Thursday, August 28, 2014


Top Italian Bishop Nunzio Galantino Says Church Must Welcome 'Unconventional Couples'


My Comments first and the RNS article below my comments: Bishop Nunzio Galantino Pope Francis’ choice in March to lead the fractious Italian hierarchy has stirred the waters a few times since he has risen to fame and has had to back track once or twice in his pastorally insensitive comments.

He seems to have stirred the pot again according to Religious New Service. Of course we have to wait and see what the Synod on the Family promotes in October. But when reading the Italian Pastoral situation let me offer a few comments from the perspective of my Italian relative in Livorno whom I visited and had a conversation about some of these things last October to be exact!

1. Italian clergy tend to be very clerical and aloof, but not all certainly. They do not seem to have been trained well in pastoral theology or sensitivity to the legitimate requests of Catholics, either practicing or not practicing.  For example, one of my first cousins was incense that a relative of hers who had a baby who was dying could not get a priest to come and baptize the baby because the mother, though a cultural Catholic, was not practicing the faith. This sort of thing is a scandal and pushes even practicing Catholics to the brink!

2. Annulments are not as common in Italy as in the USA where is has been a great, very great pastoral tool. Keep in mind that civil divorce was not allowed in Italy until relatively recently, in the past 30 years or so. The Church's fight to keep divorce illegal rankled not a few Italians especially those who had spouses who left them for someone else and had no legal recourse in terms of separation benefits.

Thus annulments are rare. When I spoke about the annulment procedure and how many Catholics I had marriages blessed in the Church after an annulment they couldn't believe their ears. None of my relatives knew of anyone who ever got an annulment!

So if the Synod moves the Church in Italy and elsewhere to find solutions to divorced and remarried through the Church's structure of annulments, that is a great thing to say the least and it is pastoral.

I do not believe there will be solutions apart from the External Forum's (tribunals) system. I do believe the synod will ask that tribunals and education about annulments will be beefed up especially in areas of the world where it is weak. I think too, the Internal Forum, that of Confession, will be clarified.

The External Forum may be simplified in some ways.

So don't jump to conclusions. I don't see anything radical happening independent of the ways we are already doing things in the USA. It will simply be extended to others and the internal forum will be clarified with more rules to govern it!

ROME (RNS) The Catholic Church should make “unconventional couples” feel at home instead of making them targets of “de facto discrimination,” the leader of the Italian Bishops Conference and an ally of Pope Francis said this week.

“Couples in irregular matrimonial situations are also Christians, but they are sometimes looked upon with prejudice,” said Bishop Nunzio Galantino, an apparent reference to divorced and remarried Catholics.

“The burden of exclusion from the sacraments is an unjustified price to pay, in addition to de facto discrimination,” he said Wednesday (Aug. 27) in an address to a national conference on liturgy in the Italian hill town of Orvieto.

Galantino was Francis’ choice in March to lead the fractious Italian hierarchy, and from the beginning the bishop has adopted the pontiff’s inclusive approach. That has often landed Galantino in hot water, as he has spoken about the need for the church to welcome gays and to consider optional celibacy for the priesthood.

But Galantino has not softened his views, which are especially newsworthy because in October the Vatican will host a major conference of the world’s top bishops, called a synod, to discuss issues facing the modern family.

How to deal with gay and cohabiting couples is a likely topic of discussion, but the question of whether Catholics who have divorced and remarried without an annulment can take Communion has emerged as a focal point of disputes among bishops.

That’s because the issue is a test case of whether the church under Francis will, or can, change its policies relating to the central sacrament of Communion. Some say such a change is impossible, while others say that changes are not only possible but imperative given that so many couples have divorced and remarried and feel alienated from the church.

Galantino’s remarks were widely reported in Italian media, including Avvenire, the official newspaper of the Italian hierarchy, and were translated by the Italian news agency ANSA.

In his talk, Galantino, who is secretary-general of the Italian Bishops Conference, stressed that everyone should “feel at home” in the church, and especially at Mass — including migrants, the disabled, the poor and those in unconventional relationships.

He spoke about the need for churches to make their buildings accessible for those with disabilities, for example, and said Catholics should take care that the poor are not treated differently from the wealthy at Mass.

