Wherein Fr. Z rants

First, the moderation queue is ON.

Before you reach to my rant (below), there is a must read piece at the blog of Prof. Ed Peters, canoniste extraordinaire, about the two groups who are tugging on the annulment process issue.  Peters doesn’t have a combox over there (perhaps wisely), so there can be some discussion here.  Since his piece is longish, I post only a bit.  Read the whole thing THERE.  Sample:

The annulment argument: a quick quide to the two sides

There are basically two groups agitating for annulment reform, one saying that there are too many annulments, the other saying that there are too few. Let me suggest that the first group is mistaken if it thinks the annulment problem lies in the annulment process (ie, Book VII of the 1983 Code and Dignitas connubii) and that the second group seeks not so much reform of the annulment process as its effective abolishment.

The first group (those holding that there are too many annulments), can scarcely suggest any procedural reforms (short of requiring tribunals to stamp DENIED on every annulment petition) for nothing about current canon and special law makes declaring marriage nullity easy. Under current ecclesiastical law, nullity must be proven, on specific grounds, based on sworn declarations and testimony, over the arguments of an independent officer, and confirmed on appeal. There are, that I can see, no gaps in the process through which marriage cases may slip quietly but wrongly into nullity. Not even the oft-reviled Canon 1095 (the “psychological” canon upon which most annulments around the world are based) can be written off as a mere legislative novelty for it articulates (as best positive law can) jurisprudence developed by the Roman Rota itself over the last 60 or 70 years.

No, the objections of the first group to the number of annulments being declared is, I suggest, not to the annulment process but to the people running that process. Tribunal officers are, it is alleged, too naive, too heterodox, or just too lazy to reach sound decisions on nullity petitions; they treat annulments as tickets to a second chance at happiness owed to people who care enough to fill out the forms. How exactly members of this first group can reach their conclusion without extended experience in tribunal work and without adverting to the cascade of evidence that five decades of social collapse in the West and a concomitant collapse of catechetical and canonical work in the Church is wreaking exactly the disastrous effects on real people trying to enter real marriages that the Church has always warned about, escapes me. Nevertheless that is essentially their claim: the process needs no major reform, processors do.

[…]

He goes one to talk about the second group, those who think there are too few annulments.

Also, allow me to add that it is a pleasure to read Peters’ clear and sparkling prose. Fr. Z Kudos.

Here is one more bit, which I found interesting in light of another story I read on the interwebs today.  Thus, Peters:

No, what the second group really wants, I think, is to eliminate the annulment process precisely as a juridic process. Their proposal comes in different guises: let the couple make the determination about whether they are married (you know, because divorced couples are so good at agreeing on things), or let their pastor decide for them or their (presumably Catholic) marriage counselor, and so on. Inescapably, though, such a proposal requires this: dropping the canonical presumption that when people wed they marry validly, so we don’t need a canonical process to determine whether that presumption withstands objective scrutiny; alternatively if more brazenly, dropping the idea that Jesus meant everything he said about marriage, divorce, fornication, and adultery (and, I might add, about sharing in his Body and Blood), so that the annulment issue disappears overnight.

Please follow?

Okay, here’s the rant you came for.

We are seeing in our own day something of the same dynamics that led to the massive revolt of dissent raised against the Church’s teachings after Paul VI issued Humanae vitae.

The synods (this year’s and next year’s) will NOT suggest sweeping changes of doctrine.  The Pope will not and cannot change Christ‘s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage.

However, there is being created, by dissenters and their helpers in the MSM, an expectation of changes.  Don’t be fooled. The long term objective isn’t just Communion for the civilly remarried.  It is about unhitching sex acts from marriage.  Therefore, the underlying debate is about sex outside of marriage and about homosexual acts.

Click!

Because the real goal is also about homosexual acts, liberals and dissenters will be very much on side with those who want Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried.

So, the expectation for great changes will be whipped up over the next couple years.  There is now even a commission being set up to study the juridical process for annulments, just as there was a commission set up before Humanae vitae to study contraception.  Then, when the Holy Father doesn’t make the sweeping and radical changes the dissenters have come to slaver over, they will revolt, as they did against Paul VI.  It might be good to review our recent history.

Just as disappointed priests and bishops quietly told couples to do whatever they wanted in the matter of contraception, so too disappointed priests and bishops will quietly tell the civilly remarried to do whatever they want in the matter of Communion.

And they will stop submitting cases to tribunals.

Since the whole concept of scandal has been pretty much destroyed in the rank and file of Holy Church, because culture has become the realm of brutes and the groin, who will be shocked, scandalized?

SCHOLIUM: What is “scandal”? CCC 2284 Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor’s tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense. 2285 Scandal takes on a particular gravity by reason of the authority of those who cause it or the weakness of those who are scandalized. It prompted our Lord to utter this curse: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”85 Scandal is grave when given by those who by nature or office are obliged to teach and educate others. Jesus reproaches the scribes and Pharisees on this account: he likens them to wolves in sheep’s clothing. 2286 Scandal can be provoked by laws or institutions, by fashion or opinion.

Scandal? Yah, right. Because people go to Communion (read: getting their parking ticket validated)?  After decades of shallow catechesis and Communion in the hand, mobs of people will be concerned about sacrilege or the harm people are doing to their own souls and the faith of others?  Who will even care when people known to be civilly remarried after divorce without annulment, or anything else, troop up in the Communion line to commit their acts of public sacrilege?  Who will give a damn?

I read today at Sandro Magister’s place that Card. Scola, one of the Cardinals who will defend the Church’s teaching on indissolubility of marriage, is talking about solutions to streamline the process of determining validity of marriage bonds.   Have a look and read more extensively there:

They are four proposals made in full continuity with the traditional doctrine and practice on marriage, but not devoid of innovative elements. Which concern:

– spiritual communion, or “of desire”;
– recourse to the sacrament of reconciliation even without absolution;
– sexual continence while remaining in the civil union;
the verification of the validity or invalidity of a marriage not only by the diocesan tribunals or the Rota, but also with a more streamlined nonjudicial canonical procedure under the supervision of the local bishop.  [nonjudicial, non-juridical]

This last new procedure is proposed by Cardinal Scola in detailed form. It can be expected to find an attentive audience at the synod.

Click!

You can see how this would play out in the real world, right?  The bishop is going to look at these cases?  Noooooo.  His Excellency will delegate to priests in parishes, who will in turn delegate to a team of lay people, probably themselves divorced and remarried (because they’ve “been there”).  Sound about right?

Look, friends.  All of these juridical or non-juridical solutions and arguments will inevitably play themselves out.  The problem is what impression are people developing in the meantime?

The impression left, in the battle on the level of rhetoric, is that marriage isn’t really for life, that is, until death breaks the bond.  Sure the Church teaches in its dusty books that no one reads that marriage is “indissoluble” (after Common Core ravages our schools even more how many people will even be able to spell that, much less know what that means).

It may be that couples in their marriage prep in parishes will even be instructed by diligent priests who truly want to do a good job according to the mind of the Church.   I’ll stipulate.  But is that enough?  As Father talks eloquently and reverently about the permanent nature of the bond until death, young Sawyer and Dakota (male and female, we hope, though their names don’t help us much), look at each other.  They both think, “Well… at least until it stops being fun.”

And who would blame them?

Friends, this debate isn’t only about juridical solutions and processes.  It is about other, over-arching issues and the long-term perceptions and expectations that are being created.

New Evangelization?

Please share!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Biased Media Coverage, Cri de Coeur, Fr. Z KUDOS, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Liberals, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, New Evangelization, One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity, Si vis pacem para bellum!, Sin That Cries To Heaven, The Coming Storm, The Drill, The future and our choices, Wherein Fr. Z Rants and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

96 Responses to Wherein Fr. Z rants

  1. McCall1981 says:

    I, for one, am just glad that the conversation seems to be moving towards considering ill-advised procedures and giving bad impressions, rather than considering outright apostasy.

  2. Nicholas says:

    This is what happens when talking about the reality of the terribleness of sin and hell are skipped over and the only things we here about are fluffy bunnies and rainbows.

    I am on the retreat planning team at my parish for Confirmation students, and the idea that I mention sin and the danger of hell for a talk prior to Confession was absolutely voted down because it might be distressing to 8th graders.

    O Tempora, O Mores!

  3. ChrisRawlings says:

    I’ve always suspected that some “progressives” view the upcoming synodal process as a way of crafting a framework for the “tolerance” of primarily same-sex unions, much in the way that “tolerance” is being suggested for the unions of the divorced and remarried. And the arguments for sacramental inclusion of the divorced and remarried can absolutely be extended to homosexual couples almost seamlessly. Cardinal Kasper doesn’t say that and I wouldn’t impugn him with that view. But I have to believe that for many this is not about the battle for Communion for the divorced and remarried but rather part of the long-war to at last upend the Church’s theological corpus on human sexuality.

    Leaving aside my own concerns about accommodating contemporary sexual neuralgia and the Church’s perpetual obligation to prophetically speak light into darkness, there is a problem even more basic than that. Related tangentially to Cardinal George’s recent column, there is increasingly almost no wiggle room, no gray area, when it comes to the tension between the culture and the deposit of faith. If Church leaders try to accommodate contemporary sexual values, they will very quickly find themselves in a place of heresy.

    But I have no idea what can be done when some of the strongest defenders of Church teaching are no longer close to center stage and when the voices of accomodationism seem to grow louder and stronger and maybe even more numerous. I turn to sanctification and a lot of prayer—that Christ might have mercy on us and DO something.

  4. bbmoe says:

    We are really struggling at my church. Just when I think I’ve heard it all, someone reveals to me something about their personal life and relationships that sets me back on my heels. All I can say is that I know that there are some people who are truly confused about Church teaching, thanks to the lack of speaking out from the pulpit (and the lack is embraced fully by catechists who are eager not to offend anyone), and there are some who simply blow off the teachings while still belonging to KOC, leading CRHP groups, receiving ALL the sacraments. It’s stunning.

