Sr. Joan’s Honey-Do List for the Synod

Over at the Fishwrap, good ol’ Sr. Joan Chittister, who hasn’t been seen anywhere near the ISIS conflict in Iraq (remember her triumph in Tahir), as posted about the dynamic movement sparked by the meeting of the Ass. of Catholic Priests!

Apparently the Ass., average age 69, and the sol-called Catholic Church Reform International (like the Council of Elders?), “are taking the pope seriously.”

Sr. Joan is inspired by the Ass.’s and CCRI agenda to influence the upcoming Synod!

To wit:

They are asking the synod to do four things:

1. To bless those who choose to live together in preparation for marriage [read: shack up] as well as those who form new relationships after a marriage breaks down. [read: commit adultery]

2. To say that Humanae Vitae was a mistake. [And we should force people to pay for other people’s contraception too!] They want the church to emphasize the joyfulness of marriage [and shacking up and adultery] rather than finding new things to condemn. [More sex with everyone!  With everything!] They’re looking, they say, for the church to advise couples on the values and practices that genuinely promote openness to life. They want more from the church, it seems, than just another list of sins. [No, they want the Church to abandon the very notion of sin.  They should become Anglicans.  They have a rite of baptism that doesn’t mention the Devil.]

3. To treat all people with the same respect regardless of their sexual orientation and refrain from making gender a definition of the roles and tasks of either church or society. [Why limit yourself to gender?  Abolish species-ism!]

4. To proclaim the truth that the church is expressed through the sensus fidelium, through “priests, religious, and the people learning and teaching together.” [Bishops, let out?]


This is clearly a body in motion.

You can hear them coming as the the canes clack down the hallway.

Their battle cry?  “Yesterday’s blunders, tomorrow!”

Pope Francis would approve of those bullet points?   I think not.

I’ll go take my 50+ vitamin now.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Cri de Coeur, Liberals, Magisterium of Nuns, Pò sì jiù, You must be joking! and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Andrew D says:

    Does anyone know how many vocations (if any) are in “sister” Joan’s order?

  2. TNCath says:

    Honestly, I think that the best thing for these folks who are discontent with the Church to do is leave.
    The Anglicans would welcome them with open arms. I seem to remember Hilaire Belloc saying that great heresies only last about 400 years? Sister Joan and company would be on the tail end of this one, which might give the Anglicans a few more years.

  3. Traductora says:

    “You can hear them coming as their canes clack down the hallway.”

    LOL! Well, I guess it would be funny if it weren’t so sad and pathetic, combined with anger-producing, since these ditzy Unitarian maiden aunts destroyed many a religious order and many a religious vocation in their day. Which is coming to an end, I hope…

    Clearly, specieism is next, and the maiden aunt probably thinks her kitty would make a fantastic Pope.

  4. Legisperitus says:

    The Rump of Catholic Priests should get some rubber tips for those clacking canes.

  5. NBW says:

    Perhaps Sr. Joan and her ilk could be sent out on a mission to “dialogue” with ISIS.

  6. incredulous says:

    Wow, liberals are so completely disordered. How is it that even in the church, conservatives are harshly punished for wanting order, yet leftists get away with this apostasy all the time? It makes no sense.

  7. acardnal says:

    I read Sr Joan’s story you linked to when she visited Tahrir Square in Egypt and wrote:
    “These people were organized, self-disciplined and totally nonviolent.” She must have returned to the States before the crowds started sexually assaulting women in the Square.

    Honestly, Sister needs to read the Baltimore Catechism.

  8. Joseph-Mary says:

    Wow! And to think such ones remain ‘in good standing’ but those who wish to embrace all the traditions and teachings (including the TLM) are still second class citizens in most places.

  9. pmullane says:

    Abolish species-ism?!!

    I’m sick of you closed minded knuckle dragging medieval throwbacks that think something had to be animate to be equal? Who is standing up for the rights of rocks, trees, and six foot piles of horse manure? When will they achieve ‘marriage equality’ eh eh? As a middle of the road centrist non political-no-siree liber……sorry catholic I won’t rest until I have the right to marry my same sex iphone.

  10. Nancy D. says:

    I don’t have 400 years, the souls of my beloved are at stake as we speak. It is a scandal that apostasy has been allowed to take root and grow in Christ’s Church due to the sin of omission which has lead to the sin of commission. We are living in a Time of great deception, where have they taken our Lord?

  11. downyduck says:

    I just don’t understand the rebellion against the teachings of the Church. Most people desire happiness and ordering one’s life according to Her teachings serves only to increase the likelihood of achieving that desire. Instead, choose Sr. Joan’s (the world’s) way and risk heartache, disease, damaged children, and who knows whatever other sorrows. Why are humility and obedience so derided when their fruits are so positive? Does not Sr. Joan want peace and true freedom for her brothers and sisters in Christ?

  12. Sonshine135 says:

    @Joseph-Mary and Nancy D.

    I feel the same way. What compels the Holy Father to allow this while coming down so hard on those who embrace our Sacred Tradition. It is as if not a soul was saved until the 1960s. We wonder why the young people are leaving in droves. They are turning to no religion at all. The response must get a lot tougher with these liberal groups.

  13. JustaSinner says:

    Conversation overheard at Ass of Catholic Priests meeting with Sr. Joan:
    ‘Huh, what did you say?’
    ‘Woman should be priests!’
    ‘But I am a priest….’
    ‘WOMAN should be priests!’
    ‘Huh? Can’t hear you…’
    ‘Men should be priests? But they ARE!’
    ‘Oh, never mind!’

  14. TNCath says:

    Honestly, I think that the best thing for these folks who are discontent with the Church to do is leave.
    The Anglicans would welcome them with open arms. I seem to remember Hilaire Belloc saying that great heresies only last about 400 years? Sister Joan and company would be on the tail end of this one, which might give the Anglicans a few more years.

    I’m sure you didn’t really mean to say this. Surely not? On the contrary, the “best thing” for such folks to do is convert — i.e., their hearts and minds to the truth.

