Sunday, May 29, 2016


Interview by Marco Ferraresi 
25-05-2016 (English translation by This translation uses Italian syntax in English, similar to our new and glorious English translation of the Mass. :)

To speak of the family has never been so complicated. Even within the Church. Does the problem first of all the object of the speech: what is really family? And how to pretend that there is no confusion in civil society, if also in the Church's fundamental truths are darkened  about marriage? The dispute on the cap. VIII of the Exhortation Amoris Laetitia of Pope Francis and the recent Italian law on civil unions arouse astonishment.

We talk with the card. Carlo Caffarra, emeritus Archbishop of Bologna. Caffarra was founder and Dean of the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the family. Already a participant as an expert to the Synod of Bishops on the family of 1980, is appointed by the Pope to the Synods of 2014 and 2015. Answers the questions with the simplicity and the sincerity of the men of his land: "that fetid fertile land between the great river and the great road", says proudly quoting Guareschi.

Your Eminence what is the family?

It is the company that originated from marriage indissoluble bond between a man and a woman, which has the purpose of uniting the spouses and transmit human life.

From a civil union, according to the law Cirinnà was born a family?

No. The President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella, by signing this law has subscribed to a redefinition of marriage. But a regulatory measure does not change the reality of things. We must say it: the Mayors (especially, of course, those Catholics) must make objection of conscience. Celebrating a civil union would in fact jointly responsible for an act gravely illicit on the moral plane.

Because this identity crisis of the family in the West?

I often wonder that, but I do not have an exhaustive response. However, a contributory cause is a process of "debiologizzazione", for which no longer believes that the body has a language (and therefore a significance objective). This meaning is thus determined by the freedom of the person. Is broken,in Western consciousness, the bond between the bios and logos.

In a perspective of faith, there are also the causes of the supernatural?

In 1981 I was founded by the will of Saint John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the family. The Foundation was scheduled for 13 May, date of the first apparition of Our Lady at Fatima. The Pope in that day suffered the attack, from which he emerged miraculously except for grace - to say the same Pontiff - the Madonna. After the first years of life of the Institute, I wrote to Sister Lucy, the Seer of Fatima, asking for prayers for the work, and adding that not expected response. A response but came anyway.

What answered?

Sister Lucy wrote - and, I emphasize, we are in the early eighties - that there would have been a time of one of the "final clash between the Lord and Satan. And the battle field would be constituted by marriage and the family. He added that those who have fought for marriage and the family would be persecuted. But also that they should not fear, because Our Lady has already crushed the head of the serpent hellish.

Prophetic words: this is what is happening?

We live in a situation unpublished. Never happened that you redefine marriage. It is Satan that challenge God, as saying: "You see? You submit your creation. But I will I show that constitute a creating alternative. And you will see that the men will say: it is better this way". The entire span of creation is founded, according to the Scripture, on two columns: marriage and human work. It is now our theme the second, also subject to a "crisis definitoria"; for what here relates, the marriage has been institutionally destroyed.

The Church can respond to this challenge?

Must respond, for reasons i would say structural. The Church is concerned with the marriage because the Lord has raised to a sacrament. Christ himself unites the spouses. It should be remembered, is not a metaphor: according to the words of Saint Paul in marriage the constraint between the spouses engages in spousal bond between Christ and the Church, and vice versa. The indissolubility is not first and foremost a moral question ("the spouses must not separate"), but the ontological: the sacrament performs a transformation in the spouses. So that Scripture says, are no longer two but one. This is clearly stated in Amoris Laetitia (par. 71-75). The sacrament, then, instils in spouses conjugal charity. And this fluent Chapters IV and V of the Exhortation. Furthermore, the sacrament constitutes the spouses in a state of public life in the Church and in society. As every state of life in the Church even Marital Status has a mission: the gift of life, which continues in the education of their children. Here the chapter VII of Amoris Laetitia fills even, in my opinion, a shortcoming in the debate of the bishops at the Synod.

In practice, what should the Church do?

Only one thing: to communicate the Gospel of marriage. I said "communicate", because it is not only a linguistic event. The communication of the Gospel means to heal man and woman by their inability to love and put them in the great mystery of Christ and the Church. This communication takes place through the preaching and catechesis; and through the Sacraments. There are people who, after a catechesis on the Sacrament of the matrimony. They are telling me: because nobody i have never spoken of these wonderful reality? Young people especially should be at the center of our concerns. The issue of education in this field is "the" decisive question. The Pope speaks widely in para. 205-211.

Your Eminence, what can we say about the issue of access to the sacraments of the divorced and remarried? The Holy Father (Francis) is in Chapter VIII, which were offered but opposite readings.