  5. john_6_fan says:

    Would the people clamoring for the ability to walk away from their marriages be willing to give Christ the same opportunity to walk away from the Church they want to create? If they want to make divorce a reality in the Church, that would have to apply to Christ’s marriage as well.

    Fortunately, that cannot be. Thanks be to God.

  6. YoungLatinMassGuy says:

    This is just one layman’s opinion here…

    I don’t think the issue is “too many annulments…” or “too few annulments…”

    I think that the issue is “Too many marriages.” The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony isn’t treated with the respect it deserves today.

    How long does it take for a man to become a priest in the USA? 4-6 years? Maybe a lot more if they haven’t completed college yet? If you do not REALLY WANT to become a priest today, then you won’t become a priest.

    How long does the average couple take before getting married? 2 years? Maybe 3 on the outside if you factor in a longer-than-average engagement?

    People nowadays spend less than half the time discerning marriage than discerning the priesthood.

    Too many people, both men and women, enter into marriage with the wrong idea(s). They encounter the first few bumps in the road, and then they want out.

    If I ran the circus, I’d put new couples looking to get married through the metaphorical mental meat-grinder. Those who don’t really want to the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony can go down the courthouse and get all the “pretty papers” that they want signed.

  7. Mike says:

    Who, indeed, will give a damn? In the (probably unintentionally) ironic synecdoche of the new Archbishop of Chicago, “we cannot politicize the Communion rail”!

  8. robtbrown says:

    A few comments:

    1. My opinion hasn’t changed since JPII tried to crack down on easy annulments: Although it is good to re-assert the indissolubility of marriage, the contemporary problem of divorced, remarried Catholics cannot be solved merely by mandate. It is a cultural problem and, IMHO, is a consequence that the cult has been damaged by the liturgical mess.

    2. I have said here before that whatever the final outcome of both Synods (incl the document from the Pope), it will re-state the principal that those in second marriages without annulments are not to be admitted to Communion. What will follow is an exhortation to a pastoral application based on Mercy.

    3. I would like to add one other consequence. IMHO, those, like Cdls Maradiaga and Kasper, who want a revision have something else in mind: They want the matter turned over to the national episcopal conferences. Like the liturgical revolution, this is a movement to reduce papal authority.

  9. Fr. Andrew says:

    The impression left, in the battle on the level of rhetoric, is that marriage isn’t really for life, that is, until death breaks the bond.

    Exactly right, every pastor of souls should worry about how their flock might be led into a worse situation. These discussions and actions will form an expectation and a pattern of behavior in the faithful. The pastoral premiss for these synods (what is the Latin plural? Synodi?) is the decay of marriage and family life in the world. If we give couples a “solution” to reentrance to normalized parish life, we need to ensure their formation and interior rehabilitation. We also need to ensure and work so that these patterns of divorce do not deepen themselves. Will a true pastor of souls and lover of marriage bring up that issue in the synod?

    Think of these situations in terms of Luke 11, “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places seeking rest; and finding none he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 And when he comes he finds it swept and put in order. 26 Then he goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.

  10. jjjorge1 says:

    This is going to be just like Humanae Vitae? The traditional doctrine was reaffirmed but in practice 90% of “Catholics” approve of Birth Control. In 17 years of being a Catholic I have NEVER heard a homily (in a Novus Ordo parish) that discusses Birth Control or teaches that Birth Control is a mortal sin. I even had a NO priest tell me that our Bishop does not permit discussion of the topic.
    This tells me that on a typical Sunday in America or Europe almost all Holy Communions are received in a state of Mortal Sin. Sounds like the great sacrilege to me – no wonder the Church in its human element appears to be going to Hell in a hand basket. I suspect that many many people are divorced and “remarried” or queer and receive communion on Sunday since I’ve never heard a homily on those topics either. 17 years!!!
    So the Novus Ordo Church fails to teach its children the difference between right and wrong – then wrings its hands later and wonders why no one is following the church’s teaching, then in order to fix the “problem” sneak around looking for ways to “get around” the moral teaching.
    Unbelievably pathetic.

  11. wolfeken says:

    Dr. Peters wrote, arguing for a status quo on mass annulments: “Not even the oft-reviled Canon 1095 (the ‘psychological’ canon upon which most annulments around the world are based) can be written off as a mere legislative novelty for it articulates (as best positive law can) jurisprudence developed by the Roman Rota itself over the last 60 or 70 years.”

    60 or 70 years? Not quite. Anyone honest enough to look at the statistics knows this is a post-Vatican II problem. When nearly everyone is allowed to get married in the Church, including those living together and married personally by Pope Francis this month, it follows that nearly everyone who divorces is allowed to get out of the marriage through diocesan annulment seminars that advertise at parishes like shady trial lawyers.

    The solution is not the status quo (or worse, as the pope’s allies support), just as accepting the “mental health” exception to Roe v. Wade / Doe v. Bolton is not acceptable. It’s the same absurd loophole of an exception. Get to the root of the problem by first admitting the status quo is broken, with the best solution as the practices in place before Vatican II — no matter how tough.

  12. Titus says:

    No, the objections of the first group to the number of annulments being declared is, I suggest, not to the annulment process but to the people running that process.

    As a descriptive matter, Dr. Peters may accurately describe the greater portion of people who think there should be fewer annulments. But he is not doing so by force of necessity: these people may think the substantive law itself should be changed (a criticism he indeed addresses by noting its origin in Rota jurisprudence). In addition, one could agitate for reforms to the rules of evidence, both as to admissibility and as to the quantum of proof needed to demonstrate a fact (e.g., changing what it means to demonstrate moral certitude). That would be procedural reform that might reduce the number of annulments.

    As for the rest of it, all I can think is, “just when it looked like we were getting over antinomianism.” [Who thought that? I sure didn’t.]

  13. Thorfinn says:

    “It may be that couples in their marriage prep in parishes will even be instructed by diligent priests who truly want to do a good job according to the mind of the Church.”

    The root problem with the above situation is that marriage prep is way too late in the game to properly form beliefs on marriage. The deposit is already down on the reception hall, the couple has engaged in premarital relations, the foundation of the relationship has been formed, the offer of marriage has been made and accepted all without, too often, sufficient consideration of the full import of Holy Matrimony.

    Better late than never, granted. But marriage should be a key topic in catechism from an early age, at least before kids commonly start dating (if you can call it that), as a major element of discussion on vocations. I don’t think that’s the case at present.

    On one hand some parents think that marriage and choosing a spouse just comes natural and doesn’t need to be taught – in which case, I wonder whether they’ve noticed the world around us – and alternatively, there is probably reluctance to teach about marriage when so many children have single or divorced parents (or worse situations), for fear of giving offense.

  14. Curley says:

    In my experience, young people are putting off and avoiding marriage. Of my 12 cousins over 22, two are married. I think all of the scandal over the years has a big part in this. Only to be worsened if things like this were to happen. With so many people ignoring humane vitae, what is it to ignore something else, namely the indisolubility of marriage?

  15. dans0622 says:

    I think Dr. Peters is correct about the two camps but I haven’t heard much from anyone in any position of authority or experience in support of “position A.” Dig a bit deeper in the statements of supporters of “position B” and, yes, I think you find advocacy of a “non-juridical” “procedure.” What does love have to do with law, they might say, or a courtroom with a covenant. Quite a bit, actually. Anyway, I also think the process, as it is, is quite good. With well-trained personnel, the process is both just, rapid, and acceptably concise. If some tribunals are not able to adjudicate cases in a timely manner with the process as it now stands, I have my doubts about procedural changes amounting to substantive improvement. A mere change in procedure will not make tribunal personnel competent. If they are incompetent now, or they do not even exist, all the streamlining in the world will not make much difference as far as increasing the number of just, yet timely, decisions. It may only make them less likely.

  16. Unwilling says:

    Yes. Shatter all clear images (especially those that holy marriages present) of purity, commitment, eternity, so that The Sacrifice becomes unimaginable, incomprehensible, anhaireton.

  17. anilwang says:

    Fr Z wrote, “We are seeing in our own day something of the same dynamics that led to the massive revolt of dissent raised against the Church’s teachings after Paul VI issued Humanae vitae.”

    I’d actually go further. Every single modern problem in the Church today has to do with the Humanae Vitae revolt, whether it’s obeying Church doctrine (let your conscience decide if you obey Church teaching), or penances of Fridays (what practical value does fasting have, after all, it’s not as if you need to fast in marriage), weak doctrines taught by weak priests and bishops (we don’t want to have the same backlash), the abuse scandal (since we’re disregarding some church teaching on sexual morality, why not others), the gay lobby and extramarital sex (since we’re disregarding some church teaching on sexual morality, why not others?), Cafeteria Catholicism, widespread liturgical abuse (since the Church is too prudish on sexual morality, they’re probably prudish about liturgy, besides it’s not as if you actually have to listen to the Church if you want to worship God), lack of reverence, lack of vocations and collapse of the Catholic family, and the disconnect between what the Church truly is because as St Paul points out in Ephesians 5 the marriage and the connection between Christ and his Church are intimately tied together. If one weakens, the other will as well (or at least appear to).

    Pope Pius X was incorrect that modernism was “the synthesis of all heresies”. Modernism might cover some heresies, but the rejection of Humanae Vitae includes the logic of modernism and leads to heresies never dreamed of by the promoters of modernism.

    I pray for the Synod, in particular in light of Ephesians 5 and all the effects of the Humanae Vitae revolt.

