In the face of this sort of revolt, what does one do?

I am torn between, on the one hand, pity for these men whose priesthood and ministry was tainted from the onset by bad formation and poor leadership and, on the other, contempt for them as arrogant quislings.

From Vatican Insider:

Germany: Catholic priests administer communion to divorcees

The wait is over. It is now time for action: this is what the more than 150 priests and deacons of the Archdiocese of Freiburg, in Germany (161 at the time this article was written) must have thought, as they issued an open declaration on the internet, stating that they regularly administered communion to divorced couples who had remarried.

In their manifesto, the priests – who account for approximately a seventh of the clergy in Freiburg, led by Archbishop Rober Zollitsch who is also President of the German Episcopal Conference [his name just keeps cropping up when] – stated they were fully aware they were violating the rules laid down by the Catholic Church: “With our signature, we declare that in our pastoral activity regarding remarried divorcees, we are allowing ourselves to be guided by mercy,” they wrote, quoting the salus animarum suprema lex (the salvation of souls must always be the supreme law) principle.

In going against the dictates of the Catholic Church, “we take account of the conscious decision made by the individuals involved and the real life situation that follows.” [“real life situation” is now an excuse for doing anything you want to do, I guess.] “In our communities, remarried divorcees take communion and receive the sacraments of reconciliation and the anointing of the sick, with our approval,” the parish priests declared, adding that those who divorce and remarry also participate in parish councils and play an active role in the catechesis and community activities.

The issue of remarried divorcees is a delicate issue, particularly in German speaking countries, but in others as well. The issue was brought before Benedict XVI by the then federal president Christian Wulff, himself a divorcee, during the Pope’s visit to Germany last November. The issue is one of the five critical points which the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith highlighted in a recent notification regarding a book published by a nun in the U.S. [Farley.]

During the recent Word Meeting of Families in Milan, Pope Benedict XVI admitted that the situation of remarried divorcees is “one of the great causes of suffering for the Church today”: “we do not have simple solutions – he said -. Suffering is great and all we can do is help parishes and individuals to help these persons endure the suffering of this divorce.

In their manifesto, the priests in Freiburg referred explicitly to the Memorandum entitled “Achieving a necessary turning point” [“turning point”… otherwise… “revolt”?  “revolution”?] which was launched by hundreds of theology professors in March 2011 and published in the book “An opportunity for reconciliation?” by the theologian Eberhard Schockenhoff which deals with the issue. Over 300 members of the Freiburg clergy signed a petition supporting the Memorandum.

In a communiqué, the Archdiocese of Freiburg said the priests’ initiative had been “blown up by the media and this is “neither useful nor constructive.” Though it may be possible for a priest to make a “conscious,” “responsible and well-grounded” choice in certain concrete cases, this can in no way become a “general and undifferentiated” practice that goes against the universal Church doctrine.

Is this really “blown up” by the press?  I suspect it is not, and that this revolt will breed more revolt, as rotting meat attracts flies and maggots.

What they are doing is scandalous, for it will breed more revolts elsewhere, about this and other issues.  This isn’t just about how the Church ministers to the divorced and remarried.  This is a deeper problem.

One of these days these priests are going to die and go to their judgment.  I hope that they are simply so screwed up that they are not fully culpable for these bad decisions and the scandal they cause.

In the face of this sort of revolt, what does one do?

As Pope, I suppose you soldier on and suffer.

Imagine what a faithful bishop or the Holy Father is faced with when things like this happen.  What to do?  Will action make the situation worse?  Will inaction make it worse?  Do you impose an interdict?  Suspend the clergy involved with the resulting exacerbation of the shortage of priests?

You almost get the sense that a huge shortage of priests would be less bad than having priests like those guys.

You might add some small and planned mortifications to your daily routine to offer up for the Holy Father’s intention.

Marantha!  Come!

Lord Jesus, come back now.  Please?


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Phil_NL says:

    In some cases, the German tendancy for ‘grundlichkeit’ is deplorable. Such a revolt is not because they want to give communion to divorcees – they’re doing that already, after all – but to get the rules changed. Something that will obviously not happen, but the attempts will cause a great deal of hardship among the bishops, who are stuck with a large proportion of clergy who simply say ‘we know best’ – the essence of schism, which is where one of these actions will eventually lead. (Plural, as this resembles a similar petition that did the rounds in Austria not too long ago. While Freiburg is 300 miles further west, culturally the difference is not that big). Whoever plays with matches, will eventually get burned…

    And worst of all, if these priests would do the same as priests around the globe, namely not enquiring after the civil maritial status (don’t ask, don’t tell is alive and kicking in that sense; the average european priest knows very little of his parishioners if they don’t volunteer information) it would at least have the benefit that the rule as such would remain clear, and the next parish priest could more easily rectify the situation if he so desires. But no, they had to turn it into a battle against the Church. Despicable.

  2. Marcus der mit dem C says:

    This “revolt” isn’t unexpected to me. Back in 1993 the bishops of the Freiburgian metropolitan province (Oberrheinische Kirchenprovinz) issued a joint pastoral letter „Pastoral mit Geschiedenen und wiederverheirateten Geschiedenen“ (Pastoral with divorcees and remarried divorcees) written by the predecessor of Archbishop Zollitsch – the in 2008 died Archbishop Oskar Saier, the bishop of Mainz Karl Cardinal Lehmann (the predecessor of Zollitsch as president of the Episcopal Conference of Germany) and the former bishop of Rottenburg-Stuttgart Walter (now Cardinal) Kasper.

    In this letter is exactly the “pastoral solution” demanded, that divorcees can join in for communion after a earnest examination of conscience, these “rebels” assume as given and give the precious body of Christ to them. The question would be how a faithful can examine his conscience when the church teaching of a just developed conscience is a grave matter of arcane discipline and not essential part of the catechesis.

    While Cardinal Kasper seemed to became more orthodox as President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity than as bishop of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, the three dioceses still are a hotspot of modernism in Germany.

