Card. Coccopalmerio’s booklet: The Response™? Apparently not.



Yesterday, I posted HERE about the release of the booklet by Card. Coccopalmerio, Prefect of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. It was ballyhooed as The Response™ to the Five Dubia of the Four “intransigent” Cardinals, who are dissenters because they are defending doctrine. The Cardinal’s booklet, which had a veneer of official approval because it was published by the Vatican Press, was to be publicly presented today.

Yesterday I made two main points.

First, the booklet cannot by any reasonable person be thought to be The Response™ to the Five Dubia of the Four Cardinals. The Response™ must come from His Holiness the Pope or, at his manifest behest, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Second, the landscape we are looking at these days is surreal enough to be like a Salvador Dali painting. Things are getting strange.

They just got stranger today.

Card. Coccopalmerio did not come to his own book presentation. Instead, as reported by the best English language vaticanista in Rome now, Edward Pentin, the Cardinal went to a meeting of the Congregation for Causes of Saints.

Let’s be clear about something. In Rome, book presentations are not usually made by the author of the book. However, the author is usually in the room.

It it pretty odd that His Eminence was not there for the roll out of the booklet that was heralded as The Response™. Right?  And for a meeting at Saints?

Furthermore, according to a tweet by Pentin, the conference presenters openly said that the booklet was NOT a response to the Five Dubia!

Curiouser and curiouser.

Something is going on.


CNS says:

Father Costa [Salesian, director of the Vatican Press, presenter] told reporters the cardinal’s book is not “the Vatican response” to the challenges posed by U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke and three retired cardinals [NB: CNS singled out Card. Burke!  I suspect that Card. Caffara wrote the Dubia.  Why single out Card. Burke?  Obvious.] to the supposed lack of clarity and potential misunderstanding of “Amoris Laetitia.” [Why might one think it is not clear? Because, as CNS reports in the same piece, there are sharply contrasting statements about it by conferences of bishops?] Rather, he said, it is an “authoritative” reading of the papal document and a contribution to the ongoing discussion.  [So, it’s an “authoritative” reading and it is a “contribution”.]

Also from CNS:

Father Maurizio Gronchi, a theologian and consultant to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told reporters Feb. 14 Cardinal Coccopalmerio’s reading of “Amoris Laetitia” is the same as the bishops of Malta, Germany and the church region of Buenos Aires, Argentina.


In writing that the church could admit such a couple to the sacraments with the “verification of two essential conditions — that they desire to change that situation, but they cannot act on their desire,” the cardinal said the verification must be done with “attentive and authoritative discernment” under the guidance of a priest. [Read between the lines: they still want to have sexual relations.  Somehow the must have sexual relations.  It seems that they are incapable of not having sexual relations.  QUAERITUR: Where is God’s grace?]

Does “welcoming the sinner justify the person’s behavior and renounce doctrine?” the cardinal asked. “Certainly not.”

It sure sounds like it does.

I am reminded of what canonist Ed Peters wrote about priests who would in some way, in the context of the internal forum, the confessional, recommend, condone, guide to, suggest, approve, hint that a couple in an objective state of adultery (divorced and civilly remarried, no declaration of nullity, etc.) could have sexual relations.  Those priests would be in effect commit the crime of solicitation in Confession (if for themselves, for someone else – it’s still solicitation!).   Peters wrote about the Coccopalmerio booklet today and he reminds us all of the point about can. 1387.  HERE


In effect, it seems that His Eminence has suggested that the desire to change is enough to receive Holy Communion.  An actual change is not required.

I wonder how far that could be pushed.

[The screen fades to black and comes back up in an old fashioned church.  Zoom to the confessional across the nave.  The light is on.   A big, really big, guy with black hair goes into the “penitent” side.  Shift to inside.  The door of the grate draws back.  A priest wearing a stole is seen on the other side….]

“Bless me Fahdah, ‘cuz I have sinned.  It’s been maybe 20 years since my las’ confession and deez are my sins.   Ya’ see, it’s like dis, Fahdah… I’m in, you know, Our ‘Ting and I well, I kill people, ya see?  I don’t particularly like doin’ it, if ya know what I mean.  But, ya see, it’s my job.  I got into a little trouble with the ponies and da other stuff and … well, I got debts to pay, ya’ know?  So, I gotta keep killing people to make livin’.  Besides, some of the people I work with wouldn’t take kindly to me just stoppin’ an all.  But I really wanna go to Communion when I go to da Mass.  I mean, it’s been a while and I’m not exactly gettin’ younger, right?  Whadya say, Fahdah?  I keep hearin’ deez days about the whole mercy ting.  And, okay, you might say I’m kinda an expert on the opposite, ya know?  All that cryin’ and pleadin’ an’all.  It’s pretty hard.  I’m tryin’ ta be more mercyful.  So’s I try to do it fast an’ when they ain’t lookin’, just to be nice, okay?  So’s I was tinking that I could, maybe, just slip in quiet like when I go to another town for work, ya see?  Okay, Fahdah?  Whadya say?”