  18. tm30 says:

    I don’t want to be too facile about this, but this wave of support for making a charade of Jesus’ teaching on the indissolubility of marriage must be coming from the possibility that many bishops no longer believe in Hell. Because, if they did, they would fear for their own souls before coercing others into a perpetual state of mortal sin for the sake of human respect. We, as a Church, can slap a happy face on any sin we want, but it doesn’t change the nature of the sin, or the nature of alienation from God, without sacramental forgiveness. And there can’t be sacramental forgiveness without firm purpose of amendment. So … this is like watching a lot of whales beaching themselves for the applause of spectators at the shore. What a strange strange time this is…

  19. KM Edwards says:

    And this is the rub.

    I will admit to being stupefied by so many naive commentators on this blog who seem to be focused on whether the Church will stand or fall. Christ has promised the Church will never be overcome by the gates of hell. But he never guaranteed that His Church would in every time be very effective at its main job, notably, the salvation of souls.

    As Peters points out, the dogma of the faith will remain. But the more it is relegated to the dusty old books, that fewer and fewer people are aware of, or care for, the more the blind will lead the blind even within the Catholic Church, and more and more souls will be damned and lost as a result.

    This is the great anxiety we should all take to heart. Not that Christ’s promise may not hold – He is God, His word endures forever – but that many more souls, including sadly those of our relatives, friends, and our children, perhaps even our own, who will be more and more impacted by the disregard of Christ’s decree on marriage, will be lost as a result of this new and more-out-of-control diabolical disorientation amongst our shepherds.

    Consider how, faithful as some of you are, what you will do when your young son or daughter enters lightly into marriage, only to divorce and shack up with someone else, without even a consideration of God and the Church’s view on the matter. And you want to see your grandchildren and are torn whether to let that son or daughter and their shack-up “spouse” come stay with you for the weekend. And being torn, you decide to be faithful and lose your children and grandchildren in the process. This will touch all of us. Besides spitting up in God’s face.

    May God convert our prelates or remove them … before it is too late for billions of souls.

  20. Supertradmum says:

    Fr Z., this is not merely a rant, but an excellent analysis of the problem. I am so glad the first group is finally addressed, those who have no clue as to how long the breakdown of families, catechesis and other social factors have not prepared people for real marriage or the rearing of children.

    When Humanae Vitae came out, I knew it would separate the real Catholics from the false ones. And, it has

    Also, thanks for reiterating what I have been saying and writing that this Pope will not change any doctrine on marriage. The Holy Spirit protects the Church from error. Too many so called trads have been printing lies about this pope based on things which have never happened and will not happen.

    As to the second group, those entrenched in chancery offices, we can see the damage done to the Church from this uber-liberal set of professionals who sadly, lost their faith, and have fallen into the modernist heresies (take your pick) as well as Americanism..

    I look forward to the clarifications which will come out of Rome.

  21. Papabile says:

    If a change was made away from it being a juridical process, there will need to be a bribe paid to the canon lawyers out there. They will still be involved, and then they will be used to explain why this is all OK.

  22. yatzer says:

    I suppose that all this is relevant to the fact that I have been to only one real wedding in the last few years. Everybody else has already been living together for a good while, and often own a house together; some even have kids together. The ceremony, as far as I can tell, is to tidy up legalities, have a nice family party, fulfill the bride’s childhood wedding fantasy, or provide an opportunity to get nifty gifts.

  23. Marissa says:

    How long does the average couple take before getting married? 2 years? Maybe 3 on the outside if you factor in a longer-than-average engagement?

    People nowadays spend less than half the time discerning marriage than discerning the priesthood.

    Today’s couples are marrying later than ever before. Divorce is at its highest ever. The problem is catechesis, not time. Time, in fact, seems to encourage more issues. Historically, courting was a short period of time because there was a goal at the end–to get married and start a family. Men and women were married at much younger ages than today–the Church’s lower limit is 14 for women and 16 for men, though those numbers are the most extreme lower limits.

    Your point might somewhat make sense if you mean discerning before any potential partner comes into one’s life. The age at which one starts to become an adult is 13-14 in most cultures. At this point a serious catechesis and discernment should begin in helping young men and women understand the nature of marriage and whether they are fit for it. The endless infantilizing time spent “finding oneself” is a huge issue in the modern age which leads to fornication, cohabitation, children out of wedlock, etc.

  24. Dialogos says:

    As one who went through the annulment process I feel we need to see it as more than jumping through a hoop (or two)–it can be incredibly pastoral and healing, as it was in my case. It was/is a cogent reminder that I am a sinner saved by a merciful Lord through the ministry of a Church with standards, and that the sacraments require something other than a lowest common denominator “y’all come on in.” Contrary to how it is often depicted, annulment can and does bring up the reality of painful and sinful choices, as Fr. Z has pointed out, and that sometimes those choices become obstacles. While I agree that marriage is too often entered into frivolously, I also say beware the pharisaism of judging those who have gone through the annulment process.

  25. The Masked Chicken says:

    “There are, that I can see, no gaps in the process through which marriage cases may slip quietly but wrongly into nullity. Not even the oft-reviled Canon 1095 (the “psychological” canon upon which most annulments around the world are based) can be written off as a mere legislative novelty for it articulates (as best positive law can) jurisprudence developed by the Roman Rota itself over the last 60 or 70 years.”

    It is here where I have to somewhat disagree. The application of the jurisprudence of Canon 1095 in the last 60 or 70 years has been developed along with the psychological sciences and the science is in question in many cases, so this directly affects the jurisprudence. I have no problem with certain psychological states invalidating an attempted marriage. Such obvious states as psychosis, delusions, psychopathology wherein one cannot tell the truth or is uncontrollably abusive, improper physiological of the hypothalamus (which regulates sex drive, libido, etc.) are all valid psychological reasons for an annulment, but things like personality disorders, obssessive-compulsive disorders, even bipolar conditions, or mild Asperger’s disease are developing areas in science and the science in some of these areas certainly has changed over the last 60 years (and there is much we simply do not understand). Unfortunately, some psychologists do not stay current on the latest science, but more than that, the science really isn’t settled for these conditions. For these restrictive cases, I do not see how justice can be decided on the basis of an unstable understanding of the effects of these conditions on human relationships.

    As I pointed out in a comment last week, how science is done in medicine is undergoing an extensive review and results are not encouraging. The pioneering work of Dr. John Ioannidis has revolutionized our understanding of exactly how uncertain much of the modern medical research results are:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/11/lies-damned-lies-and-medical-science/308269/

    Given this, the psychological bases for allowing annulments, it seems to me, should be tightened to include only those conditions for which the science is, actually, settled. Psychology, in my opinion, has been broadly over-sold to both the general public and to medical doctors for many years. Yes, there are many straightforward psychological reasons for an annulment, but one cannot always trust the opinion of garden-variety experts. Case in point: look at how the whole psychology of self-esteem or even homosexuality has changed over the last 60 years. Should one expect that other parts of psychological understanding have not also changed (and not necessarily in the direction of truth).

    I am not for nor against annulments, per se, but we ought to do the best to base our decisions on the truth and modern science, in general, and psychology, in particular, requires a lot more subtle interpretations of the results and better experimental designs than many people, even workers in the field, have been making. Science is rushing along, but, sometimes, one wonders if it isn’t rushing towards a cliff rather than a glorious plain.

    The Chicken

  26. HeatherPA says:

    KM Edwards- we are living the pain of not seeing our infant grandchildren (or eldest daughter) because of the situation you describe. And it is so HARD, especially when everyone else, and I mean everyone else in our lives are disgusted with our “strict stance”. Our daughter is living with a drug dealer, and they may “get married” next year by a Protestant pastor.
    This, from a girl who went on numerous retreats as a teen and was raised and taught to know better. She eagerly awaits the legalization of marijuana in our state.

    I agree, Christ’s church isn’t going to fall. But most of its followers will be tested severely and found lacking. Didn’t the Book of Daniel state it eloquently?

  27. Robbie says:

    This is a frustrating and upsetting situation. The Cardinals who’ve spoken out seem to strongly oppose Kasper’s position. Having said that, I don’t think it matters much what is or isn’t decided at the synod. Those who want to ignore the final product will do so just as they did after VII. As for Scola’s proposal, it strikes me as an attempt to head the Kasperites off at the pass and possibly made out of fear that the mood is running against the conservative/traditional opinion.

  28. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    If wolfeken would like to check the fontes for c. 1095, 2, s/he will see key Rota cases back to the 1940s being cited as precedent, which was my (I thought) clear point. As for canon 1095, it only became available to local tribunals in 1983, of course.

  29. StWinefride says:

    Thorfinn says: Better late than never, granted. But marriage should be a key topic in catechism from an early age…

    Exactly. The following document from the Pontifical Council for the Family, speaks of the remote, proximate and immediate preparation for marriage (from No. 21 onwards):

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/family/documents/rc_pc_family_doc_13051996_preparation-for-marriage_en.html

  30. Uxixu says:

    jjjorge1 hits it on the head. I unfortunately never really hear this or anything specific WRT morality with the Church’s teaching on birth control, abortion, or homosexuality from the ambo and rarely even in the confessional. Much of it is perfectly orthodox theology on loving God, etc perfectly laudable in itself but only a few of the very best confessors ever actually challenge me to improve myself and fix the problem. I fear it’s the “dreaded” pastoral concerns overriding good shepherds who never say ‘no’ lest they upset their willful flock.

  31. Paulo says:

    KM Edwards above touched on a very, very important point which I have been mulling over for years now: what to do when a loved one simply disregards the tenets of the faith, “shacks-up” and gives scandal to nieces and nephews (who, given their age, are more or less aware of it). I see that happening around me, and I confess I do not have the fortitude to call it by its name, and I must also say, I have failed to do so out of “being nice” and maintaining peace in the family. As Father Z opined, “the impression left, in the battle on the level of rhetoric, is that marriage isn’t really for life, that is, until death breaks the bond.” This discussion gives me much pause for thought, as I realize how grave my omission has been.

