Bringing spaghetti to a gun fight: NCR writer attacks Dr. Peters, Peters responds.

National Catholic ReporterAn Irishman was walking down the street one day and, to his delight, he saw a big crowd surrounding a couple of blokes coolly and systematically duking it out.  The Irishman, let’s call him Sean, shoved and elbowed his way though the crowd to the inner circle and, in a lull, shouted, “Is this a private fight or can anyone join?!?”

Don’t go to bed tonight without reading Dr. Ed Peter’s response to Sean Michael Winters of the National Catholic Fishwrap in regard to canonical questions surrounding NY Gov. Cuomo’s public reception of Communion while causing public scandal (cf. c. 915).

Dr.Peters, arguably one of the big guns in canon law in the USA, has already shot holes through a response issued by the Diocese of Albany.  HERE.

Winters, who throws spaghetti at people he doesn’t like, brought spaghetti again – to a gun fight.

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  1. AnAmericanMother says:

    Sheesh. He brought spaghetti to a quad .50 fight.

    Quad .50 AA gun

  2. The guys fighting were probably Americans or Brits so the Irishman knew he could them both.

  3. Sorry, me again.
    AnAmericanMother – yes I agree, Mr. Winters has met the equivalent of an AA battery. Mr Peters’ rebuttal demonstrates that much of the Western world no longer knows how to reason but rather aims only to ’emote’. It is ‘feeling’ and passion that carries weight not reasoned argument.

  4. AnAmericanMother says:

    Well, anybody who thinks that lawyers (I am a lawyer) are useless is – to put it mildly – intellectually challenged.

    Presumably they would prefer pistols at dawn or the old-fashioned mountain feud. But the people who say such things are the very last people capable of defending themselves. They tend to scream “That’s not fair!” and throw spaghetti.

  5. Henry Edwards says:

    Dr. Peters: “My hunch is that several pernicious philosophical currents finally came crashing together in two human meat grinders called World Wars One and Two, leaving large segments of Euro-American society deeply disillusioned about the possibility that reason (a constitutive element of human law, per St. Thomas) could be relied on to save us from ourselves.”

    This is the best one-sentence explanation I’ve ever seen, of the collapse of the Church after Vatican II—rather than, just possibly, because of Vatican II.

  6. Supertradmum says:

    It is wonderful to see the Catholic, intellectual, rational mind at work against the flabbiness of the liberal.

  7. benedetta says:

    OK. Winters dares us…to imagine…”imagine, and admit, that the bishop might, for all anyone knows, be discussing the governor’s living situation and encouraging him to regularize it?”

    I would think that the Governor would take issue with Winters’ characterization that he is somehow far from the Church. Clearly he believes he is a fully fledged bona fide Catholic, as does his consort, otherwise why the big inaugural Mass replete with cameras poised at the ready to capture the event? He could have simply opted for a prayer service or some other event if he was feeling far away from Catholicism. A person who needs to draw closer to the Church doesn’t schedule a press event, show up, present for communion and rake in the platitudes from a Bishop that he is a Catholic “evangelizer.” A person who is far from the Church makes other plans.

    I’d be buying Mr. Winters’ scenario if this were two teenagers, with little in the way of resources or opportunity, scant education, out of the public eye, struggling, not inclined to present themselves, privately or publicly, as practicing Catholics, in real need of a pastoral shoulder around them, guiding and drawing them in. In fact very few couples in that sort of situation get the privilege of such pastoral outreach. But even in that case most people have the humility, and the respect, integrity and decency to understand that some choices separate us from communion. I think what makes this fair game for comment among laity is the fact that everyone knows at least one Catholic whether friend or family who for the very same reasons respectfully declines communion or at least abstains from making a big political and press conference show of reception. It’s the chutzpah that the elites feel entitled to do this anyway and know full well what the basic guidelines are and what the Church still expects, for good reasons.

    Isn’t it Winters’ writing specialty to defend dissenting politicians who nonetheless wish to present as Catholics? So this is no surprise, it’s a defense of the governor. His chronicling the Obama campaign wrapped and this is his next gig.

    My guess as an onlooker is that the Governor/Sandra Lee entourage did not clear their intentions ahead of time with their Bishop and their presenting themselves for communion, when they know full well that they set a horrible example for young and old and that most people do not just put themselves out there in such a way, threw him for a loop. Likely even he expected them not to present themselves as many public figures who are Catholic but not living in a regular marriage do this without making an issue.

    As a pastoral matter, as well as public teaching moment, is it the best practice to encourage Catholics to first receive and then backtrack? For many reasons, I think the answer is no, and, that approach has been tried, and, has it really helped us, in the end, on any criteria or level of Catholic participation, worship, identity, catechesis, evangelisation, social justice? Again, the answer is, no, that approach did not work on any of those levels, why rehash, for the sake of the old glory days of the 60s that never were?

  8. Tony Layne says:

    Sheesh … you’d think an Irishman would know better. I’m ashamed of Mr. Winters.

    Of course, with the Magisterium of Fishwrap, the spaghetti will be declared the winner.

  9. JoeGarcia says:

    The fact-allergic MSW’s absence from America Magazine helps elevate the quality of discourse there.

  10. @Henry Edwards: I agree completely. If Vatican II were really the cause the drop-off would have been of comparable scale globally; but in fact the ‘third world’ Catholic-majority countries are in significantly better shape.