    So these “rebels” do nothing more than what they are taught and encouraged to do, by their bishops and ordinary staff with one exception:
    It was not wanted, that they say that frankly what they do!

  3. Timothy Mulligan says:

    What does one do? Support the SSPX. They will preserve true Catholicism in Germany.

  4. Traductora says:

    I think Marcus has summed it up. These priests didn’t just appear out of nowhere, but are “descended,” so to speak, from the rebellious bishops who headed their dioceses over the years since Vatican II. Bishops are very good at being quietly rebellious and, dare I say it, even sneaky about it, couching their rebellion in such fuzzy, general terms that they can always claim they were misunderstood by Rome. Perhaps because they know that Rome has the ability to strip them of their office (although it never does and probably never would) and perhaps because they realize that they can do more damage by quietly encouraging unorthodoxy among their clergy, they are cautious. These bishops are probably rather annoyed with these priests now, not because of their unorthodoxy, but because they have announced it and now Rome will have to act.

    There’s no way that a bishop could have this many priests acting in open violation of Church laws for so many years without knowing it and without having participated in the seminary formation that is the source of this. The only thing one can assume, therefore, is that the bishops both know it and support it. So the place to start is with the bishops, and it would be nice for once to see some action taken against them.

  5. BaedaBenedictus says:

    Who was it who said the Church was in a process of “autodestruction”?

  6. Glen M says:

    And so it continues but now out in the open. This has been going on for years. The parishes where the divorced/remarried attend is common knowledge among the laity. They are often the ones where you notice the openly homosexuals too. These parishes are often packed and through diocesan transfers, financially support neighbouring parishes.

    The usual metrics are found in theses parishes: no mention of sin/salvation in homilies, liturgical abuse, no kneeling, many EMHCs, Confession by appointment only, large social justice committee, pastor rarely seen in his clericals, etc.

    I’ve read comments from Western Europeans that the state of the Church is becoming very clear and divisive. Of the 10% of the baptized you actually attend Mass there, orthodoxy and heterodoxy are very distinct. Your choice becomes a very reverent OF or even an EF versus an OF where clowns and balloons are quite possible. There’s no middle ground.

    We’ve endured fifty years of post-council chaos and things are finally settling down. What will result is a renewal but it will be at the cost of a schism. Many people are in schism already such as these priests. In North America, the HHS issue and Bill 13 in Ontario will help force the issue of individual obedience among Catholics. Our political masters are forcing us to choose which side we’re on. Brazen clerics are doing the same.

    The average Catholic today is disengaged from the Church. Even among those who attend Mass, most are not aware of the heterodoxy these past fifty years. Most didn’t know there were pro-choice nuns, ignored Church teaching on contraception, didn’t realize girls in spandex shouldn’t be a part of the liturgy, weren’t aware traditionally minded young men were not welcome in the seminary. In this information age, fifty years since the first (and hopefully last) pastoral ecumenical council, the laity is waking up.

    Arius and Luther were clerics so these German priests are nothing new. The Enemy seeks out people in leadership roles so we must pray for them. Some will leave and formally start their own “churches”. This is very sad but better to be open and honest than continue to deceive from within.

  7. poohbear says:

    You almost get the sense that a huge shortage of priests would be less bad than having priests like those guys.

    This was my thought even before I got to this point in your post. Something has to be done. I think it would be better to ‘fire’ all of the dissenters worldwide and face the shortage and at least have a Church that is standing together instead of tearing itself apart from the inside. This would also have the benefit of people seeing and hearing what the true teachings are and then deciding for themselves if they want to stay or go. So many people have no clue what the Church teaches, yet they go to Mass and Communion weekly. Stories like this make me sad for the people who are being encouraged to sin by their own priests, and for those priests also. I will offer my Communion today for these priests and their bishop.

  8. Deacon Nathan Allen says:

    salus animarum suprema lex — could someone please explain how it can be good for the souls of these folks to aid and abet them in making sacrilegous communions?

  9. robtbrown says:

    Marcus is right. And the document from the German Episcopal province was followed by a response from the SCDF that said marriage is a a matter of external forum, not to be dissolved or annulled by internal forum (conscience). If memory serves, there was then a German response that generally said: Well, you’ve got your way of doing things. We have ours.

    My GUESS is that it is not uncommon in the US that priests tell people in this situation to resolve the matter in their own consciences.

    This confusion of external and internal acts in assessing the morality of a human act is found in Karl Rahner (cf. the fundamental option) and woven through much of German theology.

    NB: Karl Lehmann was for three years a research assistant under Rahner.

  10. Marcus der mit dem C says:


    Walter Kasper was assistant to Hans Küng before he habilitated and in the years 1993 to 2001 he published the third edition of “Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche”, the second edition was made by Rahner and his minion Vorgrimler.

  11. Marine Mom says:

    Sister Teresia Benedicta a Cruce, Sister Teresa, Blessed of the Cross. In 1938 she wrote: “I understood the cross as the destiny of God’s people, which was beginning to be apparent at the time. (1933) I felt that those who understood the Cross of Christ should take it upon themselves on everybody’s behalf…………

  12. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Phil_NL, no, the German tendency for going deep into it is of course not deplorable. :-) After all, there really is nothing between breaking the rules and following them; if somebody honestly feels in conscience to be allowed or obliged to break them, it is natural for him to want these rules, which he himself holds not to be rules, to get lost and never bother anyone anymore. The Germans surely cannot be accused of following that perhaps, they are less inclined to go for a mid-way, given this mid-way contains a contradiction-in-itself.

