The Great Fallacy of Modern Sex Wisdom
Warning: This message is SO counter-cultural. Even the most noble Catholics have nibbled on this apple. We parents have made a mistake. Do we have the courage to take an honest look through the eyes of the Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen? Scripture reveals the Holy Spirit moves freely through an open heart. An open heart hears the word of God and is ready to repent. Truthfully, this message will open up your eyes, like putting on eyeglasses and realizing you could not see the leaves on the tree.
Sex Wisdom. Is your heart ready?
“Sex wisdom does not necessarily make one wise: it can make one desire the evil, particularly when we learn that the evil effects can be avoided.”
Venerable Archbishop Fulton John Sheen: The great fallacy of modern education is the assumption that the reason there is evil in the world is because there is ignorance, and that if we pour more facts in the minds of the young we will make them better. If this were true, we should be the most virtuous people in the world, because we are the best educated.
The facts, however, point the other way: Never before has there been so much education and never before so little coming to the knowledge of the truth. We forget that ignorance is better than error. Scientia is not sapientia. (Science is not wisdom.) Much of modern education is making the mind skeptical about the wisdom of God. The young are not born skeptics, but a false education can make them skeptical. The modern world is dying of skeptic poisoning.
The fallacy of sex education . . .
The fallacy of sex education is assuming that if children know the evil effects of certain acts, they will abstain from the those acts. It is argued that if you knew there was typhoid fever in a house you would not go into that house. But what these educators forget is the sex appeal is not at all like the typhoid fever appeal. No person has an urge to break down the doors of a typhoid patient, but the same cannot be said about sex. There is a sex impulse, but there is not typhoid instinct.
Sex wisdom does not necessarily make one wise: it can make one desire the evil, particularly when we learn that the evil effects can be avoided. Sex hygiene is not morality. Soap is not the same as virtue. Badness comes not from our ignorance of knowing, but from our perversity of doing.
That is why in our Catholic schools we train and discipline the will as well as inform the intellect, because we know that character is in our choices, not in our knowing. All of us already know enough to be good, even before we start to school. What we have to learn is how to do better.
If we forget the burden of our fallen nature, and the accumulated proneness to evil that comes from submitting to it. we soon become chained as Samson was and all the education the world cannot break those chains. Education may conceivably rationalize the chains and make us believe they are charms, but only the effort of the will plus the grace of God can free us from their servitude. Without those two energies we will never do one jot or tittle beyond that which we have already done.
The Unknown is the Undesired
Train your children and yourself, then, in the true wisdom which is the knowledge of God, and in the ignorance of the things that are evil. The unknown is the undesired; to be ignorant of wickedness is not to desire it. There are no joys like innocence.
Ascension of Jesus, Ascension Thursday
Fr. Daniel E. Doctor: We come to the liturgical celebration of the Solemnity of the Ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven. This is the second glorious mystery of the Holy Rosary and signifies not only Christ’s Ascension into Heaven, but also the triumphal ascent of our Lord to the right hand of the Father.
Of course, we affirm this every Sunday, in the Nicene Creed when we say – that Jesus Christ “ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father,” just like billions of Catholics have done for some 2000 years. But just because we affirm this week after week, year after year, it still remains a mystery of faith which we find hard to understand or even to explain.
So, how are we to make sense of this core mystery of our Catholic Faith? Most especially in the early 21st century? How are we even to understand what it means to be”at the right hand of God?” These are tough questions. But most of the time we ignore these spiritual realities or we are to busy to think of them or even to rectify them with the material world we daily live in.
Even some Catholics, accept this Dogma because they are not willing to reject something simple. Because they cannot explain it, they still tend to downplay it or ignore it, as a kind of embarrassment, in our post-modern Age as something more magical than real.
So what is so reasonable about this event? Why do we celebrate it? And what should it mean to you and me?
First of all we have to get back to our Jewish roots in terms of how we are to understand Heaven and Earth.
