young Catholics" because they believe their sins are "minor"

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Okay, let's talk about mortal sin and being unrepentant and nonetheless still receiving Holy Communion! When Archbishop Marcel Lefebrev ordained bishops in complete disobedience to Pope John Paul II, he, from the objective form of church teaching, defy the moral and canonical authority of the Church and pope and committed a mortal sin. It would be like a Catholic disobeying the canon law of the Church not to eat a Hot Dog on Good Friday (meat) and disobeying the authority of the Church in canon law to legislate this--the mortal sin being disobedience to the Magisterium's canonical authority.

So should we approve of SSPX which is in mortal sin, similar to those who intentionally eat a Hot Dog on Good Friday in defiance of Canon Law or is their mortal sin "minor" compared to other mortal sins?

But more importantly, how many Catholics are commmitting mortal sin by receiving Holy Communion from canonically suspended bishops and priests of the SSPX? Or is that minor or can we subjectively ignore and make excuses for why it might not actually be a suspension that but not other things canonical? So it is wrong for remarried outside the Church to receive Holy Communion but not wrong for Catholics to receive Holy Communion at Mass celebrated by SSPX? Is there a double standard here? I think so.

Anonymous said...

Let's not skim by the hot dogs on Friday....some younger folks may not remember the time when it was a mortal sin to intentionally eat a hot dog on ANY Friday. It is safe to assume, I believe, that thousands...probably millions, of Catholics were eternally damned to hell fire for violating this rule. (I guess that some say they're on stand-by...waiting in Purgatory.) Then the Church changed the rule. It became OK to eat hot dogs on Friday. What a bummer for all of those burning souls. Did they get paroled?

Catholic said...

I think both examples are rather silly: the SSPX and the hot dog. Both are violations of a man made rule. The pope assigned to himself the authority to create bishops even though he didn't have that authority for over 1,000 years. And the idea that it is mortally sinful to eat meat on a fasting day sounds Pharisaic to me.

Even taking the law on its face, you're the only one who believe that receiving Communion at an SSPX Mass is sinful. The Church doesn't agree with your analysis apparently or the Church would tell the people not to attend. To take it even further, if it is sinful to receive Communion from those in schism from Rome, why does Canon Law allows Catholics to receive Communion from the Orthodox?

rcg said...

Gene, I have been a minor for almost fourty years.

One thing the missionary said was the person should nurture the desire for communion. That is a wonderful thought and should serve as a powerful salve for those persons. That is true contrition and I would think if a person yearned so earnestly for Communion that he would fast himself from it until properly ready his meeting with Christ would be as glorious as the prodigal son.

Templar said...

A "what if". What if, despite all the reasons why we know the upcoming Synod could not change the way Marriage is viewed by The Church, they did anyway? What if Cardinal Kaspar's POv carries the day. The real question in my mind is how many Catholics (lay and Clerical) will go along with it because it was handed down from the Curia?

That's the real test in my opinion. It's the same litmus test I apply to 2nd Amendment advocates who tell me they'll never surrender their weapons; how many will really stand n principles in any of these situations?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The indissolubility of marriage isn't going to change, for no pope or council has the authority to change it. So I am not worried about that. What worries me more is Cardinal Kaspar's enabling of mortal sin for those in sinful sexual relationships in the name of mercy and pardon without repentance, sorrow or a firm purpose of amendment. It is one thing to commit adultery or fornication and quite another to receive Holy Communion in any state of sin but especially public sin.

To allow those in irregular marriages to receive Holy Communism opens the door to condoning every form of sexuality and not calling it sin.

Rood Screen said...

From a purely pastoral point of view, one could possibly think of a particular penitent's habitual mortal sins as major problems for his/her confessor to contend with, and infrequent mortal sins as minor concerns, at least once the priest administers absolution.

As for the Friday penance, Pope Paul VI said its "substantial observance binds gravely" (Paenitemini, II:1). The Friday penance is grave matter. As a disciple of the Church required by precept, Trent affirmed the binding nature of such precepts in its seventh session, adding the definitive "anathema sit".

