Days after 2014 Synod closes, CDF responds to question on absolution for civilly remarried

UPDATED: 14 Nov:  ORIGINAL Published on: Nov 13, 2014

At the French language site L’Homme Nouveau there is an interesting post about a question a priest posed to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  He asked the Congregation:

«Un confesseur peut-il donner l’absolution à un pénitent qui, ayant été marié religieusement, a contracté une seconde union après divorce ? … Can a confessor (a priest with faculties to receive sacramental confessions) give absolution to a penitent who, have married in a religious manner, has contracted a second union after divorce?»

The CDF responded with a letter date 22 October 2014! Think about that in light of the dates of the recent Synod of Bishops, 5-19 October.

The CDF gave a standard reply, underscoring that it is possible to absolve such a person, provided that she has a firm purpose of amendment. In other words, yes, but under the same conditions as any other sinner: they must confess sin, express resolution not to sin again, and emendation of life. If civilly married couples cannot separate, or even reconcile with the true spouse, or if they must remain together for the sake of child-rearing, then they must resolve to live as “brother and sister”.

The CDF cites Familaris consortio, which some, on the opposite side of the issue and response, deem to be outdated, even though it is only 33 years old. Apparently the CDF does not consider the Magisterium of St. John Paul II to be outdated.

In no way does the Congregation suggest that absolution can be given without surety on the part of the confessor that there a firm purpose of amendment.

This, of course, has implications for Holy Communion.  We must not receive Communion if we know we are not in the state of grace.  If you cannot be absolved (or can be), then there are implications for admission to Communion.

Here is the French:

À la question d’un prêtre français : « Un confesseur peut-il donner l’absolution à un pénitent qui, ayant été marié religieusement, a contracté une seconde union après divorce ? »

La Congrégation pour la Doctrine de la Foi a répondu le 22 octobre 2014 :

« On ne peut exclure a priori les fidèles divorcés remariés d’une démarche pénitentielle qui déboucherait sur la réconciliation sacramentelle avec Dieu et donc aussi à la communion eucharistique. Le Pape Jean-Paul II dans l’Exhortation apostolique Familiaris consortio (n. 84) a envisagé une telle possibilité et en a précisé les conditions : “La réconciliation par le sacrement de pénitence – qui ouvrirait la voie au sacrement de l’Eucharistie – ne peut être accordée qu’à ceux qui se sont repentis d’avoir violé le signe de l’Alliance et de la fidélité au Christ, et sont sincèrement disposés à une forme de vie qui ne soit plus en contradiction avec l’indissolubilité du mariage. Cela implique concrètement que, lorsque l’homme et la femme ne peuvent pas, pour de graves motifs – par exemple l’éducation des enfants –, remplir l’obligation de la séparation, ils prennent l’engagement de vivre en complète continence, c’est-à-dire en s’abstenant des actes réservés aux époux” (cf. aussi Benoît XVI, Sacramentum caritatis, n. 29).

La démarche pénitentielle à entreprendre devrait prendre en compte les éléments suivants :

1 – Vérifier la validité du mariage religieux dans le respect de la vérité, tout en évitant de donner l’impression d’une forme de “divorce catholique”.

2 – Voir éventuellement si les personnes, avec l’aide de la grâce, peuvent se séparer de leur nouveau partenaire et se réconcilier avec celles dont elles se sont séparées.

3 – Inviter les personnes divorcées remariées, qui pour de sérieux motifs (par exemple les enfants), ne peuvent se séparer de leur conjoint, à vivre comme “frère et sœur”.

En tout état de cause, l’absolution ne peut être accordée qu’à condition d’être assurée d’une véritable contrition, c’est-à-dire “de la douleur intérieure et de la détestation du péché que l’on a commis, avec la résolution ne peut plus pécher à l’avenir” (Concile de Trente, Doctrine sur le Sacrement de Pénitence, c. 4). Dans cette ligne, on ne peut absoudre validement un divorcé remarié qui ne prend pas la ferme résolution de ne plus “pécher à l’avenir” et donc de s’abstenir des actes propres aux conjoints, et en faisant dans ce sens tout ce qui est en son pouvoir ».

Luis F. Ladaria, sj, archevêque titulaire de Thibica, Secrétaire.

