There’s marriage and then there’s marriage*

I had a comment in my messages from an Observant Person who had the misfortune to read an article about Card. Kasper’s remarks on marriage in advance of the Synod.

The Observant Person pulled a strange quote from Kasper via CNS:

“he allowed for the possibility that in very specific cases the church could tolerate, though not accept, a second union.”?

Huh?  “Tolerate though not accept”?

There’s marriage and then there’s marriage*

How can the Church tolerate what the Church cannot accept? There is a logical disconnect.

What is this supposed to look like in concrete terms?

Let’s take this into the parish. There are second marriages and they are tolerated but not accepted. How is that going to work? Does anyone think that people will be content for very long knowing that they have a second class marriage? They are tolerated, but not accepted? No, what will happen is that people will come to see the second marriage as the real marriage. The first marriage was the one with training-wheels. No, everyone will come to accept the second marriage as the real marriage.

How is this supposed to work? Are they supposed to do a little penance service before their second marriage is “blessed”? Will Father smile at them with only half of his mouth? In sermons about marriage, will the Bishop talk – with a little sneer – about those people out there with marriages that we Just Tolerate™?

Only tolerated, not accepted. What a window of opportunity that gives us!

Think of the shame factor possibilities.

Hey! I know! This is like “We tolerate homosexuals, but we don’t accept them!” How would that work? Pretty well?

Is this really what we want to be saying?

I can see this now. Father is in the pulpit, and he says: “Please understand this everyone. We only tolerate, but we don’t accept your second marriage!”

What the people in Columbia Heights hear is: “Father said that our second marriage okay!”

And then there are the third marriages. Hey! If second marriage is real-er, then third marriage is really real-er. Good, better, best! Keep on marrying until you get it right.

Like a lot of Kasper’s work, it seems subtle until you start to read it.

I then brought in a couple of my other friendly correspondents to discuss.

One Smart Correspondent wrote back:

[Kasper] wants us to follow the Orthodox into plain error.

Clearly.

Another Smart Correspondent wrote back:

I’m sure what he’s (sloppily – on purpose, I fear) referring to is the possibility of an “internal forum” solution. I maintain that an internal forum solution is only acceptable with the application of the “brother-sister” solution:

“Okay, you’ve made a mistake in divorcing your first wife – your faith was not fully alive at that point, and you did not understand the gravity of what happened, nor is there any objective proof to back up your conviction that that first marriage was invalid. Then, still in darkness, you entered into a subsequent union, have settled down, raised a family with this second woman and now have revived your baptismal faith. You would like to practice that faith and receive the sacraments. Fine – the Church won’t ask you to separate bed and board from the mother of your children. Yet, we cannot “bless” this second union while your wife is alive, nor can you engage in marital intimacy with this woman (no one has an absolute right to sexual activity – something our society seems to forget). As long as your former marriage is not well-known to the parish, and your status does not cause wonderment here, you can go to confession and receive Holy Communion, living a life of continence and chastity with the mother of your children as long as your current status perdures.”

That is, of course, the way this has to be done.

People make mistakes in life and some mistakes just can’t be fixed.  Therefore, we move forward with the difficult path, but the only path that preserves charity and integrity.  Will people “fall” or “fail” in these situations?  Sure, they will.  Then they regroup, resolve, confess, and move forward, until they die.

This is how life works: not every mistake can be “fixed”.

UPDATE:

More on the wisdom of Card. Kasper from the Canonical Defender!

Check out Ed Peters’ post at his fine blog In The Light Of The Law.

UPDATE:

Another of my Smart Correspondents writes:

In itself, [Kasper’s] statement is unintelligible: toleration and acceptance mean the same thing. These terms cannot logically be contrasted as they are here.

His is pseudo-casuistry. Possibility really means in actual practice, very specific cases means upon demand, tolerate means accept and declare an adulterous union not sinful.

This speech was highly praised by Pope Francis, as being theology done on the knees. Wow. This in fact is a worldly accomodationist rejection of Catholic doctrine by a Cardinal of the Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae. Error is bold and undocile.

UPDATE:

The Italian daily Il Foglio has published the entire text of Card. Kasper’s controversial and very long talk.   HERE

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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84 Responses to There’s marriage and then there’s marriage*

  1. wised says:

    Is it possible that the good Cardinal took his cue from many of his fellow Church leaders who tolerate but not “really”accept abortion, euthanasia, contraception, threats against heterosexual marriage, et al. Tolerating these obvious sins has resulted in “Who am I to judge” being readily misread and enthusiasticaaly accepted by society in general but some Catholics specifically. No wonder there is confusion among those in the pews and a lack of faith in those who no longer feel the need to participate.

  2. jhayes says:

    In Evangelii Gaudium (47), Francis said something similar:

    The Eucharist, although it is the fullness of sacramental life, is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.[51] These convictions have pastoral consequences that we are called to consider with prudence and boldness. Frequently, we act as arbiters of grace rather than its facilitators. But the Church is not a tollhouse; it is the house of the Father, where there is a place for everyone, with all their problems.

    [But in Evangelii gaudium, His Holines did not link this sentiment about the Eucharist with the question of Communion for the remarried, as Kasper did. That makes what Francis wrote entirely different. In fact, Francis’ argument on this point in Evangelii gaudium is entirely orthodox.]

  3. Vecchio di Londra says:

    I can imagine a situation where X has divorced Y and civilly remarried Z.
    Both X and Y remain in the same village/town/suburb where they were married.
    X and second ‘spouse’ Z attend their local parish church every week.
    So does divorced spouse Y.
    X goes to Communion at Mass, and the parish priest does nothing to stop this.
    At spouse X’s suggestion, Z decides to convert to the Catholic faith, and also goes up for Communion.
    Y also goes to the same weekly Sunday Mass and witnesses all this.
    Y has not remarried or formed a new attachment. Y believes the first marriage to X was valid and is hurt and outraged that X is ‘getting away with it’.

    There’s room for an awful lot of hurt and conflict here.

  4. kpoterack says:

    “This speech was highly praised by Pope Francis, as being theology done on the knees. ”

    My understanding was that it was a book of Card. Kaspar’s that Pope Francis praised as “theology done on its knees” which he read before the speech and not the speech itself.

  5. Bosco says:

    Dear Father Z.,

    Thank you for the link to Ed Peters blog entry: “Patristic ‘life raft’ language refers to Confession, not Communion” which I have read. I respect Mr. Peter’s insights.

    While prefacing his comment by stating he is not a Petrologist (nor am I), Mr. Peters asks:

    “Does anyone know a Patristic source that uses “second plank” language in any context other than that of making sure that sinners know Confession is available for any sin repented of? Does anyone know of the Fathers using “second plank” language to approve of holy Communion for those who do not cease objectively grave public sin?”

    I take it that if such be the case those who do not cease ‘objective’ grave public sin are out the door entirely in respect of reception of the Holy Eucharist.

    Perhaps there are indeed circumstances where a sin is forgiven and one is nonetheless banned from reception of the Holy Eucharist. Never heard of such a sin, even those sins crying out to God for vengeance.

    I have heard of absolution being refused however.

    The latter question, i.e. “Does anyone know of the Fathers using “second plank” language to approve of holy Communion for those who do not cease objectively grave public sin?”, seems to solicit Patristic sources which may have been more restrictive, and thus contradict, earlier advices from the Prefect of the CDF in 1994, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, and Pope John Paul II (see below).

    If there are such Patristic sources I should like to see them as well, but for now it seems the question (albeit not by a Patristic source) has been addressed by the Pope and the now Pope Emeritus.