But he appeared to send a strong message about divorced and remarried Catholics who are excluded from the sacraments.

“They live in their situation with great suffering,” he said, “and they perceive the church’s regulations as very severe, not compassionate if not punitive.”


Rood Screen said...

They are welcome to repent, do penance, amend their lives and go to Confession.

Anonymous said...

Gene may have counted and may have the actual figures, but my Google says that 75% of Catholics don't go to confession...ever.

To Hell with them....right?

John Nolan said...

The USA, with only 6% of the world's Catholics accounts for over 60% of annulments. In 1968 338 marriages were annulled; the figure in 2006 was 27,000. Professional lawyers tout for custom, and they don't come cheap (one firm quotes $185 an hour). Since the 1970s US bishops have been happy to acquiesce in this blatantly dishonest procedure despite the clear admonition of two Roman Pontiffs (JP II and B XVI).

When a marriage breaks down both parties can accept it, although one or the other may not be happy about it. With annulment, someone who has married and made his or her vows in good faith, and has brought children into the world, has to pretend that the marriage never existed. Sorry, Father, it's not a 'great pastoral tool', it's a scandal and symptomatic of a culture which prioritizes self-gratification.

Anonymous said...

The Catholic Church is heading toward insignificance, as well it should in the face of its behaviors, embracing the increasingly permissive and self-centeredness of western society over the past decades.

It is quite sad but should be expected. This is what we get and deserve with the clergy we have, top to bottom.

It will NOT improve, if it ever improves, for decades. The damage is too thorough and integrated completely. Those who, somehow are self-deceived into thinking there is a significant subculture of traditional beliefs or orthodox beliefs among the more recent clerics are in for a sobering era. I have heard this silliness for years and have never believed it or seen a significant reflection of this vain hope.

I am 60 and mostly alienated from the Church. I am certain things are only getting worse and certain that the will does not exist in sufficient numbers among the clergy to act intelligently to counter and overcome the decadence.

I am sad for my children and grandchildren. I pray that God is merciless toward those clerics whose choices have gotten us here through poor governance but merciful toward those without the power to thwart the corrupt clergy.

No, I do not believe most of the laity is better but the clergy had and have the power. They have and continue to fail us, even those who like to masquerade as orthodox or more traditional. They do not listen, except to themselves and the echoes of themselves.


MR said...

According to Fr. Z's site, the English translation makes Galatino's statement seem worse than it actually is:

"In Italian, what he (Archbp Galatino) says is not that the exclusion from sacraments is the unjustified price to pay, but rather that the de facto discrimination is an unjustified extra price to pay. It is slightly different distinction..."

Anonymous said...

Can some lay people answer the following question. What would happen to you at work if you did whatever you wanted and ignored the policies of your employer?

For priests I also have a question. What makes you think you have the right to change the Mass/sacraments according to your own personal whims and to teach something that the Church does not hold as true?

JusadBellum said...

Fathers Alan and Ignotius, please listen to the grief and anger of men like Karl... he's not an anomaly. In fact of the 30 million "former Catholics" he's echoing a mainstream sentiment of grief and anger for what has happened in the past 40 years. It's an interesting phenomenon - they may be 'enemies' in one sense but they're true believers, the scandalized flock on the other.

Well Karl, I encourage you to go back to the sacraments and be part of the reform not hold yourself aloof. Unless a seed dies in the furrow it will remain just a seed. But if it dies it will produce fruit. We need you in the trenches not standing back eating pop corn.

As for numbers.... well fortunately we actually DO have numbers. 76 million nominal Catholics of whom 24% go to Mass on any given Sunday and 45-50% go during Christmas or Easter. That's 18 million Catholic in the pews any given Sunday. Of these some 7 million give to national Catholic causes, schools, orders, etc. and of THOSE, 9 out of 10 would be classified as "conservative/traditional" (as per the list brokers who sell or rent those mailing lists' criteria).

So you've got a 'market' of about 6 million households who would call themselves "conservative Catholics" and make up the lion's share of any given congregation.

Thus all the national newspapers (OSV, Register, EWTN, etc.) all vying for that universe of available business.

There are 2.1 million kids in Catholic schools and about 500,000 Catholic homeschoolers.