Whether we realize it or not, most of us, especially Americans, are heavily influenced by Greek philosophy. By this I mean we set up as Plato, the great Greek philosopher once taught, a sharp dichotomy between the material and the spiritual, between the realm of appearance and the realm of true reality, between subjective truth and objective reality, between this fleeting earth and the infinite heavens. To Plato and all of the hundreds of generations of thinkers he influenced, life here on earth is nothing but an illusion and that we have to try and escape from the prison of our bodily experiences our senses which keeps us prisoners to these illusions, trapped in our senses, never perceiving true reality – never knowing the Truth.
Many, many people have been influence by Plato’s philosophy in fact -everyone who thinks that spirituality is nothing more than a means to escape from this world – are Platonic in their thinking. People who think that when they die they will be forever free of their bodies in Heaven where they will become angels are Platonic in their thought. They are also wrong too to think that a human becomes an angel when they die, is the same as thinking that a frog becomes a human when they die. The point here is that this kind of dualistic thinking has more to do with Platonic thought, than it has to do with the revealed truth in the Bible. When we think about anthropology and cosmology from a biblical perspective we find a unity between the spiritual and material, that the spiritual flows into the material and the material responds and is elevated.
From a biblical perspective, Heaven or the spiritual realm is where God and Angels dwell. Earth, or the material realm, is where humanity and animals dwell. The two touched each other, they penetrated and influenced one another, and they are never separated.
This makes more sense when we think about the prayer taught to us by Christ the Our Father “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done; on earth as it is in Heaven.” You see, there is not a hint of Platonic thought here at all. If there were, we would say, “bring me to Thy kingdom; free me from this earth and bring me to heaven.”
The “Our Father” is rooted in Jewish thought that acknowledges the connection of the material and spiritual and that the spiritual must permeate the material and lift it up so that the two are more perfectly united. And of course this unity takes place in the Will of God and when we execute His Will here on Earth by living our Catholic Faith. But, this unity of the spiritual and material began with the Incarnation and Resurrection of Christ. After Jesus died, He did not come back as a pure spirit. He rose embodied (in the flesh,) Incarnated perfect in the Spirit. Jesus died and united Heaven and Earth through His Divine Spiritual Nature and His Human Material Nature. What becomes the vehicle, the instrument for this unity is the very Body of Christ because Christ taught us nothing can separates us from Him. How does this instrument of our salvation work in and through us? this is described in the Acts of the Apostle when the Lord says, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.”
With the Spirit of Christ in the flesh of the Apostles, and in the Church – and in our flesh too – through Baptism, Confirmation and Ordination we are empowered to bring Heaven to Earth and Earth to Heaven – because the God of Heaven and Earth is within us! But how could any of this be called real or even possible? or even truth? When we read in scriptures on this Solemnity, “as they (the apostles) were looking on, He (Christ) was lifted up, and a cloud took Him from their sight,” In this, we realize that a real exchange did take place, that a little bit of Earth went into Heaven and during Pentecost, as the Holy Spirit descends, a little bit of Heaven will come down and remain on the Earth…in His mystical body in His Bride, in the Church in us!
Believing that this exchange really happened, beginning with the Ascension of the Lord, is not the belief of myth or being unreasonable. But it is the belief that there is a greater reality just beyond my limited perceptions. That I can come to understand, not to contradict, my conception of reality or of the material world, but to fill myself with ultimate happiness in the concept of a boundless realm of possibilities in the presence of God in and through me! We call this Heaven. And it is Heaven that we are made for!
This wonderful exchange between God and humanity began with Christ, in His Incarnation, through His Resurrection, by His Ascension to the Father UNTIL it finds its fulfillment in you when you proclaim the Good News, when you make beautiful, sacred music and art, when you carry out the spiritual and corporal acts of mercy, when you pray, and fast, and do penance for the conversion of sinners when you choose to fight instead of running away or remaining indifferent.