    Pope John Paul II wrote:

    “Reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons, such as for example the children’s upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they “take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples.” (Familiaris Consortio, 84)

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

    “If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law. Consequently, they cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists. For the same reason, they cannot exercise certain ecclesial responsibilities. Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence.”

  6. Long-Skirts says:

    All I want to know is…can I get a tubal-ligation yet?

  7. McCall1981 says:

    In light of Card Kasper’s speech, what should we make of Pope Francis’ homily yesterday? Francis spoke specifically on divorce/remarriage and condemned the use of “casuistry”

    http://en.radiovaticana.va/m_articolo.asp?c=777372

  8. Bosco says:

    I apologize for having omitted the 14 September 1994 words of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger from my previous entry and the June 24, 2000 Declaration of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts “Concerning The Admission To Holy Communion Of Faithful Who Are Divorced And Remarried”

    The Pontifical Council stated:

    “c) the manifest character of the situation of grave habitual sin.

    Those faithful who are divorced and remarried would not be considered to be within the situation of serious habitual sin who would not be able, for serious motives – such as, for example, the upbringing of the children – “to satisfy the obligation of separation, assuming the task of living in full continence, that is, abstaining from the acts proper to spouses” (Familiaris consortio, n. 84), and who on the basis of that intention have received the sacrament of Penance. Given that the fact that these faithful are not living more uxorio is per se occult, while their condition as persons who are divorced and remarried is per se manifest, they will be able to receive Eucharistic Communion only remoto scandalo.”

    Prefect for the CDF, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger declared:

    “The faithful who persist in such a situation may receive Holy Communion only after obtaining sacramental absolution, which may be given only “to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that when for serious reasons, for example, for the children’s upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they ‘take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples'”(8). In such a case they may receive Holy Communion as long as they respect the obligation to avoid giving scandal.”

    Peace!

  9. donboyle says:

    It should help those who are worried and fretful about what may be coming to read Cardinal Ratzinger’s thoughtful essay on the topic from 1998, reprinted during the pontificate of Benedict XVI in November 2011. This issue seems to have been simmering at the highest levels but without forward action, perhaps because of B16’s distractions in the last two years of his pontificate. Cardinal Kasper’s speech refers to Ratzinger’s work several times.

    The 1998 Ratzinger essay is here: http://www.osservatoreromano.va/en/news/the-pastoral-approach-to-marriage-must-be-founded-#.UxISJs4z3ke

  10. Robbie says:

    Finally, the fruits of the council are ripening (or is it rotting). They are chaos and confusion. I’m sure the average Catholic, who may or may not attend Mass, will say, “What’s the big deal?” On top of that, we’ll almost certainly get another round of news stories and magazine covers proclaiming Francis the best pope ever because he’s willing to look past those pesky doctrines that have existed for 2000 years.

    Unfortunately though, history shows when someone gives an inch, a mile will be taken. Softening doctrine on this issue will undoubtedly open the door on other issues. Renegade bishops and priests will simply take it upon themselves to claim whatever they want based on the two issues for which Francis has become best known. First, of course, is “Who am I to judge?” Second, is the perception Francis and the Vatican have allowed to foster that Francis isn’t all that concerned with doctrine.

    This pastoral action (code words for modernism) will exacerbate the already widening gulf between the conservative branch of the Church and the “live and let live” portion of the Church. Will it lead to schism? I guess it just depends on one’s definition, but the Church, which somehow survived the horrors of the 1970’s, may well enter a period of defacto schism. In fact, we may already be seeing that take root in the small but growing numbers of stories suggesting Benedict’s resignation was not valid.

    Maybe Francis is simply not aware of how his words have been received around the world, but it’s time someone fully and forcefully relayed that to him. Unfortunately, he’s surrounded himself with men like Kasper and the loquacious Maradiaga so I have little reason to believe any of this will change or at least slow down. We may already be sliding down the slippery slope.

  11. Athelstan says:

    Cardinal Kasper’s position is really a thinly disguised wedge for full Church acceptance of remarriage. This is what it will amount to in the end, and he knows it. But he realizes that if it is to come off, he must drag Rome there in stages.

    We’ve seen this tale played out enough in Protestant denominations.

  12. iPadre says:

    I think of the words of Our Lord: “Say yes when you mean yes and no when you mean no. Anything else is from the evil one.”

  13. Robbie says:

    I think it’s clear what Kapser is doing here. He wants to propose this “middle ground”, pastoral accommodation for two reasons. First, it gets the “faithful” used to the concept that divorce, remarriage, and communion can be acceptable under certain circumstances. Second, he knows full well this plan will never work for the reasons Father Zuhlsdorf has laid out.

    Divorced and remarried aren’t going to accept their marriage is viewed as second class in the eyes of the Church. Knowing that, whether it’s a year from now or 10 years from now, he and his allies will come back and say the “middle ground” doesn’t work and we should just accept the reality that most don’t see a problem with divorced and remarried Catholics receiving communion.

    That’s the goal of this whole mishmash. They are playing the long game as they have for so many decades.

  14. snoozie says:

    McCall1981…it’s also interesting to note how the B of R didn’t at all reference the second and definitive part of Christ’s teaching, about the remarrying divorced spouse committing adultery…eisegesis, and can I just say it?…prooftexting writ LARGE.

    yes indeed, it appears that (as Fr. Z put it), “There’s marriage and then there’s marriage”. [No. I wrote: There’s marriage and then there’s marriage*”] And it likewise appears that C. Kasper has placed a twist on a page taken from the eminent theologian in chief of the View, the rev. Whoopie Goldberg who spoke thus…”wellllll,….it wasn’t really rape, rape.”

    We are truly in uncharted waters, and the confusion and pain this kind of lunacy is causing is the effect of “making a mess”. There is NOTHING pastoral about this; there is NOTHING ordered about this; there is NOTHING of the Truth about this. It’s just plain scary.

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  16. kpoterack says:

    “Francis spoke specifically on divorce/remarriage and condemned the use of “casuistry””

    Well, it all depends on what is meant by “casuistry.” In English, at least, it tends to mean “clever, but unsound reasoning, esp. in regard to moral questions.” In this case, PF would seem to be attacking those who wish to justify divorce/remarriage and communion. In other words, don’t try to come up with clever rationalizations, just “walk with” such people. (as he said)

    However, “casuistry” also can have the more positive meaning of “extracting or extending theoretical rules from particular instances and applying these rules to new instances.” If that is what he meant, and he did say it in Italian, so I don’t know for sure, it still might mean something similar – “walk with” such people first, show them the love of Christ, don’t be obsessed with determining the exact nature of their situation as the FIRST matter of business.

    PF certainly is not opposed to figuring out canonically whether a marriage exists or not (cf. Pope Francis’ address to the Apostolic Signatura, Nov. 8) – so what he said has to be understood in this context.

    I think that it was just classic Pope Francis, FIRST show people the love of Christ, and then we can look into specific matters. Just as Cardinal Burke said.

  17. tcreek says:

    Progressive church leaders are in a quandary. Since the scandal of automatic annulments are finally waning, they must find other ways to ease the process of abandoning the commitment to lifelong Christian marriage.

