Elsewhere: synod battle


The Synod on the Family is finally over, thank God. Within the next year or so, Pope Francis will (probably, although not necessarily) produce a document with some level of papal authority on it. The Holy Father is free to reject or accept the synod’s recommendations as synods have no authority beyond advisory.

There is much ink being spilled in summary. I urge you in the strongest way to ignore the mainstream media, as always. They simply do not understand the Church, view everything in a secular political framework and as usual, are thoroughly non-objective in the promotion of their own agendas. Also please avoid secular, political mainstream media want-to-be outlets flying under a false Catholic banner (e.g. the “National Catholic Reporter“). This of course is always my advice, regardless of topic.

For the faithful Catholic media (which is the vast majority of it), reaction is mixed. Many are relieved that the synod was not as bad as it could have been. Some are now suggesting the intrigue was overblown. They are wrong and too fast to put on rose-colored glasses. The manipulations before and during are shocking, numerous, very well documented and acknowledged by many faithful bishops. What may have been a surprise to the modernist plans is the ferocity of the response. Even though selection of participants to the synod were stacked to a clearly progressive side, even though some of those were promoting (a kind word considering their heavy-handed machinations to force) even heretical positions, their success was limited — at least this time. The faithful cardinals and bishops refused to surrender, thank God.

I suspect that some wanted to make this into a mini-Vatican III with enough vagueness in its outcome to facilitate ignoring in practice that which can not be changed. Unlike the time of and following Vatican II, we have the Internet now and the back-room shennigans could not be hidden.

In the end, the final document produced by the synod is 91 paragraphs of solid Catholic teaching plus 3 paragraphs of (#84, 85 and 86) that were barely approved by the (remember, stacked) representatives that include sufficient vagueness to justify questionable “pastoral response” to “remarried” Catholics. This is important.

The “remarried” Catholics spoken of are in fact NOT remarried. Valid marriage is indissoluble during the life of the spouses. This circumstance is (1) those who have had a putatively valid marriage, (2) whose spouse is still alive, (3) who have civilly divorced and civilly “remarried,” and (4) have not received a declaration of nullity. OFTEN, they were married in the Catholic Church and knew full well their marriages were indissoluble, could not be “remarried” in the Church, went ahead with this elsewhere anyway and for whatever reason have not sought or were denied an annullment.

Such people are our brothers and sisters, Catholics, and often now understand the gravity of their grave mistake. They need our support and respect, yet they have gotten themselves into a real pickle. Nothing changes the fact that conjugal relations with someone other than their spouse is objectively the mortal sin of adultery. Yet, some long for the Eucharist for the right reasons while others simply want false affirmation of their sinful state. Either way, living in this state of mortal sin and knowingly receiving the Eucharist makes their situation worse – much, much worse.

Time will tell how the pastoral responses given cover in those 3 paragraphs play out. I firmly believe significant abuses will become the norm in certain areas (Germany will lead the list) and that a future pope will be forced to correct them. Those abuses, will be under a banner of false “mercy” distributing “cheap grace” to the flock – disastrous for their eternal well-being. This topic was addressed last weak by Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver in his Excellency’s archdiocesan paper.

Following the words of Christ himself, the Church has always taught that divorce and remarriage is simply adultery by another name

The idea that Catholics should be allowed to remarry and receive communion did not begin with the letter signed by Cardinal Kasper and other members of the German episcopate in 1993. Another country’s episcopate — England’s — pioneered this experiment in Christian doctrine nearly 500 years ago. At stake then was not just whether any Catholic could remarry, but whether the king could, since his wife had not borne him a son.

As with those who advocate for communion for the civilly remarried, the English bishops were uncomfortable with embracing divorce and remarriage outright. Instead, they chose to bend the law to the individual circumstances of the case with which they were confronted, and King Henry VIII was granted an “annulment” — on a fraudulent basis and without the sanction of Rome.

If “heroism is not for the average Christian,” as the German Cardinal Walter Kasper has put it, it certainly wasn’t for the King of England. Instead, issues of personal happiness and the well-being of a country made a strong utilitarian argument for Henry’s divorce. And the King could hardly be bothered to skip communion as the result of an irregular marriage.

England’s Cardinal Wolsey and all the country’s bishops, with the exception of Bishop John Fisher of Rochester, supported the king’s attempt to undo his first — and legitimate — marriage. Like Fisher, Thomas More a layman and the king’s chancellor, also withheld his support. Both were martyred — and later canonized.

In publicly advocating that the king’s marriage was indissoluble, Fisher argued that “this marriage of the king and queen can be dissolved by no power, human or Divine.” For this principle, he said, he was willing to give his life. He continued by noting that John the Baptist saw no way to “die more gloriously than in the cause of marriage,” despite the fact that marriage then “was not so holy at that time as it has now become by the shedding of Christ’s Blood.”

Like Thomas More and John the Baptist, Fisher was beheaded, and like them, he is called “saint.”

At the Synod on the Family taking place right now in Rome, some of the German bishops and their supporters are pushing for the Church to allow those who are both divorced and remarried to receive communion, while other bishops from around the world are insisting that the Church cannot change Christ’s teaching. And this begs a question: Do the German bishops believe that Sts. Thomas More and John Fischer sacrificed their lives in vain?

Jesus showed us throughout his ministry that heroic sacrifice is required to follow him. When one reads the Gospel with an open heart, a heart that does not place the world and history above the Gospel and Tradition, one sees the cost of discipleship to which every disciple is called. The German bishops would do well to read, “The Cost of Discipleship” by the Lutheran martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. For what they promote is “cheap grace” rather than “costly grace,” and they even seem to ignore the words of Jesus that, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me,” (Mk. 8: 34, Lk. 14: 25-27, Jn. 12: 24-26).

Think, for example, of the adulterous woman whom the Pharisees presented to Jesus to trap him. The first thing he did was to protect her from her accusers, and the second thing he did was to call her to leave her sin. “Go,” he commanded her, “and sin no more.”

Following the words of Christ himself, the Catholic Church has always taught that divorce and remarriage is simply adultery by another name. And since communion is reserved to Catholics in the state of grace, those living in an irregular situation are not able participate in that aspect of the life of the Church, though they should always be welcomed within the parish and at the Mass itself.

Last May, Cardinal Kasper claimed in an interview with Commonweal that we “can’t say whether it is ongoing adultery” when a repentant, divorced Christian nonetheless engages in “sexual relations” in a new union. Rather, he thinks “absolution is possible.”

And yet, Christ clearly called remarriage adultery and said adultery was sinful (Mt. 5:32, Mk. 10:12, Lk. 16:18). In the case of the Samaritan woman (John 4:1-42), Jesus also confirmed that remarriage cannot be valid, even when informed by sincere feeling and fidelity.

Archbishop Aquila continues with more rock-solid, Catholic catechesis. Read the entire piece: Did Thomas More and John Fisher die for nothing?.

Remember – Jesus is the source of this crystal-clear, unchangeable, timeless truth.

Some Pharisees approached him, and tested him, saying, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?”

He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”

They said to him, “Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss [her]?”

He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.”

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