Of the 400 some men ordained to the priesthood in 2012, over 12% had gone to a Franciscan University of Steubenville Youth conference which helped them discern their vocation. One university has thus an enormous impact on our young clergy.

By and large our young clergy are conservative/orthodox as are the young sisters. Homeschooling is growing at 20% per year and it's overwhelmingly orthodox/conservative and family size is twice the national average.

The future will get darker before the dawn. But we need good men to stand in the breach and give good example to the young who are otherwise utterly lost without 60 year old men who can raise the flag of faith high.

Anonymous said...

I have waved that flag of faithfulness for decades and been openly ignored. Returning to the sacraments is unlikely until my death is near, barring a complete change in the direction of the Catholic Church.

I watched my wife and her lover, unrepentantly adulterous for decades, be given the Eucharist with the full knowledge of Bishop Burbidge of Raleigh, North Carolina and with the support of Cardinal Dolan, who told me so in writing when I complained to him, in writing. he had been forewarned as well.

I walked out of that Mass, it was our son's wedding, this past May.

My heart and my soul were crushed. I fought back the tears.

Our marriage and our vows were openly, in public, before our family and friends, blasphemed. I have little doubt, Francis, who also was forwarned of this in writing, numerous months before, approved this sacrilege.

None one, but God, knows how corrupt things are but some of us have seen, in person, some definite signs of the malignancy and how invasive and metasatic it is.

Anyone who has any hope for this coming synod is blind or tragically naive.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting my most recent comment. I regret the misspellings but my comment is truthful and heartfelt. I was concerned you would not.

Sincerely, I wish things were different but I do not believe in any good coming regarding marriage.

Those who should be heeded are those of us who have been faithful and who have faced off against our spouses(most of whom want only to have their way, on their terms), the state(which has no interest in either truth, justice, marriage or the good of children) and the Catholic Church(combine the parenthetical contents of the two preceeding statements).

I have struggled incredibly over more than two decades to be first, a good father, then a faithful spouse, to work to forgive(daily), to try to comprehend a Church I no longer relate to except from and to the past and to hope for reconciliation, which is what I was taught(as a youth) was what it was all about when faced with marital difficulties.

There is not a single bishop on the face of the earth who cares enough to listen to people like myself and to REFUSE to accept no for an answer from the Pope or other bishops in regards to our experiences. This is not said in anger. This is reality.

The time for collegiality ended with the acceptance of no-fault divorce as a legitimate entry to annnulment processing. When a spouse, in public, as all but specifically sealed divorce proceedings are, openly refuses reconciliation and through lies, deceit, half-truths and manipulation via pawning of children, destroys, through the divorce process, their spouse, sometimes with the revealed intent to demonstrate their determination not to consider reconciliation(my wife and her lover had children to show her/their intention), I find it absolutely ludicrous(because this stuff is easily demonstrated by those close to the "former couple", as it is/was in our case, via the "godparents") that the testimony of such a person would even be acceptable to a tribunal, supposedly interested in the facts and in the objective truth. Such a person, by this point in their life, has already rearranged reality in their minds and begun(and are well on their way) the process to moving toward actually believeing in the reality of their rearranged understanding of reality, as it pertains to their marriage and related factual events and their timing...

Without hypnotism, medicated testimony being taken, enforced(draconian) penalties for perjury as normal parts of this process, and intense forensic, in person, stressful and grilled testimony being taken, getting at reality is a joke.

I hate the annulment process. It offends me to the core. It is so easily manipulated and falsified.

The pastoral processes of typical clerics is even more denigrating to me, as objective truth, binding vows, perjury/lies, consequences to abandoned spouses and the children of those marriages mean almost nothing(but for superficial sentiment) to most clerics/pastoral personnel(and determined malicious abandoning spouses) and reconciliation is nearly non-existant in most of their minds and certainly most of their vocabularies, intents, practices and their experiences.

I would shut down all tribunals, immediately, world-wide and nullify all positive decisions made since 1969, when the flood gates opened, I believe after the Anne decision, and redsign it, top to bottom, with a brutal, tough process that punished liars and those who violate their vows, ferociously.

That is for starters.