    “… the scandal of seeing the value of Christian marriage being practically destroyed by the exaggerated and almost automatic multiplication of declarations of nullity…” (John Paul II address to the Roman Rota, 5 February 1987)

  18. Bosco says:

    There are no unforgivable sins. There are, however, not a few sinners who will not, either out of ignorance or pride or sheer sloth, admit they have sinned and seek to be reconciled to Almighty God Who is Merciful to all those who beg His forgiveness for their sins (even if motivated by imperfect contrition, i.e. fear of Hell); who resolve to avoid sin; and who continue to have recourse to His Mercy when they might sin again.

    To my mind, the greatest scandal which has emerged through this very public and disedifying ‘re-examination of marriage’ is that the focus is off-centre, having drifted or purposefully been steered off-course by certain ecclesiastics and ecclesiastical politics who, for sake of muscle flexing, do not want God’s Mercy for their brothers and sisters who stand in peril of damnation, but rather moral licence masquerading as mercy.

    This is about the salvation of souls! This is about saving the souls of our brothers and sisters who might be lost for all eternity. Let us not cast out these poor souls by offering a false mercy/love and let us keep these poor misguided souls in our prayers:

    “Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” Matthew 24:11 – 13

  19. annmarie says:

    Fr. Z, you quote one of your readers with:

    “In itself, [Kasper’s] statement is unintelligible: toleration and acceptance mean the same thing. These terms cannot logically be contrasted as they are here.”

    I believe that the terms are different. Tolerate means not to seek to stop an action or entity. Acceptance means to approve of the action or entity in addition to tolerating it. We see this demand for acceptance beyond toleration in the homosexual lobby.

    I would think impossible to tolerate divorced and “remarried” people openly in the Church beyond the toleration currently practiced, without it morphing into the type of “toleration” that celebrates, thus givng scandal. But?

    Further, if Cardinal Kasper’s remarks are accurately translated, he falls into an error common in modern talk about divorce. He says, as quoted in the CNS article:

    “But the church also must be realistic and acknowledge “the complex and thorny problem” posed by Catholics whose marriages have failed, but who find support, family stability and happiness in a new relationship, he continued.”

    Marriages do not fail. The people in marriages fail for lots of reasons. The people in these “marriages” are not victims of a failed marriage. One or both are the cause of a relationship not being a marriage.

    Further, people who find family stability, happiness and happiness in a new relationship may be the same people who refused to establish a marriage in the first union and who are no more capable of such a marriage in the current union. He or she or they may just be getting all their desires met at the present time in the present relationship and when the going gets tough again may bail.

    Sorry for the cynicism, but have seen the above scenarios play out in real life. The Tribunal process should be strengthend and when people who have received annulments attempt another marriage in the Church they should be subjected to great scrutiny. Why? Because there is a first family, often living in much financial and social pain. Because there may be future children who will be subjected to the parent’s leftovers from the past and on and on.

    I hope there is a Humanae Vitae moment on the horizon about this issue.

  20. LeeF says:

    The key question in discussions about the internal forum, is not whether a person/couple can rightfully adjudge the facts of a case themselves when the external forum (canonical) lacks enough evidence to do so. But rather, is the internal forum evaluation going to be done according to the standards set down by the Church taken from the Gospel, or according to someone’s own different, more lax standards. Just as technically an act of perfect contrition could remit mortal sin in absence of availability of confession, an important reason we go to confession is that our own judgment and and assessment of the degree of contrition are rarely perfect and 100% honest, which is why the Church provides (hopefully) skilled and orthodox confessors as the normal and mandated way of seeking absolution.

  21. MrTipsNZ says:

    As the old saying goes ” When a divorced man and divorced woman remarry, there are four people in that bedroom”.

  22. gracie says:

    Athelstan,

    “We’ve seen this tale played out enough in Protestant denominations.”

    We’ve also seen this tale played out with the gay rights movement.

    First: Toleration

    Second: Acceptance

    Third: Approval

    Fourth: Indoctrination

    Fifth: Persecution

    It’s taken roughly twenty-five years to go from, “please just stop beating up in a dark alley/stomping on/crucifying on a fence, etc. gay people to, “bake a cake for my gay wedding or go to jail” laws of the land. Now that the playbook on how to destroy the Catholic Church – see above agenda – has been used with such amazing success, it should take half the time for the Eucharist to be given out to people in a state of mortal sin. Actually, it’s already being done with the acceptance/approval of many bishops and now the challenges to the doctrine itself begin.

  23. LeeF says:

    For those who read German, Cardinal Kasper did an interview on his speech with the German media outlet (webpage + radio enterprise) Kath.net, which I regard as generally orthodox and devout.

    http://www.kath.net/news/45088
    (For those who don’t read German, running anything through google translate will get the gist but is unlikely to attain a high degree of accuracy.)

    Cliff notes:
    -headline states that he stressed the indissolubility of marriage
    -he whines about the news media focusing on just one aspect of his speech instead of the whole
    -he says the fundamental question he posed is whether someone who recognizes his past marital mistake and now in a second marriage desires to live a fully Christian life and raise his children in the faith, should be denied the absolution we all depend on (begging the question of whether through marital relations in the 2nd marriage one persists in sin with no intention to stop)
    -the family as a domestic church is the key to many such issues including the new evangelization (i.e. domestic church will justify any irregular solutions).

    So he basically reaffirms Church teaching and then winks.

  24. robtbrown says:


    LeeF saysm
    . . . he posed is whether someone who recognizes his past marital mistake and now in a second marriage desires to live a fully Christian life and raise his children in the faith, should be denied the absolution we all depend on . . .

    It has never been apparent to me what the matter of the sin forgiven by absolution is? Is it that the vows of the first marriage were lies?

  25. kpoterack says:

    “So he basically reaffirms Church teaching and then winks.”

    LeeF,

    I read Tornielli’s summary of Card. Kaspar’s speech and had basically the same take you had. The man is clever. He goes out of his way to affirm the indissolubility of marriage, over and over, and even warns against relaxing the annulment process (!) “because that would make people think the Church approves of divorce.” Then he tries to say that for only a small number of those who are serious Catholics and in an invalid second marriage, the Church return to what he claims was the practice of a few of the early Church Fathers – which I add, involves some very dubious, debatable interpretations handled aptly by Fr. Gilles Pelland, S.J. in this article:

    http://www.ewtn.com/library/Marriage/ANTDIVRC.HTM

    In my opinion, even if Card. Kaspar is correct (which I think is debatable), these few limited practices were erroneous. The Church has clarified and moved on since then, esp. Council of Trent.

    Well, we know what we are dealing with now in terms of probably the most sophisticated and subtle proponent of this point of view (i.e. Card Kaspar). Time to come up with a defensive strategy.

  26. The Masked Chicken says:

    Someone up above mentioned that tolerance and acceptance are the same thing, but they are not. Tolerance may be defined, according to Ven. Fulton Sheen as:

    “Tolerance is an attitude of reasoned patience toward evil … a forbearance that restrains us from showing anger or inflicting punishment. Tolerance applies only to persons … never to truth.
    ‘A Plea For Intolerance’ (1931)”

    Acceptance (or accept or accepted), according to Merriam-Webster is:

    “to receive willingly,” or “: generally approved or used”

    The Church cannot receive or approve of a second marriage where sexual sin is constantly being committed. Thus, it cannot be accepted. Can it be tolerated? Here is where, in my opinion, Card. Kasper errs. Tolerance is a temporary patience towards an evil with the reasonable expectation of repentance. It is possible to tolerate two people in a second marriage if there is a reasoned hope that they will repent by either separating or living as brother and sister. There is no such thing as a permanent tolerance of a second marriage if there is no intent to repent. This would amount to acceptance, which the Church cannot do.