    Maybe it is just me, but I recoil from ever wishing anyone leave Holy Mother Church, even in jest (although I confess wishing it in frustration). How can I wish for such a thing? What would I say to the Lord on Judgment Day, if he points out those who took my advice?

    Anticipating the objection that it might be better for them to leave than to stay as dissenters: how do I know this to be true? I do not know this to be true. What I know is that I must adhere to the truth, and obey my truth-informed conscience. For others, I will always urge them toward the truth, never away.

  15. About these suggestions…

    This reminds me of something I concluded some time back: that once Natural Law is done away with, as part of Catholic moral teaching, the only remaining criteria for a moral choice in these matters is consent. And Sister Joan’s endorsement of these agenda items confirms this.

    Consensual sex is moral sex. No other consideration seems to matter.

    Although she is too delicate (or politic) to go there, this allows for quite a bit more, and the reader can fill in the gaps. If it allows for serial adultery — i.e., one marriage after another — why does it not allow for contemporaneous adultery? If the other spouse consents, why not? What, exactly, would Sister Joan say is immoral about it? Or polygamy? Or incest? Or pornography?

    Maybe Sister Joan and others who think as they do will not find it difficult, but as a priest and confessor, imposing any burdens of sin on anyone — with a “thou shalt not” — is a hugely weighty matter indeed. Recall what our Lord said to the those who imposed heavy burdens on others, yet never lifted a finger to assist them. What would my eternal judgment be, were I discover — when I stood before the Lord — that I told people they were sinning, when they were not?

    You see my point? If you follow the logic of Sister Joan and others of her same mind, God has an “anything goes” mindset: only choice matters. If I were her, I’d need to get this right — wouldn’t I? She’s arguing for knocking down all manner of “thou shalt nots” out of justice and her notion of faithfulness to the Gospel — isn’t that what she’s doing? So…clearly…she would be in huge trouble if she, then, defended any remaining, ungospel-like “thou shalt nots” — right?

    So anyone taking her approach, it seems to me, has to work pretty hard to justify any and all prohibitions. Right?

    Natural Law lays it out. But out with Natural Law, says Sister Joan!

    So what remains…other than choice?

    This is a hugely important question. Yet I see no evidence anyone on her side takes it seriously. I’ve yet to see just what moral substrate they endorse in place of Natural Law. Again, other than choice, which they implicitly endorse, but recoil from endorsing explicitly.

    Does anyone know of anything from her camp that explicitly deals with this?

  16. MrTipsNZ says:

    Yes Sr. Joan, the ideas of this group are a bodily motion alright……….

  17. Supertradmum says:

    Think of all the students in so-called Catholic schools who had these nuns for teachers.

    The Church survived the Arians, and we shall survive the Joanians, but with a remnant. Daily in the Midwest I meet Catholics who agree with this sister 100%, sadly.

  18. jhayes says:

    They have announced that they will meet in Rome in connection with the Synod:

    “From October 2 to 3 this year CCR Int’l is hosting a two-day Forum on the Family at the home of the Caravita Community, Oratory of S. Francesco Saverio del Caravita. [That figures. Jesuit and liberal, in smug, morally superior sort of way. That’s where a lot of ex-pats used to go for their oh-so-self-conscious liturgy on Sundays. Don’t know if they still do, but I’ll wager.] We will meet, discuss, and, as our gift, deliver to the Synod the testimonies and fruits of our discernment.”

  19. Bosco says:

    Speaking of ”Yesterday’s blunders, tomorrow!”, Father Z. The Tablet has an interesting piece quoting a recent interview with the Prefect of the CDF, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, in which Cardinal Müller is quoted as declaring the main aim of Pope Francis’s pontificate is to draw the world’s attention to the poor and to change the global structures that lead to poverty,

    ‘Main aim’ indeed. Welcome to the 60s. Back to the future. Here’s the link

    Better take 2 of those 50+ vitamins, Father. You’ll need your strength for the coming October Revolution.

    [I have a different view of Card. Müller’s remarks. I think they take the wind out of Card. Rodriguez’s sails.]

  20. jhayes says:

    Does anyone know of anything from her camp that explicitly deals with this?

    CCRI has published THIS

  21. Bosco says:

    Just to be prepared and to revive those old Marxist juices, I’ve just raced to my attic and retrieved my Jefferson Airplane Woodstock recording of “Volunteers of America”. ¡Vaya lío!

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  22. Gregg the Obscure says:

    As to the delusions above:

    1. The only way that a blessing can come from concubinage or adultery is if the participants repent, so to bless folks who are currently bound by those sins, it is necessary to call them to repentance.

    2. The only mistake about Humanae Vitae was that it was soft-pedaled rather than proclaimed vigorously.

    3. (a) To constantly identify a person or group by one or more sins that they either commit or are tempted to is gravely unfair to that group. As such no Christian should be discussing any one’s “sexual orientation” in public – and only under minimal circumstances in private. (b) Redefining the priesthood is as psychotic as attempting to designate crime families as being equivalent to actual families. The issue of women as priests is not open for discussion.

    4. If one doesn’t hold to the Magisterium of the Church, it is hypocritical in the extreme to present one’s self as a suitable teacher of the Catholic faith. Chittister and those of her ilk teach things, but none of them are in any sense Catholic, humane or true.

  23. Robbie says:

    We can laugh and mock, but this crowd is on the march. As we’ve seen over the last 50 years, they don’t need the approval of the pope or bishops to make odd things happen. They just do it and no one really seems to stop them. Honestly, does anyone think a stern warning from the CDF will have any meaning with this crowd?

  24. gracie says:

    Fr. Fox,

    You said, “Maybe it’s just me, but I recoil from ever wishing anyone (to) leave Holy Mother Church . . . How can I wish for such a thing? What would I say to the Lord on judgement day, if he points out those who took my advice?”

    Jesus might thank you for doing your job:

    ” . . . if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I say to you whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven..” – Matthew 18: 17 – 18.

