Crazy talk from an Italian theologian… just the beginning of crazy

My fear for the last and the upcoming Synod of Bishops has not been that they would suggest to the Holy Father to change doctrine, but that they – and the discussions surrounding them – would raise expectations of things that are impossible, namely, Communion for the divorced and remarried, some sort of approval for homosexual unions, etc.   Clearly that is what some people were pushing in the Synod last October and that is what the press puffed up.

What’s scary about that?  As in the case of Humanae vitae in the 1960’s, when the hopes for change of doctrine are dashed, those who were promoting deviation will just go ahead and do whatever the hell they want anyway.

On this note, I see that Sando Magister has posted something about Basilo Petra, identified as a moral theologian.  Frankly, after reading some of his ideas I wonder if he is a Catholic moral theologian.

This is pretty crazy stuff.

ROME, May 19, 2015 – He was just stating the obvious when during the synod last October South African cardinal Wilfrid Napier he said that “the message has gone out and whatever we say hereafter is going to be as if we’re doing some damage control.”

The “message” was the one issued by proponents of a change in pastoral practice in the matters of homosexuality and divorce.

Such changes, in fact, although they did not gain the approval of the synod fathers last October and are not likely to do so at the next session of the synod, have nevertheless gained indelible prominence in the media circuit.

But above all they have gained de facto citizenship in the Church. They are being spoken of even at the highest levels of the hierarchy. [Here’s the money quote:] They have become debated and therefore debatable matters. Among the bishops, among the clergy, among the theologians many are already theorizing and acting accordingly. [See?]

One of these, Basilio Petrà, president of the Italian moral theologians and an author of reference for “La Civiltà Cattolica,” has set down in black and white that “things have changed” since Cardinal Walter Kasper – with the pope’s approval – spoke out at the consistory of February 2014 in favor of communion for the divorced and remarried.

Since then – Petrà wrote in the important magazine “Il Regno” – “the magisterium has de facto placed in the area of doubt” that which until then had been an indisputable ban. [This is patently false.]

With the result that now “a confessor can serenely hold the prohibitive norm as dubious, and therefore can absolve and admit the divorced and remarried to communion,” without even waiting for the consent of his bishop, which “is not necessary.”  [Again, wrong.]


Magister goes on say that, soon, an examination of the trajectory of this weird flight of fancy, beginning with Card. Kasper’s proposals, will be printed by Catholic World Report.


I must revise and extend two points…

The people who will do, as I put it above, “whatever the hell they want”, do so because of who – or what – they want to have sex with.

However, these same people will ruthlessly stomp on anyone who wants the Extraordinary Form, or classical, traditional catechesis for their children.

Other than that, I guess it’ll be great once we are freed from all our taboos, as Card. Kasper might describe them.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Eyup. We’re nowhere near Peak Crazy yet.

    I think you’re right, Father. It will be just like Humanae Vitae, and I bet it already is, in some parts of the world.

    It will get down to individual dioceses and possibly even parishes having to make their decision about whose side they’re on. And the secular authorities will be involved too, and those who are on the ‘wrong’ side will face secular as well as ‘ecclesiastical’ condemnation.

    It’s the Arians all over again. Whoo hoo! What an opportunity for merit! (but sucky all the same)

  2. Midwest St. Michael says:

    “…a confessor can serenely hold the prohibitive norm as dubious, and therefore can absolve and admit the divorced and remarried to communion,” without even waiting for the consent of his bishop, which “is not necessary.” [Again, wrong.]

    Yet, then the problem becomes this (as Fr. Z has do adroitly been telling us for months now):

    If solid and orthodox Catholics remotely suggest that something like the above quote is wrong, or “the prohibitive norm” simply cannot be ignored in any way – then *we* are not thinking with the Pope and the mind of the Church. *We* are the ones who are mean spirited and without the compassion of Jesus. *We* are not “with the times”. We are “too Catholic” and “too fundamentalist”. *We* see everything as black and white and should understand that the world we live in, even the “Catholic world”, has a lot of gray areas when it comes to these issues of faith, morals and proper disciplines. *We* are “the new dissenters”.

    Ah well. I’ve been accused of this for years and years anyway. Why should I expect it to change now?


