Monday, October 26, 2015


Some think it is Armageddon. There is wringing of hands, prayers for Pope Benedict to declare he was forced out and thus the current papacy is of the anti-variety. I think there is a group of Catholics who are simply hysterical and not in the funny way.

At any rate, Rorate Caeli has two different perspectives on the just completed synod. Cardinals Walter Kasper and George Pell. They have two completely different perspectives.

Ultimately the pope will decide. His is the only opinion that counts:

From Rorate Caeli:

Cardinal Kasper clearly considers the Final Relatio of the Synod favors his position in an exclusive interview to Il Giornale, translated only by Rorate. Cardinal Pell (see video below) does not. Whose view will Francis favor if the language is unclear?...
“Communion for the divorced if they repent; homosexual [unions] are not family”

Serena Sartini
October 26, 2015

At the closing of the Synod, where his progressive line prevailed, the high-ranked Prelate says: "We will do everything we can to save couples" The Pope will have the last word [on the matter]. Time is needed for the document
“I’m satisfied and happy with the work of the Synod. The final report (approved by a two-thirds majority) is a good text. Now it’s up to the Pope to make a decision. I hope he issues a document which highlights the joy of Christian marriage.” Cardinal Kasper, leader of the progressive front, draws up a balance of the Synod on the Family which has just concluded. In this interview to ‘IL GIORNALE’ he describes the atmosphere of the Synod’s work and the significance of an opening to the divorced and remarried being admitted to Holy Communion, something he strongly supports.
Your Eminence, your line prevailed at the Synod, that is, the possibility of the divorced and remarried being admitted to Communion on a ”case by case” valuation. How would you evaluate the Synod Fathers’ discussions on this theme?
“I’m satisfied; the door has been opened to the possibility of the divorced and remarried being granted Communion. There has been somewhat of an opening, but the consequences were not discussed. All of this is now in the Pope’s hands, who will decide what has to be done. The synod made suggestions. There has been an opening, but the question has still to be resolved in full and needs to be studied more.”
What is meant by it’s up to the presbyter to decide case by case?
“There has to be some conditions in order to receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist. In the meantime, an appraisal has to be made [to see] that everything possible has been done to save the first marriage; then that there has to be a path of repentance by the couple. And then a path of reflection and accompaniment [will] be necessary as divorce is a disaster and leaves traumatic experiences in it tracks. Time is needed to overcome the wounds of a separation.”
But doesn’t such an opening risk backing divorce?
“No, not at all. The doors aren’t opened for divorce. Parish priests have to do everything they can to reconcile the couple. Divorce is never a pleasant thing; it is a sad moment most of all for the children of the couple who are separating.”
There have been many disturbing elements: ‘the coming out’ of Monsignor Charamsa who declared his homosexuality, the 13 cardinals’ letter who contested the work methods of the Synod, the news diffused about the Pope having a benign brain tumor. Did all of this destabilize the work at the gathering?
“The Synod did not allow itself to be manipulated. We went ahead with our work along the lines of the fixed agenda, without allowing ourselves to be influenced or manipulated by external factors.”
However, a ‘no’ came from the Synod as regards homosexual unions…
“The theme of the Synod was the family, and homosexual unions are not family. We didn’t linger on the subject of homosexual unions but just on the reality of people with homosexual tendencies inside families. The Church has to help live these situations, and has to help in avoiding discriminations.”
What can we expect now from the Pope?
“I hope that the Holy Father issues a convincing text that highlights the joy of Christian marriage, this is the most important thing. The indissolubility of marriage is not in question, but there is [also]no opposition between mercy and the Truth of the Gospel.”
How long will we have to wait for Francis’ decision?
“Some time is necessary, it is not a document that can be done in one or two days. The final report of the Synod is a base for the Pope. I hope the text arrives during the Year of Mercy. It would be a very good sign.”
Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana

Cardinal Pell is interviewed by Catholic News Service:


Gene said...

The loser in this is the Roman Catholic Church.

James said...

Cardinal Kasper's final comment is interesting, as a lot hangs on when Pope Francis is planning on publishing his document. It's likely that he was originally aiming to publish it at the start of the Year of Mercy (8 December), but that is surely less probable now, given the number of unresolved issues on the table. A delay would be no bad thing.

Maybe that's wishful thinking. Given the obsession of this papacy with PR, and the extent to which the jubilee year is tied up with the synod outcome, I'd be surprised if he didn't come up with some big announcement on 8 December.

McCall1981 said...

I was encouraged to see this from Card Wuerl, since he is a liberal, and was also on the final document drafting committee:

“There’s no new recommendation” on access to the sacraments for divorced Catholics, said Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington in an interview on Sunday. “It doesn’t change the law.”

DJR said...

The pope's opinion is the one that will count?

How about God's opinion? Where does He fit in?

Gene said...

People seem over joyed that "at least the Pope/Synod did not teach error." So, is that our that our criteria for confidence and hope in the Church...a negative? So, they sowed doubt, confusion, and distrust among the faithful, engaged in a lot of double-talk, came up with a totally meaningless document, separated (in their approach) doctrine and pastoral practice, and promised us more of the same in the future. And, this is good? We really don't expect much, do we?