    With all due respect, Father, binding or loosening people from the Church is part of your job description. Your feelings in this matter, you’re wishing it were otherwise, has nothing to do with your responsibilities as a priest. You have to protect the flock from those who would lead them to their destruction.

  25. Bea says:

    “4. To proclaim the truth that the church is expressed through the sensus fidelium, through “priests, religious, and the people learning and teaching together.”

    Sister J.C. (how sad that these are her initials, maybe that’s who she thinks she is in proclaiming new rules), Now what, dare I ask, would she know of “sensus fidelium”? I’d hate to be “learning” from her if she’s the one doing the “teaching”: “together” down to h..l in a hand basket? (as we proclaim new dogmas?)

    I shudder to think anyone is still listening to her.

  26. Kerry says:

    We note the sister has not lost her faith in miracles.

  27. excalibur says:

    Robbie says:
    5 July 2014 at 3:03 pm

    We can laugh and mock, but this crowd is on the march.

    As Father Z might say, though not quite the same way, they are on a quick march to the grave. IOW, the biological solution.


    Father Z, your comments are spot on.

  28. Charlie Cahill says:

    Though their theology (as such) compares with the current Anglican/Episcopalian teachings I would not invite them to join that group. One should not, I think, invite others to leave the church.Better if they are invited to examine their belief system and consider what the church teaches.One can be assured they will get lots of press attention in October and in a Jesuit community to boot!

  29. jeffreyquick says:

    I think that Sister Joan should preach her bold vision of the Faith to ISIS. It may be her best chance at sainthood.

  30. Bosco says:

    Dear Father Z.,

    Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras is a member of ‘The Gang of 8’, that hand-picked group of advisers personally chosen by Pope Francis from the ranks of the Cardinalate pursuant to an understanding among the Cardinal Electors reached immediately preceding papal balloting. Pope Francis has said as much and it has been much reported. (See Magister’s recent posting in respect of this).

    To my way of thinking Cardinal Gerhard Müller is on the outside looking in and is trotted-out to play his ‘bad cop’ role when and as necessary. He is not above his own sua sponte humdinger pronouncements from time to time. [I don’t think that’s quite it.]

    Peace and rock on.

  31. catholiccomelately says:

    An appalling 4 suggestions…… the world’s sexual and “liberationist” agenda in mere sentences. The Lord Jesus, through his servant Paul, appeals to us (Rom. 12: 1-2) to abandon such behaviors and to cling to Him, and instead the Church is urged to embrace those actions. Sr. Joan and her ilk have become frightful indeed.

  32. Gracie:

    Thanks for your comment.

    The authority of “binding and loosing” are, I believe, given by the Lord to the Apostles, (Matthew 18), and that falls to the bishops; they are the ones, for example, who declare excommunications. Not parish priests.

    Further, even bishops, I believe, declare excommunications in hopes that people will repent–i.e., they will return to the Church.. I can’t think of any circumstance in which a bishop, or any Christian, would wish that someone would leave.

    That was my point; not that people shouldn’t be subject to discipline. That’s a red herring. Excommunication is always meant to be medicinal–i.e., aiming at healing, not amputation.

  33. Jhayes:

    Thanks! That looks like something I need to have full energy to dig into — i.e., maybe not tonight…

    But thanks! I will look at it.

  34. jhayes says:

    Fr. Fox, you might also want to look at the section on natural law in the documentum laboris for the Synod. They recognize that the statement that there is a natural law that binds everyone, even if they are not Catholic, is just not accepted by everyone – so it’s not an automatic winner to say “even if you aren’t a Catholic and don’t accept the Church’s teaching authority on this point, natural law is written in your heart and it requires you to do (or not do) this”.

  35. Bressani56 says:

    Quick question if I may …

    Why on earth would Bishop Carlson say Mass for this group? They are dissenters!!!

  36. Bressani56 says:

    * The comment above refers to Bishop Carlson offering Mass for the Association of Catholic Priests (whose average age is 65).

    My saying Mass for their assembly, he gives them visibility and a mild Imprimatur.

  37. Lutgardis says:

    Jhayes says:
    CCRI has published THIS
    That’s an interesting document.

    It starts with a strawman argument about the Church: “Many of us have felt that our Church has abandoned us pastorally. It is increasingly difficult to find a nourishing, local faith community. Families find it difficult to balance their values of love, inclusion and respect for others with the Church’s stern, punitive and exclusionary behavior. The image of the Church in the minds of our children has become distorted by the cases of abuse and by treatment of women, of those divorced and remarried, and even of religious sisters. Perceiving this as harsh and merciless and out of
    harmony with the love the Church is supposed to preach is driving our young people away. ” (page 2)

    It goes against the recent International Theological Commission document on the sensus fidei that reinforced once again that “The faithful must reflect on the teaching that has been given, making every effort to understand and accept it. Resistance, as a matter of principle, to the teaching of the magisterium is incompatible with the authentic sensus fidei.”, saying instead: “It
    is important to us, the members of Catholic Church Reform International, that we can sometimes differ from certain official Church positions and still be good Catholics, indeed that we can find new ways of applying the message of Jesus to help in making a better world.” (page 4)

    It takes a potshot at the belief that Jesus is True God and True Man, i.e. omniscient God, by “recognizing of course that we face situations today that Jesus could never imagine.” (page 4) as if there were limits to Jesus Christ’s knowledge.

    It de-emphasizes the commandment to love your God above all things as well as loving your neighbor as yourself by claiming: “Jesus summed up everything in his teaching when he said “Love one another as I have loved you.” (page 7)

    It is written with a fun and liberal use of scare quotes:
    -Young adults live together for a time; then they get married. Should the Church consider this “a sin?” (page 9)
    – Relationships do fail. And a Christ-like forgiving Church gains nothing by marginalizing couples who miss the mark, or worse, forcing these couples and their children to suffer through hateful so-called “marriages.” (page 9)

    It also takes a potshot at the idea of Scripture being divinely inspired and its interpretation by Tradition being guided by the Holy Spirit, as if instead the Bible was pieced together by the faulty recollections of Jesus’ contemporaries: “Christians have always been aware of what Jesus was remembered to have said about divorce, but we haven’t been quite sure what those words meant. ” (page 10)

    And so it goes on for 28 pages full of more strawman arguments and a complete avoidance of any mention of the role repentance and conversion should play in one’s life when seeking God and discerning one’s worthiness to receive the Sacraments.