    And here, indeed, we come to the point of the problem. But before I give in to the temptation to give my two cents about it, I’ll dwell a bit on this one…

    If these priests would do the same as priests around the globe, namely not enquiring after the civil maritial status, it would at least have the benefit that the rule as such would remain clear.
    No it would not. It would of necessity give the Church, openly in the eyes of the unbelievers, hidden behind some curtains of goodwill, compassion and but-after-all-she’s-still-my-Church in the eyes of the believers, the image of supreme hypocrisy, incredibility and not-practising-what-preeching. Because for a German, preaching “no admission to Holy Communion for remarried divorcees” equals without intermediate to practising “as far as possible hindering remarried divorcees from receiving Holy Communion”. In this again I admit we’re leaving a step out, but in the end we’re right: the marriage status is public, and although noone wants to check some marital status certificates, in the end “anyone who does approach does on his own responsibility” may be true insofar as it is trivial, but cannot credibly be presented as any part of solution.

    I said something about the point of the problem; now here’s that and I’m inclined to think that speechlessness is a huge part of it. There are some moral rules that are, to use that ugly word now mostly used about politicians the press wants to make resign, inconveyable. Now it is very important to see that it is not all of them; on the whole, we’re even rather suffering from people who always want to put up new moral or also legal rules. (One point for the stereotype: tell Germans that the farther implications of the 6th Commandment are void, and they’ll start to make a sin out of taking a flight, for sheer lack of moral duties as it seems.) Also, at present there is not only no movement of “mercy” (in the memorandum sense) when it concerns, say, theft, but not even for adultery (unless the respective marriages are divorced). And my theory is that this is not really because adultery is so easy to avoid, but because it is easy to understand that it is wrong.

    I wonder whether this can be solved without finding answers. Of course it may be quite true to say with dear @Phil that “we know best” is the essence of the origins of schism, but I doubt anything will be fruitful in the end but to correct the mistaken knowledge. It only could ever be an ascetic or military exercise to plant little trees upside-down because the abbot or captain has said so; outside a necessity when time is important, nothing is more conducive to obedience than explanation of the order.

    And here we are: the Lord, unmistakably, forbids remarriage after divorce. (The attempts to go for a “more biblical” and “more like the Gospel” solution which exist are, after all, comical. But they do not speak a real exegetical problem; they are just phrases into which desires stemming from other motives are put.) Hence, the faithful (at any rate, the German faithful) are split in two parties: 1.) the one, let us call them the orthodox, who say (though perhaps not loudly): “that was quite hard of the Lord”, 2.) the one, let us call them for convenience’s sake the progressists, who say: “that is so hard that it cannot possibly have been from the Lord”. May I also say that the usual rebuke by the orthodox who often enough, with a grim pleasure or so it seems, say, “Christian life is not supposed to be easy” and things similar is neither helpful.
    I’m convinced that the answer must be, “Because it is from the Lord, it either is not hard, or is inevitable for the things that we actually really want.”

    But the Respondeo and Reply-to-objection, in the Thomistic mode of enquiry, is not really done so far as I see (the plainly clear teaching of the Church is the “sed contra”). There would be a bunch of arguments in Chesterton’s The Superstition of Divorce. And in fact, it is from an author quite critical of the Church that we have the perhaps most impressive work of propaganda for the lifelong marriage bond, viz., Lottie and Lisa by Erich Kästner.

    Of course, both that while much can be done with the personal expression of love, etc., some appeal to the common good at least must be made to make the proof a proof (I guess), and the concept of the common good has some bad reputation in Germany which stems from its mentioning in the NSDAP party program (no. 24). Also, to obey a moral command to really miss out in life (which is the case with one whose marriage was a failure, whose spouse will not agree to a new trial, and who cannot remarry), even for the sake of some good, seems practically only feasible with the eternal reward in one’s eyes; which concept the contemporary way of preaching religion has not really treated best… And we can only believe in an eternal reward if we also believe in resurrection of the flesh without any „image-for-something-undescribable“, a belief that also has suffered…

    The orthodox, in Germany, are saying: „Well we’re sorry but we can’t change what the Lord has ordered.“ The progressists do not dare to assert (even in their most private thoughts) what is actually behind their position, viz.: „The Lord was too hard, let us change what the Lord has ordered.“ The „resolve in your own conscience“ attitude (as dear @robtbrown has called it) never could mean anything but that a progressist makes a flight from responsibility; it was bound to go the way of all flesh and seems to have done so.

    Unfortunately, that we „have no simple solutions“, as the Holy Father has put it, is to a little degree part of the problem. Complex solutions cannot really be understood. After all, the number of times when a solution of St. Thomas in the Summa theologica really is not a simple solution (though perhaps one taking time to understand) amounts to a handful or so.

    However, the solutions could be simple. „Dump your new partner“ is a simple solution. „Consider yourself outside of conscious moral sin exceptionally for such and such a reason“ (and it raises huge suspicion against progressists that with all their talk about the decision in conscience, they usually refuse to do casuistry) „but for respect of the marriage bond and the common good stay away from Holy Communion“ is a simple solution. (I do not know whether the first part of the second actually could be the case.)

    Sorry for the length.

  13. NoTambourines says:

    What a slap in the face it is to Catholics who have made the hard decisions to do the right thing after they found themselves in that situation.

    And this move will lead more people to take the easy way out, reasoning, “Well, they say it’s okay now…” Not to mention those who do what they please figuring the Church will eventually “catch up” to their way of thinking.

    The clergy who are rebelling along these lines have made divorce and remarriage easier, and are helping to create conditions for more of it.

  14. Already some twenty years ago there were already dozens of notes from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, most of them aimed at the U.S.A., indicating that “internal forum solutions” for the divorced and remarried are illegitimate.

    I meet up with this private-solves-public idiocy stemming from the Reformation on a frequent basis anywhere I happen to be in this little world.

    The scream of “priest shortage” is a total lie. We don’t ever need just more priests. We need holy priests. Bad priests do horrific damage. Just one good priest can do so much good. People can find transportation to good parishes in these modern times. Apply medicinal penalties to the bad priests.