    As for the patristics, St. Basil, Tertullian, St. John Chrysotom, Origen, and others have written about second marriages, but the second plank languages seems to be rightly interpreted as applying only to widows in a second marriage. Two foundation articles (one article, one book) that go into the patristics in detail are:

    DID THE CHURCH TREAT THE DIVORCED AND REMARRIED MORE LENIENTLY IN ANTIQUITY THAN TODAY?

    Fr Gilles Pelland, SJ
    Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome

    which may be found, here:

    http://www.ewtn.com/library/Marriage/ANTDIVRC.HTM

    Fr. Pelland cites St. Basil, Tertullian, and Origen. The endnotes have the exact citations (I would put links to them, but this comment would go into moderation they are easily found through Google).

    The second book length study is:

    Separation of the Spouses with the Bond Remaining: historical and canonical study with pastoral applications

    , by Jaraj Kamas, Gregorian University Press, 1997. Kamas’s dissertation has the full patristic history with specific citations in the footnotes. I have not read the book, so I cannot comment on what conclusions he reaches. The book may be found, here.

    Google books have excerpts which can be read by typing, “Chrystostom de libello repudii,” into a Google search.

    Hopefully, these two texts are a good starting point for anyone interested in researching the second plank application to second marriages (my guess is that there isn’t any if the other original spouse is still living).

    The Chicken

  27. tcreek says:

    Who is in charge? An old conflict has arisen. Fueled by Pope Francis?

    “On the Church” By Cardinal Walter Kasper
    America (April 23, 2001)
    excerpt
    Among Catholic theologians the relationship between the universal church and the particular [local] churches is a burning question today; they continue to debate it intensely. In 1999 I published my opinion in an essay “On the Office of the Bishop”. In 2000 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger responded in a lecture “On the Ecclesiology of the Second Vatican Council” and took a highly critical stance against my position. Since the resolution of the issue has far-reaching consequences, the debate should continue. …

    Regrettably, Cardinal Ratzinger has approached the problem of the relationship between the universal church and local churches from a purely abstract and theoretical point of view, without taking into account concrete pastoral situations and experiences. When I objected to an assertion found in the “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of the Church Understood as Communion”, issued in 1992 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he defended it. The assertion, criticized by many, claims that “in its essential mystery, the universal church is a reality ontologically and temporally prior to every individual church.” I took exception to this theory. …

    The full text and the reply by Cardinal Ratzinger, “The Local Church and The Universal Church”
    America (November 19, 2001) is here. – http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/religion/1540285/posts

  28. The Masked Chicken says:

    I think I answered Dr. Peters’s patristics question. My comment is in moderation because I included links. Short answer: second plank probably only applied to widowed and remarried.

    The Chicken

  29. LeeF says:

    @rotbrown,

    Actually I probably misinterpreted the Cardinal, and the mistakes he was referring to, but did not explicitly lay out, was the 2nd marriage and relations thereto after an unannulled first one. If the first were based on lies then that would be grounds for annulment.

  30. Andrew says:

    Anyone in an irregular marital situation is free to embrace permanent continence. Just like unmarried people or the widowed or those whose spouse is seriously ill, or you name it.

    There is a Budweisser light, but there is no such thing as ‘Christianity light’.

    Here is a bit of casuistry:

    Luke 16:17-18
    It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for the smallest part of a letter of the law to become invalid. Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and the one who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.
    ————–
    And Mathew:
    If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna. “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce.’ But I say to you …

  31. slainewe says:

    annemarie said, “Marriages do not fail. The people in marriages fail for lots of reasons. The people in these “marriages” are not victims of a failed marriage. One or both are the cause of a relationship not being a [successful] marriage.”

    Yes, and this is an important distinction. As long as bishops continue to embrace the heresy that a valid sacrament can fail, we can expect all this absurdity of making things EASIER for adulterers to continue.

    How can a man with ANY love for the Christ who DIED for His Bride dare approach the altar with his mistress still on his arm (even if not in his bed)?

    Catholics have just totally lost the sense of what an ABOMINATION is divorce. A sacramental marriage is a promise to be an icon of Christ and the Church. Divorce is saying that it is okay for Christ to abandon His Church or for the Church to abandon Him. It it pure blasphemy.

  32. kpoterack says:

    “Actually I probably misinterpreted the Cardinal, and the mistakes he was referring to, but did not explicitly lay out, was the 2nd marriage and relations thereto after an unannulled first one. If the first were based on lies then that would be grounds for annulment.”

    That would be interesting, but I would find it dubious that the Cardinal meant that – because that would actually meet with Catholic doctrine. Usually what is meant by “mistakes” in such cases is whatever one did in the first marriage to cause it to fall apart. Be sorry for these, confess them, and then move on with your second marriage in a normal fashion – is what liberals usually mean.

  33. McCall1981 says:

    @ kpoterack,
    Thank you for your response, that was helpful.

  34. Jim Dorchak says:

    I am sorry but I can never figure out what the Cardinal is always smiling about? The state of the Church? The state of his diocese? The hordes of people coming into the Church? The loss of priestly vocations?
    What? I mean what?

  35. anna 6 says:

    Is is wrong to assume at this point that a change in the Church’s teaching is inevitable, since Pope Francis has made Cardinal Kasper a keynote speaker and has put Cardinal Maradiaga in such a prominent position as leader of his G8? With Maradiaga’s insulting and dismissive words about the CDF Prefect, Cardinal Mueller (and thus, B16) and his attempts to present the proper view of marriage, it is hard not to think that a change is a foregone conclusion.

  36. kpoterack says:

    “Is is wrong to assume at this point that a change in the Church’s teaching is inevitable”

    Yes, I think it is wrong. Remember, Pope Francis also renewed now-Cardinal Mueller as head of the CDF, (made him a cardinal) ordered his long article clarifying the Church’s teaching on marriage to be published in L’Osservatore Romano, told Card. Brandmueller that the divorced and remarried may not receive communion (in December). Pope Francis was also the main author of the Apparacida Document while cardinal which also says that the divorced/remarried may not receive communion.

    I think that Pope Francis wants “open discussion” – how wise this is another matter. But this is part of his “messy” style. Remember that the talk of Card. Kaspar was not supposed to be published originally.

  37. Justalurkingfool says:

    Everytime I hear a person like Kasper speak, it pushes a knife through my heart and undermines, in fact, openly and scandalously insults and ridicules, my respect for the vows I have sacrificed to remain faithful to for so many years!

    For me it is no different than discussing and trying to determine under what conditions I can be continuously raped, for over two decades, by my wife’s lover, since the two of us are one, and under what conditions, in the face of his public unrepentance and disregard for any thought of justice at all for this disgusting, vile and criminal behavior, this man could be made “righteous” through, other means than repentance, working to undo the catastrophic damage that proceeds, unceasingly, and seeking forgiveness from all he has so callously violated, including his two children of this adultery and our five children and their children!! Yes, the same holds for my wife, as well.

    Only a person who has no concept of love, of charity or of mercy would propose such madness and have the unmitigated audacity to think it, “pastoral”!

    To those who have, so kindly, prayed for me: it matters. Two of our children have prevailed upon me to remain a practicing Catholic. It seems they blame me for their being Catholic, after all they have experienced, because they accepted the example I tried to live for them to see. Now, no they did not say this to me, perhaps it is my time to accept the example they ARE living, for me, and for their own children.