  38. jhayes says:

    Bressani56, Bishop Carlson said Mass for the Association of US Catholic Priests (AUSCP).

    Sr. Joan Chittister’s article is about the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland (ACP), not the AUSCP

    Neither produced the list of four points. That is from a group called CCRI, which she discusses in the second half of her article.

  39. Ralph says:

    When I first read the article, I was sure that it was an “Onion” like satire piece. It took me another reading to understand this is true and she is serious.

    I don’t know how any “sister” can write such nonsense.

    Reading the comments that express observations that this point of view is not uncommon makes me sad and angry all at the same time.

    May the Lord spare our children exposure to people who teach rubbish such as this until they have sufficient knowledge and grace to reject it.

  40. Militans says:

    “Instead, the very thought that the voice of the people is itself echoing through the church has incited alarm far too often. As at Trent, for instance.”

    If you wanted an admission of protestantism….

  41. gracie says:

    Fr. Fox,

    “The authority of binding and loosing falls to bishops . . . not parish priests.”

    Agreed. However, bishops have under their purview many parishes and they cannot possibly know what is going on at each one without input from their priests. I assume that if a recalcitrant sinner is publicly causing a scandal at your parish you would notify your bishop of the situation so that he may “bind and loose” as he sees fit. Are you saying that as a priest that’s not part of your job?

  42. Kathleen10 says:

    @Bosco, what a great song! I reject most of the 60’s mindset about politics and religion, but 60’s music, nevah!
    @FrMartinFox, with all due respect and appreciation for you, I agree with gracie’s thoughts on this. Hey, these decisions are all out of my hands, entirely. As a layperson who knows about 1% of what gets discussed here regarding matters of faith and the church, I’m a total outsider. I love Jesus, Mary, the saints, and the Catholic faith. Other than that, I know nothing, but while I’m sure on some level you are right, our faith and church is on fire, and I don’t mean that in a good way. God is in control of His Church, and He will allow what He allows, but these heretics and evildoers have made such great inroads. If there is no impediment to them, they will proceed dismantling Catholic morals and doctrine at an alarming rate, especially for the casual Mass attendees and the unchurched. How many have been lost and will be lost to them? Many, if there is no one willing to step into the breach and point out their errors with absolute conviction and clarity. While one may privately pray for their conversion (by all means) one ought to do as much as one can to counter and refute their arguments and opinions in the public sphere. IMHO I must ask, why is it better for these destroyers to stay and cause havoc and pain for so many others? They do, so in that sense it would be better for them to leave and go elsewhere. In the balance are lost souls, one given access to Truth who then throws it away with both hands, the others only fed the distorted “truth” from the first. I say better to let the destroyers go their way. If only they would! For some inexplicable reason they are tolerated and this has become the real problem, at least for me personally. I do not understand nor wish to support what after years of witnessing I cannot rationalize any longer. What the Vatican and Bishops do I can’t understand. I did not leave them. They seem to have left me. Should I leave? Or should the Sr. Joans. We have gone so soft on heretics it certainly looks like appeasement and sometimes even encouragement. As a Catholic I am totally confused and tired of hearing rhetoric from the pulpit. I can’t listen to it anymore.

  43. Gracie:

    I am not disowning any part of my job, and I’m mystified what would lead you to wonder about that. I don’t think I’ve given you any basis for that; certainly not my earlier comments, which I stand by. I do not believe it is a good thing to wish anyone to leave the Church. Applying medicinal penalties is not wishing someone to leave.

  44. Mike says:

    Concur in toto with Fr. Fox. Caritas in veritate, amicis!

  45. Jhayes:

    By the way, I’ve started wading through that document, and at least the introduction is embarrassingly dumb. Seriously, I feel embarrassed for people when they put out something really ill-thought-out, as this is.

    For example, that actually claim that it is utterly impossible for Jesus to have foreseen ages to come. This is, strictly speaking, a stupid assertion. (1) It is something they cannot know to be true. (2) It rules out any possibility of the divine knowledge of the Second Person of the Trinity being present to his human mind. Hint: even if you believe, as many liberals do, that the Son, in becoming incarnate, chose to forego such knowledge, it’s a huge step further to say that no alternative is even possible. (3) This assertion — presented as the Catholic view of things — effectively anathematizes anyone who believes otherwise. Isn’t that rich? These folks detest all “heresy hunting” and advocate the greatest broadness; and in this one statement, they have sweepingly denounced any number of people as heretics.

    Now, I readily believe they never thought any of this through. Which is why I’m embarrassed for them.

    And after about five paragraphs, I’m exhausted! I’m skipping ahead…

  46. Bea says:

    I see what you’re trying to say, but excommunication would come as a last resort.
    Certainly if I were Sr. J.C.’s parish priest, I would curtail her from contact with children to avoid adulterating their innocent minds and misguiding them in the teachings of the Church. I would further demand that she comply with a legitimate traditional “refresher” course ala Baltimore Catechism style. (perhaps she, herself was a product of heretical/schismatic teachings, through no fault of her own). Until she passed with flying colors would I then let her back into contact with children or neophytes and in the meantime pray for her conversion. We can condemn her heretical views, but never condemn her. God died on the cross for her as well as those who follow Christ implicitly (after all “who am I to judge?”) ARGHH That phrase will outlive us all.

  47. jflare says:

    “I assume that if a recalcitrant sinner is publicly causing a scandal at your parish you would notify your bishop of the situation so that he may “bind and loose” as he sees fit.”