    Our Lord’s command not to pluck up the weeds lest one rips up the wheat referred only to that kind of weed that looks exactly like the wheat but is instead poisonous. If they are just weak, let them alone. But if they don’t at all look like the wheat, showing themselves for who they are in all revolt, pull them up.

    Good priests inspire a multitude of vocations. Support them.

    Bad priests suffocate vocations. Don’t support them.

    We have to be in solidarity with good priests to the point of removing the bad ones.

  15. robtbrown says:

    Marcus der mit dem C says:

    Walter Kasper was assistant to Hans Küng before he habilitated and in the years 1993 to 2001 he published the third edition of “Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche”, the second edition was made by Rahner and his minion Vorgrimler.

    I read two of his books, Jesus the Christ and the God of Jesus Christ. Neither was very good, but the latter was less bad. Although I don’t think much of his theology, Kasper has done little damage. And Küng’s influence was limited. The master destroyers of Catholic life were Karl Rahner and Edward Schillebeeckx.

  16. Imrahil says:

    As a matter of fact, if celibacy didn’t exist it should have been invented.


    you don’t renounce of a wife just for the sake of working in the Church. You also need to feel that an important couple of the things the Church teaches and prescribes, among which hot spots, speaking practically, is celibacy, makes sense.

    By the way, while on an objective side they may be bad priests, their intentions are not; it is not so simple as that.

    That, of course is not saying “things are fine because they have somehow good intentions after all”. On the contrary, it’s still more troubling.

  17. heway says:

    Agree with RobtBrown – “My GUESS is that it is not uncommon in the US that priests tell people in this situation to resolve the matter in their own consciences. ”
    ‘Resolving the matter in your own conscience’ is exactly what the contraception problem is all about. One thing leads to another, like crabgrass.

  18. Hidden One says:

    “God’s plan is based on the lifelong fidelity of a man and a woman consecrated by the marriage covenant and accepting of God’s gift of new life…How much the men and women of our time need to reappropriate this fundamental truth, which stands at the foundation of society, and how important is the witness of married couples for the formation of sound consciences and the building of a civilization of love[!]”
    — Pope Benedict XVI

  19. jbas says:

    I’m wondering if bad seminary formation really is to blame here. I and many of my generation had poor formation (’80’s and ’90’s USA seminaries), but did our best to remain true to Tradition. At the same time, it always struck me that many of our priest-professors received their seminary formation before the start of all the nonsense. I know some seminarians are more naive than others, but I suspect this all has more to do with the Devil and willing cooperation with his lies than anything else.
    At any rate, the pope and bishops do need to get to the bottom of the cause so they can undo the damage. And since interdiction is a legitimate method of preserving Tradition, maybe the time for it’s use on a large scale is near. A few temporal consequences may help prevent a few eternal ones.

  20. akp1 says:

    I wish priests would speak about this more openly. Week after week, sometimes daily, I can see remarried or cohabiting Catholics receiving Holy Communion. I cannot judge, there may be reasons I am not aware of, but occasionally I will be told their story by one of them, then there is no doubt. I know of one person who goes to daily Mass and does not receive because he is divorced and remarried. I admire his courage immensely. I know we are all sinners and unworthy, but most of us can go to confession and return to the Sacrament, I know my own story and how good the Lord has been to me, so I do not feel that I can be the one to criticise but I just wish our priests/Bishop would actually make a point of teaching how harmful it will be to receive in that state.

  21. Phil_NL says:


    I think your starting point is wrong. It would be the right way to try to change the rules if one honestly in conscience believed these rules to be wrong, but there’s the rub: as it pertains the definition of sin, any well-formed consience cannot reach such a conclusion. At best an ill-formed one can try to redefine sin (quite human to do so, but that doesnt make it right), but as that boils down to God’s rules and not man’s, that’s just as futile. Attempting to ‘change’ these rules is therefore rebellion against proper authority, or against God, with the former being the kinder way to interpret it. Is therefore altogether non-natural.

    As for the contradiction: Because for a German, preaching “no admission to Holy Communion for remarried divorcees” equals without intermediate to practising “as far as possible hindering remarried divorcees from receiving Holy Communion”.
    Apart from that we’re back at German thoroughness here, let’s follow that to its logical conclusion: then a parish priest would in fact (have to!) make active investigations not just of marriage certificates, but also of cohabitation and catholics who rent a hotel room for lunch… Apart from the fact that isn’t going to happen, the fallout from such an approach would be far worse than any charge op hypocrisy (which, by the way, is slammed in the face of the Church for any and no reason whatsoever already).

    My conclusion is therefore that humanly, some turning-a-blind-eye and leaving it to the consciences of the parishioners involved will be inevitable. That’s bad enough, but making this public not with the aim to correct it, but to institutionalise it and ultimately substitute one’s own version of morality is making a bad situation far worse.

    I do agree with you that a proper solution to the problem seems out of reach, save for conversions of those concerned.

  22. Gail F says:

    robtbrown wrote: “The master destroyers of Catholic life were Karl Rahner and Edward Schillebeeckx.” I had to read a book by Schillebeeckx, “Christ the Sacrament of Something or Other.” It was the first time I really understood the need for the old Index of Forbidden Books. That book had some really beautiful, profound things about Christ in it. But I had warning bells going on off big-time as I read it, because so much of what he said could easily, easily, EASILY be read the wrong way and a reader could quickly take it to very dangerous conclusions. I also had to read Vorgrimler’s book on the Sacraments (whoever wrote “Rahner and his minion Vorgrimler” cracked me up!!) and at least it was far easier to see when that book was wrong. Theology is inherently dangerous. It is not always easy for a theologian excited by an idea to see that it’s wrong, or to see that someone else could go wrong with it. Personally, I thought that Schilebeeckx book should never be read by anyone who didn’t already have a good grounding in Christology and Sacramental Theology. But it made it very easy to see how we got in the mess we’re in today.