“Well, my son.  You are clearly not living in accordance with the Church’s teachings.  But you seem sincere and, well, you want to change. Right?”

“Oh yes, Fahdah, I really do.  Really truly.  But, like I was sayin’, I got debts to pay off and there are the other factors too, like my… associates, if you get my drift.  So, I really gotta keep workin’, capisc’?”

“Yes, yes… I see.  Well, if in your conscience you sense that you should go to Communion, and you really want to change, even though right now you can’t help it, even though you have to keep… um… working….”

“Oh yes, Fahdah, I gotta keep whacking dos’ guys.  It’s my job, an all.  But, like I said, I don’t really like it and I try to hit em when….”

“Yes, yes… of course.  Okay, my son, yes, you can go to Communion.  After all, this is the age of compassion and mercy.  Your conscience is all that matters.  But try not to kill too many people between Communions, okay?  You must make concrete and real progress toward your goal of not being a murderer for hire.  So for your penance, please think nice thoughts about your last, and your next, victim.  Do you know an Act of Contri… oh, well… I guess we can dispense with that.   ‘God, the Father of mercies….'”

[Fade to black.]

“But Fahdah! But Fahdah!”, some of you libs are squeeking, “Are you really making a comparison between a sexual act between two consenting adults and a mob hit?  Really?  This is outrageous!  You must hate Love, because you HATE VATICAN II!”

Calm down and wipe the spittle-flecks off your chin.

We are talking about mortal sins.  Right?  In this case, very mortal indeed.

But take another case…

“Bless me Father, I have sinned, it has been two weeks since my last confession.  These are my sins.  I am the owner of a good sized company with many employees.  But these are hard times in my industry, so I regularly defraud my employees of their just wages.  In our town, I am one of the most important employers, so most people there just have to take it, suffer the injustice.   And, well, I am going to continue to do it, too, because, well… it would be really hard if I don’t.  The company could go bankrupt and then… well… everyone would lose their jobs.  So, if I don’t cheat them, I’m committing an even worse sin, right?”

[Father, on the other side of the grate, nods his head slowly, brow furrowed in compassionate mercy.  Then, his expression changes to shock.]

“You are mistreating the workers?!?  What sort of man are you?  If you were only committing a sin like, I don’t know, adultery then I could say, well, I could say a lot of things. We could work with those while you receive Communion, in compassion and mercy because your conscience would be clear.  But THIS?  I just don’t know.  You must change your ways, my son.  It is not enough to want to.  This is the proletariat we are talking about here!  Workers, you know?  Being abused by a corporate fat cat!   No, no. You must STOP this before you can go to Communion.  Do you hear? Enough!”

[The penitent sobs quietly.  FADE TO BLACK.]


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. acardnal says:

    “Coincidence? I think not!”

  2. TNCath says:

    Couple this with the vote of confidence from the “Gang of 9,” and it seems to me as if “the troops” are trying to rally around the Pope whether he wants them to do so or not in an attempt to save him from himself.

  3. padredana says:

    Did the Cardinal perhaps excommunicate himself today?

    From the 13th session of the Council of Trent:
    “CANON XI.-lf any one saith, that faith alone is a sufficient preparation for receiving the sacrament of the most holy Eucharist; let him be anathema. And for fear lest so great a sacrament may be received unworthily, and so unto death and condemnation, this holy Synod ordains and declares, that sacramental confession, when a confessor may be had, is of necessity to be made beforehand, by those whose conscience is burthened with mortal sin, how contrite even soever they may think themselves. But if any one shall presume to teach, preach, or obstinately to assert, or even in public disputation to defend the contrary, he shall be thereupon excommunicated.”

    [You must be an Unreconstructed Ossified Manualist!]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  4. Orphrey says:

    Is there a rule that after receiving the dubia, the Pope has 6 months to respond? If the dubia were first submitted on Sept. 19, does that mean the Pope has until March 19 to answer? Maybe the 4 Cardinals, if no answer is given, would then make their correction public on March 20 — the feast of St. Joseph?

    [There are no rules in this matter. First, the Roman Pontiff is not constrained by the Church’s positive law. Of course if he simply ignores it, people’s opinions might be affect. Still, he is the Legislator. He is not subject to his laws (e.g., canon law, etc.). Also, well… there are no “rules”, really, are there. I am reminded of the kid in the movie: “There is no spoon.”]

  5. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Great illustration. I wonder if something similar could apply to German Catholics who believe their financial straits to be such as to prevent them from paying the Church Tax. Well, actually I don’t.

  6. TimG says:

    Politics and intrigue are ruling the day in the Catholic Church. Unbelievable. To me, this document throws the door wide open on any number of alternatives. As long as you have good intention, who are we to judge?