    Seems to me that’s a key point, though maybe not the way intended. We can agree that a recalcitrant sinner ought to be corrected, but how would a parish priest know who has caused scandal in a parish? If someone does not seek counsel from a parish, the priest cannot necessarily know who has inflicted what attitude or act. Even checking parish registrations won’t necessarily tell you anything useful.
    Confession is a private matter for a reason, precisely so that the general public does not know what sins have been committed. Even the priest in the confessional does not know who you are.

    In the case of people like Sr Joan, can we point to a particular parish priest who would have cause to address her views to his ordinary? Put differently, does Sr Joan even claim a parish to whom she would need to respond? Not sure I believe that. Her order should have priests involved, if only to offer Mass and hear Confessions, but if so, I’m not so sure they care.

    Same goes for Nancy Pelosi, Barb Boxer, and several other infamous folks.

    We can’t expect parish priests to be acting as one-man holy inquisitors.

  48. jhayes says:

    Fr. Fox wrote: And after about five paragraphs, I’m exhausted! I’m skipping ahead…

    That’s about as far I have have read in detail.

    In case there’s any doubt, I’m not promoting their recommendations. – but you asked if anyone knew of “anything from her camp” To be fair to her, I don’t know to what extent she supports the CCRI views as opposed to simply reporting on them in her article.

  49. benedetta says:

    jhayes, All well and good as to the document and what it says. Nonetheless, the evidence for the “natural law” written in hearts today is ample by an avalanche of secular data. With respect to divorce and cohabitation, the trend has not contributed to overall psychic, physical, nor spiritual health to its practitioners according to the framework that denies the existence of a natural law. In other words, the Gospel Sr. Joan advocates here is not coherent or workable for all, especially the littlest among us.

  50. benedetta says:

    Funny the quote in this piece from Sr. Farley saying that sexual morality is emphasized to the exclusion of everything else. The fact is that in most places today in the Church there is little to no mention of sexual ethics even of the type that would prevent a mother from torturing and killing her own child. Further, it seems a “sexual morality” that regards children as throwaways seems to me to be the source and summit and fixation of their theology. Take that out and what’s left…Not prayer, not social justice, not service for all those are hijacked by these groups to be subservient to the alternative sexuality meme, which all of 2% of the population really identify with. I object to the fact that this document completely discounts the very real and concrete needs of family and the needs of children only to glorify the political interests of a subgroup within the Church.

    As soon as I read the word “just a collection of rules” I pretty much knew that this had about as much force as an annoying fly. That she has no clue as to marriages that “joyfully” live “openness” to children indicates to me that she just doesn’t get out too much these days. I do hope some nice families can befriend her where she is…

  51. jhayes says:

    benedetta, here is the discussion of natural law from the instrumentum laboris for the Synod:

    Chapter III
    The Gospel of the Family and the Natural Law

    The Relation of the Gospel of the Family to the Natural Law

    20. Speaking of the acceptance of the Church’s teaching on marriage and the family necessarily involves the subject of the natural law, which is often quoted in the Church’s magisterial documents and poses difficulties today. The large-scale perplexity surrounding the concept of the natural law tends to affect some elements of Christian teaching on the subject of marriage and the family. In fact, what underlies the relationship between the Gospel of the Family and the natural law is not so much the defense of an abstract philosophical concept as the necessary relation which the Gospel establishes with the human person in the variety of circumstances created by history and culture. “The natural law responds thus to the need to found human rights on reason and makes possible an intercultural and interreligious dialogue” (ITC, Alla ricerca di un’etica universale: nuovo sguardo sulla legge naturale, 35).

    Present-Day Problems Related to the Natural Law

    21. In light of what the Church has maintained over the centuries, an examination of the relation of the Gospel of the Family to the experience common to every person can now consider the many problems highlighted in the responses concerning the question of the natural law. In a vast majority of responses and observations, the concept of natural law today turns out to be, in different cultural contexts, highly problematic, if not completely incomprehensible. The expression is understood in a variety of ways, or simply not understood at all. Many bishops’ conferences, in many different places, say that, although the spousal aspect of the relationship between man and woman might be generally accepted as an experiential reality, this idea is not interpreted according to a universally given law. Very few responses and observations demonstrated an adequate, popular understanding of the natural law.

    22. The responses and observations also show that the adjective “natural” often is understood by people as meaning “spontaneous” or “what comes naturally.” Today, people tend to place a high value on personal feelings and emotions, aspects which appear “genuine” and “fundamental” and, therefore, to be followed “simply according to one’s nature.” The underlying anthropological concepts, on the one hand, look to an autonomy in human freedom which is not necessarily tied to an objective order in the nature of things, and, on the other hand, every human being’s aspiration to happiness, which is simply understood as the realization of personal desires. Consequently, the natural law is perceived as an outdated legacy. Today, in not only the West but increasingly every part of the world, scientific research poses a serious challenge to the concept of nature. Evolution, biology and neuroscience, when confronted with the traditional idea of the natural law, conclude that it is not “scientific.”

    23. Generally speaking, the notion of “human rights” is also seen as highly subjective and a call for a person to self-determination, a process which is no longer grounded in the idea of the natural law. In this regard, many respondents relate that the legal systems in many countries are having to make laws on situations which are contrary to the traditional dictates of the natural law (for example, in vitro fertilization, homosexual unions, the manipulation of human embryos, abortion, etc.). Situated in this context is the increased diffusion of the ideology called gender theory, according to which the gender of each individual turns out to be simply the product of social conditioning and needs and, thereby, ceasing, in this way, to have any correspondence to a person’s biological sexuality.

    24. Furthermore, much attention is given in the responses to the fact that what becomes established in civil law — based on an increasingly dominant legal positivism — might mistakenly become in people’s mind accepted as morally right. What is “natural” tends to be determined by the individual and society only, who have become the sole judges in ethical choices. The relativization of the concept of “nature” is also reflected in the concept of stability and the “duration” of the relationship of marriage unions. Today, love is considered “forever” only to the point that a relationship lasts.

