Saturday, October 24, 2015

“Pope Francis” Disembowels the Teaching of “Pope John Paul the Great” on Divorce and Remarriage

“Pope Francis” has just rendered as meaningless something that
 “Pope John Paul the Great” emphasized so forcefully.
Earlier I wrote that “Pope Francis” is “decentralizing” the papacy. What that cashes out to in real life is the fact that local bishops have much more sway as to how they can run their little fiefdoms (“dioceses”) while still being officially “Roman Catholic”.

Some traditionalists are not happy with this arrangement. The recently concluded “Synod on the Family” has published a document, for example, that absolutely guts, disembowels, tosses out, ignores, throws away the language of a previous pope, “John Paul the Great”.

For example, John Paul II said:
However, the Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church's teaching about the indissolubility of marriage (from Pope John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, #84, my bold emphasis).

This is “just” an encyclical letter (not an “infallible” “ex cathedra” pronouncement of dogma). However, it seems now that “Pope Francis” is about to lead the faithful “into error and confusion regarding the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage”. The traditionalist (yet still faithful to the papacy) Roman Catholic website Rorate Caeli said this today:

Passage 85 (made up of two paragraphs) is special; it quotes John Paul II's Familiaris Consortio # 84 but omits the part where communion for the "divorced-and-remarried" is forbidden. It also opens a path to doctrinal devolution by speaking of the "orientations of the bishop" with regards to the "divorced and remarried" (their bold).

Here is the “restatement” that has come out of the Synod:

85. Saint John Paul II offered an all-encompassing criterion, that remains the basis for valuation of these situations: "Pastors must know that, for the sake of truth, they are obliged to exercise careful discernment of situations. There is in fact a difference between those who have sincerely tried to save their first marriage and have been unjustly abandoned, and those who through their own grave fault have destroyed a canonically valid marriage. Finally, there are those who have entered into a second union for the sake of the children's upbringing, and who are sometimes subjectively certain in conscience that their previous and irreparably destroyed marriage had never been valid." (FC, 84) It is therefore a duty of the priests to accompany the interested parties on the path of discernment according to the teaching of the Church and the orientations of the Bishop. In this process, it will be useful to make an examination of conscience, by way of moments of reflection and repentance. Remarried divorcees should ask themselves how they behaved themselves when their conjugal union entered in crisis; if there were attempts at reconciliation; what is the situation of the abandoned partner ["partner" in the original Italian]; what consequences the new relationship has on the rest of the family and in the community of the faithful; what example does it offer to young people who are to prepare themselves to matrimony. A sincere reflection may reinforce trust in the mercy of God that is not denied to anyone.

Additionally, it cannot be denied that in some circumstances, "the imputability and the responsibility for an action can be diminished or annulled (CIC, 1735) due to various conditioners. Consequently, the judgment on an objective situation should lead to the judgment on a 'subjective imputability'" (Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, Declaration of June 24, 2000, 2a). In determined circumstances, the persons find great difficulty with acting in a different way. Therefore, while holding up a general rule, it is necessary to recognize that the responsibility regarding specific actions or decisions is not the same in every case. Pastoral discernment, while taking into account the rightly formed conscience of persons, should take these situations into account. Also the consequences of the accomplished acts are not necessarily the same in every case (their bold).

Note that the individuals in question are “the interested parties on the path of discernment according to the teaching of the Church and the orientations of the Bishop” Individual bishops have the right now (and they did not have it before) to have “pastoral discernment” as to what to do next. This gives the bishops in Germany the right to continue their practice (which goes against “the constant teaching of the church” and also the teaching (not infallible, therefore, it’s a wax nose!) of “John Paul the Great”, who said that “They are unable to be admitted” to communion”.

The Rorate Caeli folks said of this situation, “It is all a sorry state of affairs. Centuries will pass before this mess is undone. God help us.”

This is not going to be the end, however, only the beginning. This is the “test case”. Depending upon how this works out, there will be more occasions for differing “orientations” of “the bishop[s]”. I for one don’t feel sorry for them. This is the kind of shipwreck you get when you trust in a human institution like the papacy.

[Search Engine Trigger: I wonder how Bryan Cross and the folks at “Called to Communion” will explain this as having been a faithful action by a faithful pope of “the Church that Christ Founded”.]


  1. I'll tell you exactly how those kinds of folks will explain it, because my news feed is full of it: They are delirious with relief that the synod didn't affirm homosexuality (as it actually came much closer to doing last year). The progressives lost on that issue, so this is being spun as a big victory for the conservatives. The "discernment" language is sufficiently ambiguous that the mainstreamers will not recognize it as a defeat. God forbid they should look like the rad-trad nay-sayers.

    Even Michael Vorus (one of the rad-trad naysayers) is pretty relieved that the final document wasn't much worse. However, he's not ashamed to say that what was published has precisely these problems.

    1. Hi Lydia, I don’t know that you’re right about this.

      The Wall Street Journal’s Francis X Rocca had an article published immediately, “Bishops Hand Pope Defeat on His Outreach to Divorced Catholics”, and trumpeting “Synod ends without endorsing a pathway for those who have divorced and remarried to receive Communion”. But that’s beside the point. They don’t have to “endorse a pathway”. All that “Pope Francis” wanted to do was to take a step away from “the pope decides”. Those German bishops who already “permit those who have divorced and remarried to receive communion” got their way. They are moving toward “Ravenna Document” territory.

      Rorate Caeli are not “rad-trads” in the sense of being SSPX or Sedevacantists. They are “the loyal opposition”. Yes, they are “traditionalists”, but in the BXVI sense: “the pope is still in charge”. Their special thing is “we get to say a Latin Mass”. Now the Latin Mass is gone again, a Ratzinger-type of gatekeeper is gone, and it is “Pope Francis” who has actually opened the gate to let all the horses out.

      Rocca, a former NCR long-termer, swallowed the bait. Of course, for “Pope Francis” it was “an embarrassing defeat Saturday” only in the sense that “ONE of his signature initiatives” (and only in the political sense) didn’t explicitly become “Church law”. They did not explicitly vote “ok, let’s admit the divorced to communion”. That’s not where “Pope Francis” was headed. His longer-term “initiative” went through unscathed. How is that a defeat? The Ravenna Document is now one step closer to reality.