  23. Pastor Bonus says:

    Contined: pending a professio fidei, including reminding them they are bound to uphold the canonical and liturgical discipline of the Church. There will be an outcry, a shortage, so be it. Pope Benedict has already taught us the true Church will be leaner. If the Ordinary fails to act in this way the Holy See must intervene. It is important not only for this issue but if a blind eye is turned here there will be something else to follow it you can be sure. They are right about one thing though, te salvation of souls is the highest law, which is all the more reason to adhere to the Church and not their interpretation of her teaching as if that can save anyone. What these priests don’t care about of course in their actions is how hard it makes for the rest of us to be faithful to the Church, when these priests will bend any rule to seem ‘pastoral.’ this is of course if you concede the point that there is opposition between truth and charity. Bottom line, the Archbishop must act to restore orthodoxy in his diocese or Rome must do it for him, then remote him.

  24. Burke says:

    First the magisterium of nuns, now the magisterium of Freiburg priests …

  25. Unaddressed scandal is far more damaging to the Body of Christ than a temporary shortage of priests.

    These priests have declared, in writing, that they are not in full communion with the Church and should be acknowledged through immediate suspensions. Such an action could turn a sad episode into an opportunity for catechesis, particularly for those who have been most harmed by this scandal.

  26. Aegidius says:

    I am fully aware why many readers of this blog share prejudices against Germany in various degrees – and being a German myself I feel ashamed of all those German destroyers of the faith since the 16th century. I would nevertheless like to add that it might as well be a fruit of our Holy Father’s “German tendency for going deep into it” in terms of love for His church, for truth, and for Our Lord, that Benedict XVI, indeed, is the Pope of Christian Unity.

  27. St. Rafael says:

    The problem of the Church for the past four decades has been a lack of discipline. Without discipline there is disorder and rebellion. There can be no charity without discipline. Discipline begins at the top and we have had a string of weak Popes for decades. The Church needs a principal and no one wants to play the part. The Popes have tried being teachers, but without a principal, administrator, and governance, it is all for nothing. The disese, cancer, and dissent spreads.

    What does one do in the face of rebelllion? One brings the hammer down. It’s called punishment. There must be suspensions and excommunications. Excommunication has always been one the Church’s most effective weapon to teach and correct. It’s an act of mercy to save a man’s soul. Heresy can never ever be tolerated. It’s a disease that completely destroys. Kill it or it kills you. That has been the history of Modernism for the last 150+ years. St. Pius X tried to kill Modernism but only succuceded in driving it underground. It came back with such a force that it has almost killed the Church. Apostasy reigns everywhere today. There is not a single Pope or bishop that hasn’t been affected by Modernism to some degree or another since the 1960’s.

  28. CatholicMD says:

    St. Rafael – I agree completely. I have come more and more to understand Liberalism/Modernism as a virus that has spread to almost all corners of the Church. It has come time for a purification. I’m not sure if what we are witnessing currently is preparation for a looming battle between the Faithful members of the Church and the Liberals or if it is the loud, violent death scream of the “Spirit of Vatican II” crowd. I pray it is the later. Kyrie eleison.

  29. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Phil_NL,

    thank you for your kind answer! The “German thoroughness” (thanks for the vocabulary help) was what I wanted to describe is somewhat both, to a degree, necessary, and unreproachable. You cannot make up rules and then reproach Germans for holding them; nor can you abolish rules and then reproach Germans for ruleless behaviour.

    In fact, I’d believe a parish priest has pretty much knowledge about who is married and how often, and about who cohabitates. Perhaps not accurately as to how Germans feel about it (due to my bias), but truly about what I think should be done, I put in an “as far as possible” into the hindering part. I do not figure the parish priest must investigate much; if he sincerely makes clear that people in that and that condition should not approach Holy Communion, and that he really wants that and does not merely fulfil orders (an important point), and that he will refuse anybody he knows to be in such state, and will not wilfully close the eyes for the sake of not knowing, then he need not investigate much. The looks of the churchbench neighbors will do the rest on their own.

    In so far as this doesn’t suffice, I’m of course with you that the consciences of the parishioners must be decisive. Only I do guess in such an atmosphere it would indeed be the consciences, and not the that-can’t-all-be-really-so-bad-and-after-alls which falsely claim this name.

    This is not about the definition of sin, not even among the progressists. There are plurious definitions of sin (I go for “offending God”), but it is not about this. It is about what constitutes sin. And in so far, while you are quite right that any well-formed consience cannot reach such a conclusion, these consciences are not well-formed and sincerely believe that adultery is wrong but marriages are soluble.

    And if that were so and the Church taught as she does teach differently, of course it would be natural to want to make her change her views. If as it happens at present around here, any orthodox preachers of morality (and as to progressists, as long as somebody says to me “that is to your conscience”, he spoils arguing with him) put into their sermons a sort of tendency of disliking fun because it makes fun (while of course not saying that it is evil, I mean the “of course, I guess it makes **fun** watching soccer; it’s all about fun these days, isn’t it” and the like), or – if I take “preachers of morality” metaphorically and speak of pious laymen only, when taking position – also newer technologies and modern science, of course I would like them to change these attitudes.

    Now if you say that we know God’s morality is this and they say that, of course it stands true that they want to put man’s rule in place of God’s. But that takes for granted a certain belief in concrete revelation and inspiration which we cannot presume in them – in so far we might say they need conversion, though I presume this condition to be without direct blame, and think they are to be counted among the faithful; and second, which of itself cannot evade to paint Faith as a toilsome, depressing activity – in so far will not make conversion easier. It is true, however – and a point that theoretically evade these difficulties – that most orders and especially the most toilsome follow from the natures of the things they are concerned with. Sometimes this is easy, which is why there is so little dispute about murdering of one unwilling to be murdered*, adultery (of undivorced marriages), or breach of trust for the sake of material gains. [*Abortion is the one heinous counterexample, which stems from a couple of reasons for which there is no place here. But still, in the case of abortion, there is the feeling of its sinfulness around, though it might be covered up on purpose; remarriages after divorce are not felt as sinful.]

