Fr. Murray looks again at the Profession about marriage issued by the Bishops of Kazakhstan

Not long ago, the Bishops of Kazakhstan issued a document, a Profession of the Immutable Truths about Sacramental Marriage.   I wrote about it and provided an audio reading of it HERE.

At The Catholic Thing my friend Fr. Gerry Murray has written a piece about it.  Let’s have a taste, with my emphases and comments:

A Second Look at the Kazakh Bishops’ “Profession”

As has been widely reported, three bishops in Kazakhstan – Tomash Peta, Jan Pawel Lenga, and Athanasius Schneider – issued a Profession of the Immutable Truths about Sacramental Marriage on December 31, 2017. This precisely reasoned defense of Catholic teaching on marriage gets to the heart of the problems occasioned by the eighth chapter of Amoris Laetitia.

Now that the initial flurry of commentary has died down, I’d like to examine calmly here three paragraphs that summarize why permission to receive Holy Communion given to people who are in “second marriages” and have the intention to continue to commit acts of adultery is a grave offense against Catholic teaching on the sacredness and indissolubility of marriage. This permission abolishes the perennial sacramental discipline that protects and upholds this teaching. [The Church’s laws are not pulled out of a pointy hat.  They are founded on divine law, revelation, and the experience of centuries.  Cult (worship), Code and Creed are interwoven. Undermine one and you undermine the others.  This is especially the case when changes touch on our most fundamental teachings and life events.]

The Kazakh bishops write: “Sexual relationships between people who are not in the bond to one another of a valid marriage – which occurs in the case of the so-called ‘divorced and remarried’ – are always contrary to God’s will and constitute a grave offense against God.” This is plainly true. Adultery is never pleasing to God, is never authorized or tolerated by God, is always evil.

They continue: “No circumstance or finality, not even a possible imputability or diminished guilt, can make such sexual relations a positive moral reality and pleasing to God. The same applies to the other negative precepts of the Ten Commandments of God. Since ‘there exist acts which, per se and in themselves, independently of circumstances, are always seriously wrong by reason of their object.’ (John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, 17)”

This is a key point sometimes overlooked in the debate. Adultery can never be never “a positive moral reality and pleasing to God.” Therefore, the Church must never encourage people to engage in acts that are always per se offensive to God. It is pastorally deficient [that’s a diplomatic way to put it] to advise that a person committing such evil acts may responsibly judge himself not to be guilty of giving serious offense to God due to alleged circumstances that diminish his culpability for his sins.

How can he be so sure of his innocence of his persistent mortal sin that he thinks God will not hold him to account, but rather wants him to receive the Holy Eucharist without repenting of his sin? And why would a priest advise someone that he may continue to commit the sin of adultery as long as that person thinks he will not be held guilty by God for that sin?

The priest’s job is to tell people not to sin, not to tell them to discover reasons why their sin is not sinful for them. It is an act of spiritual arrogance in God’s sight for the priest advisor or the civilly “remarried” person to claim that, because of some alleged exculpatory reason, he does not have to obey the Sixth Commandment now and in the future, and that he can worthily receive Holy Communion. We are called by Christ to conform our lives to God’s law, which includes the recognition by our intellect of the justice and holiness of that law.


Read the rest there.

Looked at from one point of view, the main job of the priest is to say, “No.”  I suspect that most parents find that to be true.

Just as good parents do not make rules simply to ruin what might have been a great time for their children, so too neither God’s laws nor the Church’s are intended simply to screw with our heads and repress our fun.

They are given to us in love to help us not to hurt ourselves and others and to see more easily amidst the rocks and thorns what path to tread towards heaven.


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  1. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    You hit the nail on the head.

    Fathers (spiritual and material) exist to say “no” when that is what someone under our care or authority needs to hear….and often no one else has the charity or temerity to say it.

  2. Imrahil says:

    Well, the main job of the priest is not to say “no”, but to say the “yes” that is the answer to the “why not”.

    [That’s very grand. But, in the end, most of the time the answer still involves, “No”.]

  3. Unwilling says:

    But, you know, when Jesus (granted there are no tape recordings of it) said to the woman taken in adultery that she should sin no more, the “sin” he was referring to need not be supposed to be adultery (absolutely or discerned). Perhaps it was a general admonition to virtuous living (e.g. AC avoidance).

    [uh huh]

  4. Imrahil says:

    Side note: what does “AC avoidance” mean?

    That said, our reverend host said (though I remain of the opinion that the joys and beauties of our faith are, in this time for sure, rather more important than the petty details in the conducts of those who are believing Christians anyway) in this our time the job of the priest is more that it’s about the “don’t”s. And be that as it may, one of the fine things about “don’t”s in any case is that they leave out all the rest to the big unsaid “you may”. [Ironically, and this is often lost on people, a strong knowledge of Canon Law is one of the best tools we have, especially in the confessional, to help people be at ease about certain things and to be able to say, “Yes!”.]

    As Chesterton somewhen said, there’s only ten commandments. As someone else said, a couple of fences that leave the whole meadow in between open for free decision.

    Some say that our Lord changed that, in the sharpening of the New Law as opposed to the Old. But then, say, the Sermon of the Mount and so on also contains a couple of, arguably harder, but still specific “don’t”s which you really are not to do, and leave open the rest.

