Sunday, October 25, 2015


I read somewhere that the Pope was defeated or only partially got what he wanted from this synod. Of course, this presumes that the synod is a political tool like a parliament that sets the standard for the pope. Of course, it does not, the Pope is free to do with what the synod approved or disapproved as he wishes. It is only consultative as are pastoral councils in parishes by the way!

However, in terms of the internal forum discussion, a commenter at Crux seems to nail it when she writes:

The document does no muddying, ... Again, please read the section on participation, I've separated it into section so that all points come through:

"86. The path of accompaniment and discernment orients these faithful to an awareness in conscience of their situation before God.

Conversation with the priest, in the internal forum, contributes to the formation of a correct judgment on what places an obstacle to the possibility of a fuller participation in the life of the Church and on the steps that can favor that participation and make it grow.

Given that there is no graduality in the law itself (Familiaris Consortio, 34), this discernment can never prescind from the demands of truth and of charity of the Gospel proposed by the Church.

So that this happens, the necessary conditions of humility, discretion, and love for the Church and its teaching, in a sincere search for the will of God and in the desire to reach a more perfect response to it, must be guaranteed."

Commenter: Anyone who reads this as allowance for communion based on "internal forum" without obedience to the church's law is lying. The internal forum referred to is counseling of the person in the confessional on what they need to do PER CHURCH TEACHING to regularize their situation. Don't know what people are smoking here who claim otherwise...

There's no endorsement for ANY of the German proposals. This internal forum statement still requires the person, with the help of a priest in confession, to judge his situation according to church teaching and to do what he needs to do to regularize his situation so that he can participate fully.

My comment: What this commenter at Crux seems to be writing is very much in line with what Pope Benedict XVI said to the Sacred Roman Rota 2007: 

"The Priest Is the Instrument of This Merciful Love of God"
VATICAN CITY, APRIL 4, 2007 (Zenit) - Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's March 16 address to participants in a course on the internal forum.

* * *


Clementine Hall
Friday, 16 March 2007

Your Eminence,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the priesthood,

I welcome you today and address my cordial greeting to each one of you, participants in the Course on the Internal Forum organized by the Apostolic Penitentiary.

In the first place I greet Cardinal James Francis Stafford, Major Penitentiary, who I thank for the kind words he addressed to me, Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, Regent of the Penitentiary, and all those present.

Today's meeting also offers me the opportunity to reflect together with you on the importance in our day of the Sacrament of Penance and to repeat the necessity for priests to prepare themselves to administer it with devotion and fidelity to the praise of God and for the sanctification of the Christian people, as they promise to their Bishop on the day of their priestly ordination.

In fact, it is one of the qualifying duties of the special ministry that they are called to exercise "in persona Christi". With the gestures and sacramental words the priest above all makes God's love visible, which was revealed fully in Christ.

In the administration of the Sacrament of Pardon and of Reconciliation, the priest -- as the Catechism of the Catholic Church recalls -- acts as "the sign and the instrument of God's merciful love for the sinner" (n. 1465). What takes place in this Sacrament, therefore, is especially a mystery of love, a work of the merciful love of the Lord.

"God is love" (I Jn 4:16): in this simple affirmation the Evangelist John has enclosed the revelation of the entire mystery of the Triune God. And in meeting with Nicodemus, Jesus, foretelling his passion and death on the Cross, affirms: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (Jn 3:16).

We all need to draw from the inexhaustible fountain of divine love, which is totally manifested to us in the mystery of the Cross, in order to find authentic peace with God, with ourselves and with our neighbour. Only from this spiritual source is it possible to draw the indispensable interior energy to overcome the evil and sin in the ceaseless battle that marks our earthly pilgrimage toward the heavenly homeland.

The contemporary world continues to present contradictions so clearly outlined by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council (cf. Gaudium et Spes, nn. 4-10): we see a humanity that would like to be self-sufficient, where more than a few consider it almost possible to do without God in order to live well; and yet how many seem sadly condemned to face the dramatic situations of an empty existence, how much violence there still is on the earth, how much solitude weighs on the soul of the humanity of the communications era!

In a word, it seems that today there is even loss of the "sense of sin", but in compensation the "guilt complex" has increased.

Who can free the heart of humankind from this yoke of death if not the One who by dying overcame for ever the power of evil with the omnipotence of divine love?

As St Paul reminded the Christians of Ephesus: "God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ" (Eph 2:4).