    Now the thing that I was about was not, actually, conversion, but that this is sometimes not so easy, but nevertheless possible. And this thought should be made known. Obedience, even obedience to God, is easier to find when the reason of the thing ordered is explained. And the answer sometimes heard “then it doesn’t seem to be obedience” is best left to confessors, theoretical disputes about the nature of obedience, and monasteries…

    Which is why – and as already before, I experience that being lengthy often comes from not having thought enough, because now I can put it shortly. However, I take reference to the basic structure of the Summa theologica and other works, because it is shortest that way:

    The people have heard the Objections and Sed-Contras enough. They must be given the Respondeos; they so desperately need them.

  30. ContraMundum says:

    @St. Raphael

    I agree that lack of discipline has been a problem, but I mostly blame the local bishops, not the popes. These problems need to be handled at the local level; very few of them should be reaching the pope at all.

    Also, although excommunications have their place, I can’t think of a single heresy that has been eradicated by excommunications. Can you? On the other hand, I can think of several times where excommunications, however well-justified, appear to have helped prolong schisms. This includes both the great schism of the Orthodox Churches and the schism of SSPX; although the latter appears to be on the verge of being healed, it’s hard to believe this would be possible if the excommunications had not been rescinded.

    We should really give thanks to God that we do not have to make such decisions.

  31. jacobi says:

    If divorcees are living a married life, then they are, objectively speaking and subject to the mercy of God, in a state of mortal sin. If the priests know this and administer Holy Communion, then the priests are complicit in mortal sin and may well be, given their priestly responsibilities, committing sacrilege, (Catechism 2120).

    The Pope has called for us to accept and care for divorcees, but he has also emphasised that they cannot receive absolution and Holy Communion.

    There is a simple solution for such couples. Celibacy, while maintaining a close and supportive relationship.
    They can then attend Mass and receive the succour and grace of Our Lord in their predicament. If they are afraid that they will be seen to be the only ones not receiving, they, and others, should remember that the Church requires us to receive Communion only once a year – not at every Mass, as now seems to be understood.

    Celibacy is not all that unusual after all, priests and religious, married bereaved, some sick or disabled, prolonged separation and so on. Lots of people are or have to endure celibacy – not just the divorced and would-be remarried!

    p.s. Sorry about preaching as a layman, but so many of our pastors seem reluctant to do so, Fr Z being a rare exception!

  32. Also, although excommunications have their place, I can’t think of a single heresy that has been eradicated by excommunications. Can you?

    That excommunication will not eradicate a heresy is no reason not to do it. There are other purposes to be served.

  33. Justalurkingfool says:

    Is this really a surprise or unexpected? Not for me.

    I am one of those “who have done the right thing”, as No Tamborines mentioned earlier. When I asked for help from the Church to save our marriage, twenty four years ago while my wife and I were still together, no one would help. Once my wife had found a lover she had no difficulty finding priestly and bishop support for our divorce and to seek nullity. Everyone who reads catholic blogs is familiar with my story. In short, our marriage is valid but still, no priest or bishop will stand by it to work to heal it, even in the face of the evidence present in the Church of the complicity of named priests in the destruction of it. Every bishop where I have lived and where my wife and her lover have lived and every priest with authority over them, has ignored or refused my pleas to work to try to heal this valid marriage. Every cleric. Everyone. This is since 1989.

    One priest who knows, intimately, our circumstances, at least as they existed when he sat on the Roman Rota and his tribunal reversed the American Tribunal decision for nullity, Monsignor Cormac Burke, knows of my unending attempts to heal our broken marriage and recently wrote the following to me:

    “Don’t waste your sufferings, If you offer them up, heaven will be opened to you as soon as you die. I keep you constantly in my prayers. Please keep me in yours.”

    I told him, in part:

    “I try, when I have my wits about me, to do just as you advise. But it does not mitigate the impact of what happens. I pray more now than I ever have and I do try to offer up my trial, but ever more seems to be being asked, from a man who is ill-equipped to take on more.”

    Since I know and have known many men and women, at present and through the years since my personal marital trials went to critical mass whose situations and experiences, in many ways, mirror those I faced and continue to face, I know that there is turmoil in the Catholic Church, so critically wrong, that little has changed for those facing what I faced in 1989. My heart breaks for what, if the hardness of the hearts of all those involved are not induced through the formal or informal actions of the Church to move toward reconciliation, I know awaits those who have been or are presently being abandoned via divorce and especially in the nullity proceedings which often follow.

    This should not be about the priests. It should be about the marriages involved. The priests are secondary to those who present themselves for the Eucharist. I do not see the priests as substantially different than those who are suborning their insurrection. My wife and her lover did the same until I threatened a sitting bishop with action in Rome. Still, there is no support for our marriages. The Pope himself mentions these poor divorced and remarried souls and the burden they face (which is a choice they have made when they chose to marry civilly) but he never mentions those who have gone to the wall to defend their marriages. I have read his ruminations a few different times over these poor souls but he has turned his back on my personal appeals to him, to intervene in our valid marriage. It seems to the Holy Father, the hardship of our persecutors or those among us who have been abandoned and who have succumbed to loneliness, is much more worthy of compassion than our valid marriages or our own suffering that our faithfulness has rewarded us with.

    Unless Rome radically changes its practices, which is not at all reflected in the things Benedict has said in public that I am aware of, the Church is abandoning those of us who suffer greatly on behalf of our valid marriages.

    In her letter to letter to Pope Gregory XI, in Avignon, well over 600 years ago, St. Catherine of Sienna told His Holiness;

    Those who are in authority, I say, do evil when holy justice dies in them because of their selfish self-centeredness and their fear of incurring the displeasure of others! They see those under them sinning but it seems they pretend not to see and do not correct them.

