Ed Peters on Pope Francis’ remarks about “separation” of spouses

Distinguished canonist Ed Peters has comments at his fine blog In The Light Of The Law. He doesn’t have a combox, but he doesn’t mind discussion of his stuff over here. Be sure to check his other posts.

The pope’s comments on ‘separation’ make canonical sense

Granting that Pope Francis has made some imprudent statements (e.g., mentioning Catholic families and rabbits breeding in the same breath) and some imprecise ones (e.g., asserting that air-conditioning is a ‘clear example’ of consumerist disregard for the common good), and granting that such comments comfort those trying to make the Church look incoherent while distressing those who value prudence and precision in ecclesiastical commentary, nevertheless, [NB] Francis’ recent comments about the need, at times, for married couples to separate are neither imprudent nor imprecise and they should provide no solace to foes of right thinking nor occasion concern among the faithful. Francis is, I suggest, simply re-stating standard moral theology and indeed canon law in his remarks on marriage. I’ll draw chiefly on canon law in showing how this is true (for moral theology see, e.g. Davis, Moral and Pastoral Theology, IV: 228-230, or Häring, Law of Christ, III: 319-320, or Palazzini, “Separatio coniugum”, DMC IV: 263-266).

Canon 1151 directly states that “spouses have the duty and the right to preserve conjugal living”. Canon 1135 underscores that “each spouse has an equal duty and right to those things which belong the partnership of the conjugal life”. And the foundational Canon 1055 defines marriage as, among other things, “a partnership of the whole of life”. In these norms the 1983 Code is setting out what common sense and human nature already tend toward, namely, valuing the cohabitation of married couples.

But, that said, neither canon law or nor human nature demand the impossible. If, under certain circumstances, it becomes impossible (physically or morally) for a couple to cohabit, they are permitted to separate. Canon 1151, cited above as directing cohabitation, includes the proviso “unless a legitimate cause excuses them”, and Canon 1153 (capping a canonical tradition that reaches back at least to Gratian) expressly acknowledges the risk of “grave mental or physical danger to [a] spouse or children” as justifying the separation of spouses. Thus, Francis’ comments on the need, at times, for separation in marriage fall squarely within the parameters of canon law.

Of course, say “separation” these days and the world hears “divorce”; mention “divorce” and the world immediately assumes a “right to remarriage”. Francis, however, mentions neither divorce nor remarriage. He could have, if he so chose, reminded his audience that even civil divorce (which does not destroy a natural marriage bond, let alone a sacramental one!) is a morally licit option under certain circumstances (see, e.g., CCC 2383), but he would never has suggested a divorced person’s simply proceeding to remarriage, for such would be contrary to the plain teaching of Christ. But civil divorce and remarriage are complex topics that do not lend themselves to adequate presentation to a crowd of pilgrims standing under the hot summer sun.

In short, when Francis says “separation” he means separation, not necessarily civil divorce (though it might be licit under some circumstances) and certainly not simple “remarriage” (which is not an option for Catholics). Persons reading apocalyptic divorce and remarriage overtones into the pope’s comments on separation are, well, going apocalyptic.

So, everyone, breathe.

FacebookEmailPinterestGoogle GmailShare/Bookmark
Posted in HONORED GUESTS, One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity | Tagged , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

POLL: SCOTUS upheld ObamaCare subsidies in states

For the second time, the Supreme Court upheld ObamaCare. They ruled in favor of subsidies in states that did not set up their own health care exchanges.

This decision was 6-3.  HERE

Chief Justice John Roberts voted with the court’s liberals to support of the law. He thought the phrase in question was ambiguous and that it had to be interpreted in the larger context.

Justice Scalia’s dissenting opinion is stinging. He wrote that now we ought to call it SCOTUSCare.

Let’s have a poll.

Chose your best answer. The combox is open. THINK before posting.

What think you about SCOTUS upholding ObamaCare subsidies in states?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...
Posted in The Coming Storm, The Drill, The future and our choices, You must be joking! | Tagged , , , , , | 83 Comments

ASK FATHER: I work on Sunday. Can I go to Mass on another day?