  38. PA mom says:

    I admit to not understanding how marriage, as it is understood by civil society at this time with divorce as simple as ‘no fault’, can be understood as Matrimony, a holy sacrament permanently conferred by two persons upon each other.
    Honestly, I don’t see them as the same thing.
    If neither person is Catholic, which other Christian demoninations even teach that matrimony is permanent?
    I really do think there is an argument for Catholic Matrimony NOT being the same as the other stuff, but that would be for those not Catholic to begin with.

  39. Father P says:

    Although we disagree with the East on this one for a variety of reasons and I’m not arguing for the West for implement it but.. let’s remember that in the East there is the penitential practice of second and third marriages (though there is a canonical process that involves the Bishop for the permission) and the Orthodox liturgical and faith life has not collapsed.

    Second… yes Cardinal Kasper was the only one to speak because he was arguing for the change. There is no need for someone to debate him, there is all of the documentation already.

    Third… there is the one pastoral situation that is the need to address pastorally and that is where one party in an invalid marriage due to a prior bond desires to return to the full practice of the faith and the obstacle is his/her spouse who refuses to attempt to petition for nullity. Is the truly repentant heart of the one to be denied absolution (communion because it is public may be another matter but that is the debate) on account of the hard heart of another. Not saying I have the answer but just raising the question

  40. McCall1981 says:

    @anna 6,
    I certainly don’t think at all that its a forgone conclusion that the teaching itself will change. I think something will change but it may very well be with the anullment process, etc, things that don’t have to do with the actual teaching.

  41. Justalurkingfool says:

    I am wondering if someone like Dr. Peters or someone who actually knows what they are talking about from documented experience and expertise, not merely ruminating about it, even if they are intellectually up to such introspection, could give very specific examples of when the Catholic Church has judged it to be “proper” to live as brother and sister, when there is a living, valid, sacramental spouse who is open to reconciliation and there are children of that valid marriage and grandchildren?

    I have NEVER, EVER heard this subject discussed in detail, with explicit examples that withstand scrutiny.

    Please Father Z, could you ask around? I am not asking for personal pastoral advice from a priest who may have taken it upon himself to “think” he knows which advise is consistant with Catholic teaching. I want to hear, only, from a documented, expert, well versed in exactly this issue. Anything else is speculation that will, likely, do harm.

    Thank you.

  42. Phil_NL says:

    PA Mon,

    Exactly. No small part of the problems, at least in the US and some other countries, it seems, stem from the fact that a lot of marriages (civil, or prior to conversion) are considered to be marriages by the Church, while the contracting parties meant something quite different with it when they entered into that marriage. It is, in a sense, changing the rules midway through the game.

    Up to a few decades ago, that was no problem, as everyone pretty much understood the same thing wehn talking about marriage, except for a small category of hard-to-judge cases. Now, the Church is pretty much the only instance that works under the old conditions. That means that, in my humble opinion, we do indeed need “marriage” and “marriage*”, but with the latter to be understood as sacramental marriage – Matrimony with a capital M, to be recognized as wholly different things.

    Not that it would change one bit regarding the campaigns of some who wish to create a catholic version of divorce. that won’t and shouldn’t happen. But it is high time that we stop attaching canonical consequences to actions that happen outside the control of the Church. Let all marriages that aren’t conducted in a Catholic Church (including civil marriages contracted by one or two catholics) be null and void in the eyes of the Church; I daresay that would add a lot of clarity.

  43. McCall1981 says:

    And besides, Card Muller, Prefect of the CDF, has been completely firm in saying the teaching can’t change, even after Kasper’s speech:

    http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1400809.htm

  44. Justalurkingfool says:

    “Third… there is the one pastoral situation that is the need to address pastorally and that is where one party in an invalid marriage due to a prior bond desires to return to the full practice of the faith and the obstacle is his/her spouse who refuses to attempt to petition for nullity. Is the truly repentant heart of the one to be denied absolution (communion because it is public may be another matter but that is the debate) on account of the hard heart of another. Not saying I have the answer but just raising the question”

    I do NOT understand your quandry, Father P?

    Every day, the Catholic Church hears and adjudicates petitions when the respondent refuses to participate. Perhaps I have misunderstood what you have proposed. I reread it and now am not quite sure exactly what you are asking. Sorry, I do not mean to be a pain.

    I have notified the Interdiocesan Marriage Tribunal in New York (not the Archdiocesan Tribunal in New York but the “appeals” court which serves NY and neighboring dioceses) that I will no participate. I also notified Cardinal Dolan of the same.

    Thank you.

  45. pmullane says:

    Marriage is under attack like never before, and the Catholic Church is the very last bulwark defending this institution like hells deep, and lay Catholics understanding of the demands of their faith has never been so low, and the good cardinal proposes to muddy the waters further. Cardinal Kasper likes to throw ‘pastoral experience’ at cardial ratzinger, well I can assure him that the pastoral experience of any nuance and relaxing of the catholic understanding of marriage will be to weaken bonds already under stress ‘Catholics can divorce now’, and the final keep will be breeched.

  46. Vecchio di Londra says:

    I wonder to what extent this whole issue is being driven by the German bishops’ wish not to lose Kirchensteuer revenues if their ‘remarried’ parishioners exclude themselves from church attendance and ‘leave the Church’, cancelling their taxes, as they well might if they were to be finally confronted with an unavoidable need for Confession, repentance and an amendment of their lives in order to receive Communion? I’d guess that by now (given all the winks they’ve received over the past decades) the divorced remarried and their various children must form a significant section of the German Church’s revenue.
    And of course a couple who each remarry, if the new ‘spouse’ is happy to convert: that’s twice the amount of tax revenue.
    Follow the money is often a useful guide, even in religious matters. :-)
    There’s financially a lot at stake for the bishops here.
    The current basic percentage of personal earnings taken for church tax is between 8 and 9% – not only of income but of capital profits as well. Nine per cent! (This is tapered to lower percentages for the highest incomes. So the rich pay proportionally less of their income: a perennial source of criticism of the system.)
    “In 2012 the Catholic Church in Germany received ca. 5.2 billion euros.”
    http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kirchensteuer_(Deutschland)#Kirchensteuergesetze_der_L.C3.A4nder
    also
    http://www.nettoeinkommen.de/kirche.htm

  47. jacobi says:

    Sex, outside of a valid marriage between a man and a woman is an objective Mortal Sin.
    A divorced and civilly re-married person is in objective Mortal Sin.
    They cannot receive Holy Communion, under pain of further sin, probably Sacrilege.
    Any priest or bishop, who permits or indeed tolerates this, for instance by administering Holy Communion, is guilty of complicity in Mortal Sin and/or Sacrilege.

    Tough I know.

    Now this would be accepted by most Catholics for almost any other sin – but not those associated with Lust (sex in other words). So what’s the problem.
    It simply shows the degree to which Catholics, and I include many priests and bishops, have been infected by the current Secularist obsession with sex.

    There is always a solution, Confession, and a firm purpose of amendment not to commit the sin of sex outside of valid marriage again, something which our secularised Catholics just won’t accept.

    Another contributory factor is the current habit of everyone receiving – and being seen to receive – at every Mass. The Mass has become, in effect, a communion service and not the re-enactment of the Sacrifice of Calvary, at which one may choose, if properly disposed, but without compulsion, except once a year etc, to receive Holy Communion.

  48. Vecchio di Londra says:

    To clarify, as there are different ‘billions':
    5.2bn is 5,200,000,000 euros. Per year. Annually increasing as personal incomes increase.