  32. St Donatus says:

    Personally, I think the crux of the problem has nothing to do with divorce and marriage. It has everything to do with ‘ecumenism’ in its current form. Currently we are taught that all religions are equal and the Catholic Church is the ‘best’ faith but still one among equals. Well, as a young man my view was, if the Catholic Church is the ‘best’ faith but still just one among equals, and my priest tells me that I can just ignore certain ‘questionable’ teachings such as remarriage and contraception, then why can’t I question any of her teachings? Once one goes there, you don’t even have to go to Mass like 75% of Catholics. Until the Church returns to teachings that the Catholic Church is the ONLY means of Salvation, Catholics will continue to just wonder away, whether spiritually or physically.

  33. SimonDodd says:

    Yes, exactly–I couldn’t agree more. “The problem is what impression are people developing in the meantime?” It doesn’t matter what is ultimately done. It doesn’t matter whether Francis is actually orthodox in his beliefs. What matters is what impression are people developing in the meantime. Let the philosophers argue over whether perception is reality; we are practical men who know that perception becomes reality. Thus, perception is a problem. This entire exercise, this entire synod and indeed this entire pontificate is a disaster because what impression are people developing in the meantime?

  34. dans0622 says:

    Papabile: A bribe. That’s funny (or offensive). In my opinion, if there was no longer a juridical process for marriage nullity cases, I’d probably have to ride off into the sunset and go back to milking cows…

  35. Gregg the Obscure says:

    I’m a layman, a convert at that, and convinced that the only reason St. Paul could honestly call himself the chief of sinners is that I hadn’t yet arrived on the scene. That being said, here are my considered responses to the issue of communion for those who are divorced and remarried:

    1. no one is entitled to receive Holy Communion – to the contrary it is a privilege;
    2. receiving Holy Communion in an unworthy manner is a horrible sacrilege;
    3. unworthy receipt of Holy Communion occurs when the recipient is knowingly in a state of unconfessed mortal sin or when he or she intends to persist in mortal sin;
    4. God Himself has referred to remarriage after divorce as adultery;
    5. Adultery is a mortal sin;
    6. causing someone to commit sacrilege by encouraging unworthy reception of Holy Communion – even if the intent is not malicious – is itself a horrible sin.

    If a divorced and remarried person desires to receive Holy Communion, he or she may go to confession and make a serious resolution to sin no more – which resolution would necessarily include intent to refrain from conjugal acts with the second spouse during the life of the first spouse. That’s not easy. Nothing worthwhile is.

  36. benedetta says:

    The Trojan horse are divorced and remarried and communion, which, when read in connection with statistics and an awareness that perhaps our current times are not the best comment on how to responsibly live the sacrament of marriage in history, and that the situation is even now changing as to that, by the will and desire of Catholics themselves, toward living the sacrament out more fully, so that out of the Trojan horse will spring the advocacy for detaching sexuality from any responsibility whatsoever: towards God, towards neighbor…towards children. Witness the interview in today’s Tablet: the message is “have children, just don’t have too many or more than your government’s economic system (which in the west is quite ample of course) may rightfully permit unto you. This direction is quite frightening. It seems like a small number of elitist dissenters are putting him up to this. When he visited NY for his whirlwind tour, he did an interview on WNYC radio. He did not do various other venues. That says it all. Nutshell.

  37. gretta says:

    May I offer another perspective?

    Take a look at how many canonically educated people it takes to properly run a tribunal. A case requires three trained canonists, two being priests. Or, as an exception, for short marriages you can use one trained priest/canonist. Plus you need a degreed defender of the bond for every case. You also are supposed to have trained procurator/advocates to help represent the parties. The training for a licentiate in canon law is 2-3 years, and can be very expensive for a diocese – not to mention if the canonist-in-training is a priest, the priest is at school for much of his training and not in his diocese (who may be short of priests).

    There are many dioceses in the United States that don’t have the required staff to do cases correctly. They certainly do not have the required people/priests on staff full time, or sometimes even part time. Dioceses cut corners – not because they want to, but because it is too expensive and they need their priests to be in parishes. And this is in the US, where we have a literate population, reliable communication (so that the parties and their witnesses can be contacted), technology, power, and infrastructure (like safe roads and transportation). If many dioceses in the US are not able to do this correctly, think about people in dioceses other countries that do not have the blessings we do to make this process accessible, and there is limited access to a tribunal because those dioceses can’t afford to train the necessary canonists and advocates.

    Isn’t it a matter of justice that if the church has a process that is necessary for a person to avoid mortal sin and insure sacramental integrity, that it be universally available and accessible, not just in theory but in fact? I think it is easy to think about this issue in terms of our first world perspective, without taking into consideration more universal factors. Maybe this isn’t necessarily a debate between the “no annulments granted” vs. the “no annulments necessary,” but the reality that the process as it stands is inaccessible or impossible to implement in many areas of the world and needs to be simplified so that it is a universally viable process. Maybe this is the perspective that Pope Francis has, that we do not.

    [Okay, I’ll bite. How much money and how much time does a parish church wrekcovation project cost? Hundreds of thousands of dollars to tear out things like altars and rails and statues which God’s people already paid for. It can take years to raise the money and work up the plans. I’m all for remedial projects, but have you seen what some places spend on the rubbish they produce? How much of annual diocesan fundraisers go to the tribunal and providing for a future tribunal rather than more photocopying and printing expenses and staff members for the “social justice” office, so that God’s people can with an eyeroll trashcan what arrives by snail mail? The church’s hard won resources from God’s hardworking people should go to something more important but less visible: justice for spouses.]

  38. Clinton R. says:

    The gates of hell will not overcome the Holy Church, but those gates are banging harder and louder every day. How many bishops and priests and laity will fall into the pit? Oh the thought is truly terrifying as it must have been for the children of Fatima when Our Lady showed them the torments of hell. May Our Blessed Mother pray for the Pope and cardinals and bishops and priests and for all of us, that we may not fall into satan’s snare. St. Michael, defend us in battle. +JMJ+

  39. Titus says:

    If a change was made away from it being a juridical process, there will need to be a bribe paid to the canon lawyers out there. They will still be involved, and then they will be used to explain why this is all OK.

    Well, that touches on another criticism of the existing process (albeit not a scholarly one), to wit, the perception that it is a mechanism greased by money. I’ve rarely heard good things said about the annulment system from people who have been involved in it. A non-zero number come out of it convinced that the entire affair is merely a commercial transaction.

    That said, I don’t think even a disastrous reform would actually entail paying off the various canonists. That would be impractical if nothing else.

    As for the rest of it, all I can think is, “just when it looked like we were getting over antinomianism.” [Who thought that? I sure didn’t.]

    Maybe I got a bit carried away with the wishful thinking during the last pontificate.

  40. roseannesullivan says:

    Fr Z wrote, “We are seeing in our own day something of the same dynamics that led to the massive revolt of dissent raised against the Church’s teachings after Paul VI issued Humanae vitae.”

    Thanks for bringing that up. I’ve been thinking that too. Even though it is almost certain that the rules will not change, the fact that there has been a much publicized consultative process will have led people to think that the Church is going to start reading and following the signs of the times. And worse rebellion will ensue when they realize that the Holy Spirit has once again held fast against the morality of the world.

  41. Titus says:

    P.S. – I should note, in justice, that I am not endorsing or adopting the views I mentioned in my previous comment. But if we are trying to think about actual ways to reform the annulment process, we might ask ourselves why it is generating these sorts of negative reactions from participants. Is their irritation justified? Is the irritating element a flaw or a feature?

  42. I wish Dr. Peters would blog more. I love his posts.

  43. Unwilling says:

    HeatherPA, my heart goes out to you. Mt 10:34ff. “I have come to set a…daughter against her mother”. I hope you can find a way to restore your edifying access to your grandchildren and to your beloved daughter without creating scandal through unholy compromise. Perhaps a sincere Catholic priest will be able to help you find a way…

  44. The Cobbler says:

    To be honest, I think the people who used to listen to find out what Church teaching is and who could, therefore, be misled by some change in wind at some synod have since sorted themselves out into the people who judge the Church’s teachings by whether they conform to secular “tolerance” and the people who know what the Church really teaches no matter what the bishops say. The latter group may be divided over what level of tolerance is required in obedience to our shepherds, but in principle there’s not a lot that can be done to sway either of these groups anymore. The synods could try to explicitly change the Church’s teaching, and the people who would feel validated by it would mostly be the people who wanted it changed — and therefore didn’t really believe in the first place — while the people who know better would quite simply recognise that the attempt is invalid — and much more clear-cut than the sort of ambiguity that makes SSPX followers and conservative Novus-Ordo-goers fight each other. Indeed, I’d almost rather have that. (It is not, after all, as though Pope Francis will make it binding on the whole Church. We all know what happens to Popes who deliberately set out to thwart infallibility: infallibility wins, even if by the Pope dying quietly in his bed he night before the promulgation; but Francis, whatever anyone else may think of him, doesn’t strike me as the sort who would want to directly stand against orthodoxy, let alone pull any stunts with papal infallibility.) There are, however, two things a synod could do that would have an effect on one or both of these groups:
    A) Threaten real punishment for bishops who don’t get their priests preaching the truth, and thereby make a dent, however small, in the ignorance of the masses.
    B) Anything that would affect how well the people in the second group, trying to do the right thing, are supported by Church policy (and I mean the things that actually are policies).

    Obviously, the former is about as likely to happen as Fr. Z becoming a serious fan of Jack Chick, [I’m more of a Jack Reacher fan …] but the latter… I, for one, just hope they don’t do anything that would tell us faithful Catholics that the Church won’t defend our marriages (as a matter of policy/law, above and beyond individual cases where the law has already been thrown by the wayside) or that (God forbid) our marriages are no longer presumed to be valid (would we then have to debate, not whether the divorced and remarried may receive Communion, but whether any married Catholics must prove they are really married, and therefore not fornicating when they have children, before they may receive Communion?). If you think the SSPX situation is tragic, imagine what could happen if the Church’s law screwed over all the next-generation-raising orthodox lay men and women — it would be, perhaps, the only disaster left that could rival the disasters we’ve already all been through.