  3. juergensen says:

    It makes me sick to see how fast a change at the top can bring the heretics out of the woodwork. I’m clinging to Christ’s promise that the gates of hell – and those walking through those gates – will not prevail.

  4. Charles E Flynn says:

    Posted today:
    A Layman Responds to Cardinal Kasper’s Proposal, by Dr. José Durand Mendioroz, for the Catholic World Report.

  5. akp1 says:

    So it seems the only taboo to remain – is to be faithful. Looks like we are going to be the new rebels.
    BUT thankfully God is in charge and the Holy Spirit has protected the Church for two millennia so I continue to put my trust in Him. I do agree with the HV effect though, sadly.

  6. akp1 says:

    Well….not agree with the HV effect! But agree that is very likely to be what happens.

  7. Auggie says:

    May the FSSP flourish (and quickly).

  8. donato2 says:

    In a video that is linked to and summarized on the site linked to above, Fr. Linus Clovis, a brave and articulate priest from the peripheries (the West Indies), says many of the things that I silently think about this pontificate.

  9. Elizabeth D says:

    It’s my understanding that the problem with absolving isn’t just a canonical norm. Where a person is aware of their objective adultery and does not have contrition or purpose of amendment, the absolution would not be valid.

    There is already the serene solution of continence and living together as brother and sister in cases where circumstances (such as having children together) require them remaining a household. Then there is the possibility of sincere contrition for adultery and sincere intent not to continue to commit adulterous sexual acts. But this has never seemed to be what Kasper is proposing, he seems to mean letting people persevere in a new sexual relationship even though they were already in a valid marriage to someone else.

  10. Ferde Rombola says:

    As the Vicar of Christ it is incumbent on the Holy Father to defend the doctrines of the Faith at all times. By declaring the independence of the German bishops from the governance of Rome, has not Cardinal Gerhard Marx separated himself, Cardinal Kasper and all who follow them from the Catholic Church? Is it not then the duty of the Vicar of Christ to recognize the separation and inform the said Germans that they have excommunicated themselves from the Church of Jesus Christ? I think it is and see that action by the Pope as the final solution to the problem of the heretical mercy proposed by Cardinal Kasper. Just inform them they are Protestants and unless and until they recant their heresies and make a public apology for their sins, they will remain outside the Body of Christ.

    The Germans have taken up far too much of the Church’s time by insisting she discuss matters which have been settled from the her beginnings. Kasper has noted the settled doctrine, but refuses to recognize or accept it. It must, then, be done for him. There is no other way.

  11. iamlucky13 says:

    “With the result that now ‘a confessor can serenely hold the prohibitive norm as dubious, and therefore can absolve and admit the divorced and remarried to communion,’ without even waiting for the consent of his bishop, which ‘is not necessary.'”

    This doesn’t even make a scrap of sense.

    Even granting Cardinal Kasper’s proposal the overwhelming generous status alleged of “doubt in the magisterium,” the basic claim that his suggestions are under debate leaves no room at all for a confessor to “serenely hold” that such doubt allows the confessor to absolve divorce and remarriage. As I (keep in mind, a layman) see it, the best that could be said about such an alleged status is that it confounds the confessor’s ability to assess contrition and guide the penitent in understanding their culpability. There’s nothing serene about that.

    And to claim that the mere existence of a debate overrides the ordinary authority of the bishop is genuine fantasy.

  12. LarryW2LJ says:

    I’m no theological expert, but you’d think these folks would learn a lesson from the angels that did “whatever the hell they want(ed)”. God had no use for them, either.


  13. “As in the case of Humanae vitae in the 1960’s, when the hopes for change of doctrine are dashed, those who were promoting deviation will just go ahead and do whatever the hell they want anyway.”

    In other words, whatever whatever the Synod or the Pope may decide–regarding the doctrine of the Church–may make little practical difference?

    Indeed, some are now arguing that the Church has entered a “post-doctrinal age” in which the formally stated doctrine of the Church no longer has its former importance. An age in which what people do is determined by how they feel rather than by what they believe.

  14. thomas tucker says:

    @Henry Edwards: I think that is true. Most people who call themselves Catholic in Western society simply don’t see the need to comform their thinking to the doctrine of the Church. They are quite content to be cafeteria Catholics, and that includes some priests. They are already doing whatever they want, while ignoring the Sacrment of Confession, and continuing to receive Communion if and when they ever go to Mass. Now, it is becoming overt. It seems to me that the orthodox bishops don’t know what to do.