  11. I’m glad Dr. Peters is on our side….

  12. Dr. Eric says:

    I am totally for the bishop doing his job and enforcing Canon 915. I have another reason to hate Sandra Lee’s “cooking” show on the Food Network (the one where she just reheats prepackaged junk.)

    But, what did the bishops do in the case of Charlemagne, Henry VIII, Louis XVI and most of the kings up until the modern era where they kept concubines?

  13. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    In the post linked, Dr. Peters writes, “The unwedded cohabitation (an act public by its nature) of sexually mature, non-familiarly related adults, gives seriously wrong example (i.e., scandal) to the community. Ecclesiastical authority need not verify that two such people are actually doing ‘it’ before moving against the grave scandal offered by such behavior”.

    Perhaps I am missing a technical use of ‘cohabitation’, but this strikes me as odd. Is this to say, any unrelated man and woman living under one roof should be assumed to be having carnal knowledge of each other? Simply, sweepingly, with no exceptions, no necessity to attempt to “verify”? Guilty – until proven innocent? Or presumed guilty absolutely, no matter what? No exceptions? (A priest or bishop and his housekeeper? – or have such never been known to live under one roof?)

    If the sort of marriages Paulinus of Nola in his Epithalamion recommends – what ‘the East’ (I believe) tends to call ‘white marriages’ – sacramentally married cohabitation with no carnal knowledge – are possible, then it seems logical that ‘white non-marriages’ are also possible.

    If not, why not? If so, would they entail some sort of obligation to the loudest widest possible advertisement of the fact? If so, why? How obligatory would it be to attempt how vigorously to disabuse any and all who might – be tempted to? – assume fornication, that continence was in fact the status quo?

    I know no more about the concrete casus that occasioned Dr. Peter’s general remark quoted than I have read in the text links to his interview. There I found nothing equivalent or analogous to, say, various admissions laboriously extracted from William Jefferson Clinton under oath on different occasions. Am I to presume Mr. Cuomo and Mrs. Lee are having carnal knowledge of each other, rather than leaving in suspense whether that is so or not? If so, why?

    It occurs to me as possible – I know this no more than I know anything else about the matter – that behind the Bishop’s statement is his satisfaction that he knows (insofar as that is possible) that Mr. Cuomo and Mrs. Lee are engaged in (so to put it) ‘a “white” non-marriage”. If that were so, would he be obliged to bruit this about as loudly and publicly as possible? Or would he, satisfied himself, be permitted to allow people incorrectly to assume the worst, if they were so minded?

  14. Front Pew View says:

    Winters’ “Who, me?” reply to Peters’ post is absolutely priceless. See here.

  15. robtbrown says:

    Br. Tom Forde OFM Cap says:

    The guys fighting were probably Americans or Brits so the Irishman knew he could them both.

    If he thought he could beat a Brit or an American, he must have been unfamiliar with Irish history.

  16. iudicame says:

    It is true that there are lots of public people doing nasty public stuff and there is no reaction from the Church. There IS apparently lots of effort going into millennial jubilees and Assisian coffee clatches.

    Big picture: I can remember several years ago, listening on a faint radio station…”Yoe-seff, Kar-dee-nall Rott…” And the utter “feeling” of joy. The cold, hard facts today demonstrate the real truth.


  17. Supertradmum says:

    Venerator Sti Lot ,

    In the spiritual life, the seeming of scandal is the same as scandal. What you wrote doesn’t change the scenario one bit. Why would two people of the opposite sex live under the same roof? And, the reasons do not matter, as explained, the scandal is the cohabitation, not the intimate details. Really, I have a hard time believing that you are serious.

  18. MissOH says:

    If the sort of marriages Paulinus of Nola in his Epithalamion recommends – what ‘the East’ (I believe) tends to call ‘white marriages’ – sacramentally married cohabitation with no carnal knowledge – are possible, then it seems logical that ‘white non-marriages’ are also possible.

    That would be a room mate and before I was Catholic just after college I did live in a house that had male and female room mates, but it was clear that we were all room mates. If anyone was confused we would say, we are room mates. Also, in this day and age given the separation of love and sexuality so pervasive in our culture any Catholic in general and definitely one with a public role, should make certain that they are not giving scandal to others, as it indicates in scripture.

  19. As for the “scandal” of non-familiar opposite sex roommates, I have two points:

    1) This may be a generational issue. But the fact is, nowadays, opposite sex roommates are fairly common. I am not saying it is a great idea, but people of the opposite sex share apartments all the time. In these cases, everyone knows they are not in a relationship, nor are they having relations. It is not really scandalous, unless it is scandal not to fulfill what busy-bodies gossipmongers believe everyone should do.

    2) There are many cases where even people in relationships will share a house/apartment for a time without entering into illicit relations. The most common involves people getting married, but where one or both of them are new to the place where the marital home will be, and job or other requirements mean they have to be there before the wedding. (“Oh, then they should rent an apartment for those three months!” Which is usually impossible with 6 month leases often being the minimum available). However, in this case there is the possibility of scandal, which can be taken care of by explaining the situation to those aware of it. People of goodwill should accept the explanation.

    I am not saying the Guv is in either situation, but just talking about opposite sex roommates.

  20. Really? Has the state of mainstream Catholicism gotten to the point where “same-sex room-mating” is seriously defended?

    There’s only one question you need to ask yourself, Charley: How many saints in your Butler Lives of the Saints would agree with your justifications?