  49. Justalurkingfool says:

    I would also like to know how a “truly repentant heart” would stay in a civil marriage, rather than working to heal the valid one? Could you illuminate?

    Or is it that the “truly repentant heart” abandoned their presumedly valid marriage for a different person and that would make them guilty of adultery, would it not?

    Do you then not see how the abandoned spouse might be against cooperation? Does the wronged spouse not have the choice to remain apart from an adulterous spouse? I believe they do.

    So, it may not be so clear cut, or, perhaps, it might be? Please clarify this case, Father P. Do not leave it like this.

    Thank you.

  50. acardnal says:

    ”Tolerate though not accept”

    Kind of like some bishops did regarding clergy sex abuse?

    Mortal sin is mortal sin.

  51. jhayes says:

    Justalurkingfool asks when the Catholic Church has judged it to be “proper” to live as brother and sister.

    First of all, let me say that I am very sorry to hear what has happened to you.

    The provision you asked about is in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

    1650 Today there are numerous Catholics in many countries who have recourse to civil divorce and contract new civil unions. In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ – “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery”158 The Church maintains that a new union cannot be recognized as valid, if the first marriage was. If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law. Consequently, they cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists. For the same reason, they cannot exercise certain ecclesial responsibilities. Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence.

  52. Peter in Canberra says:

    Would Card Kasper be so bold if Pope Francis weren’t making so many loose canon statements on this issue at seemingly every possible opportunity?

    If they pursue this they will harm the Church terribly. The end result is if these teachings are not true then none of it is true.

    Why, oh why, did Pope Benedict abdicate.

  53. slainewe says:

    @PA Mom
    “I admit to not understanding how marriage, as it is understood by civil society at this time with divorce as simple as ‘no fault’, can be understood as Matrimony, a holy sacrament permanently conferred by two persons upon each other.”

    I have the same confusion. Once the State embraced divorce, I do not understand why the Church continued to recognize purely civil marriages; or those of other “Christian” sects that approve of divorce. The couples choose to leave their options open. How is this any sort of covenant?

  54. McCall1981 says:

    @Father P,
    I particularly like your second point there. It goes with the “Jesuit method of discernment”. Maradiaga himself said Pope Francis doesn’t like “precipitous decisions”, and is proceeding by the Jesuit method of spiritual discernment, “which means devoting time to listening, dialoguing, praying, and only then arriving at decisions.”
    I don’t like what he’s doing, but that could very well be whats going on here.

  55. kiwiinamerica says:

    Cardinals spout all sorts of nonsense from time to time so Kasper’s word games don’t really come as a surprise. The real story here is Pope Francis, the Vicar of Christ. He is the elephant in the room.

    If Kasper is the Pope’s stalking horse on this issue and his words reflect the Pope’s position, then we’re in serious trouble.

  56. Amerikaner says:

    I pray for the day when St. John Bosco’s vision of the two pillars is complete.

  57. OrthodoxChick says:

    I’m afraid our dear Holy Father is about to find out who his friends are. He has already publicly stated that the church doctrine cannot be changed. Yet, that hasn’t seemed to stop his “friends” from running their mouths. He may be allowing this for the time being in the interest of some Jesuit discernment process, but surely he must know that at some point he’s going to have to shut his friends up or he’ll be allowing them to openly push the envelope against the Church.

    I’m hoping and praying that Pope Francis has been seek a mentor behind closed doors in P.E. Benedict. He’d be a fool not to. I’m also not-so-secretly hoping that Papa Francis has a temper and he’s not afraid to use it when appropriate – even if it costs him a few “friends”.

  58. Franklinwasright says:

    I agree with what Robbie said, this looks to me like trying to change church teaching through incrementalism. It is a slap in the face to all of us who have suffered because of divorce.

    I was born in the 1980’s. My mother has been divorced three times, my father twice.

    These divorces caused irreparable spiritual and emotional harm to myself and my siblings. Most of my friends from childhood also have divorced parents. We have all struggled with dysfunctional relationships, we simply do not know how to make marriage work, though we are trying hard. I can not tell you all the pain and suffering that has been caused by the fact that I come from a broken family.

    The idea that divorce could be acceptable for Catholics is a slap in the face to all of us whose childhoods were scarred by divorce, and are now attempting to maintain a sacramental marriage ourselves. It would mean that my suffering has had no meaning, it was all just a misunderstanding. The constancy of the church was what helped me overcome the lack of constancy I had from my family as a child. It pains me to see it hinted that this constancy should be slowly dismantled.

  59. Justalurkingfool says:

    Franklinwasright,

    You are not alone. Some of us from your parents’ generation are trying hard to live examples for you. You are a contemporary of my children. They know what you are going through. Without them, I would be lost. Who knows, perhaps your faithfulness may reach through to your own parents, one day. As we said in my old days, “keep on keepin’ on!” It is good for someone like me to hear of your efforts, just in case you really think, “It would mean that my suffering has had no meaning”, because it gives us some hope for those who follow us. We have left you a mess, I am very sorry to say.

    God bless you.

  60. Imrahil says:

    Well, toleration and acceptance are different things.

    Also I actually do not think Card. Kasper was – as I have seen suggested here – “making politics” (no quote) to compromise with the faithful to have it “tolerated first, equal later”. He and the group he belongs to really do believe that the marriage bond is unsoluble. The question they raise is whether after a divorce, in some circumstances (colloquially called “marriages”) there can be intercourse without mortal sin.

    That does not make untrue that they wouldn’t draw satisfaction from a second-class toleration.

  61. robtbrown says:

    LeeF says:
    The key question in discussions about the internal forum, is not whether a person/couple can rightfully adjudge the facts of a case themselves when the external forum (canonical) lacks enough evidence to do so. But rather, is the internal forum evaluation going to be done according to the standards set down by the Church taken from the Gospel, or according to someone’s own different, more lax standards.

    The standard set down by the Church is that matters of external forum cannot be resolved in internal forum. Otherwise, matrimony would not exist.

    Just as technically an act of perfect contrition could remit mortal sin in absence of availability of confession, an important reason we go to confession is that our own judgment and and assessment of the degree of contrition are rarely perfect and 100% honest, which is why the Church provides (hopefully) skilled and orthodox confessors as the normal and mandated way of seeking absolution.

    The reason we use of Confession has nothing to do with perfect contrition.

    1. Perfect contrition is impossible without sanctifying grace.

    2. It’s possible to receive the fruits of a Sacrament outside its celebration, but the Sacraments bring us certainty of those fruits.

  62. Tom Piatak says:

    In the face of all the assaults on marriage and the family, the last thing the Church should do is water down its teaching on the indissolubility of marriage. Catholics should let their bishops, incuding the Bishop of Rome, know that they do not want the Church to follow the path suggested by Cardinal Kasper.

  63. I have switched on the moderation queue. I will be selective in what I approve.

  64. Kathleen10 says:

    Many people who comment here are very knowledgeable about our beloved Catholic Church. When I comment I like to remind, I am not one of them. I am only an observer of trends and people.
    When some issues become clearly off the table, married priests, female priests, it is probably natural that one might cast about for a theological bone to be tossed to the people. Running this issue up the flagpole to see who salutes is not outlandish, the people are feeling momentum, because our age is obsessed with change in a “progressive” direction. Those who want to be change-agents are feeling it. If not now, when!
    I thought that survey that came out was a very bad idea. What else would it do but get some folks revved up for change. The people are hungry for change in our Catholic Church and these include some on the inside, the real inside.
    The world in general is going to hell in a handbasket and I’m not as worked up as I once was about it. This now seems the natural progression and we can only pray. I don’t mean to sound complacent but God is in control of His Church and things will unfold as they ought. Besides, the first blood moon is on April 15 of this year. Catholics don’t in general give this type of thing much consideration but this one may be worth knowing about.