    Most likely, though, anything coming out of the synods will just repeat Church teaching in a way that doesn’t sound like they really mean it, same as has been done too often in the past century, and everyone will be reaffirmed in their positions and nothing will come of it. Sadly, that’s hardly the worst-case scenario. In any case, I can’t wait till it’s over with.

  45. gretta says:

    I think you are right that dioceses should spend more on tribunals and make greater efforts to let parties have justice.

    My point is that it is not justice that the right to have the Church examine one’s marriage to determine its validity depends entirely on which country you live in and whether their diocese can staff and run a tribunal. If their diocese cannot, or if you are in one of those countries like Brazil where a priest gets to certain communities once a year, they have no way to exercise that right. The current system presupposes a first or second-world level of bureaucracy and education that many poor dioceses in poor countries cannot access.

    I have no idea how this problem could or should be fixed. I don’t know how one ensures the balance between having universal access to this process without watering down our theology of marriage. I hope that Pope Francis has significantly greater minds than mine to figure it out. But it strikes me as wrong that someone here can exercise their right to have their marriage judged, and someone else who lives elsewhere is denied that right solely because either their diocese can’t afford to the only mechanism that the Church has to judge such marriages, or they are in such a remote place that the process is impossible to implement. It just isn’t fair.

  46. Kathleen10 says:

    Fr. Z. I think you are right. Not that pecking away at all Catholic teaching isn’t worth something to the dissenters, but we should always look at things with a skeptical eye and ask ourselves, what is the real goal here. It isn’t likely about who receives holy communion, as important as that is, but more likely for something more foundational, as you said, such as disengaging sexuality from marriage, because if you can do that you can change everything. Accomplish that and you have something homosexualists can really use. They have made great inroads to their goal, as have feminists. What can be done about that, I would have no idea. It doesn’t look good because people, cultures, and even institutions like the church don’t typically develop more rigorous standards as time goes on, they much more easily relax them and grow weaker. Apparently, we’re pretty flabby already.
    Isn’t this where salt gets thrown out because it has lost it’s saltiness? With what can it be made salty again?

  47. Rachel K says:

    Thorfinn says:
    “The root problem with the above situation is that marriage prep is way too late in the game to properly form beliefs on marriage. ”

    Yes, absolutely. And that is why we need to refer back to the document “The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality” which was produced by Cardinal Trujillo (RIP). In it are the clearly articulated ideas of St Josemaria Escriva; the reason I say this is because a careful reading of this document (published in 1985) will show a near verbatim copying of parts of St Josemaria’s sermon on marriage and family from the book of his sermons called “Christ is Passing By” . The sermons date from many years before the document’s publication. I assume that St John Paul was aware of these ideas and somehow they were taken up and via Cardinal Trujillo came to be part of the Church’s statement.

    Basically, TMHS talks of “proximate” and “distant” formation of the understanding of human sexuality, ie, the meaning of marriage, celibacy and man and womanhood. Adults do not suddenly understand this during what you in the US call the “pre-Cana” course. Their understanding comes from their earliest experiences in their own family of origin, both positive and negative. Any form of pre marriage preparation can only ice the cake, so to speak. What we have in the current crisis of marriage is a bit of icing but no cake at all for most people, we are building on sand!

    This crisis is also a crisis of celibacy and priesthood, because the fertile soil for celibacy is a properly understood definition of marriage and vice versa. One cannot offer up something as a sacrifice to God if one doesn’t understand what one is offering; you can’t give what you don’t have.
    Marriage is the seedbed of priesthood.

    All of these points are made much more eloquently than I can make them in the document itself. It is such a rich and helpful piece of writing I wish all the readers here would find a copy and look at it. It is very short and to the point and full of practical advice for both parents and teachers about how to guide young people from their earliest years to appreciate the dignity of man and woman. For children in the age of innocence, or tranquility, as it is out, this means the distant formation of understanding the respect due to another and such virtues as faithfulness in friendship and forgiveness.

    We also need to pray and show real love towards those who marriages are in a state of collapse, especially as the children always suffer most in these circumstances.

  48. Cordelio says:

    I think that Dr. Peters’s 1996 article, “Annulments in America: keeping bad news in context,” is another important read before attributing particular causes to the annulment explosion in the U.S. The most interesting fact I read therein concerned the similar explosion in the number of “canonical form” annulments, which would presumably not be affected by any shift in the intellectual understanding of nullity that might relate to annulments on more subjective grounds. This statistic would seem to indicate that a greater prominence should be given to factors like easier access to the annulment process and/or underlying problems with Catholic culture relative to problems with the annulment process, per se.

    As someone perhaps inclined to automatically think negatively about almost anything the current hierarchy is up to, I’m happy to admit that Dr. Peters’s article made me acknowledge that, while there is certainly a grave crisis relating to marriage (and particularly in the U.S.), it would be an erroneous oversimplification to simply blame the modern annulment process.

    There are other statistics that it would be interesting to have. For example, in Western countries where there is lower utilization of the annulment process than in the U.S., are there correspondingly higher rates of Catholics who divorce civilly (pardon the oxymoron) and just don’t bother with an annulment before contracting another civil marriage, or else cohabitating outside of civil marriage? In the U.S., what were the rates of previously-married Catholics in situations like that before and after the annulment explosion began in the 1960s? I wonder if there is a way to get figures like that, and if anyone has ever looked into them?

  49. Lin says:

    “But marriage should be a key topic in catechism from an early age, at least before kids commonly start dating (if you can call it that), as a major element of discussion on vocations. I don’t think that’s the case at present.”

    Catechesis, catechesis, catechesis!! Back in the day when one had to memorize the Baltimore Catechism, we knew from a VERY early age that marriage was for life.

    And as I have seen repeatedly in my life time, once the perception that the Church may change is in the news, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, take it to the bank. Even if the Pope makes no changes to the status quo, many will believe that he did.

  50. robtbrown says:

    Gretta,

    1. My understanding is that positions on the Marriage Tribunal are not full time. I know that in my home archdiocese the three priests are also pastors of parishes–in some places they are either assistant pastors or at least in residence at a parish (Mass and Confessions). In a diocese with a seminary those who teach canon law often also work on the Tribunal.

    2. Priest shortage? I was told in the late 80’s that the Church in the US was offered priests from Poland, where there was a surplus. In almost every case the answer was “thanks, but no thanks”.

    So much for the priest shortage.

    3. Money? As Fr Z says, if a bishop wants, he can find money for priests to obtain a Licentiate in canon law or theology. In fact, every year I was in Rome Bp Flavin of Lincoln had at least two priests there studying theology or canon law.

    BTW, in Italy it is assumed that any priest with the academic wherewithal will continue on for at least a Licentiate.

    4. One other point: I was told that in the 70’s Italians advised the American episcopacy to buy real estate where the Roman growth was headed. These were the times when bishops became teary eyed at the mention of social justice, so nothing was done. If the bishops had actually done that, no US diocese would have to pay for the Roman education of priests and seminarians.

  51. The Masked Chicken says:

    Yes, Yes, Yes and blah, blah, blah (to quote Vala Mal Doran of Stargate SG-1)…all this seriousness. Really, y’all are missing the greatest gift to a lyricist you can have this side of greased pigs. You can’t make this stuff up. So, may I suggest a theme song for the synod (with apologies to Frank Sinatra and Sammy Cahn)? Ahem, Maestro…

    Divorce and re-marriage,
    Divorce and re-marriage,
    Go together like justice and miscarriage
    This, I tell you, brother*
    You can’t have one and have the other.

    Long and marriage
    Long and marriage
    It’s an institute
    some cardinals disparage
    Ask the local cleric:
    Stability in marriage is just hysteric.

    Try, try, try to separate them,
    it’s so communal
    Try, try, try and you and yours
    will end up at a tribunal.

    Divorce and re-marriage
    Divorce and re-marriage
    At the Synod they all said
    Divorce and Who-care-age

    Dad** was told by mother:
    You can’t have one,
    You can’t have none***
    You can’t have one
    Married to my brother****

    All together, now…

    Really, you have only one life to be joyful. It will confound the word and confuse serious men. You married folk out there, go, be joyful. Have a bag full of kids. The laughter of children is the greatest defense of hope.

    The Chicken

    *Or otherwise non-androgenous self-selected partner-type person
    ** I think he was my dad…
    ***Okay, technically, you can have none, but none, here, should be considered in the hermeneutics of zero
    ****Ah, the oblique Salome reference. Somewhere, there is a lesson for some cardinals buried in there.

    [You’ve been missed.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  52. Former Altar Boy says:

    ” In 17 years of being a Catholic I have NEVER heard a homily (in a Novus Ordo parish) that discusses Birth Control or teaches that Birth Control is a mortal sin.”

    In five years at Maronite church and nine years at a TLM, I have NEVER heard it, either.

    On different but related subject, I received an annulment but it was no “cake walk, but rather a long, arduous process. Of course, having the diocese go thru three judicial vicars during that time didn’t help, either.

  53. Dave N. says:

    For the last 40-50 years, the Church has been operating on the Sgt. Schultz principle: “I see nothing….” or maybe under a sort of mutated policy of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I have personally witness “de facto annulments” granted by two different parish pastors—telling people that their case will never be successful in front of a diocesean tribunal, but that the divorced and re-married couple “really tried” and that’s really all that’s actually required when it comes to receiving Communion. On a broader scale, if polls and studies are to be believed the vast majority of Catholics approve of contraception and IVF, and a slim majority are in favor of same-sex marriage. I wouldn’t even want to know how many Catholic approve of abortion in a variety of scenarios.