And of course when you accept the commission of the Angels to stop looking up to Heaven and get to work here on earth by bringing a little bit of Heaven -everywhere you go and to everyone you meet…
Mary Keldermans was “ordained” as a priest for Roman Catholic Womenpriests Inc. Picture Credit David Spencer/The State Journal-Register
Be Warned: Catholics Attending “Womenpriests” Services Incur Automatic Excommunication
Statement from Bishop Thomas John Paprocki Regarding Attempted Ordination and Invalid “Masses”
Please be advised that Ms. Mary F. Keldermans of Springfield, Illinois, has attempted to be ordained a priest for “Roman Catholic Womenpriests, Inc.” in a ceremony at the Abraham Lincoln Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Springfield on May 5, 2014. As a result, she has incurred an automatic excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See.
Please note also that a schismatic group called “Holy Family Inclusive Catholic Community” is being formed here in Springfield and is planning to conduct liturgical services at the Congregational Church UCC, West College Avenue, Jacksonville, Illinois.
The Christian faithful are cautioned that this attempted ordination and these purported “Masses” are invalid. Those who knowingly and intentionally participate in these schismatic activities also incur automatic excommunication in accord with canons 751 and 1364, with due regard for canons 1321-1324 of the Code of Canon Law.
- See more at: http://www.dio.org/communications/press-releases/358-statement-from-bishop-thomas-john-paprocki-regarding-attempted-ordination-and-invalid-masses.html#sthash.8t844Nsp.dpuf
The Grave Impoverishment of Catechesis Has Led To The Secularization Of The West And A Lack Of Respect For The Conjugal Act!
By: Patrick B. Craine
VATICAN CITY, May 3, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Cardinal Raymond Burke, one of America’s leading prelates, urged pro-life citizens and leaders to promote respect for the sexual act at an international pro-life conference in Rome Saturday.
“The restoration of respect for the integrity of the conjugal act is essential to the future of Western culture, the advancement of a culture of life,” the cardinal said. “Fundamental to the transformation of Western culture is the proclamation of the truth about the conjugal union in its fullness and th
e correction of the contraceptive thinking which fears life, which fears procreation.” The cardinal, who is prefect of the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura, its highest court, was speaking in a keynote address at the inaugural International Pro-Life Conference, held the day before the Italian March for Life. The event was hosted by LifeSiteNews in partnership with Human Life International and Family Life International New Zealand.
In his remarks, the cardinal emphasized the importance of public demonstrations for life such as the marches for life around the world, and highlighted “the importance of developing and supporting truly pro-life and pro-family media.”
He also reiterated his urgent call for Eucharistic ministers to deny Communion to pro-abortion politicians. At the same conference, 52 pro-life leaders from 16 nations had joined in signing a declaration urging the world’s bishops to deny Communion to pro-abortion politicians in a spirit of “love and mercy.”
Cardinal Burke’s talk focused on the “perennial newness” of the Gospel of life, and he noted that man “can never tire of reflecting upon and honoring the immeasurable and unceasing love of God for the one earthly creature whom He has created for friendship, for communion, with Himself.”
He began his remarks by thanking the organizers of the international conference “for the promotion of the apostolate of respect for human life.” He said, “It is my desire, by my presence and with my words, to pay tribute to your tireless work in defending and fostering the inviolability of innocent and defenseless human life from the moment of conception until the moment of natural death.”
“It is especially fitting that our meeting is the prelude for the Fourth March for Life in Rome, at which, in the City of Saints Peter and Paul, so important and beloved in all the world, an international gathering will give strong and public witness to the unchanging truth about human life,” he said.
Cardinal Burke emphasized that the lack of respect for human life is rooted in a lack of respect for the conjugal act, urging a firm acceptance and promotion of the Church’s teaching on the transmission of life and contraception.
“The attack on the innocent and defenseless life of the unborn has its origin in an erroneous view of human sexuality, which attempts to eliminate, by mechanical or chemical means, the essentially procreative nature of the conjugal act,” he explained. “This error maintains that the artificially altered act retains its integrity.”