  65. tm30 says:

    Just a few comments from Kasper’s text:

    “the complex and thorny problem” posed by Catholics whose marriages have failed, but who find support, family stability and happiness in a new relationship, ”

    [So this “lifeboat” only belongs to those who are personally happy the second time around? What if someone is unhappy but feels obligated to stay because of children? Don’t they need the healing power of the Sacrament even more?]

    “for one who converts, forgiveness is possible. If that’s true for a murderer, it is also true for an adulterer.”

    [Not if the “converted” murderer intends to go on murdering, like a “converted”, second-time married individual who intends to go on being an adulterer. ]

    “The decision cannot be left only to the couple”

    [Interesting terminology — “the couple”. What if one spouse vehemently opposes the seeker from returning to the Sacraments? Again — is it not available to men and women in dysfunctional second marriages?]

    “cutting them and most likely their children off from the sacraments, he said, the church could “tolerate that which is impossible to accept” — a second union.”

    [But they’ve chosen this path. They’ve cut themselves off. If they’re conscientiously not receiving the Sacrament, then it seems evident they knew they were selling their inheritance for some pottage. Granted some may not have “known” and later found out they couldn’t receive the sacraments, but still…]

    “A pastoral approach of tolerance, clemency and indulgence,” he said, would affirm that “the sacraments are not a prize for those who behave well

    [Actually it sounds exactly like they’re making it a prize for adulterers who “behave well”; Also, if this is the case, then everyone in mortal sin should be first in line, because, who’s more in need of grace than the worst sinner?]

  66. Justalurkingfool says:

    jhayes,

    The catechism reference is a generalization. It is not a specific discussion. Not all circumstances are the same and I am not about to get into the nitty gritty here because I do believe it may do more harm than good. But, thanks. I have read that part of the catechism countless times and find it completely lacking real guidance. It is very poorly conceived and written.

  67. REV.JAV says:

    What frightens me more than anything is that it seems (to me at least) that there is no way this can play out well.
    First, some new policy might be implemented which weakens the Church’s stance on the permanence of marriage (Card. Casper’s “tolerate but not accept” or an Orthodox-style second marriage or any number of other things) and, therefore, more and more people simply ignore whatever is left of the Church’s teaching on marriage or anything else.
    Or, and I suspect that this is much more likely, the Church will do nothing to change her position (or something like “streamlining the annulment process” which will seem to most like doing nothing) and, because expectations are so high, there will be a revolt among the laity, theologians, priests and bishops just like there was after Humanae Vitae and so many thought the Church would approve the pill. It seems as though we have set ourselves up for the same sort of disaster.
    I pray every day that I am wrong…

  68. “I certainly don’t think at all that its a forgone conclusion that the teaching itself will change”
    but you can bet that some will get it into their heads that change is on the horizon. Whether it’s the side that goes into apoplexy every time Pope Francis speaks or the other side that wants Pope Francis to go into apoplexy himself. Anyway, i don’t think it’s any such foregone conclusion either and hopefully,as someone said,Pope Francis will figure out how to handle the unmanageable like Cardinal Kasper. You know…as in BE Pope.

  69. Johnno says:

    We are being set-up…

    The liberals are setting up expectations for the relaxation of marriage rules the same way they were setting us up for the relaxation of contraceptives.

    When the Church doesn’t give them what they want. They will revolt, and they will carry on divorcing and remarrying and demanding the Eucharist or leaving the Church en masse.

    Francis’ Paul VI moment is coming up… Pray for him.

  70. Imrahil says:

    Note on casuistry. Casuistry is a necessary part of any morality taken serious while not wishing to be harder than necessary (or somewhat harder, but not all the way, etc.).

    Every man is either a casuist or a lunatic. (Chesterton)

  71. Ben Kenobi says:

    “It is a slap in the face to all of us who have suffered because of divorce.”

    Not everyone who suffers from divorce, suffers from one they have initiated or in being the recipient thereof. Thank you Father Z, for once again speaking *exactly* what I thought when reading it. Kaspar wants us to all forget about what Christ says about marriage, what the Church teaches about marriage in order that we might move on from it and move into acceptance. When it is upheld and ‘tolerated’ and you’re permitted access to the sacraments – what’s one to think who is actually following the rules? “Oh, hey, it’s not really marriage, but we’re going to nod, nod and wink, wink, and it will all be fine. No. We have to hold the line here. It is not going to be ‘fine’.

  72. AGA says:

    i was thinking about this whole issue about divorce and remarriage coming out of the Vatican.

    An irony here is that this is almost exclusively a first world problem. For a pope who has tried supposedly to focus more on the developing world, he sure seems stuck on the first world’s sexual problems.

  73. Cathy says:

    I am so very confused. How is this different from a politician saying that personally they believe an act to be evil and unacceptable, but publicly vote to maintain it as a right? How many of these politicians actually changed from this first public cover to the thought that the act is sacred and any public opposition is not to be tolerated?

  74. TWF says:

    While I am not advocating for change to the Catholic practice on this matter, we as Catholics do have to deal with the historic fact that the Byzantine/Eastern Church granted ecclesiastical divorces and recognized second marriages for centuries before the Great Schism: I.E. while they were still in full communion with Rome. There was no universal canons on this issue in the ancient Church. Some Fathers such as St. Basil did tolerate second marriages under certain circumstances. From an Orthodox perspective, second and third marriages are indeed “second-class” marriages and this is seen in the nuptial liturgy itself which is far less joyful and includes a penitential character when second and third marriages are celebrated. The fundamental divide here comes down to the differences in marriage theology. In the Latin Tradition we understand the couple to confer the sacrament upon each other by virtue of their vows. In the Eastern Tradition they understand the priest to confer the sacrament upon the couple by his blessing. Thus the Latin Church developed our current complicated system of annulments that looks at defects in the consent / intent of the couple; this has never existed in the Byzantine Tradition. The priest confers the sacrament and in some serious cases the bishop dissolves it. We are quick to condemn, but the Orthodox Church grants far fewer “divorces” and recognizes far fewer second marriages than the Latin Church grants annulments.

  75. Justalurkingfool says:

    TWF,

    Just because something has been done from long ago does not, necessarily, mean it is either wise or correct. Nor do the ends justify the means. Fewer divorces and fewer “second marriages” mean nothing, in real terms. They are mere symptoms of a myriad of differing circumstances.

    In spite of my open, seething, rage at the abuses of the Catholic annulment system, I find it, in theory, to be a fair and honest method ( I have issues with some of the Lack of Form process) to address marriages that never existed. While, from the first moment I heard of the Orthodox practices, decades ago, I have thought them to be a terrible joke; as if one could cross one’s fingers behind one’s back and enter into a legitimate contract by shaking with the other hand?

    The Orthodox practice should be openly condemned, by the Pope and by the entire Catholic Church, and should stand as a deal breaker for any movement towards unity.

    It is an insult to truth, who is Jesus Christ.

  76. slainewe says:

    TWF

    Your post makes me wish I were a theologian. It looks like it could be argued that the Eastern practice of recognizing second marriages was a heresy that CONTRIBUTED to the Great Schism. They embraced a theology that deadened their conscience as to their spousal obligation (as a Church) to Christ in Peter and allowed them to enter a new “second class marriage” with a Christ divorced from Peter?