First of all, I would like to emphasize that the Pope himself in para. 307 says that before dealing with the failed marriages, we must concern ourselves with those to be built. And, I would add, the problem of his question remains quantitatively limited. Certainly, the doctrinal is anything but ignored. In this regard, I reply from four premises.

1) marriage was indissoluble. As I said before that a moral obligation, the indissolubility is an ontological datum. Regret to note that not all the Synod Fathers had very clear this ontological foundation.

2) Conjugal fidelity is not an ideal to be reached. The strength to be faithful is given in the sacrament (vi imagine her husband who says to his wife: "You faithful is an ideal that I try to reach, but I still can not"?). Too many times you use in Amoris Laetitia the word "ideal", it is necessary to focus on the point.

3) marriage is not a private matter, available by the spouses. It is a public reality for the good of the Church and of society.

4) The cap. VIII, objectively, it is not clear. How else can you explain the "conflict of interpretations accesosi" even among bishops? When this happens, it is necessary to check whether there are other texts of the Magisterium clearer, bearing in mind a principle: in matters of doctrine of faith and morals the magisterium can not contradict one another. You should not confuse contradiction and development. If I say S is P and then say S is not P, is not that has deepened the first. I contradicted.

Amoris Laetitia, therefore, teaches or not that there is a space for access to the Sacraments for the divorced and remarried?

No. If you pay in a state of life that objectively contradict the sacrament of the Eucharist, cannot access it. As taught in the earlier Magisterium, can instead access those who, not being able to meet the requirement of the separation (e.g. due to the education of the children born from the new report), live in continence. This point is touched by the Pope in a note (n. 351). Now if the pope had wanted to change the previous Magisterium, that it is very clear, would have had the duty and the duty serious, to say so clearly and expressly. You can not with a note and of uncertain content, changing the secular discipline of the Church. I am applying an interpretative principle that in theology has always been admitted. The Magisterium uncertain interprets in continuity with the previous one.

Therefore, no news?

The novelty, in addition to the possibility given by the Holy Father to plead, prudent judgment of bishops to some canonical norms, is especially in caring for these brothers and sisters who are divorced and remarried, trying to imitate our Savior in the mode with which he met the people most in need of "Doctor" . Chapter VIII ("accompany, discern, integrate"), in my modest opinion, is the guide of this "care". We must not fall into the deception mass media to reduce everything to "Eucharist yes-Eucharist no".


rcg said...

True sausage never be should seen made. True is equally present to know that marriage is not is so easy. In fact we observe that charity guides us to where i should be to distinguise marital and martial laws.

Vox Cantoris said...

Cardinal Caffarra is a good man. He is one of the five Cardinals who authored the book which another Cardinal, Baldisseri, prevented Cardinals and Bishops from receiving at the Synod.

He has recently said that the Pope cannot change doctrine in a footnote.

But that isn't how doctrine changes, is it?

"Will this Pope re-write controversial Church doctrines? No. But that isn't how doctrine changes. Doctrine changes when pastoral contexts shift and new insights emerge such that particularly doctrinal formulations no longer mediate the saving message of God's transforming love. Doctrine changes when the Church has leaders and teachers who are not afraid to take note of new contexts and emerging insights. It changes when the Church has pastors who do what Francis has been insisting: leave the securities of your chanceries, of your rectories, of your safe places, of your episcopal residences go set aside the small minded rules that often keep you locked up and shielded from the world."

This often stated quote in print and video by Father Thomas J. Rosica, CSB which we have on video unattributed to its originator, Richard Gaillardetz in the National Catholic Reporter.

You see, a footnote can indeed, change doctrine.

Anonymous said...

Cardinal Caffarra along with Cardinals Burke, Sarah, Muller, Scola, are exceptional. Unfortunately under this pontificate faithful prelates like them have been marginalized and ignored. For whatever reason Our Lord is allowing this papacy to humble faithful Catholics. Maybe to remind us that our hope rests in God alone not in man. At least that is how I choose to view this horrible situation.

Anonymous said...

Fr McDonald, I noticed your comment, "The long goodbye", and I feel for you having to leave behind such a beautiful church - even though the new one is quite tasteful in a modern way. Of course, it is only human to feel some nostalgia about a place one has been for a number of years and worked so hard to beautify it and build up the liturgy. I am sure, though, the natural beauty of being near the sea will help to make up for leaving behind the beauty of St Joseph's, and of course God is always there wherever you go!

Mark Thomas said...

Vox, as I had noted a few minutes on your great blog, the comment by Richard Gaillardetz, if the comment in question is his, is meaningless in regard to that which Pope Francis teaches. The comment in question has misrepresented His Holiness Pope Francis.