The CDF’s response upholds the integrity of all the sacraments involved, Matrimony, Penance, and, of course, Eucharist.

UPDATE 14 Nov:

Canonist Ed Peters, at his excellent blog, has a note:

[T]he English-language reports on the CDF letter need clarification in one important respect.

The CDF, in its original French text, notes that first in the sequence of steps to address the status of persons in irregular unions, it is necessary“Vérifier la validité du mariage religieux dans le respect de la vérité, tout en évitant de donner l’impression d’une forme de ‘divorce catholique’.” Everyone seem to be translating that line as “Verify the validity of the religious marriage in the respect of truth, all the while avoiding giving the impression of a kind of ‘Catholic divorce’.”

That’s not what it means.

The French verb “verifier” does not mean “to verify”, its obvious but misleading English cognate, but rather, means “inquire about” or “investigate” or “test”. Ecclesiastical authority is, therefore, being reminded by the CDF of the importance of ascertaining the true matrimonial status of the persons, and not simply “verifying” their status as if–and I have cautioned others about before–the validity of marriage can itself ever be “verified”.

In directing ecclesiastical authority to examine first the validity of the (presumptively) valid marriage before it, CDF is reminding Church leadership to do exactly what its tribunals and canon law are designed to do in these cases, namely, test the presumption of matrimonial validity.

In Italian we use verificare in the context of affirming or double-checking or discerning, for example, a vocation to the priesthood.

Please share!

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24 Responses to Days after 2014 Synod closes, CDF responds to question on absolution for civilly remarried

  1. Nicholas says:

    BREAKING NEWS! Rain in London! Dog bites man! CDF defends the Faith!

    This really should not be news.

  2. LarryW2LJ says:

    Thank the Lord – no wiggle room there!

    For now.

  3. dans0622 says:

    Not only does Archb. Ladaria have the nerve to refer all the way back to a papal statement from 1981, he refers to the Council of Trent.

  4. anilwang says:

    Fr Z wrote: Familaris consortio, which some, on the opposite side of the issue and response, deem to be outdated, even though it is only 33 years old

    Anyone that says Familaris Consortio is outdated because it’s only 33 years old should be told that the 50 year old Vatican II must also be outdated. It doesn’t deal with the theological chaos today, rampant skepticism, disregard for life, irregular sexual practices, or persecution today. The 60s was a whole lot more optimistic than today’s more “realistic” secular culture.

    We really need to adhere to a council that deal with all these issues, such as the canon law of the pre-Nicene Church.

    Of course anyone looking into these canons would balk at the rigorism of the Church that was far closer to the apostles than we are….the Church that knew, and lived the Gospel far more than the average Catholic today.

  5. juergensen says:

    Cardinal Muller could be demoted for this.

  6. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Merci, comme toujours, mon Pere.

  7. Athanasius says:

    A few posts ago Father, you suggested that Cardinal Pell is the next victim of the Francis Effect, whether that means this very authoritarian Pope, or those around him. I would propose to you that Müller is a bit ahead of Pell for the axe of demotion. If one recalls, Rorate Caeli posted an article in the run-up to the Synod that Francis was upset about the 5 cardinals book. I wrote it off as hearsay, as when you read the article it was someone “close” to Francis, that said Francis “would” be angry about it. I changed that reaction, however, within two days of that article when Müller made an apology for “attacking” Cardinal Kasper, even though that was patently false. Who could make Müller apologize, except the Pope himself? I would submit that we see Müller on his way out shortly after the new year. [I think that, for now, Card. Müller will remain at CDF. However, that doesn’t mean that the terrain isn’t shifting.]

  8. Grumpy Beggar says:

    Thanks for the smile Nicholas. I agree , it really should not be news. But I think the timeliness of it is impeccable – as Fr Z stressed in the post’s title “Days After 2014 Synod Closes . . .”
    – – – – – – – – – – – –
    This might be a one-time thing I’m about to try below guys – it was a lot of work. What made me want to do it is that I just spent the better part of 3 hours yesterday trying to partially decipher a post from one of my all-time favourite bloggers that was largely in Latin . . . and I started going bug-eyed, then eventually had to stop when I noticed a little smoke beginning to seep from one of my ears.