    It would seem hypocritical of the East NOT to allow divorce and remarriage when the very status of their Church is one of a divorced Spouse still enjoying the fruits of marriage (valid sacraments).

  77. tcreek says:

    Isn’t it obvious why Jesus choose lowly fishermen and carpenters and not lawyers and theologians to establish His Church? They would not attempt to “lawyer” their way around His commands.

    “What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.”
    “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
    “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

    For 2000 years, great and holy saints, fathers and doctors of the church, popes, bishops, priests and religious understood, protected and passed down His clear teaching, but now in our more enlightened age …

  78. Siculum says:

    It would appear that core Catholic teachings could be but ghosts of their former selves in Card. Kasper’s proposed/oncoming reality.

    In the meantime, I recall Cardinal Muller’s last.

    Also, I feel that I have to really watch the Catholic News Service now. Their articles’ tone is all over the place, it seems. I used to feel as if I could trust them pretty well. Not so easily anymore.

    Who else seems all over the place? Cardinal Kasper. I’d never heard of him before, but after reading his other stances and past commentary, he seems to be all over the road. For instance, he supposedly was a proponent of returning to a more visibly sacrificial nature in the Mass, but he’s at it again after trying something like this before in 1993. Yeesh.

    It just doesn’t stop, does it?

  79. kpoterack says:

    TWF said:

    “we as Catholics do have to deal with the historic fact that the Byzantine/Eastern Church granted ecclesiastical divorces and recognized second marriages for centuries before the Great Schism: I.E. while they were still in full communion with Rome.”

    KP:
    Well, it’s not quite that simple . . . To say that there was “full communion” between Rome and Byzantium until 1054 is just not right. There were various schisms in the 4th and 5th centuries (under Pope Damasus I) there was the Acacian Schism from 482-519 and the Photian schism in the 9th century – just to name a few. A separation of East and West had been going on for centuries, arguably. And there was the Byzantine Emperor who, from the 5th century on, claimed a leadership role over the Eastern Church and allowed for civil divorce and remarriage. (It is this, IMHO, that is really the origin of the Orthodox allowance for divorce and remarriage.)

    Before the 5th century, there exist only a handful of texts from the Early Church Fathers which could be used to justify the Eastern position – and these are not at all clear. Fr. Gilles Pelland, SJ gives a nice introduction to these and how they allow of a different, more “Roman” interpretation.

    http://www.ewtn.com/library/Marriage/ANTDIVRC.HTM

    And this is setting aside the great number of early Church Fathers who state quite unambiguously the “Roman understanding” on the matter – including Eastern Fathers such as Sts. Basil and Chrysostom.

    At any rate, the Fathers (and local synods), as sound as their teaching usually is, are not impeccable in their prudential decisions, nor infallible. This is why there has to be a magisterium that can overrule and clarify what really is a part of Tradition and what is not. (I know you are not denying this. I am just stating this for general consumption.) And for Roman Catholics, the Council of Trent definitively settled this matter – irregardless of what a few Church Fathers MAY have thought or said – in Session 24, canons 5 & 7.

    http://www.documentacatholicaomnia.eu/03d/1545-1545,_Concilium_Tridentinum,_Canons_And_Decrees,_EN.pdf

    This is really so clear, that no Catholic can seriously deny it.

  80. CharlesG says:

    One can only pray the Holy Spirit will protect the Church and lead the Holy Father to a Humanae Vitae moment so that he will listen to Cardinal Mueller over Cardinals Kaspar, Maradiaga, Marx, etc., who appear to be counseling change of Catholic doctrine. Watering down moral doctrine and saying sin is OK is not pastoral. As someone said above, this has been played out before our eyes in the mainstream Protestant Churches. As a convert, one of the most attractive things to me about the Church is that its official teachings are built on the Rock of Peter. If the Holy See won’t stand up for the Deposit of Faith and moral doctrine, who will? It’s going to be a nerve-wracking few years to come.

  81. TWF says:

    kpoterack:
    I agree with most of what you say in your post. I wasn’t advocating for change nor arguing any particular point – just wanted to put the Eastern praxis “out there” as a point of consideration. I have never come across any evidence that the Eastern practice was a cause of division prior to the Great Schism – the schisms you reference had nothing to do with marriage – and regardless full communion did exist for “most” of the first millennium. I agree that the Byzantine civil laws concerning remarriage played a role. I remember reading a debate on the Byzantine Catholic forum (byzcath.org) some time ago in which Eastern Catholics argued that the Eastern Orthodox practice of second SACRAMENTAL marriages didn’t exist until at least the 8th or 9th century (can’t remember the exact period off hand), and prior to that second marriages, even when tolerated, were seen as simply natural, civil affairs. The unique liturgical service for second marriages came later. But regardless, this did not appear to be an obstacle to full communion at the time. It is definitely an obstacle today, but things were sometimes more fluid in the ancient Church. (Development of doctrine and all that).

  82. Lin says:

    I know I sound like a broken record but when we fail to pass on the faith through effective catechesis, what can we expect? I am not surprised by the results of the recent survey on the family. Many Catholics don’t even understand the questions. In reading the results published by the diocese of Pittsburgh, one statement caught my eye, “Most are very tech-savvy and would prefer”……. Perhaps that too is the problem, that we worry to much about what people prefer?!? Is it not better to worry about their eternal salvation?!? I pray that Church doctrine is not to be determined by a survey or opinion poll!

  83. Cradle Catholic says:

    As a Cradle Catholic, I’ve always been taught that the Pope cannot err in matters of faith and morals. Surely this falls in the the ‘faith and morals’ category?

    In one of the comments above, which quoted Cardinal Kasper as insinuating that Benedict XVI was not pastoral, that’s such a low blow by Cardinal Kasper. In reading many of Benedict’s writings, (including when he was Cardinal Ratzinger), I found them very pastoral- and the writings only deepened my faith in and my love of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Catholic Church. Sadly, from the only item I’ve read by Cardinal Kasper, I cannot say I had the same result.

    I am praying for the Holy Spirit to be with Our Holy Father Pope Francis- especially for this Synod in October.

  84. Phil_NL says:

    kpoterack,

    The story is even more complicated still: despite the Byzantine emperors regularly claiming the right to administer the Church – and often also to decide matters of theology – there was also a current in Byzantine thought that was even more strict on marriages than the Western understanding.

    And it bit some emperors rather badly; Leo VI (“the wise”, late 9th / early 10th century) caused scandal and a constitutional crisis by marrying 4 times – but in each case, his earlier wife had predeceased him, and he lacked a male heir. In other words, in the Roman view, there would not be a single impediment against any of these marriages, in fact, a western monarch would invite rebellion if he’d not continued to produce an heir.
    Not so in Constantinople; a second marriage – after the first spouse had died – was still seen as a form of unfaithfulness, and carried a penance; a third marriage was considered “moderated fornication” and debarred one from the Eucharists for many years, a fourth marriage lacked a term, though no doubt the Byzantine street invented several ones. Again, all the time taking a much stricter line on marriage than Rome.

    The Byzantines were simply all over the place, and I wholeheartedly agree that the schism of 1054 was centuries in the works, and it shows on this issue too. Eastern practice simply shows the drifts one gets when civil authorities and overly argumentative clerics are in each others hairs, with no practical mechanism to decide the matter outside the powerbase of the participants of the conflict. In fact, it’s a testament to their attachment to tradition, as the eastern churches understand it, that they didn’t drift far further afield in 16 odd centuries.