  21. catholicmidwest says:

    “I would think that the Governor would take issue with Winters’ characterization that he is somehow far from the Church. Clearly he believes he is a fully fledged bona fide Catholic….”

    Then he is a blithering idiot, and an unrepentant sinner to boot. The evidence is there for all to see. That’s the problem.

    [How do people this STUPID get into positions of public life in the USA???? I mean seriously. The dog pound is full of entities with more common sense than this.]

  22. catholicmidwest says:

    “opposite sex roommates are fairly common”

    Human nature doesn’t change, my dear. If it looks like it’s going on, the odds are overwhelmingly that it’s going on. People don’t think anything of pre-marital, non-marital sex anymore either, and that’s a fact. Plenty of them sleep all over, get up like dogs and wander off in a daze on a daily basis. And at any rate, the appearance of scandal must be avoided for a Catholic.

    There is an old text written about us in the 2nd Century AD, and it says:
    “…..Every foreign land is their fatherland, and yet for them every fatherland is a foreign land. ?They marry, like everyone else, and they beget children, but they do not cast out their offspring. ?They share their board with each other, but not their marriage bed. ”

    Board meaning, in this ancient usage, their food, not their bodies; marriage being the clear indication of conjugal sex. ‘Cast out their offspring’ refers to the ancient pre-Christian practice of letting unwanted children die exposed to the elements. Which may have been kinder than what we do a thousand times a day in this country to our unwanted children (who come from all this indiscriminate coupling like dogs that people now engage in and deny mightily.)

  23. catholicmidwest says:

    …because, as they say in the popular culture, if you don’t get caught, it didn’t happen, right?

  24. dcs says:

    Though I don’t approve of opposite-sex roommates at all, I think there is a difference between people who are merely roommates and people who are living and traveling together. People who are merely roommates tend to have separate lives, at least publicly, do they not? They don’t present themselves as “boyfriend”-“girlfriend” (I hate those terms, by the way) or say that they are dating. So I think it is clear that Gov. Cuomo and Miss Lee are not merely roommates — and one doesn’t need any special knowledge to conclude this; one can simply consider how they present themselves publicly.

  25. catholicmidwest says:

    Modern naivety apparently knows no bounds.

  26. Supertradmum says:

    I hate to disagree with good people in the younger generations, but having roommates of a different sex/gender than one’s self is just plain wrong. Custody of the eyes would preclude the situation immediately. Putting one’s self into temptation is a sin as well. I went to a college and an university where there were boy dorms and girl dorms. This is still true for many Catholic colleges and universities. That arrangement shows common sense.

    Anyway, what Mr. Cuomo and friend are showing to the world has nothing to do with roommates. And, as I stated earlier, what gives scandal by seeming is scandal.

    Those who engage in non-sexual marriages, such as the Maritains, do so for a good reason and usually make private vows with a priest or abbot. This is a serious matter. And, those people are married, not just cohabiting. This thread makes me sad, as we have, apparently, as Catholics, lost a sense of propriety, which is necessary to be a saint.

  27. 1. Both Cuomo and his Food Network girlfriend have plenty of money.

    2. For purely civil reasons, it ill-befits the governor of any state in the Union to have any hinky relationships with a person to whom he (inclusive of she) is not married. Such relationships impugn the dignity of the office, expose the governor and the state to various forms of blackmail, and imply that the governor is open to being used in many other ways by many other persons with many other attractions.

    3. Encouraging your unmarried girlfriend to live in the governor’s mansion on the taxpayer’s dollar is directly contrary to the reasons the taxpayers fund a governor’s mansion in the first place. There is no dignity to a governor’s way of living when he makes corrupt bargains with cronies and also cuts them into his sweet rent-free deal; and if he’s having sexual or purely romantic relations with a particular crony, that makes it rather worse. The People’s House is not supposed to be a house of ill fame.

    4. For a Catholic to do all these things, and openly — well, obviously it’s better not to be having sexual relations with someone you’re not married to, but even that wouldn’t reduce the level of governmental corruption very much, and corruption is also a mortal sin. Moreover, causing scandal to Catholics and non-Catholics alike, both on governmental and personal issues, is deeply wrong. The least one could do is fade into the background and not try to receive Communion. But nooooo.

    5. The archbishop is obviously one of those guys who’s deeply compassionate toward people whose troubles he knows, but who isn’t very worried about Catholics who aren’t crying in front of him right at that moment. Mr. Peters is advocating for the rest of us, but in a properly canon-law non-emotional way. What is obviously needed is a squad of sad beautiful women to stand in front of the archbishop and cry a lot on behalf of Mr. Peters. (Don’t wear mascara that day.) Then the archbishop will like and defend him, too.

  28. Sean Michael Winters has shamed all guys named Sean. He should be made to change his name.

  29. Tony Layne says:

    “What is obviously needed is a squad of sad beautiful women to stand in front of the archbishop and cry a lot on behalf of Mr. Peters. (Don’t wear mascara that day.) Then the archbishop will like and defend him, too.”

    Oh, Father! Oh, Father! We need a gold star for Suburbanbanshee …. just for that line!

  30. robtbrown says:

    iudicame says:

    Big picture: I can remember several years ago, listening on a faint radio station…”Yoe-seff, Kar-dee-nall Rott…” And the utter “feeling” of joy. The cold, hard facts today demonstrate the real truth.