From a reader…


Never dreamed I’d be asking this, but I suppose I had better: Due to my current job or the job that I’m hoping to take soon, getting to Mass on Sunday can be difficult. If I’m up until 3, 4, or 5 AM at work, but must be at work by 4 or 5 on Saturday and Sunday, being at Mass at 9:30 Sunday–or Sunday evening–isn’t a practical option. I would, however, like to get to Mass during the week anyway.

Are we required to attend Mass on Sunday, in particular, or are we required to get to Mass at least once each week? (Within the next 5-7 years, it’d be nice to have a job that left evenings and weekends free, but right now, I need to be at work when we’re busy. (I hate that we’re so secularized!))

Good question.

I’m sorry for your difficult hours at work. In our increasingly secular society, employers have little to restrain them from impinging on their worker’s obligations to worship God.

The Church’s law is clear.  As Catholics, we are obliged to hear Mass on all Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. We can fulfill that obligation by either attending Mass on the Sunday or Holy Day itself, or on the evening of the day before each.

If it is truly impossible for you to attend Mass on Sundays or Holy Days, because of work obligations or Mass times, then the obligation to attend Mass is lifted. Remember though, God is not mocked, nor is He deceived (Galatians 6:7).  If it’s merely difficult to attend Mass, or inconvenient, do not skip Mass and then think you are justified.

Think of our brothers and sisters in other countries, some of whom travel many miles on their feet in order to hear a holy Mass.

If you truly can’t make Mass on Sundays or Holy Days, but you can make Mass on another day, it would be salubrious for you to do so. It doesn’t fulfill the Sunday obligation, but it would be a meritorious thing to do.

Finally, speak to your pastor about your situation.  Do this for a couple reasons.  Firstly, he may have good advice or direction for you.  Also, your predicament may also be helpful to him in making adjustment to (the Scylla and Charybdis of parochial ministry) weekend Mass times!

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Our Catholic Identity | Tagged , , , | 34 Comments

Interesting job opportunity with Benedictines of Norcia

Click here to buy

Click here to buy

The marvelous monks of Norcia, Italy, have a job opening for a Director of Communications.

Wow. It’s a new era of the world when a monastery needs a director of communications. Once upon a time, monks reached out to the world through their scriptoria. Now they reach out to the world through best-selling chant CDs and websites.

I suppose this role will help the monks stay focused on what they really need to do: “ora et labora” is, after all, their thing.

Interested? Click HERE

Posted in The Campus Telephone Pole | Tagged , | 5 Comments

One White House reaction to Laudato si’

I had posted a link to 11 things that you won’t see reported in the MSM about the new encyclical Laudato si‘.

Now we have a video clip of White House spokesman Josh Ernest saying that he hadn’t seen the pro-life language in the encyclical.  HERE


Remember: Pres. Obama is in favor of infanticide, not just abortion.

Posted in Emanations from Penumbras, Liberals | Tagged , | 12 Comments

More from the Religion of Peace

ISIS has a new thing they are doing.

They put men in a cage and lower them into water a few times until they drown.

Of course they have underwater cameras.



They also put them in a car and then blow it up.



The Religion of Peace, ladies and gentlemen.

Sts. Nunilo and Alodia, pray for us.

St. Lawrence of Brindisi, pray for us.

Posted in Si vis pacem para bellum!, The Coming Storm, The Religion of Peace | Tagged , , | 27 Comments

The greatest man born of woman

Today is the Feast of the one whom the Lord called the greatest man ever born of woman.

Here is his entry in the 2005 Martyrologium Romanum:

Sollemnitas Nativitatis sancti Ioannis Baptistae, Praecursoris Domini, qui iam in utero matris, Spiritu Sancto repletae, exsultavit gaudio ad humanae salutis adventum cuiusque ipsa nativitas Dominum Christum prophetavit; et tanta gratia refulsit in eo, ut ipse Dominus de illo diceret neminem maiorem inter natos mulierum Ioanne Baptista.

I’ll let you readers provide your own perfect versions.

Posted in Saints: Stories & Symbols | Tagged | 6 Comments

AURORA ALERT! Events of terrible beauty, presaging we know not what.