The priest in the Sacrament of Confession is the instrument of this merciful love of God, whom he invokes in the formula of the absolution of sins: "God, the Father of mercies, through the death and Resurrection of his Son, has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church, may God grant you pardon and peace".

The New Testament speaks on every page of God's love and mercy, which are made visible in Christ. Jesus, in fact, who "receives sinners and eats with them" (Lk 15:2), and with authority affirms: "Man, your sins are forgiven you" (Lk 5:20), says: "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick do; I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Lk 5:31-32).

The duty of the priest and the confessor is primarily this: to bring every person to experience the love of Christ, encountering him on the path of their own lives as Paul met him on the road to Damascus. We know the impassioned declaration of the Apostle to the Gentiles after that meeting which changed his life: "[he] loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal 2:20).

This is his personal experience on the way to Damascus: the Lord Jesus loved Paul and gave himself for him. And in Confession this is also our way, our way to Damascus, our experience: Jesus has loved me and has given himself for me.

May every person have this same spiritual experience and, as the Servant of God John Paul II said, rediscover "Christ as mysterium pietatis, the one in whom God shows us his compassionate heart and reconciles us fully with himself. It is this face of Christ that must be rediscovered through the Sacrament of Penance" (John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte, n. 37).

The priest, minister of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, must always consider it his duty to make transpire, in words and in drawing near to the penitent, the merciful love of God. Like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, to welcome the penitent sinner, to help him rise again from sin, to encourage him to amend himself, never making pacts with evil but always taking up again the way of evangelical perfection. May this beautiful experience of the prodigal son, who finds the fullness of divine mercy in the father, be the experience of whoever confesses in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Dear brothers, all this means that the priest engaged in the ministry of the Sacrament of Penance is himself motivated by a constant tending to holiness. The Catechism of the Catholic Church aims high in this demand when it affirms: "The confessor... should have a proven knowledge of Christian behaviour, experience of human affairs, respect and sensitivity toward the one who has fallen; he must love the truth, be faithful to the Magisterium of the Church, and lead the penitent with patience toward healing and full maturity. He must pray and do penance for his penitent, entrusting him to the Lord's mercy" (n. 1466).

To be able to fulfil this important mission, always interiorly united to the Lord, the priest must be faithful to the Church's Magisterium concerning moral doctrine, aware that the law of good and evil is not determined by the situation, but by God.

I ask the Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, to sustain the ministry of priest confessors and to help every Christian community to understand ever more the value and importance of the Sacrament of Penance for the spiritual growth of every one of the faithful. To you present here and to the people dear to you, I impart my Blessing with affection.


Gene said...

Well, I guess we just wait and see how this plays out in practice, neh?

John Nolan said...

This morning the BBC reported that Pope Francis had admonished 'senior churchmen' for 'hiding behind Church doctrine in order to judge others'. If this is true (and I have yet to verify it) then Bergoglio is clearly not up to the job. No previous pope would ever have said such a thing.

Gene said...

It is clear that doctrine matters not a whit to this Pope. It is all about Leftist politics. The enemy is within the gates. I would not believe this Pope if he gave me the time of day.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I am afraid he did and yes I agree with you that his critique of his closest collaborators in such a condescending way is unseemly and unbecoming the papacy as was his shocking public dress down of the Curia a couple of years ago and at Chridtmas no less. I can say this as an Itslian, that this kind of classless critiques is from the vulgar uneducated class of Italians.

George said...

I had read on the Intranet what the Holy Father said and I was hoping that it was mis-translated.
Never did I ever envision that a day would come where a pope say something like this.
This is very disheartening and disconcerting, to say the least.

Rood Screen said...

Since it is the African bishops who most firmly support the Apostolic Truth, I wonder how much of this recent nonsense is rooted in racism.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

It seems previous popes have said such things. In his opening address of the Second Vatican Council, Pope John XIII said:

"In the daily exercise of Our pastoral office, it sometimes happens that We hear certain opinions which disturb Us—opinions expressed by people who, though fired with a commendable zeal for religion, are lacking in sufficient prudence and judgment in their evaluation of events. They can see nothing but calamity and disaster in the present state of the world. They say over and over that this modern age of ours, in comparison with past ages, is definitely deteriorating. One would think from their attitude that history, that great teacher of life, had taught them nothing. They seem to imagine that in the days of the earlier councils everything was as it should be so far as doctrine and morality and the Church's rightful liberty were concerned.