    25. If some responses refer to a lack of proper understanding of the natural law, several episcopal conferences in Africa, Oceania and East Asia, mention that, in some regions, polygamy is to be considered “natural,” as well as a husband’s divorcing his wife because she is unable to bear children — and, in some cases, unable to bear sons. In other words, from an emerging point of view, drawn from a widely diffused culture, the natural law is no longer to be considered as applicable to everyone, since people mistakenly come to the conclusion that a unique system of reference does not exist.

    26. The responses point to a general belief that the distinction between the sexes has a natural foundation within human existence itself. Therefore, by force of tradition, culture and intuition, there exists the desire that the union between a man and a woman endure. The natural law is then a universally accepted “fact” by the faithful, without the need to be theoretically justified. The demise of the concept of the natural law tends to eliminate the interconnection of love, sexuality and fertility, which is understood to be the essence of marriage. Consequently, many aspects of the Church’s sexual morality are not understood today. This is also a result of a certain criticism of the natural law, even by a number of theologians.

    Practical Objections to the Natural Law concerning the Union between a Man and a Woman

    27. Given the lack of reference to the natural law by many academic institutions today, major complaints result from the extensive practice of divorce, cohabitation, contraception, procedures of artificial procreation and same-sex unions. Other complaints against the natural law come from the poorest areas and those least influenced by western thought — especially some African states — which cite the phenomena of machismo, polygamy, marriages between teens and preteens, and divorce in cases of sterility or a lack of a male heir, as well as incest and other aberrant practices.

    28. Nearly all the responses as well as observations relate an increasing number of cases of “blended” families, especially because of the presence of children from different partners. Western society is now witnessing many cases in which children, in addition to their being with separated and divorced parents who might or might not be remarried, find themselves with grandparents in the same situation. Moreover, in Europe and North America in particular (but also among some countries in South Asia), the instances of couples or single persons, who lack a mentality of an openness to life, are increasing; single parenthood is also on the rise. A dramatic increase can also be seen on these same continents in the age at which people decide to wed. Many times, especially in northern Europe and North America, children are considered a hindrance to the well-being of the individual and the couple.

    29. Some responses, particularly in parts of Asia, point to a willingness, on the civic level, to recognize so-called “multi-personal” unions between individuals of different sexual orientations and sexual identities, based simply on personal needs and on individual and subjective necessities. In short, this tendency accentuates the absolute right to personal freedom without any compromise: people are “formed” on the basis of their individual desires only. What is increasingly judged to be “natural” is more of a reference-to-self only, when it comes to their desires and aspirations. This situation is heavily influenced by the mass media and by the lifestyles of some people in sports and entertainment. These aspects are exerting influence even in countries with traditional family cultures which seem, until now, to have exercised great resistance in the matter (Africa, Middle East and South-Central Asia).

    A Call for a Renewal in Terms of Language

    30. The language traditionally used in explaining the term “natural law” should be improved so that the values of the Gospel can be communicated to people today in a more intelligible manner. In particular, the vast majority of responses and an even greater part of the observations request that more emphasis be placed on the role of the Word of God as a privileged instrument in the conception of married life and the family, and recommend greater reference to the Bible, its language and narratives. In this regard, respondents propose bringing the issue to public discussion and developing the idea of biblical inspiration and the “order in creation,” which could permit a re-reading of the concept of the natural law in a more meaningful manner in today’s world (cf. the idea of the law written in the human heart in Rm 1:19-21; 2:14-15). Moreover, this proposal insists on using language which is accessible to all, such as the language of symbols utilized during the liturgy. The recommendation was also made to engage young people directly in these matters.


  52. Joan A. says:

    CCRI, NCR, Sr. Joan, Voice of the Faithful and whatever other heretics and nuts are out there, who cares? These are clanging gongs and clashing cymbals. We seem to be missing the big picture, folks. The danger is in much higher places than Fishwrap’s editorial office. Fr. Fox made a key point about Natural Law. It seems to me what Cardinal Baldisseri, the “coordinator” of the Synod, said recently is extremely alarming, in fact probably one of the most disturbing statements I’ve ever heard in my life. If he was rightly quoted and meant what he said, that is the end of the Church.

    And Natural Law is not the only “big” issue the Pope’s “advisors” seem to want to “revise” for the “New Church.” We all know about the marriage/communion issue thanks to Kasper loving public attention. From Maradiaga we have learned what a corrupt and depraved nation is our own country — yet look at his! Murder capital of the world and at this very moment sending thousands of youngsters to our border!

    We know the Pope’s closest friends (“Gang of 9”) have publicly criticized our country numerous times for numerous reasons. We know from O’Malley and others the evils of our selfish “capitalism” and “trickle down economics”. Cardinal Muller has now jumped on the bandwagon and affirmed that the number one priority of this pontificate is to eradicate poverty (why does that phrase sound familiar?) and IT’S CAUSES.

    Are these 10 or 15 Cardinals such experts in economics that they really believe they can dictate to all the nations of the world how to change their financial structures to suit the tastes of a small egotistical band of red hats in an ivory tower?

    All 10 of them should watch a tape of the brilliant analysis recently given by Bill Gates on how the world’s wealth is actually on an upward trajectory, how to end poverty, how best to eradicate disease, how to improve governance in small countries, and such. Of course I do not hold up Bill Gates as an ideal Christian, but we all must admit when it comes to eliminating poverty or making money, he is one of the few top experts in the world. (FYI, Bill Gates attends a Catholic parish, his wife is Catholic, and he has recently had some personal insights about God, so let us not lose hope for his soul.) Point is, if the Pope wants to erase poverty, there are ways to do it and smart people know how. I have worked with such people, and they do care, they are not selfish millionaires only. Yet not a day passes we don’t hear some quote from some Cardinal that we would not be surprised to have attributed to Lenin or Karl Marx.

    Maybe you think I’m getting too far off Church doctrine and praxis, but the arrogance and ignorance of a very powerful and respected group is dangerous enough meddling with dogma, as others like Burke or many other Cardinals may at least intervene. But if they have some medieval concept they are now the Rulers of a resurrected Holy Roman Empire with the Divine Right of Kings prodding them to boss around, not merely advise, serious world leaders, who knows what they will do? They will drag down the Church, not lead it.