Riddler said...


Na na na na na na na na

Na na na na na na na na


MR said...

Fr. McDonald,
Thank you very much for your blog, and particularly for posts like this one. My faith has been sorely tested over the past year, and your blog has been a great help to me.

I agree with you about Cardinal Kasper. I wonder if his recent outlandish comments will cause him to lose some support for his communion proposals?

Catholic said...

If the Synod cannot change the doctrine, why are they having a synod?

We all know that they will use the Modernist tactic that has served them so well for so long. They will affirm the doctrine while also issuing pastoral directives that gut the doctrine thoroughly.

Does anyone seriously not see this coming from a mile away? The only difference this time is that everyone can see it coming because we have the internet.

Templar said...

There is some truth to what Catholic is saying. Look at the Episopalians....ask them if same sex marriage is permitted, and their answer is "no", yet they officiate at such weddings and have gay clergy in "married" status.

Give lip service to what the official position is and just go about ignoring said position. Does Communion in the hand, versus populum Mass, Altar Girls, Fasting, etc. etc. not bring up similar situations where the official policy doesn't jive with the actual practice?

George said...

The divorced and re-married can make a spiritual communion. The Church requires that unmarried heterosexuals and anyone who is homosexual to refrain from all sexual activity. Unlike the heterosexual, the homosexual cannot enter into marriage.Church teaching on sexuality can be difficult for some but it is possible to accept and obey with assistance of the grace of God.he teachings of the Church come from God and He does require something from us, a sacrifice if you will, because He endured the greatest sacrifice for our salvation.
There are women in the Church who have difficulty with not being able to be ordained a priest. There are priests who have difficulty with not being able to enter into marriage. Does this not go back to the very beginning? To the garden of Eden where Adam and Eve could have anything they wanted except to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? I don't understand how the divorced and remarried could jeopardize their eternal salvation by entering into a temporal arrangement which violates God's Holy law.

Rood Screen said...

"If the Synod cannot change the doctrine, why are they having a synod?" This must be why I started putting "Catholic" in quotation marks/inverted commas. Synods occur with some regularity, and address a range of issues. Recent popes follow them up with post-synodal exhortations. St. John Paul II, P.E. Benedict, and now Pope Francis have theirs posted on the Vatican web site.

M. Prodigal said...

I did not fully understand what my marriage would be like after more than 30 years when I married at age 22. Is that enough reason for an annulment then?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The Church always presumes every Catholic marriage is a like long sacrament. One only presents their case after a civil divorce and answers a formal questionnaire with millions of questions and at least 3 to 4 witnesses substantiate the testimony. Therefore a person who acts as lawyer and judges has fools representing him so to speak especially prior to a legal and irrevocable seperation.

Catholic said...

We agree on what synods normally do, JBS. And that popes issue exhortations at the end of them.

Do you not see that this synod is different than other recent synods?

Anonymous said...

Fr. McDonald: "the mortal sin being disobedience to the Magisterium's canonical authority."

Where did you get the impression that disobedience to the Magisterium's authority is automatically a mortal sin? As a general matter, this surely is not so. As a particular matter, in any given case of such violation so many contingencies are involved as to make application of any such general principle tenuous if not outright erroneous.

There are some violations of magisterial authority of of canon law that can be mortal sins, but perhaps most are not. Better to restrict judgement to specific matters that can be fairly and correctly judged. Even in the case of a clearcut violation as Ab. Lefebvre, it may not be clear that you or I have sufficient information to render judgement. (Though perhaps you have more information than I do.)

Anonymous said...

The Church has never taught that something called a "minor" mortal sin exists. You made that up out of thin air. I don't care how you try and rationalize it you made it up. And you have no authority to change or modify or create Catholic doctrine. You made it up. And you can't justify it so you attack and deflect. You made that up. It's wrong and you were called out on it. You made it up.

Rood Screen said...

Do we believe the sacrament of matrimony provides sufficient grace to keep a couple faithful to their union, even if one party abandons the other? If so, then we must preach and teach the effective power of this sacrament, rather than looking for loopholes out of it.