    And if they do correct, they do it so feebly and halfheartedly that it is worthless, only a plaster over the vice. They are forever afraid of offending and making enemies and all this because of self-love. Sometimes it’s just that they would like to keep peace, and this, I tell you, is the worst cruelty one can inflict. If a sore is not cauterized or excised when necessary, but only ointment is applied, not only will it not heal, but it will infect the whole [body], often fatally.

    THIS IS A FAR WORSE SCANDAL than what these priests have done and others will do.

    Bishop Burbidge, why do you not help me defend our marriage?

    Cardinal Dolan, why do you not help me defend our marriage?

    Cardinal Raymond Burke, why do you not help me defend our marriage?

    Why has the Catholic Church forsaken us and our children and the marriages we defend, everyday with our faithfulness? Benedict, how long will you continue to ignore us? I will continue to implore the Church for help until my last breath and I will continue to pray for her and offer up my agony at being ignored by both my Bride and the Bride of Christ!

    It is not about the priests; it is about our marriages!


  34. ContraMundum says:

    @Miss Anita Moore,

    I agree that there are other reasons to excommunicate, but when St. Rafael called for more excommunications because “Excommunication has always been one the Church’s most effective weapon to teach and correct,” the question of whether excommunications actually eradicate heresy becomes relevant.

  35. BillyHW says:

    Why am I frightened whenever a bishop uses the word “pastoral”.

  36. jesusthroughmary says:

    Many others have said it far better than I can, but I just don’t believe that these priests really believe that they are acting out of pastoral charity by lying to people and telling them that their sacrilegious communions are beneficial to their immortal souls. These priests MUST know that these communions are of absolutely no benefit to anyone spiritually, and so to speed these poor wayward souls down the path to Hell to make a political point will cost these wolves in shepherd’s clothing their own souls as well.

  37. Imrahil says:

    Now this is, for a change, not any opinion of mine; just some food for thought.

    Celibacy, while maintaining a close and supportive relationship.

    as dear @jacobi suggested: in the old times, that would have been called proximate occasion of grave sin, and confessors would have been advised to withhold absolution until the partner is thrown out of the house.

  38. Mrs. O says:

    How is this different than here, when they are asked to attend another parish with their new spouse? We assume they are waiting for annulments. Even here, it was common for priests to allow the new spouse to come into the church / full communion.

  39. Kathleen10 says:

    This is scandalizing. I’m not in Germany, I’m in the U.S., but to me it is personally scandalizing.
    As a member of the laity, I’ll speak for myself. It is very confusing to observe such practices and to know they are outside of the teaching of our Catholic faith. To witness such brazen defiance by priests? It would be more than confusing, I would be rather frightened and upset, truthfully. When priests or bishops take it upon themselves to blatantly re-write Catholic practices…chaos will reign. How could it not?
    Again I come back to our Holy Father’s comment after he was elected Pope. He said our church may “be smaller” at some point. If we become “smaller” by removing dissidents and heretics, including those who want to remake the Catholic church in their image, or to retain parish enrollment or even to get higher ratings in the parish polls, so be it.
    I would much prefer a hard-line approach in matters such as this, were anyone to ask my personal opinion. To allow such flagrant flouting in matters of faith and practice makes me immediately look for the expected correction, in order to set things right. When there is no correction, a “minor” matter of a localized matter becomes larger, affecting more and more people, and of course we all know, imitators are also observing and waiting. We have apparently so many people who are dying to alter the church to something few of us would recognize. Once the door is opened, it seems very hard to shut them out! They ram the door. They climb the ladders. They swim the moat. When they do manage to get a foot in, we need to stomp on it and shut the door, then lock it.

  40. Cathy says:

    Reminiscent of 1968? In as much as such an open mission of defiance is proposed, how does this impact the fraternity of the priests? What impact does this have on a seminarian discerning the priesthood when the Archbishop would head such a campaign – go along to get along? What impact does this have on the fraternity of Bishops when this man is their president? Call me simple, but I would begin with dealing with the man in the highest office, the Archbishop himself.

  41. Tantum Ergo says:

    In the business world, it is not uncommon to “clean house” when widespread rebellion festers. Sure, it’s difficult to get things back on track, but they usually DO get back on track, and with staff who are “on board.” Would it “hurt” the community to give these priests their walking papers? Sure, but remember that St. Augustine said that the physician doesn’t stop sawing just because the patient is screaming for him to quit. Then there’s the question of the bishops…

  42. Norah says:

    There could be some confusion here. The problem is not with divorced people receiving Holy Communion; the problem is with divorced people who have civilly remarried receiving Holy Communion.

    I wonder if some of the problem lies in the devaluing of The Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament? A priest who truly believed and a divorced civilly remarried person who truly believed just couldn’t bring themselves to attempt to receive the Blessed Sacrament.

  43. Geoffrey says:

    “Pray, hope, and don’t worry” (St Pio of Pietrelcina).

  44. Ambrose Jnr says:

    Isn’t the key problem that these German priests have lost sight of the last things? If you believe everyone will go to heaven anyway, why not be courteous and in favour of harmony by welcoming the remarried divorcees…here is the crux of the problem, I think.

    Losing sight of the supernatural, church just becomes a social club, over which the priest presides…that’s also why the sacrificial meaning of the mass is so repugnant to liberals…it reminds them that they may be held to account one day…

  45. Imrahil says:

    No, dear @Norah, while the faith in the Real Presence does have suffered (though, interestingly, not among the priests, not even among the progressists, so far as I see), these movements are independent, and faith in the Real Presence is not behind them.

    If they, on the other hand, truly did not believe, they would not even care whether they can receive Holy Communion. You seem to assume that, faced with the miraculous reality, they’d see their sin (which they knew all along subconsciously, I guess) and do what is right. The contrary is true: They do not see their sin as sin. (I mean the ongoing cohabitation; they could be brought to see the divorce and its causes as sins.) Those of them who truly believe, want to receive Holy Communion even more, as long as this second point is as it is.