    It’s embarrassing for me as a Catholic when my friends ask me what these guys are talking about, is it true? I have to admit it’s true WHAT they say but I hope what they MEAN might be different in context, in the larger discussions. But almost daily we get more of these Cardinalate proclamations that can only mean a “fundamental transformation” (to borrow a quote) of the Church.

    Fr. Z is correct that Pope Francis is not going along with a bunch of wacky “talking points” from a two-bit badly-written apostate newspaper. Absolutely, Pope Francis is a man of deep faith. He is a true “son of the Church” as he poetically stated.

    But, he is also naive, gullible, impressionable, highly emotional, and does not have the intellect of a John Paul or Benedict. If the Gang of 9 were not scheming power-mongers (yes, they are), we would have an inspiring, outgoing, mild-mannered Pope with great teachings on charity. But the Pope has unawares turned charity to politics.

    And he has chosen advisers he believes will help him, and he’s wrong. I hope that’s not a mortal sin to say the Pope is wrong. I mean he is misguided, turned in circles, only because Maradiaga et al are very cunning and manipulative men. This is their moment of glory. This will FINALLY BE THE TRIUMPH OF VATICAN 2. That is how they see it – that Vatican 2 has not had full freedom, was truncated, that THEY will open the flood gates and finally push the Church in a new direction of freedom, collegiality, pastoral-ism, ecumenism, socialism, liberation theology, and commonality with the ideology of the United Nations.

  53. benedetta says:

    jhayes, Thanks for that and how lovely. But I wonder whether you read or understood what I wrote? Whether or not people today understand the “concept” of natural law is one thing. Nonetheless there is an avalanche of secular data evidencing that that natural law is experienced and recognized near universally, regardless of whether one has had its theological terminology and contours explained or not, or whether one “believes” in it.

  54. benedetta says:

    Will also say that the deceptive and reductionist coded/loaded language labeling Holy Mother Church as “just” some “rules” has never been a winning or hopeful strategy for our communion. In fact throughout history one observes that this step is the very foundation for schism.

  55. jhayes says:

    Benedetta wrote “natural law is experienced and recognized near universally,”

    Yet the “instrumentum laboris reports: “In a vast majority of responses and observations, the concept of natural law today turns out to be, in different cultural contexts, highly problematic, if not completely incomprehensible.”

  56. benedetta says:

    Hi jhayes,
    Well you are stretching it a bit there with yanking that out of the context, but, even still, even with that observation, the fact remains that an avalanche of secular data and experience completely bears out the experience of natural law that people have in our current times. And by no means does this contradict the document you quote from. Go ahead and let’s read the entire passage again.

    Still you do not appear to have read nor comprehended what I say, and for that omission it is difficult have a dialog with you on this. Perhaps if you would like to discuss the secular data?

  57. benedetta says:

    At any rate while waiting for jhayes to return we should also recognize that for the vast majority of us there has been no sort of presentation or explanation or even permission to inquire as to the concept of natural law for the last fifty years in most places. So the sentence he trumpets here is not at all surprising or news. However the secular data is more than ample establishing that people universally experience natural law.

  58. Gaetano says:

    There are two ways to free people from sin:

    1) Ask people to confess their sins, repent and reform their lives

    2) Declare that the behavior once considered sinful is no longer sinful

    Only one of those two ways is Christian.

  59. benedetta says:

    The overwhelming problem with the argumentation here from Sr Joan/Sr Farley/Call to Action/assorted dissenters is united by the premise that genital acts are so paramount in whatever expression that they are worth killing a child in the womb over. No sexual act is ever worth killing our children over. It’s fine if we want to say that many people do not comprehend what the term “natural law” means in theology. It’s quite another thing to declare the fiction that there is no natural law whatsoever and that the impact of sexual acts, even if involving another life, are not worth our time in considering how to go about ordering our lives with one another. Essentially, the notion that we are a random collection of sub atomic particles with sexual urges that must be acted upon in evolutionary obligation is not really more consonant with Christianity than the much derided natural law. In fact, the one that is more freeing and harmonious with our neighbor is the one that the Church teaches.

  60. jhayes says:

    benedetta wrote Still you do not appear to have read nor comprehended what I say, and for that omission it is difficult have a dialog with you on this. Perhaps if you would like to discuss the secular data?

    benedetta, on the chance that I might of missed one of your posts, I went back through the 59 responses in this thread and re-read all of yours. I don’t see any “secular data” other than your repeated statements that it does exist.

    What is it about the statement I quoted from the Instrumentum Laboris of the Synod of Bishops that you disagree with?

  61. benedetta says:

    jhayes, You seem to be attempting to put words in my mouth. Be that as it may, your agenda doesn’t square with the document. Instrumentum Laboris of the Synod of Bishops, not only the quote you take in isolation but the entire text you excerpted previously does not somehow now prove for all times that there is no such thing as the natural law. The text you excerpted, I am certain all will agree upon reading it, merely states that it is a difficult teaching for many to comprehend. Again, that is hardly news to anyone. Again, the fact that it has not been taught, at all, in the vast majority of locales in the west, pretty much establishes the cause of the lack of understanding about natural law.

    Again, though you may have re-read, you are unwilling to discuss or dialog on my points. If we are to understand your postings here you would go further than the Instrumentum Laboris of the Synod of Bishops and attempt to pronounce natural law, what, a heresy? No, not a heresy…could it be, a, construct? That would be it, yes, a construct.

    Because I do not post the reams of evidence available to any simple inquiry here of course cannot mean that they do not exist. And if you refuse to look into it that still does not establish that it is not exist. No one should take my statements or word for it. I am simply restating what is immediately available for anyone in copious quantity. You seem very concerned to come after me but you ought not blame the messenger. I did not create the data. But now that it is readily available and obvious, I do not think we as a society should deny it is there or ignore what people have to say.

    At any rate, any dissenting theology that frames the killing the unborn as a necessary corollary to the morality of human relationships and adult sexuality cannot be going the right way for us together as a communion.