    If you remember that, then you probably also remember that later BXVI said that he had no magic formula for the immediate reform of the Church. The pope has begun the reformation of the Church–unfortunately, it will take years.

  31. Brad says:

    I ask my fellow Americans, which would you rather have: a Guv receiving unworthily or a Pres receiving reallllllllly unworthily:

    I beg your forgiveness, our Lord, for me, when I receive unworthily, and for my fellow man. We offend you every day. Please improve us through your grace and have mercy on us. In the meantime, give us the faith of Matthew’s centurion, and his humility, too.

  32. The Cobbler says:

    As a younger generation fellow myself, I must say that I, for one, don’t think cultural commonality of supposedly chaste cohabitation makes cohabitation ok in the least. It’s not wrong merely because people can assume you’re “having sex” (hate that phrase; does one listen to movies or watch one’s dinner?), it’s the moral equivalent of dodging in and out of traffic while speeding — except, of course, that analogy breaks down at the point where that sort of moral risk is itself moral evil, which is my real point.

    I can see some situations where men and women share a house/apartment/something-more-than-the-same-one-room and it’s 1) not “living together” in the personal relationship sense and 2) not something that could realistically given more separation and/or 3) actually is given a fitting level of separation despite being technically under the same roof, but on the other hand it’s in those cases that much prudence must be exercised, and generally speaking the trouble with cohabitation has little to do with whether the couple actually does have intercourse or even whether people expect them to have intercourse — not to say that fornication and scandal don’t matter, but they’re issues unto themselves on top of cohabitation being gravely wrong.

  33. This is my diocese.
    We have had a priests forbidden from hearing confessions during Mass.
    The bishop has forbidden it himself.
    Sorry but personally I can’t buy the compassion bit. It is much worse than that here. I wish I could think differently but from my own observation and contacts with people outside my parish, etc I know too much to think otherwise.

    That and when the diocese closes our parishes they invite us to a silly meeting to “hear our concerns and suggestions.” In reality it is to pretend to listen to us and feign compassion while closing churches that are perfectly self sustaining or could be. They refuse to ask for foreign priests and refuse to let the FSSP in- or anyone else who is orthodox for that matter. Granted there are less priests worldwide but the situation here has intentionally been magnified and exacerbated here. There have also been men who have been refused by the diocese for being too “conservative.” In this diocese the “priesthood shortage” intentionally manufactured. There was no need to close a number of the parishes. I am personally aware of a parish that was closed recently which had close to a million in reserve at the time of its closure. Rather in this diocese they close churches and sell them to Frat houses, protestants, theater companies, Buddhists and the list goes on. I more than suspect they have issues selling to any Catholics that are in union with Rome. I only pray that something will be left after Hubbard is gone. Aside from the sacred sites gone the loss in souls damned is incalculable.

    Sorry for venting but the defense of the diocese to Dr Peters is ludricous- the bishop has no problem giving Communion to Cuomo. He is willing enough to put is fist down when it is against Catholicism- especially “traditional Catholicism.” He runs a very tight ship. I suppose my only purpose for this post is to say that this isn’t the first or only thing the diocese has trouble with. People need to understand it really isn’t a Catholic diocese we are taking about here but more a “Catholic in name only” type diocese and the rot as very deep. The Diocese’s defense is just a ruse to cover itself and the same old type of comment we have always heard here. Since the diocese is bold faced enough to pretend this was done in good faith it is only right to call a spade a spade. Bravo to Dr Peter’s but its not the only or first time he has had to confront the Bishop and the diocese- we are becoming sort of a regular on his blog. It has already gone on too long. Holy Mother Church please have pity on on us!

  34. Rob Cartusciello says:

    I’m just happy to say that I was reading Ed Peter’s blog “In Light of the Law” before it was cool. [Tisk. It has always been cool.]

    Keep up the good work, Ed!

  35. catholicmidwest says:

    Sed libera nos,
    I hear you. Many dioceses are still like this. I’m very careful where my donations go, and I would urge you to be also, particularly if they are closing parishes with bank accounts. That’s an interesting source of revenue, eh?

  36. Supertradmum says:

    Sed libera nos,

    I sympathize with you. You have a strong heart. Here, the diocese is closing and has closed parishes that were in the black, and nicely so. The diocese had to change the definition of “viability” in order to close these. Viability no longer means money to cover the bills plus some.

    We must really pay attention and pray. When the “enemy” is within, it is more difficult. And that includes pro-homosexual priests, homosexual priests, and heretical priests. Why the bishops give in is a problem of their consciences, but it is hard to understand.

    More conservative young men have been turned down in our diocese for the priesthood as well. Three have gone into orders. We have a horrible priest shortage. Sadly, you are not alone.

  37. @David Werling (concerning same-sex roomates) – I said I didn’t think it was a good idea. But it happens all of the time, sometimes for years, without any hanky-panky occurring. I said we shouldn’t presume people sharing a flat are boinking if they are known not be in that kind of relationship. Yes, there are common-sense issues at stake, and I would never, ever recommend it, but I think it would be wrong to presume such people are in a state of sin.

    As for the second example I cited, in which I stated a explanation should be given if questions are asked (and by reading this thread, I presume there are a lot people who like to stick their nose in other people’s business), the situation comes up.