  46. Imrahil says:

    movements are independent, and *lack of* faith.


  47. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Ambrose Jnr, while I (because of some verses in Scripture) don’t believe that everyone will go to Heaven anyway, it is indeed crucial to answer the question

    supposing arguendo everyone will go to heaven, why not be courteous and in favour of harmony by welcoming the remarried divorcees?

    and not as a rhetorical one. For the Supernatural, much as it is true that it has a bit been lost of sight*, does not pertain mainly or primarily to the fact that some will be damned to Hell.

    [*Ex-General Secretary Ex-Seminarian Heiner Geißler (CDU) said in an interview about the Pope’s pastoral visit: “I hope that the Pope does not talk so much about God – about Whom he also does not really know that He exists, after all – but rather says something about how to apply the general principles set out by Jesus into practical politics.” I seldom have seen such a clear phrase marking what the much-mentioned loss of the Supernatural.]

  48. jacobi says:

    Re my earlier comment suggesting celibacy as a simple solution for the divorced and re-married.

    I’ve just been reminded of an even larger category who are required to be celibate, namely, all the unmarried!

  49. jesusthroughmary says:

    “A priest who truly believed and a divorced civilly remarried person who truly believed just couldn’t bring themselves to attempt to receive the Blessed Sacrament.”

    A divorced person who truly believed wouldn’t get civilly remarried. That’s the elephant in the room. Of course, there are always people who, by God’s grace, convert after the civil “marriage”, but again, if you truly believe in the Blessed Sacrament and in the authority of the Church over the matters of salvation, you would not persist in an objectively sinful state once you know it to be such. You would, quite simply, end the civil marriage, or at least immediately remove yourself from it temporarily if you are awaiting a declaration of nullity. There is no way around it.

  50. WurdeSmythe says:

    After nine years of marriage, my wife gave up her Catholic Faith to, as she put it, “worship God in A.A.” She divorced me soon after because she didn’t like the practicing Catholic reminder. That was a dozen years ago, during which time I’ve kept my marriage vow and lived a celibate life. Will somebody please explain to me why that is too much to ask of a chap?

  51. St. Epaphras says:

    What to do? I am reminded of what a “black bumper” [very conservative but not horse-and-buggy] Mennonite bishop told my husband, with much energy and evident satisfaction, concerning dissenters and the disobedient in their group. “We expel ’em!!”

  52. Johnno says:

    “The path to hell is paved with good intentions.”

    The Church needs discipline. For too long it has been a bad parent with disobedient and rebellious children that it refuses to punish because the liberals of the day, those ever so knowledgeable intellectuals of our worthless times, have reinforced against the Bible’s teachings that ‘rods’ are abusive and we must use non-judgmental comforting words. Most of these ideals are common in the West, and the third world laughs their butts off which leads to such stereotypes that ‘white parents raise undisciplined children and don’t punish but spoil them and reward them for trivialities and wrong-doing.’

    The Church has for too long fallen for this mistaken ideology. There’s ‘abuse’ and then there’s needing to properly discipline your children. No children are alike. Some need more reinforcement than others. The molly-coddling way of raising kids and treating people is a sad reflection of human stupidity and good intentions leading us to do more harm than good.

  53. Brad says:

    Ambrose Jr wrote:

    “Losing sight of the supernatural, church just becomes a social club, over which the priest presides…that’s also why the sacrificial meaning of the mass is so repugnant to liberals…it reminds them that they may be held to account one day…”

    I agree, and to put a finer point on it: not only that they may be held to account one day, personally, but simply that there was a Redemption that had to have taken place on planet earth, i.e. all of “simple” history is really all of salvation history: God has been with us (Emmanuel!) since Adam:

    “…and in the desert. There you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a father carries his little son, all the way you went until you reached this place.”

    The debt was horrible and thus the Spotless Lamb who came to pay it for us, not for Himself, is so admirable. The cold heart pays Him back with either crumbs or with nothing at all. See His words to St. Faustina re. that:

    “Behold the Heart which has so loved men that it has spared nothing, even to exhausting and consuming Itself, in order to testify Its love; and in return, I receive from the greater part only ingratitude, by their irreverence and sacrilege, and by the coldness and contempt they have for Me…”

    On the topic of why everyone, meaning unrepentant sinners as well as repentant sinners, cannot go to heaven, the best treatment I have encountered on this topic is in:

    Heaven cannot be heaven if hell does not exist.

    Otherwise, I would like to agree with jesusthroughtmary that lack of faith is the elephant in the room regarding non-annulled remarriage. It is every man’s choice to sin or not. Every time I hear a call to the effect on, say, Catholic Answers Live, when the show’s guest tells someone who is living in sin that he must live as his un-spouse’s brother, I can hear him literally mentally check out. The mind and the souls simply chooses not to hear what they do not want to hear. There is no sense of renunciation anymore. I will have everything that I want and will have it all, every last bit. I will have that sex. Full stop.

    Against that I utterly applaud WurdeSmythe. I know a man like him in my parish (not I, I mean). I am celibate because I am lay single and have no other recourse. May God give us the strength in faith to continue! No doubt these men will become saints at this rate. Please remember me if you do! :-)

  54. thefeds says:

    As Fr. Z has reminded us so many times, these Priest are slowly but surely hitting retirement age, and being replaced by younger, holy,traditional-minded priest who are more interested in caring for the eternal souls of these divorced and confused people. Their present pastors, it seems, are far too interested in being popular! Pray for everyone involved there.

  55. Michelle F says:

    I have said it before, and I will say it again: I would rather be able to go to Mass only once or a few times a year and KNOW that the priest who comes to say Mass is faithful than have dozens of convenient Masses said by heretics or disobedient upstarts.

    Not only would the Faithful and non-Catholics be protected if the heretical and disobedient priests were removed, the priests might wake up and mend their ways.

  56. wmeyer says:

    thefeds: Too slowly, too slowly. And bishops are replaced even more slowly.

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