While some claim the sexual act remains unitive despite the use of contraceptives, “in fact, it is not unitive, for one or both of the partners withholds an essential part of the gift of self, which is the essence of the conjugal union.”
“The so-called ‘contraceptive mentality’ is essentially anti-life,” he said. “Many forms of what is called contraception are in fact abortifacient, that is, they destroy a life which has already been conceived, has already begun.”
“The manipulation of the conjugal act, as Pope Paul VI courageously observed, has led to many forms of violence against marriage and family life,” he added, noting the rapid growth in pornography through the internet.
The cardinal said the “exponential” increase in the secularization of Western culture has in part been “due to a grave impoverishment or even lack of adequate catechesis in the Church during the past four decades.”
St. John Paul II, he said, emphasized the fact that the Church herself was in urgent need of evangelization. In order to remake the fabric of Christian society, said St. John Paul II, “what is needed is to first remake the Christian fabric of the ecclesial community itself.”
“Fundamental to understanding the radical secularization of our culture is to understand also how much this secularization has entered into the life of the Church Herself,” said Burke.
He also noted that “the fundamental locus of the proclamation of the Gospel of life is the family, in which the children witness the Gospel of life in the relationship of their parents with one another and in the relationship of the parents with them.”
LCWR Nuns Reward Dissident Theologian,
Cardinal Müller Publicly and Bluntly Rebukes Rebellious Nuns
LCWR Nuns are “constituting a movement away from the ecclesial center of faith in Christ Jesus the Lord.”
CONTEXT written by Fr. Z: Remember that the nuns were trying to spin what the US bishops and the CDF were, and are, doing as payback for their support for ObamaCare. The nuns were trying to make this political. Now we see the true issue: Faith. Faith in Jesus, Son of God, who saved us from our sins! The Jesus who founded the Church as the means of salvation for all! Some of you have been waiting for me to admit, “for all”. There it is.
The nuns, however, seem not even to know what they don’t know.
Okay… now read. Just. Read.
Meeting of the Superiors of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
with the Presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR)
April 30, 2014
By Cardinal Gerhard Müller
I am happy to welcome once again the Presidency of the LCWR to Rome and to the Congregation. It is a happy occasion that your visit coincides with the Canonization of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII, two great figures important for the Church in our times. I am grateful as well for the presence and participation of the Delegate for the implementation of the LCWR Doctrinal Assessment, Archbishop Peter Sartain.
As in past meetings, I would like to begin by making some introductory observations which I believe will be a helpful way of framing our discussion.
First, I would like to acknowledge with gratitude the progress that has been made in the implementation of the Doctrinal Assessment. Archbishop Sartain has kept the Congregation appraised on the work regarding the revision of the LCWR Statutes and civil by-laws. We are glad to see that work continue and remain particularly interested that these foundational documents reflect more explicitly the mission of a Conference of Major Superiors as something centered on Jesus Christ and grounded in the Church’s teaching about Consecrated Life. For that collaboration, I thank you.
Two further introductory comments I would like to frame around what could be called objections to the Doctrinal Assessment raised by your predecessors during past meetings here at the Congregation and in public statements by LCWR officers. We are aware that, from the beginning, LCWR Officers judged the Doctrinal Assessment to be “flawed and the findings based on unsubstantiated accusations” and that the so-called “sanctions” were “disproportionate to the concerns raised and compromised the organization’s ability to fulfill its mission.” This principal objection, I note, was repeated most recently in the preface of the collection of LCWR Presidential Addresses you have just published. It is my intention in discussing these things frankly and openly with you to offer an explanation of why it is that we believe the conclusions of the Doctrinal Assessment are accurate and the path of reform it lays before the LCWR remains necessary so that religious life might continue to flourish in the United States.