    I remember about 15 years ago, I had friend who was getting married who owned a house. His intended lived across the country. The job she had gotten told her she was going to have to start one month before the wedding. She moved into one of the spare bedrooms of the house, because she had to work. They made sure all of their friends knew the reasons for the situation, and assured them no hanky-panky was going on – which I thought actually went above and beyond the call of duty. But yes, one of our “group” decided to call everyone and complain about the situation to everyone, including the priests at several area parishes (in case the couple in question tried to receive communion anywhere in the city, I guess).

    Because the work of the chastity police is never done!

    P.S. The priests did ignore the person in question, and the rest of this couple’s friends did, too. But I get the sense she would be considered a hero by some who follow this blog.

  38. catholicmidwest says:

    That’s all wrong on about 42 levels.
    As I said before: Modern naivety apparently knows no bounds.

  39. Thank you Catholicmidwest and Supertradmum for your encouragement. Its sad to hear that we aren’t the only ones suffering although it comes as no surprise. A number of us here greatly appreciate Dr Peter’s attempt to remind the bishop of his duties. Sadly the diocese usually ignores us so his public reply (to their public reply) is very encouraging. Usually their arguments are trivial but it is nice to see them shown for what they are. Apparently they were very nettled and offended that he presumed to remind them of their duty (talk about clericalism). Usual smoke and mirrors reply though upon their part.

    I find it ironic that some of the places that are experiencing the greatest shortage in priests will not accept anyone who is remotely orthodox. It goes to show that it is manufactured and in some cases intentional. After this debacle I have become very tired of beating around the bush. In a certain way I am glad the institute I am applying to is not in the diocese (besides the present bishop would never allow them- he doesn’t even allow the FSSP in) that way I can receive a sound religious formation. While it is admirable of the young men who go through their local diocese “undercover” I am beginning to think that at this point it is also good to form strong and large “armies” outside the diocese so when an orthodox bishop is finally appointed he can invite religious communities in and ask his brother bishops for some extra priests. By that time many of them should have a sound formation and be ready for the serious work at hand as well as have the support of the bishop. Thankfully we only have 3yrs to wait in Albany, unfortunately I think Rome is just planning on waiting until he retires. Eventually we will take back our parishes. As Fr Z says the tide is turning.

    Yes parish money/assets are supposed to follow the parishioners when a parish is surpressed according to Canon law but some bishops have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar so as to speak. God bless.

  40. yes modern culpable ignorance is limitless. They don’t even realize that willingly creating an occasion of sin is still a sin and scandal (evidently at least one person was scandalized)- at the least. Lets see an unmarried woman living with an unmarried man- what do they expect people to think? Even they realized how evident it was and tried to explain it away. Unless there was absolutely no alternative but that is rarely the case and obviously it wasn’t during extreme conditions (ie war, etc).

    Of course we can’t say if anyone is in a state of grace or not (only God knows- not even them for sure unless revealed by God) but objectively they are in a scandalous living arrangement- without a doubt. To deny that would be lying.

    Personally if I had to travel with a lady whom I was not married/ related to to she could have the room, etc. I mean c’mon guys its really not that hard to sleep in the car, etc (of course if its life or death like a blizzard maybe you’d have to build an igloo- just kidding- well sort of). Although I wouldn’t intentionally place myself in such a situation- the whole idea of intentionally traveling alone with a young lady is very unseemly and modern. The issue is not just that you don’t share a room at night. Why not invite her family or go with your family, group of friends, etc. That would eliminate all possiblity of scandal and yes protect her honor (and yours). Don’t really see the point of it otherwise and seems like just asking for trouble. If it is a move one could ask the parish if someone is willing to board for a short time, etc. There are other reasonable solutions. Then again I tend to think that on certain issues they knew a whole lot more back then then we give them credit for. I sort of wish I lived “back then-” most people had something that was called a reputation and knew how to guard it as well as how valuable it was. Seems strange so few actually heed the practical advice of the saints and think they know better.

    Have we lost all respect for women that we can’t experience a little discomfort/ inconvienience for the sake of honor and respect (even if it isn’t welcome in some quarters)? The slip into cohabitation (and more) is because we have lost our sense of honor as a people and aren’t willing to make sacrifices for those we love and respect. The issues are related and trust me women always lose when cohabitation is involved.

    As far as Cuomo is concerned does anyone seriously think it is a chaste relationship? Evidently they don’t even attempt to claim it is so why should anyone make that assumption? I am not even sure how this came up- sort of pointless.
    There is the old saying “If it walks like a duck…”

  41. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Sed libera nos (28 Feb., 2:19 am) writes, “I am not even sure how this came up- sort of pointless.” I think my comment at 25 Feb., 9:50 pm (q.v.) started this sub-line of discussion, about which I am quite serious, which I still think quite the opposite of “pointless”, and my detailed non-rhetorical questions concerning which, I would be grateful to see addressed in more detail (though of course I do not think anyone is obliged to respond to any of them!).

    catholicmidwest has said more than once, “Modern naivety apparently knows no bounds.” But surely it is not (mainly) a matter of “modern naivety”. The beautifully depicted Early-Modern naivety of that young Catholic wife, Desdemona (Othello IV.iii. 61 ff) springs to mind, but one wishes Othello had possessed less of the sort of naivety that allowed Iago to buffalo him so simply and thoroughly, and more of a lawyerly or forensic sense of justice, that went into questions of guilt more carefully before preemptorily ‘executing’ the ‘accused’ (though that would have made the play the first of Shakespeare’s “Romances”…).