    [By which I do not deny that the general – general! – commandment to love God and neighbor, to do to everyone as you expect to be done onto yourself etc., does not, at times, have concrete implications. By which I also leave out the five – rather easy – Church commandments.]

    Bottom line: The way our Lord is presented in the Gospel, he appears, it is true, as someone that talks hard truths, chastizes, scolds, threatens, at times. At times. But at least He does not appear as a pep-talker. And though it is not of importance, I rather prefer His chastizements, scoldings and threats (mixed among other things) to the quite more uncomfortable alternative of pep-talks.

    [Fathers of children also prefer to be positive and encouraging. But I suspect that most of the time during certain stages they have to say “No”.]

  5. stephen c says:

    I apologize in advance for a long comment, which might not make sense to anybody. But I mean every word of it.

    After a long life, after years and years of caring about other people and having other people care about us, after thousands of decisions as to when and where to sacrifice for others: not a single one of us will ever say that God was wrong when, in His infinite kindness, He asked us to listen to what He had to say when he told Moses what to say at Exodus 20:14 (don’t give in to the desire to be an adulterer). Jesus thought it important enough to inspire, along with the Holy Spirit, the Evangelists to write a few more words on the subject.

    Life is hard, for most of us, and all of us want to be liked. And, with a few exceptions, for whom the rest of us hopefully pray every day, we pretty much spend our days not sinning and not failing to, when we feel like it, do things for others, or for ourselves, that are the sort of things the people just do. Right? Well, most of us are not tempted to gambling, for example, or to drinking to excess, or to spending the money we saved for the Sunday collection on too much tobacco: and, to tell the truth, few of us are tempted to adultery, because most of us are not attractive enough (or, among the poor, desperate enough for companionship and sexually-traded economic help – I could be wrong, but I think I have noticed that adultery is for most people who are poor or otherwise in a world of pain more about the cash than about the sexual act) – as I was saying, most of us are simply not attractive enough to the opposite sex to make that particular sin worthwhile, all things considered. But for the millions out of billions who can easily say to themselves, ‘all I need to do is commit a little bit of adultery and my life will be nicer, maybe even exponentially nicer, than it would otherwise be’: well, I understand, even if I am not one of those millions: but God does not say that which is not true, and when you have lived a longer time than you have, and when you remember what you could have done instead of committing adultery: you too might say that Exodus 20:14 is not a hard saying at all: God loves us all the way we are but (imagine you are hearing this today) God loves us too much to let us stay that way : or imagine you are hearing these words hundreds of years from now: “God loved us the way we were but loved us too much to let us stay that way.”

    Maybe it is easy to think we understand why someone who is presented with the possibility of adultery might want to follow that road – in certain situations. I paid, years ago (and I am still paying back the student loans) for a Jesuit education. Well, there are many Jesuit saints, and one thing they all have in common – you can do the research yourself – is profound humility. Trust me – whether you like Jesuits or not – one thing the Jesuit saints can tell you, if you ask (and, if you pray that your questions will be answered, they will be), is that there are always possibilities on this earth to follow a road that seems like the most human, reasonable, and acceptable road. And Jesus will always be there to tell us if that is, actually, the road we ought to follow.

  6. LarryW2LJ says:

    To amplify Fr’s closing remarks – as a parent myself, I recognize God as the Alpha Parent, or Uber Parent, if you will. His laws are there because He knows us all too well. He knows that, because of our original disobedience, we have that natural inclination to do things which are not good for us WHETHER WE CAN SEE IT OR NOT. And to be honest, most of the times it’s not that we can’t see it – it’s that we choose to ignore it.

    Those laws are there for our own good and no amount of mental gymnastics, on our part, can justify our ultimate disobedience. When instances like these come up, where people start thinking they’re smarter than God, I am always reminded of a line that I read that was written by a young woman who converted to our Faith.

    “Trust and obey. ALWAYS. For He is God ……and I am not.”

  7. Joe in Canada says:

    Part of the problem is this idea, which predates the current pontificate, that you can be in a state of mortal sin and still receive God’s grace (apart from Confession). As the previous poster mentioned the Jesuits, it comes to mind that the current practice of offering “retreats” for people in all sorts of irregular situations might be somewhat different from St. Ignatius’s practice of offering spiritual counsel for conversion from sin, and retreats for those in a state of grace to choose what is to God’s greater glory.

  8. Pingback: MONDAY EDITION – Big Pulpit

  9. MundaCorMeum says:

    I was discussing with a friend the issue of how AL undermines the basis of Catholic morality, and he pointed out something for which I had no good answer. I understand that the Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with Rome allow for the practice where — although only a single sacramental marriage is permitted — a civil divorce and remarriage is “recognized” after a period of penance, and the “re-married” spouse (who is technically still in an existing sacramental marriage) is allowed to receive Communion. When the issue of the Orthodox practice is raised, the response I usually see is that they have got it wrong, and the Catholic Church should not be adopting a practice that is wrong. However, my friend pointed out that the Eastern Catholic Churches have never been asked to give up this practice as a condition of unity with the Catholic Church, so how can this be such a critical part of Catholic morality? I am hoping someone has an easy answer for this. Is it covered in the book Remaining in the Truth of Christ that came out in response to the original Kasper proposal?

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