    It’s difficult if we aren’t well acquainted with a particular language. My French has been steadily improving over an 18-year pastoral apostolate in a long-term and palliative care facility. So I’ve been able to provide an approximate translation of the French text below. Please don’t by any means consider it an official text. Certain nuances don’t always translate easily – some don’t translate at all. That being said, I’m pretty sure it’s free of any doctrinal error . I actually don’t find the French text to be quite as precise as it might’ve been, but it’s still nice and clear. Anything you find in square parentheses [ ] is a clarification I added for the sake of precision.

    If anyone notices any errors in the translation below – please feel free to jump in and correct them . I’m only doing this because I know how frustrating it can be trying to read and comprehend in a language we aren’t too familiar with . My hope is that it might help prevent smoke from escaping from a few more ears.

    Format: Original French text , with a section by section bolded English translation inserted . The sections referring to Familiaris Consortio and The Council of Treant within quotes are quoted verbatim with linked sources.

    God bless.
    ———————————————–
    À la question d’un prêtre français : « Un confesseur peut-il donner l’absolution à un pénitent qui, ayant été marié religieusement, a contracté une seconde union après divorce ? »
    To the question of a French priest: “May a confessor grant absolution to a penitent who, having been married in a religious manner, has contracted a second union after divorce ?”

    La Congrégation pour la Doctrine de la Foi a répondu le 22 octobre 2014 :
    October 22 , 2014 , the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith answered:

    « On ne peut exclure a priori les fidèles divorcés remariés d’une démarche pénitentielle qui déboucherait sur la réconciliation sacramentelle avec Dieu et donc aussi à la communion eucharistique. Le Pape Jean-Paul II dans l’Exhortation apostolique Familiaris consortio (n. 84) a envisagé une telle possibilité et en a précisé les conditions : “La réconciliation par le sacrement de pénitence – qui ouvrirait la voie au sacrement de l’Eucharistie – ne peut être accordée qu’à ceux qui se sont repentis d’avoir violé le signe de l’Alliance et de la fidélité au Christ, et sont sincèrement disposés à une forme de vie qui ne soit plus en contradiction avec l’indissolubilité du mariage. Cela implique concrètement que, lorsque l’homme et la femme ne peuvent pas, pour de graves motifs – par exemple l’éducation des enfants –, remplir l’obligation de la séparation, ils prennent l’engagement de vivre en complète continence, c’est-à-dire en s’abstenant des actes réservés aux époux” (cf. aussi Benoît XVI, Sacramentum caritatis, n. 29).

    One cannot exclude a priori divorced and remarried of the faithful from a penitential approach which would lead to sacramental Reconciliation with God and therefore also Eucharistic communion. Pope John Paul II in the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio (n.84) , contemplated just such a possibility and stipulated its conditions : “Reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons, such as for example the children’s upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they “take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples.” (cf also Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis, n.29).

    La démarche pénitentielle à entreprendre devrait prendre en compte les éléments suivants :
    The penitential approach to be undertaken , must take into account the following elements:
    1 – Vérifier la validité du mariage religieux dans le respect de la vérité, tout en évitant de donner l’impression d’une forme de “divorce catholique”.
    1. Confirm the validity of the religious marriage in respect to the truth , carefully avoiding the conveying of any impression [whatsoever] of a form of “catholic divorce”.
    2 – Voir éventuellement si les personnes, avec l’aide de la grâce, peuvent se séparer de leur nouveau partenaire et se réconcilier avec celles dont elles se sont séparées.
    2- Determine eventually if the persons, with the help of grace, can separate themselves from their new partner and be reconciled with those from whom they have [originally] separated.
    3 – Inviter les personnes divorcées remariées, qui pour de sérieux motifs (par exemple les enfants), ne peuvent se séparer de leur conjoint, à vivre comme “frère et sœur”.
    3- Invite the divorced remarried persons , who for serious reasons (for example the children) cannot separate themselves from their spouse, to live as “brother and sister”.