    But I think also of St. John Climacus who can both see the sense of “the man who wrapped his hand in an ecclesiastical garment when he was about to carry his sick mother” and believe in not only the possibility but the fact of “the astonishing level of chastity” of St. Nonnus “who, having looked on a body of great beauty, at once gave praise to its Creator and after one look was stirred to love God and to weep copiously, so that it was marvelous how something that could have brought low one person managed to be the cause of a heavenly crown for another” (Ladder, step 15: Luibheid & Russell trans., pp. 178-79).

    Supertradmum (whom I am sorry if I have unintentionally made sad) wrote “In the spiritual life, the seeming of scandal is the same as scandal.”

    But can that be simply so? Or, how exactly is that so? I recall the Gospel of the Second Sunday of Advent (EF) which includes v. 6: “beatus est, qui non fuerit scandalizatus in me”. Does this not suggest or include a distinction between ‘the justly scandalizing’ and ‘the incorrectly or unjustly being scandalized at that which is not in fact evil’ or even ‘the unjust attribution of (the appearance) of scandal’ to such?

    Libera nos seems to have transformed midwestcatholic’s “modern naivety” in writing, “yes modern culpable ignorance is limitless”. I am certainly in ignorance (I am not convinced how ‘culpably’), from which I would gladly be delivered by accurate knowledge. I have not found in Dr. Peters’ citations (or in the comments here) what, if any specific basis there is in canon law (or its jurisprudence) for saying, (e.g.,) ““The unwedded cohabitation (an act public by its nature) of sexually mature, non-familiarly related adults, gives seriously wrong example (i.e., scandal) to the community.”

    I do not suggest Dr. Peters has been imprudent: I do not know enough to do so. But I do not see how the actual facts of guilt or innocence of adulterous (or fornicatory) carnal knowledge seem to enjoy so little relevance – in any case (including that of Mr. Cuomo and Mrs. Lee).

    If one encounters an instance where fornication or adultery may be being committed (even consuetudinally), that is distressing, and I do not see anything wrong with conscientiously addressing the possibility as possibility. If X and Y are ‘living in sin’ though regular illicit carnal knowledge of each other, they should cease to do so, and not receive Communion until any given Celebrant is convinced that they have ceased and repented.

    CharleyCOllins referred to a case where he thought a couple giving thorough assurances when they were under one roof but not fornicating “actually went above and beyond the call of duty”.

    Such assurances would always be welcome in a worrying ‘bad-looking’ situation. Could a third-person, such as a convinced priest or bishop (of course without breaking the Seal of the Confessional!) give them on behalf of the couple (with – or without (!) – their consent)?

    And who could ask for them, and how? Might a Celebrant (or parish priest or diocesan bishop) say, “What you’re doing looks bad, so as a precaution – since you may indeed be fornicating – I will not allow you to receive Communion”? If, on the contrary, they are canonically compelled to do so, how exactly is that motivated (what is the letter of the relevant canon law)?

  42. Venerator Sti Lot
    The reason I said it is pointless is because it is very obvious to apparently everyone else that the relationship with Cuomo and Mrs Lee is very highly unlikely to be chaste. I did not mean the issue itself was pointless. I don’t think you actually are trying to argue theirs is a chaste relationship. Not even Cuomo, Albany diocese or anyone else who is more likely to have that info is using it as a defense. If they did they would be using it. Some schools hold that something said in confession if a penitent gives permission it may be said while others hold the seal of the Confessional is absolute. Neither Cuomo or Mrs Lee are poor so there are no financial reasons for the concubinage. Nor are they the most spiritual so “chaste marriage” is not highly unlikely. Besides they are not married and it is very possible not eligible for annulments. Not only that but Cuomo is vehemently pro-abortion,etc so there is more than one reason he shouldn’t be receiving Holy Communion.

    As Supertradmum previously mentioned Maritain marriage is very different from cohabitiation. It is very simple- one grioup is married while the other isn’t- hence no scandal. It is like comparing apples and oranges.

    As 1 Thessalonians 5:22 says we are to avoid the appearance of evil. Cohabitating is an appearance of evil at the least since nearly all couples that cohabit are not living chastely. There are also the temptations involved due to our present fallen nature. I highly doubt that you would like to indicate that St Nonnus routinely invited a naked women to where he lived and asked her to take her clothes off so he could praise God. From what you said it is highly unlikely he intentionally placed himself in those situations. As the quote said “what could bring others so low earned him a heavenly crown-” it usually brings others low (to serious sin). However, by the grace of God St Nonnus was able to escape the pitfall and received merit since in spite of the temptation he sinned not and praised God. Therefore there is a major difference between him and those who cohabit (even “chastely” without being married). The difference is one intentionally placed themselves in temptation’s way while the other didn’t. In the Our Father we pray that God not lead us into temptation. When we pray that then will God be pleased with us if we lead ourselves into temptation? God promises to aid us but He is not required to if we intentionally place ourselves in temptation. It is prideful to do so and expect to escape. In such cases God usually out of His mercy lets us have our own way and we fall. Hopefully we learn the lesson for the future.