    I’ve added several Twitter accounts to my favorites to try and keep up with all of the news, as it definitely feels like we are hurtling towards something Major. In this the 100 hundred anniversary of Fatima. Mary Queen of Peace pray for us!

  7. SenexCalvus says:

    I was laughing as I read the first scene from what could be Father Z’s screenplay proposal (tentatively entitled AMORIS LAETITIA: THE MOVIE or perhaps ARMAGEDDON: THE PREQUEL) until I remembered that while it would have been billed as an outrageous farce three years ago, it is now a docudrama.

  8. Ann Malley says:

    Tag this along with Love Story from the ’70’s. Remember the schlock line, “Love is never having to say you’re sorry.” That is “love” defined by the one who is dying and doesn’t intend to keep up the business of true love which means saying you’re sorry, especially when you’re dead wrong and hurting the one you say you love.

    So, now the kitschy proposal is, “Mercy is never having to say – You’re Sinning!” Sounds really non-confrontational, that is until the not-so-innocent dupe is confronted with due judgement at the end of his or her sojourn in this rosy realm of Public Relations teams and doing whatever it takes to keep the love bus funded.

    So, of course the “faithful” 9 are queuing behind the new Master of Ceremonies who will have it his way, just like at Burger King!

    God help us! He is the only One who can.

  9. robtbrown says:

    I find it ironic that Cardinal Coccopalmiero, a canon lawyer, is attempting to answer the dubia, whose arguments are theological.

    The simple truth is that Christendom is all but dead, having been flattened by secular culture. And no one, not the Cardinal nor the Pope (who seems lost in 1970ish Jesuit theology), has any idea what to do about it

  10. ThankyouB16 says:

    I believe very strongly about this, and it piggybacks on the recent Roman Satire that clearly is getting attention. It also piggybacks on the popularity of someone like Milo Yiannapolis, who–sad to say–defended Catholic teaching on “gay marriage” better than Bishop Barron on recent Dave Rubin shows. And finally, let’s not forget “That’s Amoris” which, we hear, is being passed around the Curia, and it’s getting noticed, apparently, by some pretty important people.

    What I call for is flooding the internet with even MORE satire and memes. Let Rome hear and see just how stupid some of this is. Heck, if this is what, in part, got Trump elected, then it works! And yes: I am at the point now that I can say that some of these men are just stupid.

    Example: Only a “desire to change” is enough for Christian virtue and absolution? Really. How about this one:


  11. oldconvert says:

    Fr Lucie-Smith wrote a good article on this for the Catholic Herald recently -it is still up on their free website. And a priest at Sunday Mass this week thunderously pointed out that Hitler and Stalin both acted as if they had clear consciences, if any – Eichmann said he would jump into his grave “laughing” at the thought that he had been responsible for the death of millions – one’s own conscience is the last guide one should trust.

    I know that the gates of hell shall not prevail, but more and more often (I am a convert) the lines from an old English folk song keep coming to mind:
    “I set my back against an oak
    I thought it was a trusty tree
    But first it bent, and then it broke……..”
    How long, O Lord, how long?

  12. ajf1984 says:

    With great respect for Padre Dana’s comment above, and with my tongue firmly implanted in my cheek, I wonder if in this case the good Cardinal is preserved from excommunication given one of the 1983 Code’s Canon 1323 provisions? Let’s drill down:
    1323.1 refers to people who have not completed their sixteenth year of age–that’s a ‘Not Applicable’ (N/A).
    1323.2 refers to ignorance without negligence that one has violated a law or precept–that’s a Maybe.
    1323.3 refers to acting as a result of physical force/unforeseen or unavoidable chance occurrence–also N/A.
    1323.4 refers to acting out of coercion or grave fear unless the matter concerns an intrinsically-evil act or one that is harmful to souls–another N/A since we’re dealing with some Pretty Heavy Stuff ™.
    1323.5 refers to acting with due moderation toward an unjust aggressor…um, I think the “unjust aggressor” shoe is on another foot here. N/A.
    1323.6 refers to those who lack the use of reason…hmmm…
    1323.7, finally, refers to those people who, again without negligence, thought that a circumstance mentioned in numbers 4 or 5 was present. I’m thinking N/A on this one too.

    So, in my far-from-expert opinion, either H.E. has to be ignorant (but not because of negligence) of this teaching of Trent, or else off his gourd (perish the thought!), in order for this not to be an excommunicable statement.

    This ongoing exercise is becoming tiring. “Let your Yes be Yes, and your No be No” doesn’t just apply to those of us in the pews! Sigh.

  13. Kathleen10 says:

    robtbrown, if Christendom is dead, it didn’t fall, it was pushed, and by someone on the inside.
    And into this void comes two entities with a growing alliance, Islam and homosexual fascists. May they devour each other. Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.