Anonymous said...

You would not want to know what I would do to those who have fostered and supported the current process. Excommunications would flow like winds about a hurricane.

The process is malignant. It is destructive. It destroys. One million proper decisions are not worth one wrongly granted nullity!

I am a huge believer in mercy. Those who work with me on a daily basis could testify to that. I believe in forgiveness. I believe that repentance is absolutely necessary. But I believe in justice and that there is absolutely less than NO PLACE for falsehood or manipulation of facts or reality, no matter how insignificantly small it seems to the person who is "rationalizing" such insignificance, in a process as consequential as this process.

My wife has lied significantly in her testimony. This has been demonstrated. She has lied to herself for so many years(to justify to herself her own treatment of those who disagree with her) that she now BELIEVES her lies. Thus, anything but rigorous forensic, chemical and hypnotic intervention would be useless. Even these, I am not certain, can be made sufficiently objective to yield reliable facts.

That she is allowed to give testimony again, in the face of both her decades long lifestyle and her known past manipulation of the process, demonstrates to me how corrupted the process is and how even more currupted the people involved are, all the way up to the Pope. The whole chain is rotten to the core, bottom to top and these people know it or have, like my wife, lied to themselves for so long and so often, that they believe their own lies now.

Objective truth is almost impossible to arrive at in strongly contested cases. Very few people will accept the consequences of not getting what they want(this overwhelmingly means nullity, most especially those who have "moved on". This is so self-evident as to be monstrous not to be acknowledged or to be realized, adequately, that the person in this position does not care, at all, about the veracity of the inquiry or their testimony. They want what they have already been living.

I could go on and on and on.

The Orthodox accept adultery, cross their fingers behind their back and make a joke of marriage....pastorally, allowing up to three marriages, I believe, though those after the first are not considered "sacramental". There is a joke there about the "sack" but I will pass it up! I have been blessed with a sense of humor that has helped me maintain my sanity. Fortunately, our children have inherited much of it. It has helped, immeasurably.

We do the same using bad science, bad legal practices, bad canonical practices and more or less the same bad pastoral practices our brother and sister orthodox do. Somehow, we see the 2 by 4 in their eye but miss the railroad tie in ours.

Failure to acknowledge this and to shut both systems down, were I the Pope or the Orthodox Patriarch would result in more excommunications than stars in the clear night sky, were any clergy or those with a vested interest in the processes to even voice their WRONG opinions.

What is being done in the name of God is horrendous beyond imagination.

Anonymous said...

Yet, miraculously, I have been faithful to our marriage, sometime by God's direct firm intervention against my will. Yet, even at 60, the daily temptation is immense and the loneliness is debilitating and demoralizing. I am human. I have never turned that corner where God's will brings me joy, more so, when it runs counter to my will. Perhaps, this is God's way of me not being able to manipulate even that to make my will, at least in my little mind, the same as His?

Forgive the stream of unconsciosness.

Priests, at least the majority of them, had a free choice in their celibacy. Mine was take from me and the Catholic Church continues to encourage my raping,via my wife's continuing infidelity and men(that term is used very loosely for such a person as this and those like him) like Bishop Galantino want to normalize our raping. Do these sad excuses for humans understand that they are truly taking part in real rape, here. Either the two are one or they are not. I am being homosexually raped, in fact, because my wife is bringing a man into OUR BED.

Is it any wonder that same sex marriage is ok with more than a few bishops and a few priests?

Not to me, it isn't.

The Catholic Church is becoming unbearable to me. The cross is immense and growing.

There is no peace for the abandoned spouse; only neverending sorrow, agony and uncertainty of the ultimate destination of our soul. Our joy is always fleeting which leaves us empty and more hurt.

The Catholic Church does fatal harm by its concern for those who abandon us more than for our children and ourselves. All of our souls should be precious to the Church. It should work, endlessly, for reconciliation and convalidation. It does nothing of the sort. Moving on should NEVER be allowed, save in extremely rare occasions and NEVER, EVER when children are involved. NEVER.

God's judgement is upon His Church.

As well it must be.

The best resource the Catholic Church has, regarding marriage and the family, are faithful annulment respondents. But, we are treated like trash and disposable, as are our children.