Vox, Pope Francis called upon pastors to leave the securities of their chanceries and rectories. He urged pastors to circulate among the people. Why on earth would that, in turn, spur Churchmen to overthrow "controversial doctrines"?


Mark Thomas

"In his post-synodal Exhortation on the Family, Amoris Lætitia (“The Joy of Love”), Pope Francis states clearly: “In no way must the Church desist from proposing the full ideal of marriage, God’s plan in all its grandeur … proposing less than what Jesus offers to the human being.” This is why the Holy Father openly and vigorously defends Church teaching on contraception, abortion, homosexuality, reproductive technologies, the education of children and much more."

places, of your episcopal residences go set aside the small minded rules that often keep you locked up and shielded from the world."
Pope Francis


Victor W said...

Vox Cantoris:
As much as you raise important and interesting points, it would be beneficial for you to read things more carefully sometimes. A footnote is a footnote to some more apt text in the body of the work. In this case it raises a side issue for paragraph 305. The footnote merely points out that the Sacrament of Confession can be used pastorally to instruct the sinner on how to conform his life to the will of God.
Indeed, this is very much in the ethos of the Holy Father's way of preaching the Gospel to the modern world. If you tell someone living in co-habitation that he is a sinner and will go to hell, you will not get very far in this world where psuedo-tolerance and relativism reigns, even though it is true. The point is for the sinner to voluntarily change his ways, not to condemn him with fear of hell. The Holy Father has been trying to make friends with the modern world insofar as this will allow for an opening, a dialogue with this world, where the world may be more receptive of the Church's teachings. Of course it is risky, but it is a method that he has chosen, and we should help him rather than hinder him and give it a chance to see how well it will work.
With regards to that footnote, the discussion is about a sinner who does not understand that he is a sinner. Unlike the State which assumes that you are guilty when breaking the law even if ignorant of the law and so must suffer due punishment, the Church is more merciful. That co-habitation is nothing more than socially accepted fornication is a frame of thinking that is very alien to most people in the industrialiesd world today. So what do you do? The sinner may be trying to get closer to God, but there are a lot of obstacles in his world view that he has inculcated from society. So God is offering the sinner His Grace, and the Church must help him to accept it. And Confession can be used for that purpose, which is what the footnote points out.
It is to be expected that the rupturists will take little snippets of text out of context and sow division and confusion, but I would certainly hope that the orthodox Catholic would take the time to learn what the Holy Father says and present that truth to the world. Certainly I prefer more clarity such as the clarity of a scholar like Ratzinger, but, on the other hand, how does one know that Francis is not purposely being vague and confusing sometimes so as to illicit discussion through which people, nay the world, can become aware of the issues, and perhaps even seek to pursue the matter further? I had a professor once who frequently did this with his students.

Joseph Johnson said...

My sister-in-law just forwarded to my daughter a story from EWTN Nightly News showing the dedication of St. Anthony of Padua church in Ray City, Ga. This is the "Angels in Cypress" church shown on a previous post. My wood carving brother, Roger, his wife, my wife (and myself) as well as my two beautiful daughters (at the sanctuary entrance in a scene with Father Angel all had our "moment of fame" on EWTN!

rcg said...

The photo of St Joseph's, with the "Long Goodbye" title is very thought provoking. I have moved frequently and always tried to have a garden. The same techniques and ideas dont work everywhere. Finding out what works best in each location made it fun and kept me from getting bored. Good luck in your new garden

Paul Bigelow said...

Here are two further videos by the Diocese of Savannah concerning St. Anthony de Padua:

The dedication:

Specific video of the carvings (featuring Mr. Johnson) :

Father Timmons (especially because of the use of Cyprus!) and Father Gabbitt would be very pleased to see these results from such humble beginnings.

May God bless the parishioners of St. Anthony de Padua and Father Freddy Angel.

gob said...

I'm probably exposing myself to shots from those who are waiting for old liberals like me to die off, but my wife and I will be celebrating our 60th wedding anniversary on June 2.....We will be joined in celebrating by our 7 (adult) children..

Marc said...

Congratulations, gob, to you and your wife. June 2 is also my parent's anniversary -- they've been married nearly 40 years. An auspicious day to get married, perhaps.

Jenny said...

Same anniversary date as our oldest daughter married by Fr. McDonald in 2001. We will be hosting grandkids while they celebrate.
Many blessings to all who persevere in marriage!!!

Rood Screen said...


Why would you think people here would criticize your wedding anniversary?

johnnyc said...

Hey gob.....interesting that you identify as liberal and not as a Catholic.

Congratulations on your anniversary.

TJM said...

gob, 7 children? Proves that you were Catholic once upon a time. Most left-wing loon Catholics I know are around your vintage. Enjoy your anniversary!