  15. jacobi says:

    The Church cannot allow adulterers and Sodomists to receive Holy Communion. That would be a further sin, objectively speaking, a mortal sin and if knowingly repeated would be sacrilege. Any clergyman, and I would assume knowledgeable lay-person such as a lay distributor of Holy Communion who was complicit in such action would I presume logically also be complicit in mortal sin and sacrilege.

    Now of course people have always for whatever reasons, temporarily or permanently, did what the hell they wanted to do. That is Fallen Human Nature.

    But if they knowingly do so, rejecting the Church’s teaching, they are more than just sinners. They are acting and therefore proclaiming heresy.

    We have had many heretical splits from the Church in the past. Very many. The danger now at the second session of the Synod on the Family, if the Pope is not careful then we will indeed be into yet another formal heretical split. The people who go down this heretical road, whatever they subsequently call themselves, will not be Catholics, whatever their status or rank at present within the Catholic Church.

    It is important to keep a sense of history, which, incidently, has not yet come to and end!

  16. Auggie says:

    I find traditional Catholicism to be extremely difficult, and therefore I must live in continuous repentance. The “new church” offers continuous acceptance… of everything except the difficult truths of the Faith.

  17. Imrahil says:

    Dear Auggie,

    continuous repentance is an oxymoron (as much as the Socialists’ bad old “continuous revolution”). We must live, in a sense, in continuous penitence. We must, certainly, be cautious not to sin, and (continuously if you will) try to uproot the remainder of sin. But it doesn’t make sense, neither it is demanded, to throw all our lives 100% around at every instant (with not even the instants being distinct, if we take the word “continously” litterally ;-) ).

    On the other hand,
    Puritans have given a great deal too much credit to the power which the world has to satisfy the soul; in admitting that the sinner is gay and careless they have given away the strongest part of their case. (Chesterton),
    and so I think for myself. It’s not traditional Catholicisim which is extremely difficult. It is not easy sometimes, but living according to what the World (in the Johannine sense) wants is a good deal more difficult, less pleasurable, and more hard on those who fail against it.

    Dear Larry,

    whereas Sacred Scripture: “God hath created every thing for a purpose, so also the wicked, for the day of Judgment.” It would be wrong to say God has no use even for the Devil. At the very least they can glorify his justice, when they receive due punishment.

    Dear Elizabeth D,

    as I said before, the very big problem with brother-and-sister relationship is that sinners (objective and subjective) are usually, and at any rate sometimes, converted one by one, but brother-and-sister relationship practically requires consent (and if the family life is not soon to be worse than actual separation [which is always possible], probably not only acquiescence but real consent) of the ersatz spouse. (D’you like that term? ^^)

  18. Cantor says:

    Petra is, unfortunately, quite correct when he says “[T]he magisterium has de facto placed in the area of doubt” that which until then had been an indisputable ban.”

    All they had to say was, “NO! What’s next?” The Synod deliberately failed to do that.

  19. Kerry says:

    When one chooses from the dogmas of the Church what to believe and what to reject, that is not Faith; it is opinion.

  20. Sandy says:

    Your comments, Father, are similar to an article I just read on Crisis magazine’s website, describing how we got Communion in the hand and standing. We all know how the bishops manipulated that process, even after the original vote was negative, and Paul VI had misgivings. They did “whatever the hell they wanted”! I often wonder how these wayward leaders of the Church imagine facing the Lord at the moment of death, or maybe they never think about it. The only other option I can think of is that their evil is intentional.

  21. albizzi says:

    “The God who is enthroned over the world and history as a changeless being is an offence to man. The God who is enthroned over the world and history as a changeless being is an offence to man. One must deny Him for man’s sake, because he claims for himself the dignity and honour that belong by right to man.”
    “We must resist this God, however, not only for man’s sake, but also for God’s sake. He is not the true God at all, but rather a wretched idol. For a God who is only alongside of history, who is not himself history, is a finite God. If we call such a being God, then for the sake of the Absolute we must become absolute atheists. Such a God springs from a rigid worldview; he is the guarantor of the status quo and the enemy of the new.”
    (Card. W. Kasper in his book “God and History”, 1967)

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