Let me begin with the notion of “disproportionate sanctions.” One of the more contentious aspects of the Mandate—though one that has not yet been put into force—is the provision that speakers and presenters at major programs will be subject to approval by the Delegate. This provision has been portrayed as heavy-handed interference in the day-to-day activities of the Conference. For its part, the Holy See would not understand this as a “sanction,” but rather as a point of dialogue and discernment. It allows the Holy See’s Delegate to be involved in the discussion first of all in order to avoid difficult and embarrassing situations wherein speakers use an LCWR forum to advance positions at odds with the teaching of the Church. Further, this is meant as an assistance to you, the Presidency, so as to anticipate better the issues that will further complicate the relationship of the LCWR with the Holy See.
An example may help at this point. It saddens me to learn that you have decided to give the Outstanding Leadership Award during this year’s Assembly to a theologian criticized by the Bishops of the United States because of the gravity of the doctrinal errors in that theologian’s writings. This is a decision that will be seen as a rather open provocation against the Holy See and the Doctrinal Assessment. Not only that, but it further alienates the LCWR from the Bishops as well.
I realize I am speaking rather bluntly about this,
but I do so out of an awareness that there is no other interpretive lens, within and outside the Church, through which the decision to confer this honor will be viewed. It is my understanding that Archbishop Sartain was informed of the selection of the honoree only after the decision had been made. Had he been involved in the conversation as the Mandate envisions, I am confident that he would have added an important element to the discernment which then may have gone in a different direction. The decision taken by the LCWR during the ongoing implementation of the Doctrinal Assessment is indeed regrettable and demonstrates clearly the necessity of the Mandate’s provision that speakers and presenters at major programs will be subject to approval by the Delegate. I must therefore inform you that this provision is to be considered fully in force. I do understand that the selection of honorees results from a process, but this case suggests that the process is itself in need of reexamination. I also understand that plans for this year’s Assembly are already at a very advanced stage and I do not see the need to interrupt them. However, following the August Assembly, it will be the expectation of the Holy See that Archbishop Sartain have an active role in the discussion about invited speakers and honorees.
Let me address a second objection, namely that the findings of the Doctrinal Assessment are unsubstantiated. The phrase in the Doctrinal Assessment most often cited as overreaching or unsubstantiated is when it talks about religious moving beyond the Church or even beyond Jesus. Yes, this is hard language and I can imagine it sounded harsh in the ears of thousands of faithful religious. I regret that, because the last thing in the world the Congregation would want to do is call into question the eloquent, even prophetic witness of so many faithful religious women. And yet, the issues raised in the Assessment are so central and so foundational, there is no other way of discussing them except as constituting a movement away from the ecclesial center of faith in Christ Jesus the Lord.
For the last several years, the Congregation has been following with increasing concern a focalizing of attention within the LCWR around the concept of Conscious Evolution. Since Barbara Marx Hubbard addressed the Assembly on this topic two years ago, every issue of your newsletter has discussed Conscious Evolution in some way. Issues of Occasional Papers have been devoted to it. We have even seen some religious Institutes modify their directional statements to incorporate concepts and undeveloped terms from Conscious Evolution.
Again, I apologize if this seems blunt, but what I must say is too important to dress up in flowery language. The fundamental theses of Conscious Evolution are opposed to Christian Revelation and, when taken unreflectively, lead almost necessarily to fundamental errors regarding the omnipotence of God, the Incarnation of Christ, the reality of Original Sin, the necessity of salvation and the definitive nature of the salvific action of Christ in the Paschal Mystery.
My concern is whether such an intense focus on new ideas such as Conscious Evolution has robbed religious of the ability truly to sentire cum Ecclesia. To phrase it as a question, do the many religious listening to addresses on this topic or reading expositions of it even hear the divergences from the Christian faith present?
This concern is even deeper than the Doctrinal Assessment’s criticism of the LCWR for not providing a counter-point during presentations and Assemblies when speakers diverge from Church teaching. The Assessment is concerned with positive errors of doctrine seen in the light of the LCWR’s responsibility to support a vision of religious life in harmony with that of the Church and to promote a solid doctrinal basis for religious life. I am worried that the uncritical acceptance of things such as Conscious Evolution seemingly without any awareness that it offers a vision of God, the cosmos, and the human person divergent from or opposed to Revelation evidences that a de facto movement beyond the Church and sound Christian faith has already occurred.