    The underlying problem with “chaste cohabitation” is that those who do so don’t love God above all things. It is a hard saying but here are the following reasons:
    1.) they place themselves in temptation’s way and are guilty of an occasion of sin (of course gravity is variable). Since they place themself in possible danger of offending God willingly their love of God is far from perfect due to their presumption. They rely upon their own strength and do not flee all temptations and appearances of sin as the apostles command us. Rather they willingly place themselves in such a dangerous position- hence it is culpable.
    2.) They possibly led other souls into sin (mortal/ venial) by a bad example. Even if they are able to overcome the unavoidable temptations created by such a situation others who are not able to may imitate their behavior and fall into sin and very likely it will be mortal. In doing so they display a serious lack of charity for their weaker brethern (and possibly even those outside the Church).
    3.) They may scandalize others, including nonbelievers who are well aware that such behavior is rarely chaste. Most cohabiting couples are not chaste. This is the real world which I am sure all orthodox Catholics will acknowledge we all have to deal with the effects of original sin (concupiscence , etc). If others are scandalized they may be tempted to commit other sins, may leave the Church, justify their own sins (whatever they are) or nonbelievers may feel that the witness they provide proves the Catholic Church is not the Church of God and therefore not convert (as a convert I can testify to this personally- due to the scandalous behavior of some Catholics it was years before I took a 2nd look at the Church). They may even justify their own sins also. It is possible such souls can be damned and to a certain extent the souls who caused the scandal (willingly) will be responsible and held responsible by God. That is not to say those who caused the scandal will go to Hell but they will be punished for their lack of charity for others which is demonstrated by the manifest indifference to the scandal their behavior creates. This is culpable though of course gravity is variable.
    4.)It is a public sin and usually very visible. The Church has the right and duty to regulate the Sacraments and the dispositions required to receive them. Are you saying the Church needs more evidence that they are fornicating other than they are living in the same house? If so what would meet that criteria? Would a video tape of the act of fornication be necessary? Would it be necessary to witness the actual penetration to verify it beyond doubt? However, there is always the possiblity the video has been altered. Maybe 3 witnesses of the act of fornication? If 3 is not enough maybe a 1000? Or are you suggesting that we use a rape kit to make certain that it occurred? I don’t want to be so graphic but some seem to state that the Church may not simply surmise that it is occuring by the fact that they are living together. However, that is all the Church is able to go on and using traditional wisdom yes it is a safe bet as sadly it almost always is the case. A denial from the couple is rarely enough- it is very possible they could be lying. If the pastor allows such people who are known to be in such an irregular situation to receive then he is participating in scandalizing others.

    Of course there is the theoretical case where at least it seems to the couple they have no alternative. In such cases they are much less guilty if at all. However, rarely is it possible that they can not find someone to room with of the same gender (even if they intend to marry later on). If one is new to the area perhaps plan ahead and ask the pastor of their new church if he knows anyone who would board one of them for a short time or if there is another alternative. One could always stay at a cheap hotel for a short time. If there is family/ friends in the area the solution is pretty obvious. Some people place ads looking for roomates of the same gender because they at least have some concept of decency. Problem is most couples “chastely cohabiting” don’t even try to find other alternatives or are willing to make the necessary sacrifices. That alone gives reason to at least question their commitment to chastity.

    As far as Canon law here is what I could glean.
    “All who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin may be forbidden Communion. Clearly, the burden is on the minister of Holy Communion who, by the nature of his responsibility, must prevent anything which profanes the Blessed Sacrament and endangers the salvation of the soul of the recipient and of those scandalized by his unworthy reception of Holy Communion.” The last 2 sentances taken from the web page linked below). I believe the author was Archbishop Burke- who needs no introduction and is evidently regarded as competent on the issue by the Vatican.
    So yes Canon 915 does address public concubinage.

    God bless.

  43. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Dear Sed Libera Nos,

    Thank you for such a serious, clement, well-thought-out, thorough response.

    In your first para., you make a strong case as to why one/we might well be particularly apprehensive where Mr. Cuomo is concerned. I am willing, however, in my ignorance, to posit “innocent until proven (or, even, publicly (non-Sacramentally) confessed) guilty”. As to, “If they did they would be using it”, I can imagine a non-’emanations of penumbras’ idea of privacy on the basis of which one might be thinking, ‘Have the decency to assume us innocent until revealed as guilty’. Somewhat tangentiaslly, it is also unfortunately the case in the state of English-speaking society that people can be embarrassed openly to testify as to their chastity/continence (though perhaps it may be debated how appropriate such testimony may be, and where (probably) so, how best given): not that I know this to apply (or, again, not to apply) to Mr. Cuomo.

    That “it is very possible [they are] not eligible for annulments”, would seem as likely a motive for chaste cohabitation (where the will to it and faith in God’s mercy and grace were present) as against it.

    In 1 Thes. 5:22, the crucial question is, what “omni specie mala” (which apparently echoes Septuagint Job 1:1, 8 and 2:3 – with the addition of “specie”) includes or means. What is decisive as to “appearance”? E.g., as incest is promoted and practised ever more openly, must Dr. Peters’ stipulation of “non-familiarly related adults” go by the board? Given the recent revelations of sexual abuse, must someone in orders refrain from patting a choirboy on the head, or smiling at one?

    St. John Climacus’s other example concretely personally seems to have seen danger in a degree of direct bodily contact with his own mother (with or without reference to “specie”). That does not mean this need – or can – be generalized in terms of “intentionally plac[ing oneself] in temptation’s way” or being “guilty of an occasion of sin ” in anyone’s even warmly hugging his own mother.