  62. benedetta says:

    Sorry all but for jhayes’ benefit and so as not to cloud the reasoning, this is a repost:

    The overwhelming problem with the argumentation here from Sr Joan/Sr Farley/Call to Action/assorted dissenters is united by the premise that genital acts are so paramount in whatever expression that they are worth killing a child in the womb over. No sexual act is ever worth killing our children over. It’s fine if we want to say that many people do not comprehend what the term “natural law” means in theology. It’s quite another thing to declare the fiction that there is no natural law whatsoever and that the impact of sexual acts, even if involving another life, are not worth our time in considering how to go about ordering our lives with one another. Essentially, the notion that we are a random collection of sub atomic particles with sexual urges that must be acted upon in evolutionary obligation is not really more consonant with Christianity than the much derided natural law. In fact, the one that is more freeing and harmonious with our neighbor is the one that the Church teaches.

  63. jhayes says:

    benedetta wrote: your agenda doesn’t square with the document. Instrumentum Laboris of the Synod of Bishops, not only the quote you take in isolation but the entire text you excerpted previously does not somehow now prove for all times that there is no such thing as the natural law.
    If we are to understand your postings here you would go further than the Instrumentum Laboris of the Synod of Bishops and attempt to pronounce natural law, what, a heresy? No, not a heresy…could it be, a, construct? That would be it, yes, a construct.

    That’s not what I believe. I’ve gone back through my posts in this thread and I don’t see what could have led you to think that but, in any case, I’m glad you brought it up so I can make clear that I do think that the law is written in the hearts of all and provides the basis for moral decisions we make.

    19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; 21 for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened.

    14 When Gentiles, who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves. 15 They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them

    Rm 1:19-21; 2:14-15

    I think the discussion of Natural Law proposed in (30) off the Instrumentum Laboris will be helpful.

  64. benedetta says:

    jhayes, Thanks for that however in the context of this thread you cite 30 of Instrumentum Laboris as support for dissent. I comprehend that on these threads you generally attempt to say as little as possible instead citing selectively from different online sources to give the appearance of your position as backed by objective material. Be that as it may you attacked me (in a way frjim4321 has in the past) by saying my points were just “statements”. In a combox, pretty much everything said is going to be, in one form or another, a “statement”. Your attempt to seem as if you are not making any “statements” rings hollow especially on this thread. We are allowed to draw inferences from the data.

    Secular data is now at avalanche level establishing that the natural law is universally experienced.

    The foundation for these dissenters’ attack on the natural law has nothing to do with whether the concept is comprehended as currently taught, which is what Instrumentum Laboris is saying, rather, it denies the very existence of a natural law, and, further, the centerpiece of the theology of these dissenters is based on genital sex and that even murder of infants in the womb is necessary or tolerable in order to prioritize all sex in whatever configuration. Again, the theology is disembodied and distorted from the Creator as well as a basic regard for our neighbor.

    You cited a lovely passage from St. Paul. All well and good. Not sure if that is the foundation for the Church’s teaching, or if it is just something you prefer. The teaching and tradition of the Church are trustworthy and may be relied upon.

    The attempt at undermining pretty much everything and anything the Church has always taught by these dissenters really ultimately is more harmful than individual acts of sin.

  65. benedetta says:

    Fr. Martin Fox I think hit the nail on the head above. I agree. It is that the foundational “theology” of this group is often hidden from view. When their “theology” and their statements see the light of day one can readily see that there is nothing upon which to found a means for life together as Christians. Their “dialogue” is not based in good faith, as one who assents to the Church and is trying to understand or evangelize. Everything they advocate for is at odds with Christianity. As to the real lives of the people they energize in anger and animus against the Church in order to “lead” them to force their agenda, they are doing them a serious disservice pastorally. A spirituality based upon anger against other Catholics will only harm. All of their “theological dialogue” is premised upon harming innocent unborn children and they have refused, after so long, to alter this foundation. From their own material posted here this is evident. Any group that countenances further slaughter of our children is not coming to the table for dialogue within Christianity and rightly should not be given a place in theological discussion for that reason even despite their shrill publicity grabs and their anger. Why should the Church accede to threats and bullying. The preborn lack these means to make their voices heard.

  66. benedetta says:

    In other words if jhayes would like us to believe that 30 of I.L. is a reach-out to angry dissenters and entertainment of the statements they make so premised on sex based upon murder of unborn children, we should not buy it.

    Why should it come as shocking that we are able to discuss natural law in a document such as this. Again contrary to the haters portrayal, a healthy theological discussion can take place without the orchestration and manipulations of these attacking groups. The notion that their premises must be accepted in order for us to perceive healthy diversity already at work within orthodoxy is ridiculous. It’s just threats, bullying, and Machiavellian tactics. I feel sorry for the lives that their anger holds hostage.

    There is ample opportunity for Holy Mother Church to discuss theology, and the future and welfare of families, including those in distressful situations or irregular marriage, without having to accede to the bullying threat that if we do not accept sexual libertinism hinged upon tens of millions of abortions as good we are somehow “just” a bunch of rules. Sorry that they think that way, but, no. Get a clue.

  67. jflare says:

    If there’s a paragraph cited that states that natural law in incomprehensible to many, that merely proves that many do not understand natural law. That’s not surprising. Natural law, a concept that explains that God created Nature and human beings, means that an authority above human reason exists and that we’re accountable to it. Those who actively foment a secular frame of mind have no interest in admitting to the existence of a higher authority, therefore they will obscure any Truths based in natural law and/or insist that natural legal concepts merely misappropriate evolutionary ideas. That also means though that anyone who considers the secular point of view, even in dialogue with it, will be prone to “compromising”, rendering public and practical understanding of natural law to be undermined.
    If natural law might not be understood by all, such a situation would mostly mean that bishops will need to fight against militant secular interests to insist that natural law ideals, not secular, will be the basis of the laws of nations.
    That won’t happen without one doozy of a fight.

Comments are closed.