Since Sunday a series of Earth-directed CME’s have created Aurora Borealis visible as far South in these USA as, I hear, Arkansas!  I know I will go out to look.

Tonight, get out there if you have good viewing conditions, and look for the “Northern Lights“. They are events of terrible beauty, presaging we know not what.

One of these days, friends, there will be a huge coronal mass ejection from your planet’s yellow star that strikes your planet square on.  The result could be a vast electromagnetic pulse (EMP) which fries almost all your electronic stuff.

You will be plunged in an instant back to something like the 19th century.

Millions would die in these USA.  Will you have what it takes to survive?

On the other hand, there could be nuclear attacks that cause EMPs, or perhaps there will be a pandemic or other natural events which brings down the world’s economy, resulting in much the same chaos.

I remind you to reflect on what could happen to us if there were another Carrington Event.

This last Coronal Mass Ejection was Earth-directed.  If it were larger… we could be in deep problems RIGHT NOW.


From SpaceWeather:

SOLSTICE GEOMAGNETIC STORM: A series of CMEs hit Earth’s magnetic field on June 22nd, producing a severe G4-class geomagnetic storm. Northern Lights spilled across the Canadian border into more than a dozen US states, including places as far south as Colorado, Georgia, Virginia and Arkansas. “The auroras did not disappoint,” says Chris Cook, who witnessed the display from Cape Cod, Massachusetts

“They were visible in deep twilight!” he adds. “I positioned myself on a beach overlooking Cape Cod Bay so I could capture the reflection in the water at low tide.”

More auroras are in the offing as Earth’s magnetic field reverberates from the CME strikes. NOAA forecasters estimate a 90% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on June 23rd, subsiding only a little to 70% on June 24th.

MEANWHILE … ANOTHER CME IS ON THE WAY: Big sunspot AR2371 erupted again on June 22nd (18:23 UT), producing a strong M6.5 class solar flare. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the extreme ultraviolet flash:

X-ray and UV radiation from the flare ionized the upper layers of Earth’s atmosphere, causing a blackout of some shortwave radio signals over North America (blackout map). Mariners and ham radio operators, in particular, may have noticed disturbances at frequencies below ~20 MHz.

The explosion also hurled a full-halo CME directly toward Earth: movie. NOAA analysts are still modeling the storm cloud to estimate its likely time of arrival. Best guess: June 24th. Sky watchers should prepare for more geomagnetic storms and auroras on Wednesday night.

Perhaps, since I am getting into Ham Radio now, tonight I’ll watch that movie with Jim Caviezel…  and I shift some ammo cans from storage!


Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Global Killer Asteroid Questions, Look! Up in the sky!, Semper Paratus, TEOTWAWKI, The Coming Storm | Tagged , , , | 32 Comments

And so it begins… Instrumentum Laboris (working document) for October Synod of Bishops

niceaLast October we saw the disputes and problems that erupted during the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family. There were behind scenes plots, thefts of books, attempts to repress the press, revolt on the floor, sudden changes in procedures… some were determined to ram into to the agenda certain items.

Now the Instrumentum Laboris for the upcoming October Ordinary Synod is out. This is the working document for the members of the Synod.

I have been exploring the 2015 IL.

I found in the section on “La via penitenziale… the penitential path”, an proposal (to the Synod for discussion) that the divorced and remarried who are in “convivenza irreversibile… irreversible cohabitation” (perhaps for the sake of children) can be admitted to Holy Communion through a period of penance under the direction of the local bishop.

Camel’s nose comes to mind.

And, I have to ask, will diocesan bishops undertake this penitential spiritual direction of couples personally? Can you imagine how that might work in a whole diocese? How about someplace the size of, say, Chicago? Would Archbp. Cupich handle all these couples personally? Could Card. O’Malley handle this himself for the entire Archdiocese of Boston? Or would he delegate? Might he delegate to, say, pastors of parishes? Subsidiarity, right? And will pastors, who are busy, take this on himself? Or will he delegate? He just might. To whom? To former Sister Randi, who now heads up RE?

I’m just asking.

Comment moderation queue is ON.