    Rather than face another Diet of Worms and now demand (or even politely ask for?) adherence to Church teaching on any number of issues, our present teachers have chosen the “strategy” of looking the other way and ignoring massive dissent. We now seem painted into a theological corner and all of the options look ugly; it’s like history’s worse-ever case of cognitive dissonance.

  54. msokeefe says:

    What do you expect? They will streamline the annulment process, probably allowing the parish Priest to make the call. Look at married permanent Deacons, they are clerics and are supposed to be continent.

    [That’ll work. He’ll entrust the task to a newly remarried 46 year old woman who wants to be a priest.]

  55. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    As I read your rant, Fr. Z, the phrase “cheap grace” came to mind. I’ve often wondered how Dietrich Bonhoeffer felt as he watched his fellow churchman rush into the embrace of the Nazi party. Talk about conforming to the spirit of the age. That never ends well.

  56. OrthodoxChick says:

    Fr. Z said, “Just as disappointed priests and bishops quietly told couples to do whatever they wanted in the matter of contraception, so too disappointed priests and bishops will quietly tell the civilly remarried to do whatever they want in the matter of Communion.”

    That’s exactly what has already been happening to some couples that I know. I have no doubt that it will continue. This presents a huge problem for the Church in the future. Few are the people like Fr. Z’s readers, and the Fishwrappers, who actually follow things like synods and encyclicals closely, albeit from differing perspectives. Most people that I know in real life (from local parishes or at work, or even parents from my children’s Catholic school) have NO idea about what a synod is; let alone that there is one coming up in a few weeks. For these folks, they go by either what their pastor tells them if/when they ask him about their own situation, and/or they go by hearsay. By hearsay, I mean, they judge the Catholic Church based on what someone they know relays as the answer that Father gave them, or gave some other friend-of-a-friend who posed a question to a priest.

    Those of you who have worked as a catechist, as I have, must have encountered your fair share of parents who still don’t know that we have a Catechism of the Catholic Church to consult. Most of my students’ parents have never even heard of it and it’s been out in print in the U.S. since what? 1992 or so, right? Well, when our Dioceses’ stopped referring to the religious education of their youth as Catholic Catechetical Doctrine and instead refer to it in doctrinally-neutral ecumenical terms such as “Faith Formation”, what do you expect? There’s nothing particularly Catholic about “Faith Formation”. Heck, the muslim jihadists undergo “faith formation”.

    But we needn’t be all gloom and doom about this. We have a lot more going for us this time around then we did when Humanae Vitae came out. Back in the 1960’s, there was almost no alternative media. We all got our news from the mainstream media and we were all subject to their interpretation of events in their reporting. Those days are gone now. We have blogs, social media, and alternative press websites. We have Catholic T.V. Still, far too few people out there are even aware of what’s going on so they aren’t likely to surf the web pursuing the Truth, but that’s where we come in. Those of us who read Fr. Z. and watch EWTN, etc. can also talk to our friends and co-workers and maybe the hearsay they get from us will help to counter some of the dissident and disobedient voices that they will hear.

  57. lana says:

    In 20 years of NO Masses, I have heard several (15) homilies on contraception, abortion, pornography.

    Most the advice in confession and private consultation has been orthodox, counseling me against contraception. That would be @ 10 orthodox priests versus 2 unorthodox ones.

  58. Papabile says:

    dans0622….

    You have made my point exactly.

  59. Mike says:

    Interesting comments!

    I would only add-which I think relevant somehow–I was just yesterday at a top university’s Catholic chapel for my son, in the Archdiocese of Chicago, btw–and at Mass out of a dozen Catholics who passed by the altar and the Tabernacle, only ONE, besides my son and I, genuflected.

    Many simply don’t know their left hand from their right.

    (This is not an argument for easy annulments; but a snap-shot of our Church.)

  60. Mike says:

    PS–I am praying for the Pope for this coming fall that he doesn’t waver and defends the bond!

  61. RichR says:

    I’m sick of this whole debate. I’m sick of no one wanting to look like a meanie for standing up for the truth when, in fact, it is the only thing that can save people.

    Is nothing worth fighting for anymore?

  62. Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick says:

    Read the following paragraph again, holding in your mind’s eye the image of Cardinals O’Malley, Dolan, or Wuerl, or Archbishop Chaput, or almost any bishop in the U.S. (other than Archbishop Samuel Aquila and about a dozen others), giving Communion to Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, John Kerry…

    SCHOLIUM: What is “scandal”? CCC 2284 Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor’s tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense. 2285 Scandal takes on a particular gravity by reason of the authority of those who cause it or the weakness of those who are scandalized. It prompted our Lord to utter this curse: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”85 Scandal is grave when given by those who by nature or office are obliged to teach and educate others. Jesus reproaches the scribes and Pharisees on this account: he likens them to wolves in sheep’s clothing. 2286 Scandal can be provoked by laws or institutions, by fashion or opinion.

  63. gretta says:

    robtbrown, I think you missed my point. I’m not worried about bishops in the United States sending people to school. But a licentiate from Catholic U. is somewhere in the neighborhood of $40,000 US. How does the bishop in some poor Central American, South American, or African country afford that? And while tuition in Rome is certainly less, the cost of living can be very high. Now multiply that times 4, and you have the very minimum of what is required by canon law to staff a tribunal. And that is not counting what are supposed to be trained advocates to help the parties through the cases.

    In my opinion, the injustice isn’t what we can do here in the United States (because I don’t think this is actually about us) – the injustice is what CAN’T be done universally. Someone in Haiti should have the same right both in theory and in practice to have their marriage examined by a tribunal as someone in the US. And if they don’t, then the system isn’t just. I think this may be why Pope Francis is so keen on reforming the system, is that maybe he has seen this inequality in practice when he was in Argentina.

  64. Imrahil says:

    Dear msokeefe,

    as for married deacons, you’re alluding to the opinion of Dr Peters. Which, of course, is just that. I personally think that he has a point as long as the literal content of present law is concerned; what, in any case, this means, is something Peters himself does not think it is not his business as a canon lawyer to give opinions on. Though I agree to him that the task to make law 100% clear remains to the legislator.

    I think that he cannot hint to anything more than a technical error in the legislation process; the obvious intent of Pope St. John Paul II and his predecessors was a married deaconate with the right to proceed consumating their marriage. Otherwise, given the circumstances, they could not have passed over the question in silence.

    I also think (but it would be to much for a comment here, and also perhaps a bit vague) that even given present law, our deacons have a right to do so.

    And that’s what those in charge of law at the Curia think too. (Dr Peters is right in saying that the answers in question have not in itself the force to change law if there were need for it to change; but that’s what they think.)

  65. Imrahil says:

    second paragraph middle: Dr Peters.

    No intent to be disrespectful, just a mistake in writing.

  66. Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick says:

    Who, indeed, will give a damn? In the (probably unintentionally) ironic synecdoche of the new Archbishop of Chicago, “we cannot politicize the Communion rail”!

    It bears repeating, those who “politicize the Communion rail” are the communicants who are manifest grave sinners, and the ministers of Communion who give them Communion precisely BECAUSE they are politicians.

    Cardinal O’Malley said that it was essential that bishops not be seen as picking on one political party. Translation: A person may receive Communion sacrilegiously precisely BECAUSE he or she is a Democrat.

    Not only are the actions of these bishops scandalous, but their rationalizations only go to prove that they don’t even THINK in the categories of moral theology. Every rationalization they give for committing the mortal sin of giving grave scandal is couched in political terms.

    That’s how Cardinal Wuerl is capable of staking out this position, proudly: Committing the mortal sin of giving grave scandal is “what I like to call a ‘pastoral approach.'”

    One of the forces behind the drive for Communion for adulterers is the slavering desire of most bishops to put an end to protests about scandalous, sacrilegious Communions in general.

  67. It may be time for the Church to uncouple from the State in the matter of marriage. At the moment in Australia, Catholic pastors are recognised as legal marriage celebrants. I’d say this is what needs to change.

    This will leave token and non-practising Catholics free to marry legally if they wish, and divorce legally if they wish. If they want a pretty church, the Anglicans will be glad to help them out.

    It will leave gay couples free to go through whatever ends up being legalised in Australia, without compromising ministers of religion.

    But the Catholic Church will be able to reserve sacramental marriage for its own active members, after a careful examination of the couple in question.

    This might at least slow things down a bit.

  68. Genesispete says:

    Egads !!! Does the pastor having the “smell of his sheep” mean that he will become as lackadaisical as his flock in matters of Faith?

  69. Mandy P. says:

    “Given this, the psychological bases for allowing annulments, it seems to me, should be tightened to include only those conditions for which the science is, actually, settled. ”

    Quibble: No science is ever settled. We may have some things we believe we have a solid grasp on at the moment or some things we think we understand better than others, but that is never any guarantee that what we call scientific laws today won’t be found incorrect tomorrow. The scientific progress during twentieth century provides quite a bit of evidence as to “laws” that were believed to be settled for centuries being turned on their heads or thrown out because of new discoveries.

    Now, as someone who was a psych major, I will tell you that of all the “sciences” psychology and sociology are the most fluid and least understood (and I mean even by the experts themselves). Mainly because when you’re dealing with studying emotions and behaviors just about everything is very subjective and very difficult, if not outright impossible to measure in any concrete way. I agree that there are some types of psychological conditions or behaviors that should fall under grounds for annulment. I think the ones listed in the post I quoted by the Chicken are the no-brainers, mainly because the behaviors that manifest with them are bizarre enough that it is generally obvious the sufferer is not competent to maintain normal relationships, or are dangerous to them-self and to others. Essentially, anything that would be very severely debilitating to a person and his or her ability to relate to the world and to other people should definitely be included under that set of grounds. Outside of that, though, it gets very sketchy, because even the professionals don’t really know or understand these various conditions and the criteria for what even constitutes a disorder changes rapidly. There are conditions that people take very, very seriously today that will be considered complete bunk in the future.