We feel that We must disagree with these prophets of doom, who are always forecasting worse disasters, as though the end of the world were at hand."

Gene said...

Wow, JBS. Do you really believe that could be a factor?

Vox Cantoris said...

Who will hold Father James Martin, S.J., accountable then for this distortion?

Breaking: The Synod on the Family has concluded. The final document has been released and, among its recommendations, for divorced and remarried Catholics it encourages the use of the "internal forum," a practice where a Catholic consults with a priest, discerns and reflects on his or her situation and then, using his or her conscience as a guide, decides whether to receive Communion. The encouragement of this is a major step and a significant softening of the church's approach to divorced and remarried Catholics.
It also repeats, essentially Catholic teaching on respecting LGBT people, but does so in a more welcoming tone, and asks Catholics to have a special care for families with LGBT members. (It, not surprisingly, opposes gay marriage.) Here is one quote (my translation from the Italian):
"The Church conforms its attitude to that of the Lord Jesus: that love without boundaries is offered to every person without exception...In respect to families living the experience of having within them people with homosexual orientation, the Church reaffirms that every person, regardless of their sexual orientation, must be respected in dignity and met with respect, taking care to avoid "every sign of unjust discrimination"...We reserve a specific attention to the accompaniment of families in which people with homosexual orientation live."
The Italian text is here:…/pubbli…/2015/10/24/0816/01825.html
Also the Pope in his final address, in English here, reminded us that "True defenders of doctrine are not those who uphold its letter, but its spirit; not ideas but people; not formulae but the gratuitousness of God’s love and forgiveness."

From his facebook, picture at Vox Cantoris

George said...

One thing to always keep in mind is that the Pope is a human being who, in aspects basic to human nature, is no different than the rest of us. There are things in his psychological and physiological makeup that form the person he is and which constitute within his person a unique an different individual. He is who he is when he was elected to occupy the Chair of Peter and does not have impeccability conferred on him when he is elected to take the Chair of Peter. This is why we must pray for him.

Mark said...

Instead of reading the media spin perhaps it would be better to read the actual text of Pope Francis’s address at the conclusion of the synod:

And for comparison here is his address at the conclusion of the synod in 2014:

George said...

"apart from dogmatic questions clearly defined by the Church’s Magisterium – we have also seen that what seems normal for a bishop on one continent, is considered strange and almost scandalous for a bishop from another; what is considered a violation of a right in one society is an evident and inviolable rule in another; what for some is freedom of conscience is for others simply confusion. Cultures are in fact quite diverse, and each general principle needs to be inculturated, if it is to be respected and applied."

That is true enough. However, inculturation by missionaries who went out from Europe to different cultures in other parts of the world never meant compromising the principles of the Faith. Many were martyred defending the Faith against elements within opposing cultures that were opposed to Church teaching.

There are areas of the world that accept polygamy. It is the Church that brought to those areas God's plan for marriage being authentically and validly represented in the union of one man and one woman. God's laws and teachings, are encompassed and represented totally and completely in the person of Christ, the Divine Word and Son of God ,and are the same in every place and in every time, in season and out of season and are revealed through the power of the Holy Spirit.

"True defenders of doctrine are not those who uphold its letter, but its spirit"

As far as the letter and spirit of the Law, it can be that in practical application, in special circumstances, the spirit takes precedence over the letter, but this is the exception and it would lead to a trivialization of the Law to make it the normative and accepted practice. Obedience to the Divine Law should be emphasized because in essence it is God we are obeying and not just some statute, since these laws come not from man but from God Himself, and this willingness to obey should be our proper and normative spitritual orientation toward the Divine Law.

McCall1981 said...

As an example of spin going on, America magizine has intentionally misquoted the final document:

Theyre translation says: “It is therefore the task of priests to accompany the interested persons on the path of discernment according to the orientations of the bishop.” Notice theyve left out the phrase “according to the teachings of the Church”

Gene said...

I understand that shacking up is now permitted under "certain circumstances."

Gene said...

Some questions come to mind after laudato si and this farce of a sin-nod:

What are we to do now that the church has unashamedly become a tool of the Left?

As "pastoral practice" changes and doctrine becomes increasingly irrelevant, can we still consider the Roman Catholic Church to be the true Church?

Can we still believe that Christ's Real Presence will continue to dwell in such a Church?

If conscience and "internal dialogue" (whatever that is) are to be the factors guiding our behavior and our judgement of the behavior of others, is there any need for Confession at all? Does doctrine matter in any consideration of moral determinants?