Posted in One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity, Synod | Tagged , , | 64 Comments

23 June – Vigil of St. John – bonfires and witch burnings, solstices and snails

Mathis_Gothart_Grünewald John BaptistIt is nice to have as your Patron the great Baptist, for I get two feasts a year, his Nativity and his Beheading.

For the Vigil of St. John (today, as I write) in the old Roman Ritual the priest would once bless bonfires!

And in Bavaria, witches are burned!  A priest friend who shares my feast sent me a spiffing photo (below – a little hard to see at this size, but I assure you, there is a witch in there).

If you have any unwanted witches (and don’t we all?), send them to Bavaria next year for a nice vacation.

In other places, cast-off or unneeded things are burned… in a way parallel, I suppose, to throwing things away at the other end of the year after the Winter Solstice.

In any event, the evening is about as long as the year can offer, so a great party could be had well into the night with much cooking in the open and revelry.  Have a nice bonfire!

The blessing for the bonfire is beautiful.  After the usual introduction, the priest blesses the fire saying:

Lord God, almighty Father, the light that never fails and the source of all light, sanctify this new fire, and grant that after the darkness of this life we may come unsullied to you who are light eternal; through Christ our Lord. All: Amen.

At this point the fire is sprinkled with holy water and everyone sings the hymn Ut quaent laxis which is also the Vespers hymn.

It is almost as if the fire, and our celebration, is baptized.

The reference to light and darkness surely harks to the fact of the Solstice, which was just observed. At this point the days get shorter in the Northern Hemisphere.  I looked at that HERE and HERE.

For the feast of St. John in June for centuries the Church has sung at Vespers the hymn beginning Ut queant laxis

If you want to hear Ut queant laxis sung “in the wild”, as it were, check out the Benedictines at Norcia, a fine group of men, really living the Benedictine life in the place where Benedict is said to have been born.  HERE (they don’t update consistently – but buy their new chant album HERE).  Also, check the monks at Le Barroux.  Hard core.  Fantastic chant. HERE

Those of you who are lovers of the movie The Sound of Music will instantly recognize this hymn as the source of the syllables used in solfège or solmization (the use of syllables instead of letters to denote the degrees of a musical scale). Both the ancient Chinese and Greeks had such a system.

The Benedictine monk Guido d’Arezzo (c. 990-1050) introduced the now familiar syllables ut re mi fa sol la for the tones of the hexachord c to a… or, more modally, the tonic, supertonic, mediant, etc. of a major scale. The Guidonian syllables derive from the hymn for the feast of St. John the Baptist:

UT queant laxis
REsonare fibris
MIra gestorum
FAmuli tuorum,
SOLve polluti
LAbii reatum,
Sancte Ioannes (SI).

After the medieval period (when music became less modal and more tonal) to complete the octave of the scale the other syllable was introduced (si – taken from S-ancte I-oannes, becomes “ti”) and the awkward ut was replaced sometime in the mid 17th c. with do (or also doh – not to be confused in any way with the Homeric Simpsonic epithet so adored by today’s youth, derived as it is from the 21st century’s new liturgical focal point – TV) and do came to be more or less fixed with C though in some cases do remains movable.

So, now you know where Doh, Re, Mi comes from!  Check out this oldie PODCAzT from 2007:

It is also good to gather St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) on the feast.  “Wort” is from Old English wyrt (German Würze), which means “plant”, but is used mostly in compounds.  Since ancient times “singent’s wort” was known to relieve melancholy or depression, as does borage… which every garden should have.  It would be hung above doors, windows and sacred images (hence the hyper-icum “above image”) to keep witches and evil spirit away.  Burning those witches might have something to do with its effectiveness as well, now that I think about it.

Build a fire tonight, even if you can’t burn a witch, and sing something in honor of St. John!

Oh! And eat some snails.

It is a Roman custom to eat snails on the Feast of John the Baptist.

And, just in case it has been a while…

BTW…only four people are signed up for a monthly donation for this date, the 23rd of the month, using the subscription button.  Go to the very bottom of the this blog or…

Some options

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Classic Posts, Linking Back, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Catholic Identity, Saints: Stories & Symbols | Tagged , , , , , | 14 Comments