    En tout état de cause, l’absolution ne peut être accordée qu’à condition d’être assurée d’une véritable contrition, c’est-à-dire “de la douleur intérieure et de la détestation du péché que l’on a commis, avec la résolution ne peut plus pécher à l’avenir” (Concile de Trente, Doctrine sur le Sacrement de Pénitence, c. 4). Dans cette ligne, on ne peut absoudre validement un divorcé remarié qui ne prend pas la ferme résolution de ne plus “pécher à l’avenir” et donc de s’abstenir des actes propres aux conjoints, et en faisant dans ce sens tout ce qui est en son pouvoir ».

    In all respects, absolution can only be granted on the condition of being assured of a genuine contrition, namely “a sorrow of mind and a detestation for sin committed with the purpose of not sinning in the future.” (Council of Trent, Doctrine on the Sacrament of Penance, C. 4). Along these lines , one cannot validly absolve a divorced remarried person who has not made the firm resolution to “not sin again” in the future and thus abstain from acts proper to married persons, and to this end doing everything which is within their power.

    – – – – – – – – —

    Hmm. . . looks like there could just be a little something in there for each of us from the Council of Trent that may merit rumination before our next visit to the confessional –
    (*. . . smoke . . .ears . . .*)

  9. I thought it was beautiful, and I was surprised I could still understand so much French.

    But yes, it’s a bit ‘dog bites man’, isn’t it – you can only give absolution to someone who’s really sorry, and in this case, ‘being really sorry’ means changing your way of life.

    The ‘size’ of the change is all that’s different. If you’re doing a Big Sin, it’s going to require Big Changes.

    Eg. you’re cohabiting in the unmarried state – move out.
    Eg. you’re cohabiting in the legally married but not sacramentally married state – get sacramental, or get out.
    Eg. you’re working for a brothel, albeit on the front desk, and collecting handsome tips – find another job.
    Eg. your job requires you to kill people in an illegal way – testify against your employers/join the witness protection program.
    Eg. your job requires you to kill people in a legal way – go and work at a general practice clinic instead.

  10. Father G says:

    The Rorate Caeli blog has an English translation of the CDF response: http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2014/11/four-days-after-synod-closed-cdf.html#more

  11. Grumpy Beggar says:

    Father G says:
    14 November 2014 at 12:23 am

    The Rorate Caeli blog has an English translation of the CDF response .

    Thanks for that post Father G. It showed me an improvement which could be made to the translation above :
    The Rorate Caeli blog used the term penitential process as opposed to penitential approach . “Process” is a more appropriate term than “approach” to denote the French word démarche in this particular context, as it conveys a more definitive sense.

  12. tcreek says:

    The intrepid Fr Hunwicke’s take on the synod of Pope St. Agatho’s in the 7th century —

    “St. Agatho’s Synod was, when you think about it, quite a big one: 125 bishops. … He did not call his Council to find out what those 125 bishops thought, nor to discover whether they had some splendid new ideas.

    … A heresy has arisen; it is the role of the Pope to resist it and condemn it; and his brother bishops are there to strengthen his hand by bearing (written, formal) witness to the orthodoxy which they have, each of them, received and to which their Churches bear witness.

    There is no record of dissensions or of formal voting on disputed topics.

    This is Papacy; this is Episcopacy; this is Collegiality; this is Synodality.”

  13. JudicaMe says:

    Sometimes I wonder if those bishops, like Cdl. Kasper, could pray the Roman Canon in good conscience:
    “et una cum me indigno famulo tuo, et omnibus orthodoxis atque catholicae et apostolicae fidei cultoribus.”
    or, maybe, that’s why we need other Eucharistic Prayers after V-II.

  14. JPK says:

    Regardless of what happens to Cdl Mueller, I think this most recent affirmation of long standing Catholic Doctrine will make it more difficult for the upcoming Synod to make radical changes concerning divorced-remarried couples and the Eucharist.

  15. Peggy R says:

    I enjoyed reading French on your blog.

    My Cassell’s includes “to verify” as the possible interpretations of “verifier.” (I don’t know how to type accents!) Other possible interpretations: “to inspect, to examine, to audit, to prove.”

    I would think, in any case, that the act of verifying something would, by necessity, require an investigation, audit or some type of research to be undertaken.

    Thus, this does not appear to be a major point in translation in my view.