Marc said...

I'm going to post below an excellent analysis of the three principle paragraphs of the Final Synod document, which were written by a good friend of mine. There will be three parts.

Part One:

Discernment and Integration
84. The baptized who are divorced and civilly remarried should be more integrated into Christian communities in the various ways possible, avoiding every occasion of scandal. The logic of integration is the key to their pastoral accompaniment, so that they know now only that they belong to the Body of Christ which is the Church, but that they may have a joyous and fruitful experience of this. They are baptized, they are brothers and sisters, the Holy Spirit pours into them gifts and charisms for the good of everyone. Their participation can be expressed in various ecclesial services: it is therefore necessary what are the various forms of exclusion currently practiced in the liturgical, pastoral, educational and institutional areas can be overcome. They must not only not feel excommunicated, but they can live and mature as living members of the Church, feeling that she is a mother who always welcomes them, takes care of them with affection and encourages them in the walk of the life of the Gospel. This integration is also necessary for the care of Christian formation of their children, who must be considered the most important. For the Christian community, taking care of these people is not a weakening of its own faith and witness regarding the indissolubility of marriage: indeed, the Church expresses her charity precisely in this care.

MY COMMENTS: “They must not only not feel excommunicated …” Um, they _are_ excommunicated, are they not? Can their feelings change this? Should their feelings be allowed to change this even if they could do so? Would it be charitable to allow them to feel as if they aren’t excommunicated if they in fact are? Subjectivity rears its head. And isn’t there a natural conflict between integration on the one hand and scandal on the other? The only ways to fully integrate these people without scandal are either 1) to grant them an annulment or 2) to let them subjectively grant themselves one. Which leads to our next paragraph, which will allow, perhaps require, everyone to presume that when a divorced and remarried Catholic receives communion, he’s done one of these two things (probably now the latter), thus avoiding scandal. Who are we to judge?

Marc said...

Part Two:

85. St. John Paul II offered overall criteria which remain the basis for the evaluation of these situations: “Pastors must know that, for the sake of truth, they are obliged to exercise careful discernment of situations. There is in fact a difference between those who have sincerely tried to save their first marriage and have been unjustly abandoned, and those who through their own grave fault have destroyed a canonically valid marriage. Finally, there are those who have entered into a second union for the sake of the children’s upbringing, and who are sometimes subjectively certain in conscience that their previous and irreparably destroyed marriage had never been valid.” (Familiaris Consortio, 84). It is therefore the task of pastors to accompany interested persons on the way of discernment in keeping with the teaching of the Church and the guidance of bishops. In this process it will be useful to make an examination of conscience through times of reflection and penitence. The divorced and remarried should ask themselves how they behaved toward their children when the conjugal union entered into crisis; if there were attempts at reconciliation; how is the situation with the abandoned partner; what consequences the new relationship has on the rest of the family and the community of the faithful; what example it offers to young people who must prepare for marriage. A sincere reflection can strengthen the trust in the mercy of God which is never denied to anyone.
Furthermore, it cannot be denied that in some circumstances “imputability and responsibility for an action can be diminished or even nullified by ignorance, inadvertence, duress, fear, habit, inordinate attachments and other psychological or social factors” (CCC, 1735) for reasons of various conditions. Consequently, the judgment of an objective situation should not lead to a judgment about the “subjective imputability” (Pontifical Council for legislative texts, Declaration of June 24, 2000, 2a). In specific circumstances people find great difficulty in acting a different way. Therefore, while upholding a general norm, it is necessary to recognize that the responsibility regarding certain actions or decisions is not the same in all cases. Pastoral discernment, while taking account of the rightly formed conscience of persons, must take responsibility for these situations. Even the consequences of the acts carried out are not necessarily the same in all cases.

MY COMMENTS: Where to begin here? First, committing a mortal sin for the sake of the children. I thought that in Catholic moral theology, the ends cannot justify the means.
Second, subjective certainty in conscience implicitly (since tribunals aren’t even mentioned here) overrule or trump the decisions (if any) of such tribunals, in any circumstances (since no limitation is here placed on the auctoritas of this conscience.)
Third, “[t]here is a difference” between cases in which the person in question was a victim and cases in which s/he was the culpable party; and “[i]n some circumstances” there may be diminished responsibility due to various reasons. Precisely. That’s why we have tribunals. Where is the mention of them here? What about the situations in which the divorced person has simply refused to go to the tribunal to begin with? Does this whole section not--certainly in practical terms, and quite possibly in formal terms--abrogate the whole annulment process? Does anything in this paragraph require, or encourage, or provide any incentive for choosing the annulment process over a subjective decision based on conscience?

Marc said...