    In a nutshell, I would not stake much of anything on the “science” of psychology.

  70. Thorfinn says:

    @Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick:
    “Cardinal O’Malley said that it was essential that bishops not be seen as picking on one political party. ”

    To be fair, that statement is manifestly true. While the entire Democratic Party has embraced a godless platform in many respects, there are plenty of Republicans who share those beliefs, particularly in Boston. And of course the Church is universal, so any approach must be based on consistent principles rather than local political parties.

    Cardinal Sean is more measured in his statements than some other prelates, surely deliberately. He seems to pick certain occasions to promote orthodoxy and lets many other occasions slide by; but I’m inclined to think charitably of him compared to certain other prelates who seem to pick certain occasions to attack orthodoxy. Whether he’ll make any headway in Boston, I don’t know.

  71. robtbrown says:

    Gretta says,

    But a licentiate from Catholic U.is somewhere in the neighborhood of $40,000 US. How does the bishop in some poor Central American, South American, or African country afford that? And while tuition in Rome is certainly less, the cost of living can be very high. Now multiply that times 4, and you have the very minimum of what is required by canon law to staff a tribunal . . .

    I already answered that:

    1) Those priests from poor nations who study in Rome are financed by the richer nations–that includes religious orders. And I would guess that Propaganda Fide also has a financial role.

    2) The annulment situation is a 1st World problem.

  72. RJHighland says:

    You know if it is to complicated for a observant Jewish fisherman in the 1st century to figure out, it is probably wrong. It is really not that complicated. Don’t listen to the wolves, find a good shepherd and help him help others.

  73. robtbrown says:

    Gretta,

    Also: Propaganda Fide has assets valued at over $10 billion.

  74. what if the Church just decided “if it aint broke,don’t fix it.” ? Asking,not commenting.

  75. Pingback: Padre Pio on the Blessed Virgin Mary - BigPulpit.com

  76. bwfackler says:

    Divorced and civilly remarried people cant receive communion because they are in an objective state of mortal sin and publically. Hasnt that cat already been let out of the bag by John Paul II when he issued the ’83 canon law?

    Ҥ3. Catholic ministers administer the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick licitly to members of Eastern Churches which do not have full communion with the Catholic Church if they seek such on their own accord and are properly disposed. This is also valid for members of other Churches which in the judgment of the Apostolic See are in the same condition in regard to the sacraments as these Eastern Churches.

    §4. If the danger of death is present or if, in the judgment of the diocesan bishop or conference of bishops, some other grave necessity urges it, Catholic ministers administer these same sacraments licitly also to other Christians not having full communion with the Catholic Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who seek such on their own accord, provided that they manifest Catholic faith in respect to these sacraments and are properly disposed.

    §5. For the cases mentioned in §§2, 3, and 4, the diocesan bishop or conference of bishops is not to issue general norms except after consultation at least with the local competent authority of the interested non-Catholic Church or community.”

    Is there a difference between someone in an objective state of sin living in an adulterous relationship and a heretic/schismatic also in an objective state of mortal sin receiving the sacraments? Why does the church promote one group to “eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, [and] be guilty of the Body and the Blood of the Lord” but not the other group?

  77. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    With apologies for not having read all the comments, the first three of Cardinal Scola’s proposal’s –

    “- spiritual communion, or “of desire”;
    – recourse to the sacrament of reconciliation even without absolution;
    – sexual continence while remaining in the civil union;”

    made me think of Claudius’s prayer in Hamlet (III.iii): are the first two not problematical in much the way Claudius sees that his own prayer is (allowing for the huge difference of guilt for murder and the question of degree of affinity)?

    If one is convinced one ought to be contrite, and one is not contrite, there may be good in “the sacrament of reconciliation […[ without absolution”, but there is not absolution, and what exactly is one ‘desiring’ where “spiritual communion” is concerned?

  78. Imrahil says:

    As for the problem mentioned by the dear gretta,

    I know this is no solution: But, by law and the principle of the Primacy, every Catholic has the right to take his action directly to the Holy See. I could imagine a situation where this even would be faster, and perhaps with some change, this could be turned in a temporary remedy. I wonder.

    That said: a mission sui juris, an apostolic prefecture or the like might be excused. But the administration of a diocese which does not send as much priests into canon-law training that they can safely fill their tribunals is not doing their job properly – even, yes, if that means that parishes cannot be filled. I might even say that, although “parish priest” is the chief image of priesthood people have in mind when considering a vocation, it’s not the greatest vocation buster anyway to think that priests are held to parish-service in such an amount that due to denying education, posts which need that education cannot be filled.

    Let’s have enough licentiates, anywhere. That suffices for tribunal work and also, if I am rightly informed, for the post of canon-law teacher at seminaries. If dioceses are in a tight spot, they might reasonably not let them proceed to doctorate, which after all is only strictly needed for the post of canon-law teacher at university level including the licentiates’ course. But let’s have these licentiates.

  79. Imrahil says:

    Dear Gregg the Obscure,

    small point: Holy Communion is a privilege indeed. The definition of “privilege”, though, is “a right that some have and others don’t”. And that’s not wrong to apply to Holy Communion: though for some reason I cannot know some people don’t like the word “entitled”, baptized Catholics of the usual age, not conscious of unconfessed mortal sin and not otherwise barred by law (e. g. if they have Communicated that day twice already) are just that, entitled, to Holy Communion.

  80. Imrahil says:

    Dear YoungLatinMassGuy,

    I totally disagree with what you are saying.

    As I guess St. Paul would. If anyone he behaveth himself uncomely toward his maiden, and if his desire of her is too strong, then let him do what he will, if it must be; he sinneth not; let them marry. (1 Cor 7, 36)

    Which is why theologians have said that marriage is, among other things, a remedy against inchastity.

    There is a difference between the vocation to clergy and religious estate, and the path to marriage. The first is for a spiritual special selection (or “elite” if we translate selection into French), the second is for the (believing Catholic) masses. And not only for them: marriage is an institution of the order of Nature, too. It is included in our sacrament which of course belongs to the order of Grace; but it remains having its natural functions. On the other hand, there is no such thing as a natural marriage or “civil-only” marriage for Christians.

    No offense, but if what you contemplate to do if you were running the circus, which is, as I take you, a difficult marriage preparation course which takes much while it lasts and lasts five years at the least, and without any guarantee that you’d finally let them marry in the end (because entitlement is bad, right?) – there is such an image in traditional morality which is called “laying a snare of damnation for many”*, and I should think such a policy a first-rate example of it. For if we consider the effect on large masses – I’m not saying they are morally excused (it is all the worse if they aren’t, after all), but as a matter of practical fact – what else can possibly happen as that they, having been denied marriage and consumption of marriage, resort to pre-marriage fornication?

    [*St. Thomas mentions this in the connection to a Confessor who – under then-circumstances, where jurisdiction was restricted to less priests than now possess it, virtually only to “their own priest”, but when this priest could give permission to confess to another priest – does not easily give this permission and, by doing so, also displays an unsympathetic personality, shying people away from his own confessional. S. th. Supp 8 IV.]

  81. Imrahil says:

    in the sixth paragraph: which takes much time and effort

  82. Sonshine135 says:

    This is a societal issue that stems from a hardcore belief in secular humanism. Society promotes no- fault divorce and single-parent homes. I have known of several minority couples that wouldn’t get married, because they would lose one government benefit or the other. I assume that there is truth to this in Europe and other parts of the civilized world.

    You will hear a million and one times that the church is out of touch with society. That is a faulty premise. The church isn’t out of touch with society. Society just has completely fell off the rails. The demise of civilized people has only escalated with the advent of the digital information age. You have thousands if not millions of people screaming and no one being heard.

    In short, the outcome of the marriage synod in the grand scheme of things will not result in much, because the church is trying to fix a symptom of a much greater problem that in this day and age- they have very little influence over. This isn’t despair, it is being pragmatic.

  83. dakota says:

    As Father talks eloquently and reverently about the permanent nature of the bond until death, young Sawyer and Dakota (male and female, we hope, though their names don’t help us much)…

    I sympathize with the concern for potential confusion caused by gender-neutral names. As I was preparing the save-the-dates and invitations for our wedding (which was this past June), I looked at our names, Dakota and Linsey, and realized that anyone who didn’t already know both of us might mistakenly assume that our marriage was going to be, well, not the man-woman sort. To make matters worse, the ceremony was going to be in Iowa, where such “marriages” are legal.

    In the end, my fiancée and I were blessed enough to be able to be wed in the Extraordinary Form and we figured that indicating that in the invitations would be sufficient to cast doubt on the idea of our marriage being anything but traditional.

    -Dakota (the husband)

  84. Imrahil says:

    Well, Sawyer is clear. Being obvious a reference to a (fictional) hero, it is of course as masculine as Tom Sawyer – somehow like the given-name Franklin is as masculine as Benjamin Franklin, “Chantal” is as feminine as St. Joan-Frances Fremiot de Chantal, and “Xavier” is as masculine as St. Francis Xavier.

    “Dakota” is, besides being the name of a territory, an as a name unknown name ending in -a. As such, it is feminine, with due apologies to our dear Dakota above. Or is it “Dakotus”? ;-)

  85. Supertradmum says:

    May I add an interesting perspective told to me today by one of my Protestant sisters in Christ. She told me that at her church they teach people not to enter into “unequal yoked” marriages. When have we ever in the last thirty years heard a sermon on this point?

    She noted that this idea has come about again because so many Christians are moving ahead in grace with spouses who are stuck in serious sins.

    If the Methodists can talk about this, why can’t we?