  16. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    On the French verb (although I can’t type accents, for some reason):

    I think the intent of the French, in this instance, is something closer to “determine” or “discover”. “Confirm” appeals to me because it begins from the appearance of validity and asks us to determine whether or not what is believed to be true is actually true.

    Now it’s my turn to be thick-headed. Is it just me, or does Kasper’s proposal attempt to take the actual teaching of the Church and, under the guise of ‘developing’ it, actually pervert what the Church teaches? He proposed a penitential period, but he proposed allowing them to stay in the adulterous union (although he wouldn’t use the term), and apparently express sorrow for the first union, not the second. Did I get that right?

  17. Legisperitus says:

    The meaning of “verify” in English has drifted just like the meaning of “prove,” which also has the older definition of “put to the test,” as in “The exception proves the rule.”

  18. jacobi says:

    The CDF comment is standard and clear. There must be evidence of ability and intent to comply before Absolution is granted. Failing that no Holy Communion.

    There will now no doubt be a rationalisation of the annulment procedure which must nevertheless take care of the rights of both parties to the original “ marriage” and include a process of appeal to an external neutral body.

    The corollary is that as from now all parties to a Catholic marriage must be professionally examined to ensure they are of sound mind, understand the Catholic idea of marriage and have proper intent. Annulment of Catholic marriages will be effectively impossible. That will be the perhaps unforeseen outcome of the Reformers attack on the Sacrament.

    Now, this has interesting implications. The rate of Catholic Marriage and Catholic children is already plummeting in line with Mass attendance. The new pre-marriage procedure will ensure even less Catholic marriages. That means in line with Catholic couples contracepting at the rate of 1.6? children, there will be even fewer Catholic children in future, and so the downward graph steepens.

    Yes as the wise man said, be careful what you wish for, you may get it.

    But then the elimination of the Catholic Church in favour of some relativist ecclesial body is what the Modernists are wishing for!

    And it all stems from the turning the Sacrifice of the Mass into a protestant type communion service!

  19. Grumpy Beggar says:

    JudicaMe says:

    Sometimes I wonder if those bishops, like Cdl. Kasper, could pray the Roman Canon in good conscience:
    “et una cum me indigno famulo tuo, et omnibus orthodoxis atque catholicae et apostolicae fidei cultoribus.” . . .

    That one has actually been coming to haunt me in the mirror lately – wondering if I am praying with the Roman Canon in good conscience, particularly when we get to, “in primus, quae tibi offérimus pro Ecclésia tua sancta catholica: quam pacificare, custodire, adunare et régere dignéris toto ore terrarum: una cum famulo tuo Papa nostro Francis.”

    – – – – – – – – – –

    Chris Garton-Zavesky says:
    . . . He proposed a penitential period, but he proposed allowing them to stay in the adulterous union (although he wouldn’t use the term), and apparently express sorrow for the first union, not the second. Did I get that right?

    LOL – I think you got that one poignantly right as far as it concerns the painless left.

    Chris Garton-Zavesky says:
    On the French verb (although I can’t type accents, for some reason):
    . . .

    It’s a bit of a pain, but the way I’ve been doing it is with the ALT key. Holding down the ALT key and typing a number between 130-151 on the numeric keypad (usu with Num Lock on) will give you all the accents. The most common ones are :
    Alt + 130 = é , Alt + 131 = â , Alt + 133 = à , Alt + 135 = ç , Alt + 136 = ê , Alt + 138 = è
    Alt + 140 = î , Alt + 147 = ô , Alt + 150 = û , Alt + 151 = ù

    Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    I think the intent of the French, in this instance, is something closer to “determine” or “discover”. “Confirm” appeals to me because it begins from the appearance of validity and asks us to determine whether or not what is believed to be true is actually true.

    I just checked back with the blog that Father G linked a few posts above, and they have now added a note (which wasn’t there previously) with double asterisks to their translation of the word “vérifier” as “verify”. The note is kind of brash to say the least – a bit rude I think, and definitely uncalled for. It goes like this :

    “We are laughing out loud about a famous canon lawyer’s contention that vérifier is wrongly translated as verify. . . “


    I haven’t read the “famous canon lawyer’s comment” at all , but what is it these days with famous Canon lawyers ? !! It’s like someone sneaked out and painted a bulls-eye on some of them while they were sleeping – but the ammo they’re using to sling at them after they’ve painted the bulls-eye. . . (well, I suppose that also could all be traced back to another part of the bull’s anatomy).