Those Christians committing adultery via civil remarriage cannot receive sacramental grace from Holy Communion until they repent and resolve to end their adulterous affairs. Therefore, the question of whether they should receive Holy Communion seems like a moot point to me.

That said, if I'm wrong about the deprivation of God's grace resulting from the mortal sin of adulterous marriage, then it would be a great relief to me to discover I am so.

Anonymous said...

Your arguments defending Francis are silly.

Francis, being the pope, does not need to call a synod to reform the annulment procedure of the Church. All he has to do is tell Cardinal Burke to change it. Period, done.

He is calling a synod because he is going to try and change the Church's teaching on marriage. That's why he choose Kasper to give that heretical speech. That's why he praised that heretical speech. And that's why he is not telling that heretical cardinal to stop spreading that heresy. It's because he believes it.

rcg said...

Here is what seems to be most different in these times: the people who are breaking away from Church teaching are staying in the Church administratively rather then protesting and starting one of their own. This is a genius tactic perfected Marxists and other progressives. It appears that we want so badly to save someone we will not defend others or our faith in hopes that we can save the one soul. I think we have it backwards.

George said...

The Church, for her members and through her apostolic leadership, is God's ecclesial, lawful authority on earth. We should not get caught up in just what is infallible and dogmatic teaching. We should adopt and engender an attitude and response of obedience to what she requires of us.
The Church requires every Catholic to attend Mass each Sunday under pain of of mortal sin and to confess sins once a year and also to receive the Eucharist at least once during the Easter season. She could require every Catholic to abstain from meat every Friday of the year if she so chose.
Of course, to be mortal the three conditions for such must be present. As far as magisterial teaching, a faithful Catholic(to me) is one who accepts such teaching.

George said...

I think it is possible that the Church could change, loosen or liberalize the grounds by which a marriage could be annulled or modify the annulment process itself.
We'll just have to wait and see what comes out of the synod.

Anonymous said...

JBS: Your "moot point" is a most incisive one. That it would make no spiritual difference if divorced remarrieds living in mortal sin were given permission to receive Holy Communion, since they could not receive its grace anyway.

Rood Screen said...


Indeed. Reception of Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin is a sort of "sacramental contraception", in this case rendering fruitless the Nuptial Feast of the Lamb.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

There are some faithful Catholics who go to confession regularly but on occasion receive Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin. They feel a need for Holy Communion and eventually will make it to confession. They try to make a sincere act of perfect contrition prior to doing so.

Some people are scrupulous and turn what are really venial sins (minor) sins into mortal sins more major than these need to be and don't go to Holy Communion or if they do go, they think they've committed another mortal sin.

I would be reluctant to say that for every Catholic who receives in a state of sin that no grace is imparted. In fact the grace given them could hit them like a ton of bricks and lead them to Confession and a better awareness of the need to be in a state of grace to receive Holy Communion.

Catholic said...

Father, I ask this question in ask seriousness... Are you just making things up as you go along because you think it might offend people to tell them the actual teaching?

The Church has clearly taught that those in the state of mortal sin receive no grace from their sacrilegious reception of Communion.

This is elementary sacramental theology.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I think what you describe is a theological possibility like limbo but not a doctrine of the Church nor a defined dogma. But I am open to correction on this.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Just to be clear, I am speaking specifically about a person who receives Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin not receiving any graces whatsoever. That is what I am indicating is a pious belief but not necessarily a doctrine and certainly not an infallible dogma.

There are those who receive Holy Communion who have a repentant heart but have not made a sacramental confession after committing mortal sins---no grace to them whatsoever? I'd need to see that doctrine or dogma really spelled out--point me to it.

Gene said...

Fr, you are starting to sound like a Calvinist. May I suggest, "The Institutes of the Christian Religion," vols. 1&2. LOL!

Gene said...

But, Fr, it is really very simple…if you have committed mortal sin (and even kids know what that is) and have not been to Confession, don't receive. It isn't exactly rocket theology.