  14. acardnal says:

    Rome Reports has disseminated a three minute video on this booklet and today’s news conference: HERE

  15. mburn16 says:

    If the proponents of the current Pope’s approach keep singling out Card. Burke, they may end up talking him right onto the loggia of St. Peter’s. There would be nothing as dangerous to the cause of progressives in the next conclave as an obvious leading voice of the traditionalist viewpoint.

  16. Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick says:

    The hypothetical about the Mafia hit man and Communion is a reminder that can. 915 is absolutely indifferent as to the SPECIES of a would-be communicant’s manifest grave sin.

    For forty years and more, bishops and priests have given Communion to pro-abortion politicians. To the pleas of pro-lifers, they have responded that they were showing “mercy” and that “dialogue” would bring the politicians around. As Cardinal Wuerl admitted on camera a couple of years ago, this “approach” has worked in a number of cases–that number being ZERO.

    The USCCB adopted “Catholics in Political Life” years ago. In it, the bishops declare that a bishop may “legitimately” give Communion to pro-aborts. Minor problem: That is a MORTAL SIN.

    THREE POPES have had no objection to the USCCB’s assertion of a bishop’s right to commit mortal sin.

    Three Popes in a row have taken precisely the same position. Verbally, on a few occasions, all three have defended can. 915. Concretely, all three have acquiesced totally in the practical nullification and abolition of can. 915.

    The last three Popes have participated EQUALLY in giving us the current chaos involving manifest grave sin and Communion.

  17. robtbrown says:

    Kathleen10 says, 

    robtbrown, if Christendom is dead, it didn’t fall, it was pushed, and by someone on the inside.

    See my comments above re secular culture.

    Christendom began to be terminally ill long ago. Why do you think Protestantism arose?

    Jacques Maritain said in the 1960s that we haven’t been living in Christendom but rather in its corpse.

  18. Pingback: Throwing Francis Under The “Joy Of Sex” Bus… | The Deus Ex Machina Blog

  19. Eugene says:

    copied comment by “feedback” from Catholic World News:
    “Card. Coccopalmerio says that Amoris Laetitia expresses ‘with absolute clarity all the elements of the doctrine on marriage in full consistency and fidelity to the traditional teachings of the Church.'” If that is – in all honesty – the case, then why does anyone need Amoris Laetitia at all? If Amoris adds nothing and changes nothing of the traditional teachings of the doctrine of the Church, then the said teachings are sufficiently extensive and perfectly clear already. What’s really going on?”

  20. jhayes says:

    CNS (the USCCB news service) has this summary of Cardinal Coccopalmerio’s analysis:

    The provisions of “Amoris Laetitia” allow people in irregular marriage situations access to the sacraments only if they recognize their situation is sinful and desire to change it, according to the cardinal who heads the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.

    The fact that such a couple also believes changing the situation immediately by splitting up would cause more harm and forgoing sexual relations would threaten their current relationship does not rule out the possibility of receiving sacramental absolution and Communion, [So, they don’t have to have a firm purpose of amendment at the time of their confessions.] said Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the pontifical council that is charged with interpreting canon law.

    The intention to change, even if the couple cannot do so immediately, “is exactly the theological element that allows absolution and access to the Eucharist as long as — I repeat — there is the impossibility of immediately changing the situation of sin,” the cardinal wrote.

    [IMPOSSIBILITY? This sounds like a denial of the role of grace, among other. Furthermore, saying something like this in the press, in this way, will further foment confusion.]

  21. Rich says:

    I find it ironic that, while we have been given such assurances throughout this situations “this is about mercy, not norms”, some are trying to establish new norms. And, while looking down on “doctors of the law”, some are simply trying to establish new laws.

  22. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    ajf1984, c’mon. you’re over-thinking padredana’s post. See 1917 CIC 6. :)

  23. Gail F says:

    Anyone with an imagination can come up with a slew of situations where a “married” couple cannot get or maybe even pursue an annulment. I could rattle off five or six in five or six minutes. And maybe, possibly, in some countries these situations actually exist. They do not exist, or at least not at all frequenlty, in the developed West — where people are debating this endlessly. Some country where people know almost no catechism, see a priest only rarely, and have quickly shifting family situations (due to natural disasters, government oppression, men working in other countries or going to war or to jail, etc. )… maybe, although perhaps thinking so is denying people their dignity or imagining them to be more limited, intellectually and spiritually, than they are. But in Europe? In North America? Give me a break. The problem isn’t people and what they do or do not know, it’s that our religion is weak and secular mores are strong. People have little help preparing for or staying married, and the general expectation is that there’s nothing wrong with divorce. Or adultery. Or sex outside of marriage. That’s why it’s hard for people – they can’t even stand the idea of not going to communion, if they can’t or won’t get annulments and want to remain “married.”


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