    I’m sticking to my assertion that the original French version was not expressed as particularly as it might’ve been.

    Too bad about that comment from the other blog . . . after I had been pleasantly surprised to see someone translate démarche as process . Words which usually correlate more directly to process in the implied context would be either processus , procédure, or méthode .

    But where it really starts to go spaghetti-brained is when we pluralize them:
    The plural of processus is still processus – it’s only a question of le or les preceding it.
    Démarche is even worse : It has been translated as “process” in this case, but when it becomes pluralized , les démarches at least ‘around these here parts’, always implies “steps to be taken/followed”, which is by definition a process – so it becomes one of those weird cases where the plural of process, still says the singular “process” while defining its smaller parts. . .
    (*. . . smoke. . . ears. . . more smoke. . . “Mom , why can’t I stop writing and reading for a year and just pray my rosary” !*)

    : )

  20. Daniel W says:

    Adding to the strangeness of Dr Peters’ logic claiming that the French word translated does not mean “verify”, (because the French word means to test etc.. but isn’t that exactly what “verify” means!)

    In fact, Peters himself uses “verify” that way on the RHS of the same blogpage (and on every page of his blog): e.g. “include some appropriate references for folks to verify my sources.”

    Even more strange, he implies the validity of a marriage cannot be verified! It sounds like he has gone over to the side of Kasper, but for the opposite reason! Kasper implies every “positive” sexual union has equal claim on the term “marriage” and is obviously valid if it was happy and fruitful, while Peters asserts no marriage plighted can be proven to be “troth”!

    His blogpage calls out for a clarification to restore credibility.

  21. marcelus says:

    So if it sticks to doctrine then it is not Francis? Which one is it? Cdf is Francis. And then how long will it be free Muller to get axed if ever? I Think traditionalists are isolating themselves from the church . CRDL Burke HAD a
    few words that might or were targeted at PF. Muller did not choose that road and neither did Pell. So in the end if nothing happens we are always gonna be waiting on something to occur that may never come. But we can always say … for now it’s ok but watch out! We are crying wolf.

  22. Grumpy Beggar says:

    I have a nice Harrap’s Shorter Dictionnaire Anglais/Français – Français/Anglais here (Lord only knows why they named it “shorter” : the English section is over 1100 pages small print and the French section is 1054 pages) . It’s published in 2006 by Chambers Harraps Publishers Ltd.
    Under the word “vérifier” , the primary definition ( there are 5 total) provided is as follows, verbatim:
    vérifier [vrifje] VT
    1 (examiner – mécanisme) to check, to verify ; (- dossier) to check, to go through ; (-travail) to check, to inspect .

    But I also have a dated (1969) Concise Oxford Dictionary (English), on the other hand , which defines the word “verify” verbatim as :

    verify, v.t. Establish the truth of, examine for this purpose.

    A slightly more wobbly online Oxford Dictionary here defines verify as:
    “Make sure or demonstrate that (something) is true, accurate, or justified.”

    The fact that “verify” can be translated as “examine for the purposes of determining the truth” would suggest to me there can be virtue in both arguments , since “examine” is synonymous with “inquire about” or “investigate” or “test” . It isn’t always so much the word – in this case “verify” (or “confirm” as I had written) as it is how we use the word.

    In attempting to make a literal translation from French to English , we can easily be constricted into missing the nuance and that is where the error occurs.
    « Vérifier la validité du mariage religieux dans le respect de la vérité . . . »
    “Verify the validity of the religious marriage”, can also imply “attest to the validity or testify to the validity” , whereas rephrasing, so it reads, “verify (or confirm) whether the religious marriage is valid” , would place everything within the vicinity of the meaning Dr. Peters proposes . . . so, not that much the actual words, but more how we are using them in this case.

    If we are going to be restricted to maintaining a literal translation, and are only permitted to substitute one word for “vérifier”, after having the benefit of Dr. Peters’ guidance , I should think one of the very best words we could use would be the word “determine” rather than “verify” or “confirm”- as in “Determine the validity of the religious marriage.”