  86. lelnet says:

    I sometimes fear that the only active question still open on this is whether the Church will fall into open heresy, or simply continue the near-universal practice of refusing to live according to Christ.

    We can hope that God will keep His promises. (After all…everyone thought Paul VI was going to green-light birth control…until he didn’t.) But out in the parishes, the teaching on the indissolubility of marriage has been utterly and routinely ignored for decades now. The divorce culture is so entrenched, even in the Church, that the truth is now commonly denied even by those who are otherwise widely regarded as reliable guides to orthodoxy.

    And when was the last time any of us observed Canon 915 in action? If you feel like counting that DC case that immediately made the national news…remember how that turned out, in the end? If not…have you _ever_ observed it?

    I fear that, regardless of what happens at the Synod, the proverbial ship has sailed, for at least another generation, as to what happens to and with ordinary Catholics in the pews.

  87. dakota says:

    Imrahil,

    Ending in -a does seem to default to feminine these days.

    I usually treat my name as either indeclinable, since it’s a foreign loan word, or a masculine first declension name (just like, ummm, Catalina, -ae), since that causes confusion similar to its use in English.

    For what it’s worth, the Social Security Administration indicates that Dakota was more popular as a boy’s name until 2010, peaking in 1995 when it was the 56th most common name given to male children. Unfortunately, it seems a few high-profile female Dakotas have ruined it for the majority of us.

    -Dakota

  88. Jennifer Roback Morse says:

    Wherein Dr J Rants:
    What aggravates me is the concept that divorce is a victimless crime. Please. The stability of the parents’ bond is the foundation of the development of the child’s personality. Children do not get over the destruction of their parents’ marriage easily.
    Could we please stop talking about the adults, and just for a moment, talk about the kids? The Biblical prohibition is on remarriage. We now know that stepfamilies have some of the most complicated psychological dynamics. Children are expected to have relationships with the parents’ new love interests, including perhaps, with the person who destroyed their parents’ marriage and the child’s life as he or she had known it. This is a completely unrealistic and inhumane demand to place on a child.
    Jesus knew what He was talking about when He said “One to a customer, for life.” (slight paraphrase.)
    End of Dr J Rant
    BTW, at the Ruth Institute, we have a small-ish petition to the Synod Fathers, hoping to get them to think about the Victims of the Sexual Revolution, instead of just the perpetrators. You can find it here: https://actright.com/petitions.php/56 And you don’t have to be Catholic to sign it.

  89. Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick says:

    Thorfinn wrote:

    “To be fair, that statement [Cardinal O’Malley’s statement that the bishops must not be seen as singling out one political party] is manifestly true. While the entire Democratic Party has embraced a godless platform in many respects, there are plenty of Republicans who share those beliefs, particularly in Boston. And of course the Church is universal, so any approach must be based on consistent principles rather than local political parties.”

    While it IS important that the bishops not be seen as picking on one political party, the remedy is not to commit the mortal sin of giving Communion to manifest grave sinners–i.e., e.g., pro-abortion Democrats–because it is not possible to find an equal number of pro-abortion Republicans. But that IS the remedy embraced by Cardinal O’Malley. Cardinal O’Malley’s solution to a certain amount of political discomfort is to commit mortal sin.

    Not one person protesting the commission of the mortal sin of giving Communion to Democrats who are manifest grave sinners has proposed that Communion SHOULD be given to Republicans who are manifest grave sinners.

    In other words, Cardinal O’Malley said something true in order to distract, change the subject, confuse, and mislead.

    Ultimately, his rationalizations, like those of Cardinals Dolan and Wuerl, and Archbishop Chaput (who, too, agrees with the official policy of the USCCB, in Catholics in Political Life, that a bishop may “legitimately” commit the mortal sin of giving Communion to pro-aborts) all boil down to pretending that no moral norm is involved, only “prudential considerations.” In other words, partisan politics and the Church’s staying on the government teat. Antinomianism on full, bawdy display.

    Will Cardinal O’Malley make “progress” in Boston? VERY LIKELY, because, from the point of view of the termite, what he is doing to your house is “progress.”

  90. Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick says:

    bwfackler wrote:

    “Is there a difference between someone in an objective state of sin living in an adulterous relationship and a heretic/schismatic also in an objective state of mortal sin receiving the sacraments? Why does the church promote one group to “eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, [and] be guilty of the Body and the Blood of the Lord” but not the other group?”

    Those who left the Catholic Church and founded schismatic, heretical sects were schismatics and heretics, and would have to be considered to be objectively in a situation of manifest grave sin.

    Baptized Christians who are not formally in union with the Catholic Church and are members of bodies which may teach heresy and may be in schism, are not by the fact alone “heretics” and “schismatics.” If they request Catholic sacraments in extremis, as described in the canon, they are manifestly NOT obstinately persisting in those sins, if they ever actually committed them at all.

  91. Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick says:

    dakota:

    How about including middle names?–If those are not also ambiguous. E.g., “Dakota Samuel” and “Linsey Theresa” would clear things up.

  92. Bea says:

    I join your rant. What part of “vows” don’t they understand?
    It all started with Frank Sinatra’s “I did it my way”
    Not GOD’s way but MY way.
    It’s all in the WILL.

    from catholicweddinghelp.com
    Traditional wedding vows:
    The most important part of a Catholic wedding is what is commonly known as the exchange of vows. These words are the heart—the essential element—of the sacrament of marriage; they form the covenant that establish the couple’s marriage. The Church calls the exchange of vows consent—that is, the ACT OF WILL by which a man and a woman give themselves to each other, and accept the gift of the other. The marriage can’t happen without the declaration of consent (Catechism #1625 – 1631).
    The bride and groom respond “I WILL” or “yes” (Rite of Marriage #34).

    The following was the Traditional Wedding vows:
    Catholic wedding vows are usually preceded by three questions from the priest:
    “(Name) and (name), have you come here freely and without reservation to give yourselves to each other in marriage?”
    “WILL YOU honor each other as man and wife for the rest of your lives?”
    “WILL YOU accept children lovingly from God, and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?”
    The bride and groom respond “I WILL” or “yes” (Rite of Marriage #34).

    (“WILL”Capitalizations mine)
    THE WILL: That most important word.
    Douay-Rheims Bible
    “Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. ”

    WILL they (married and divorced?) keep their vows?
    I guess not. It all starts with the pampered society where their parents never taught them the importance of keeping one’s word, the importance of not getting everything you want and wanting only what is right, not what is the present moment’s whim. Too much Hollywood and the participants at the Synod are from the “flower children” era. They, too, have bought into the “do it my way” mindset.

  93. joan ellen says:

    Fr. Z said dissenters and MSM helpers “…long term objective isn’t just Communion for the civilly remarried. It is about unhitching sex acts from marriage.” Bingo, Fr. Z. Then family members “unhitch” from each other, then it is easier to “unhitch from the faith”, with the final “unhitch” being from God Himself…for loss of Catholic identity…Christian identity… then for loss of personal identity…in the realm of the reality of Truth.

    A loss of reality in Truth supports the humanistic psychology alleged reality realm of science. How the will can become scientific is beyond…well…reality…and understanding. How many humans have a will that is predictable, a necessary component of science? Clearly, this is a time to check and recheck our thinking…on a daily basis…(as an examination of conscience the Church might say) as to which we want to support…the God of Truth or the god that appears to be truth and can explain in humanistic terms all thoughts, words, and actions.

    Some priests in the Church might say we cannot have it both ways…so the need for a decision for those who want to believe in God and His Church…to be able to do so faithfully…restoring the Sacraments, including and especially, in this case, that of the Sacrament of Matrimony, and because of that the family…father, mother, and children…

  94. joan ellen says:

    Do divorced kids ever get over the divorce of their parents? They can, if the parents are dead and the marriage was never annulled. According to Church teaching as it was and is yet today, if that is still accurate, parents who have not annulled their marriage are still married in the eyes of the Church. If the parents die without the annulment, they are still married and in the eyes of the children, their parents are still together. A wonderful gift from God.

    I do not wish to say what it is like for children whose parents die in an annulled situation, I have no clue, except that it is probably horrific. Divorced kids lose their parents two times…once to divorce and then to death. In an annulled situation, it has to be so devastating…except in possibly a few exceptions.

    Should a child have two mothers or two fathers? That is what they get if both parents ‘re-marry’.
    If a widow or widower remarries, it is not the same as God chose to take the parent(s). A parent who chooses a new ‘spouse’ and leaves his or her children for same confuses what a family is all about. It is a lie to a child to say that a new ‘spouse’ is a step-mother or a step-father. A lie of the worst sort. A new ‘spouse’ is just that…the wife of my father or the husband of my mother. Nothing more. So sorry for this hissy-fit or rant Fr. Z…, but enough is enough already…in the natural and in the Supernatural life of a child of divorce.

    Why do we not talk about separation for parents who are having difficulty with each other…and it is not about the other…really…is it? The one with the difficulty…or not…if each takes care of his and/or her own problems…the relationship can come back together. Otherwise the Church, for good reasons has offered separation as a solution…at least that was the understanding I had of the position of the Church. That way, parents are still together in the eyes of the children. As I understand it all.

  95. The Cobbler says:

    Dakota is clearly a man’s name. It’s the name of a Native American “Indian” tribe. There are no sissy Native American “Indian” tribes, because a sissy one wouldn’t have lasted five minutes in the land where the thing to do with people you dislike was to scalp them. (Not saying I know how warlike the Dakotas were, just sayin’ they can’t have been sissies living on the same continent as, say, the Iroquois.)

  96. asked,if it aint broke,don’t fix it would be the way to go? Decided that the process is just fine and that people, while imperfect, as long as they stick to the teachings of the Church there’s no need to start dabbling in a fix.People will continue to complain; some will say too many,others will say not enough.
    Maybe it would be better just to let them keep complaining and march on?