Part Three:

Fourth: “Pastors must know that, for the sake of truth, they are obliged to exercise careful discernment of situations. … Pastoral discernment, while taking account of the rightly formed conscience of persons, must take responsibility for these situations.” How will the hierarchy enforce this? We already know that many bishops are on record in favor of communion for unrepentant adulterous Catholics. Given that these bishops came from the ranks of the priesthood, then a fortiori there are likely a great many priests also favor communion for these persons. Is it possible that, either by applying unsound moral/theological principles, or through a desire to promote their own agenda, or through negligence (perhaps gross), many priests will fail to exercise discernment here and allow or actively encourage such communion on a wide scale? Let's make it a numbers game. Compare the number of people whose internal fora correctly determine their first putative marriages were invalid to the number of people whose first marriages were valid but who just want communion (on their terms). Which number is likely to be bigger, especially given the number of modernist priests?
Fifth. Regarding this discernment: the paragraph talks about discernment, judgment, and responsibility . . . but to what end? Nowhere does the paragraph talk expressly about _denying_ communion, does it? The whole tone seems to be about finding ways to allow it instead, doesn’t it? In other words, it leaves “discernment” hanging in the air without discussing the option of denial. As long as we’re talking, then the goal is served. It’s all about dialoguing. Grammatically, it’s sort of like “a woman’s right to choose.” To choose what? To murder her unborn child. Here the discernment is about what? About whether you’re in a state of mortal sin that is endangering your salvation. Compare this approach to Familiaris Consortio 84, from which it quotes selectively, conveniently leaving out judgmental language such as 1) divorce with an intent to remarry as “an evil”; 2) “The Church, which was set up to lead to salvation all people and especially the baptized, cannot abandon to their own devices those who have been previously bound by sacramental marriage and who have attempted a second marriage”; and 3) “the Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist.” (Note the statement on objectivity in this last.)
Sixth: “The divorced and remarried should ask themselves …” Yeah, they should. But must they? What if they don’t? How do we know whether they have or not? Wink wink, nude nudge . . . Isn’t this a license to either 1) receive communion without an examination of conscience, or 2) receive communion without an understanding of the requirements therefore, or 3) both? OK, so priests aren’t communion police. Now let’s go a step further--let’s adopt a policy that negligently encourages ignorant communions. Until this document, marriages were presumed valid. Now they will be presumed invalid whenever the formerly married person presents himself for communion, yes? I will not be able to objectively say in any circumstance in which a divorced/remarried Catholic presents himself for communion that his first marriage was valid. Nor will the Church herself, will it? Even if the second marriage was in front of a civil magistrate?

Marc said...

Part Four (I estimated incorrectly):

86. The process of accompaniment and discernment directs these faithful to an awareness of their situation before God. Conversation with the priest, in the internal forum, contributes to the formation of a correct judgment on what hinders the possibility of a fuller participation in the life of the Church and the steps that can foster it and make it grow. Given that for the same law there is no graduality (cf. FC, 34), this discernment can never prescind from the demands of truth and charity of the Gospel proposed by the Church. For this to happen, the necessary conditions of humility, confidence, love for the Church and her teaching, in the sincere search for God’s will and the desire to achieve a more perfect response to it, must be secured.

MY COMMENTS: First: Note again the emphasis on “the process.”
Second: “For this to happen . . .” For WHAT to happen? Accompaniment (whatever that is)? Discernment? Formation of a correct judgment? Fuller participation? And note the recursive loophole: “I do love the Church and her teaching! I especially love paragraph 84, which allows my subjective judgment to trump decisions or marriage tribunals! It’s God’s will!”
Third: And who’s going to teach these people that they must secure “the necessary conditions of humility, confidence, love for the Church and her teaching, in the sincere search for God’s will and the desire to achieve a more perfect response to it”? The same bishops and priests who want unrepentant adulterers to receive communion? And isn’t the very best way to secure it, in the great majority of cases, going to a tribunal? If not, haven’t these tribunals been a perversion all along? Was the Church wrong to have them, or is it wrong to effectively dispense with them?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Marc these are the most troubling paragraphs in large part due to their incomprehensibility and ambiguity.

These are the paragraphs that Fr. Jonathan Morris focused in on his show yesterday on the Catholic Channel (XM-Sirius). He was particularly alarmed by the subjectivity when it comes to Catholic morality.

And yes, I do believe if the pope allows this to stand or does not correct omissions and ambiguity in fact doctrine will be changed by allowed corrupt practices.

Our only hope is that the pope will be convinced to revise this document if he decides to issue it as his own or writes something that is much clearer that this is which unfortunately is not his style although the homily at the beginning of the synod was clear and he spoke to European gypsies yesterday and said they needed to change the perception the world has of them of being swindlers, thieves and con artists by conforming to the Gospel. It was quite clear coming from the pope and rather biting!

Marc said...

I'm glad you agree that these are problematic, Father.

You know the author of these comments, and I expect that you respect his opinion quite a bit. I find his analysis both thorough and balanced.

Gene said...

The author is one of the best intellects I have ever encountered, and I have studied under a few major ones. He is wonderful to talk with and be around if you don't mind feeling like an idiot once in a while. Warning: do not attempt a battle of wits with him. LOL!