    What are the relative responsibilities of attempting to avoid what (if incorrectly understood) might offend, and of not thinking or speaking any, much less “omne malum adversum […] mentientes” (even when it is not “vos […] propter me” in any express sense: Matt. 5:10)?

    Does a sincere “honi soit qui mal y pence” have any, or no, weight?

    “The underlying problem with ‘chaste cohabitation’ is that those who do so don’t love God above all things” seems to me to be begging the question, which seems also a problem in various of the details of “the following reasons”. But I shall not attempt to address them all in detail, here and now.

    re. 4: You write, “some seem to state that the Church may not simply surmise that it is occuring by the fact that they are living together.” I would be willing to state that. Why must the standards of evidence be so much lower than in other forms of law? And, if I recall correctly things I have read (historically) about investigations with respect to declarations of nullity, there is/has been a comparable attention to physical (etc.) evidence.

    “A denial from the couple is rarely enough – it is very possible they could be lying.” But then, surely, an a priori assumption of their guilt without any attempt to discover the truth cannot be enough: it is very possible that they are innocent – and if asked, telling the truth.

    Thank you, finally, for the link to the work of Archbishop Burke, which I have not taken the time to read before writing this response (which I do not pretend to be complete or final).

    As I suggested before, I can see the merit in a precautionary ban (if such be possible). Perhaps I will learn from Abp. Burke how not only that, but something ‘stronger’ is justified, canonically.

    With the hope that nothing I have written darkens the joy of this St. David’s Day for you!

  44. Bill Foley says:

    To Venerator Sti Lot,

    I have seen enough of your type in blogs such as this. You are an obvious dissenter, who loves to argue with the faithful Catholics. Be a real man or a real woman identify yourself. Stop hiding behind your false name. I am Bill (William R.) Foley.

    The rest of you faithful Catholics should not even answer this person because that is what he/she wants.

    Bill Foley

  45. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Dear Bill (William R.) Foley,

    If Fr. Zuhlsdorf is content to be so kind as to allow me to comment ‘blognonymously’, I will repose in his courtesy. [I think people should take a stand and post with their own names. I only, barely, tolerate these handles, which is why I am happy to place some people’s accounts on permanent moderation. Have the courage of your convictions.]

    In a post of 28 Feb., linked by Fr. Z. in a post of the same date, Dr. Peters writes, ” Despite knowing that one cannot ‘win’ an internet ‘debate’, I’m willing to engage in them anyway, mostly for three reasons: first, to convince my adversary; second, to edify observers; third (perhaps a bit philosophically here) because, in rather the same way that truth is worth pursuing for its own sake, so error can be worth correcting for its own sake.”

    I would heartily and, I think, completely, agree with this, or at least approve of it as a good position. I would not, however, myself say, “mostly” for those reasons in that order.

    I do enjoy arguing – for truth. Though, for example, I also really enjoyed it when I took a course in argumentation and got assigned, in a forensic exercise, to defend a suspect whom I thought was ‘obviously’ guilty, and discovered that the actual evidence was not so ‘damning’ as I thought (indeed, was not simply in and of itself ‘damning’ at all, so that I could defend him in complete good conscience in that case) – though that was perhaps part of learning better to argue for truth. I would, then, be inclined to put the accent on the fact “that truth is worth pursuing for its own sake” – and for other good reasons. [I don’t like arguing here for argument’s sake over an extended period of time.]

    In practice, arguing can be fun in detail. That need not be bad. I hope I am not indulging in anything that corrupts the good of “pursuing [the truth] for its own sake”.

    You write, “The rest of you faithful Catholics should not even answer this person because that is what he/she wants.” I would urge any and everyone to use their own best judgement in arguing/debating/discussing with me (or with anyone), or not. I think that Sed libera nos has done just this, admirably.

    As far as I can tell, I want to learn things and join in exchanges that help me think deeper and more thoroughly and better (and contribute to those ends for others, as well). If that is in any way corrupted by one sin or another, I hope to be brought to knowledge and repentence of it/them (however ‘uncomfortable’ that may be in practice).

    I am not sure if your comment constitutes a mere ad hominem attack, strictly speaking, and I assume you make it with the best intentions, but I think any and everyone – myself included – can and may generally echo our Lord’s words, “Si male locutus sum, testimonium perhibe de malo” (John 18:23).

    That is not to suggest, that you, personally, are (or anyone else in particular, or anyone at all, is) specially obliged to point out what is wrong with all or any of my arguments, questions, etc. There may be all sorts of good reasons, personal or otherwise, to refrain from doing so.

    For the rest, I am content to leave it to Fr. Z. to decide not to post any comment, or annotate it admonishingly, or suspend, or withdraw, my privilege of posting. [Content or not, I have that ability.]

    As to the matters under discussion, I still have not had/found/made time to read Abp. Burke’s article, or one by Dr. Peters which he himself links, on Canon 915. Maybe all will be clear to me, when I have.

    Meanwhile, I can see the merit of bishops and/or priests having the power to impose a precautionary ban and of using that power – and the propriety of doing so in the concrete case of Mr. Cuomo and Mrs. Lee, and if that is what Dr. Peters is contending for, I agree with him – but it seems to me he is saying something different from that, something which bewilders me.

    In any case, I think it would be no bad thing to treat my words as St. Thomas treats the arguments he formulates – in order then to answer them, in the course of his scholastic philosophizing and theologizing. Not me, but the content – the matter – of what I have said. Tackle that – or leave it alone – according to honest best judgement.

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