The logic of the Pope's statements and behavior is that all denominations are pretty much equal. Why should our decisions regarding what denomination in which to worship not be based upon mere aesthetics?

In the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, when Jesus said all those things about unbelievers, weeping and gnashing of teeth, condemnation, and righteous judgement was he "hiding behind doctrine" so he could be judgemental?

Did anyone notice, in Mark's Gospel, that the first demon Christ rebuked was inside the Synagogue (the Church) and that, everywhere, the demons recognized and acknowledged Jesus as Christ, the Son of God, and feared His power long before Christ's own people did?

Just wondering"...

Rood Screen said...


Given the bizarre nature of what has transpired at the highest levels of the Church over the past year, anything is possible.

Marc said...

I have to share in Gene's dismay at what has transpired, and I agree that these events lead to the questions that he has posited in his 7:20 a.m. post. While my local priests have sent a letter to the parish ensuring us that they will follow the traditional doctrines and practices regardless of what this New Church decides to do, that does not resolve the inconsistencies having to do with the nature of the Church and its claims to be the "true Church."

The current situation goes much further than the pope's address, which may or may not be read to castigate the so-called conservatives. What has been demonstrated by this Synod is that we now have a Church that must go to pains to explain that it is not changing doctrine -- that should be the thing that needs not be said. The fact that so many bishops felt the need to make this clear means that the majority of them believe that they can change doctrine, but have elected not to do so at this time.

Having read the paragraphs of the final synodal document, it is rather clear to me that this was a win for those seeking change. They achieved the synthesis that they were looking for. The next synod will begin with that synthesis as its thesis and "progress" from there to a new synthesis.

In sum, the wholesale acceptance by the bishops and pope of a dialectical understanding of "doctrine" and "practice" means that change will happen -- that is the nature of progressivism.

For my part, I do not believe that progressivism is reconcilable with God as he has revealed himself. The question for me is whether I can remain in union with a group of bishops and a pope who do not believe correctly, or stated another way, whether I can remain in union with a group whose beliefs I do not share. Since they seem to have strayed from the path of truth by buying into new ideas that are antagonistic with the previous teachings, the Church has entered into a situation of logical and historical inconsistency that appears to militate against its claims to being the true Church -- the body of Christ on earth would not seek to lead people away from Truth, but would boldly proclaim the truth, especially when the people are under attack.

It is not enough to say that the synod did not proclaim new doctrine at odds with more doctrine. That is not the barometer with which the situation should be considered. We should expect that the Church would firmly state the doctrine and establish the orthopraxis in accordance, and we should expect that the Church would do so forcefully, excluding those who seek to strip souls from the path of salvation. By that reasonable barometer, the truth of the matter is clear -- whatever this assembly is, it is not the true Church.

Again, I share Gene's pain in coming to that realization -- like many others, I feel betrayed and dismayed.

GenXBen said...

When the synod started, you stated that you hoped that there would be more clarity on what the priest and penitents should be discussing as part of the Internal Forum. Perhaps a more codified set of requirements for when Internal Forum should results in one outcome or another. I haven't seen any indication that this is coming, per this document. It's entirely possible that the Exhortation, or perhaps some future document from the Pope's new dicastery will specify such things. But for now, it seems like a codification of the status quo: the priest has no guidelines other than his own pre-conceived biases. So now we have two people with poorly formed consciences trying to settle a matter: the penitent who naturally thinks he did the right thing, and the priest who is likely to bless the situation rather than deal with an angry outburst from the person in front of him. Rather than support the priest in the Internal Forum, right now it seems the priest is being made to bear the brunt of the Bishop's failure to teach clearly. If the priest had a written guideline, he could at least appeal to that or "hide behind the teachings of the Church" as Francis said. Now it's all his fault if things don't go the penitent's way and the penitent is free to shop around for a priest who's more accommodating.

This is the modernist two-step: first refuse to form someone's conscience because no one needs to worry about dry doctrinal matters that might cause embarassment, then excuse the bad results of people's actions on the basis of conscience.

George said...

When Jesus put the spirit of the Law over the letter it was in special circumstances that had nothing to do with trivializing or excusing serious sin. So we see this in Matthew 12 , where the disciples were picking heads of grain on the Sabbath and eating them. We also saw it when Christ healed on the Sabbath.
The progressives and modernists do not have a proper understanding of "spirit over letter".