    For that matter, it would’ve worked fairly well in French too as “Déterminer la validité du mariage religieux dans le respect de la vérité.”

  23. Daniel W says:

    Dear Grumpy,
    My problem is not with Dr Peters’ understanding of French, it is with his inconsistent use of English. He uses the word “verify” on the RHS of his blogpages regarding us checking his sources, yet in this post he does not want to use that word when referring to checking the validity of a marriage.
    He has a problem as well with Cardinal Scola using “verify” regarding marriage validity. Perhaps Peters thinks the CDF and Scola are referring to some canonical process to declare a marriage valid, (of course tribunal processes may declare nullity, but failing to declare nullity is different from a declaration of validity).

    The CDF and Scola are using “verify” the same way as Peters does when he refers to us checking his sources.

  24. Grumpy Beggar says:

    Hi Daniel.

    Maybe we could say, at least , this entire thread has been great – I think, as far as enhancing everyone’s understanding of the French language goes.

    Personally,I believe my only real issue was with the other blog “laughing out loud” at Dr. Peters’ “contention”. When I was a more active member of a very large Catholic website , I would notice Dr. Peters’ opinions being referred there from time to time by certain members regarding whatever topic was hot for debate at that moment. And as I look back, I think we were all a little nuts – ( once in a while we would end up posting these, um, grandiose opinions, solutions, propositions – even before all the critical facts were in).

    In those instances , I didn’t always agree with Dr. Peters’ opinion(s). Please permit me to qualify that: I found that when I did, on the odd occasion disagree with something he had written , it was never the entire article – only a particular part of it. Subsequently , I can say that I have always valued/respected those opinions of his which I have read – even those parts I disagreed with, because they made me think. One can disagree , one can disagree vigorously, one can assert another person’s position to be totally unreasonable. But to publicly proclaim that one is laughing out loud at another’s contention , is, basically , to scorn them. It doesn’t leave a lot of room for respect. If the laughing out loud were isolated, it wouldn’t be so bad. But when done publicly, it has the potential to incite others to do the same.

    That , in turn, doesn’t bode well for morale – assuming that we are all on the same team. Troops need morale to endure in their campaign.

    Daniel, I haven’t read too much of Dr. Peters’ blog directly for several years now, and on this particular topic, I have still only read the commentary of Dr. Peters which Father Z posted in his update to this topic- Nov. 14th . I had a look at a couple of French sites who published the same CDF response though, just to ensure there were no major discrepancies in our French”working copy” here. So you would definitely have an advantage over me in knowing overall material published at Dr. Peters’ blog and how that might relate to inconsistent use of English.

    I do believe you’ve hit on something here:

    Daniel W says:
    “Perhaps Peters thinks the CDF and Scola are referring to some canonical process to declare a marriage valid, (of course tribunal processes may declare nullity, but failing to declare nullity is different from a declaration of validity).”

    In addition to the definitions provided two posts previously , there is one more type of definition which we still need to look at to complete the picture – the legal definition of “verify” .
    My Black’s Law Dictionary, (Eighth Edition , 2004 p. 1594) defines “verify” this way :

    verify, vb
    1. To prove to be true ; to confirm or establish the truth or truthfulness of ; to authenticate.
    2. To confirm or substantiate by oath or affidavit ; to swear to the truth of.

    There is a marked difference in these definitions in that they really don’t leave much room for working with “nullity” – it’s all about confirming “validity”, which appears to be presupposed in principle in the definition . When considering CDF documents one surely needs to preserve an awareness of the canonical implications of particular key words, the meanings of which, when used in a legal sense, can vary (or appear different/inconsistent) from the everyday meanings/definitions we have for those same words.

    (Even then [if we might be permitted one opportunity to perhaps at least smile out loud privately] , one might notice a certain Freudian slipesque quality which would remain- were we to use “verify”, or “confirm” in the legal sense as the translation of “vérifier” , since the validity up for consideration in step 1 of 3 would need to first be plausible before we could ever consider proceeding to steps 2 and 3 ).

    I still can’t help wondering whether the French document could have been a little more appropriately worded.