I do not think I overstate the point when I say that the futuristic ideas advanced by the proponents of Conscious Evolution are not actually new. The Gnostic tradition is filled with similar affirmations and we have seen again and again in the history of the Church the tragic results of partaking of this bitter fruit. Conscious Evolution does not offer anything which will nourish religious life as a privileged and prophetic witness rooted in Christ revealing divine love to a wounded world. It does not present the treasure beyond price for which new generations of young women will leave all to follow Christ. The Gospel does! Selfless service to the poor and marginalized in the name of Jesus Christ does!
It is in this context that we can understand Pope Francis’ remarks to the Plenary Assembly of the International Union of Superiors General in May of 2013. What the Holy Father proposes is a vision of religious life and particularly of the role of conferences of major superiors which in many ways is a positive articulation of issues which come across as concerns in the Doctrinal Assessment. I urge you to reread the Holy Father’s remarks and to make them a point of discussion with members of your Board as well.
I have raised several points in these remarks, so I will stop here. I owe an incalculable debt to the women religious who have long been a part of my life. They were the ones who instilled in me a love for the Lord and for the Church and encouraged me to follow the vocation to which the Lord was calling me. The things I have said today are therefore born of great love. The Holy See and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith deeply desire religious life to thrive and that the LCWR will be an effective instrument supporting its growth. In the end, the point is this: the Holy See believes that the charismatic vitality of religious life can only flourish within the ecclesial faith of the Church. The LCWR, as a canonical entity dependent on the Holy See, has a profound obligation to the promotion of that faith as the essential foundation of religious life. Canonical status and ecclesial vision go hand-in-hand, and at this phase of the implementation of the Doctrinal Assessment, we are looking for a clearer expression of that ecclesial vision and more substantive signs of collaboration.
The Church Has No Authority To Change Divine Law! The Church Cannot Overrule Our Blessed Lord!
Msgr. Charles Pope
- Over the past several months there has been a lot of speculation on if and how the Church should change her teaching on marriage and divorce. Ross Douthat recently wrote a thoughtful column that sums up recent debates and concerns. (Here: More Catholic than the Pope?
But those who seriously think that the Church can execute a fundamental change in our stance on divorce and remarriage will get a simple answer from me: “Impossible.” To the inevitable follow-up question, I can be equally brief in my response: “Divine Law.”
The Church’s teaching and concerns about divorce and remarriage do not have their origin in some sort of “uptight” Church with a bunch of “uptight rules,” (to use an unfair characterization). The forbiddance of divorce and remarriage is Divine Law; that is, it comes from the very lips of Jesus.
Despite the widespread allowance of divorce in His own culture, and even some allowance of it in the Mosaic Law, Jesus, when asked if divorce and remarriage were permissible, simply says, “No” (Mat 5:32; Mat 19:9; Mark 10:11; Lk 16:18;). He goes even further and says that those who do so commit ongoing adultery in their second marriages. This teaching is repeated several times in Jesus’ ministry.
This is Divine Law, sovereignly stated by Jesus. No Pope, no Council, no Synod, no priest in any confessional—no one has any right or capacity to set aside Divine Law. Those who argue that the Church should change her teaching on this matter are asking the Church to do something she cannot do. They are asking her to overrule Jesus. Appeals to culture, pointing out what certain Protestant denominations do or don’t do, even the practice of the Orthodox churches—none of these can or should overrule the stance of the Roman Catholic Church. We have held, properly, that Jesus’ teaching on the matter cannot be set aside by formulas, human rituals, human judges, human clerics, or any number of euphemisms.
Jesus is clear: to be validly married and then to divorce and marry someone else is to be an ongoing state of adultery. If this does not seem “nice” or “pastoral,” let the complainant talk to the chief Shepherd, Jesus, because He is the one who said it. Whatever pastoral stance the Church adopts, whatever language she employs, she cannot adopt any sort of stance that overrules this clear teaching of Jesus’.
But of course this brings forth the next question: What about annulments? Are they not a breaking of Jesus’ teaching? No, at least not according to the very words of Jesus himself. Let’s consider the matter a little further.
The Biblical Root of Annulments. The Lord says this in regard to marriage: “What God has joined together, let no one divide (Mat 19:6). On the face of it, divorce or any sort of annulment would seem forbidden by this. But actually the text serves as a basis for the Church’s allowance of annulment under certain circumstances.
The text says “What GOD has joined together” cannot be divided. Now just because two people stand before a Justice of the Peace, or a minister, or even a priest and swear vows, it does not mean that what they do is a work of God. There have to be some standards that the Church insists on in order for us to acknowledge that what they do is “of God.”
There are a number of impediments that can render what they do ipso facto invalid. Things such as prior bond (married before), consanguinity (related by blood too closely), minor status (under legal age), incapacity for the marital act (i.e., cannot have sexual intercourse), and the use of crime or deceit to obtain consent—any of these things can render a “marriage” invalid. Further, it is widely held that if one or both parties were compelled to enter the marriage (e.g., by social or financial pressure), or if they display(ed) a grave lack of due discretion on account of immaturity or poor formation, such marriages are nullified on these grounds.
All these are ways that the Church, based on evidence, can come to a determination that what appeared to be a marriage externally was not in fact so. Put more biblically, the putative marriage was not “what God has joined together.”
One may ask, “Who is the Church to make such a determination?” She is in fact the one to whom the Lord entrusted, through the ministry of Peter and the Bishops, the power to bind and loose (Mt 18:18) and to speak in His name (Lk 10:16).
Thus, Annulments are not Divorces. A decree of nullity from the Church is a recognition, based on the evidence provided, that a marriage in the Catholic and biblical sense of the word never existed. Hence, since a person has not in fact been joined by God to another, he or she is free to marry in the future. In such a case a person does not violate our Lord’s declaration that one who divorces his spouse and marries another commits adultery (cf Matt 19:9).
Hence the Church does not set aside the Lord’s teaching by her teaching on annulment. Rather she has reflected on His teaching and seeks to apply the Lord’s premise for a valid marriage, namely, that it is “what God has joined together.”
But here then comes the basis for the great debate: are we giving too many annulments? While it is clear that the Church has some pretty precise canonical norms regarding marriage, like any norms, they have to be interpreted and applied. Certain American practices and norms have evolved over the last thirty years that many think are too permissive and thus no longer respectful of the binding nature of marital vows.
Many troubling statistics could be presented to show that there has been a true explosion in the number of annulments granted. In the early 1960s, there were about 300 annulments granted per year in the United States. Today that number is over 60,000!
When it comes to annulments, I as a Catholic pastor am somewhat torn. Permit me two thoughts on both sides of the question.
Issue # 1 – Somewhere we have lost our way. As a Church that forbids divorce and remarriage, historically we have insisted on the fact that marriage is an unbreakable bond. Our straightforward insistence on this actually led Henry VIII to found his own “church” when the Pope refused to allow him to divorce and remarry.
In recent decades I fear we have become an “uncertain trumpet” on this topic. We still say “no divorce and remarriage,” but we don’t really seem to mean it, at least not in the minds of most people, who do not have command of the finder points of canon law. If one does go the route of divorce and remarriage, routinely we seem to “work it all out for them.”
That so few annulment requests are refused makes it seem a bit of a charade to say that we teach against divorce and remarriage. Now I said it makes it SEEM this way; I did not say that we in fact DO teach that divorce and remarriage is OK. But our teaching forbidding it surely seems an abstraction to many; for in the end and there appear to be no real consequences for anyone who divorces, other than having to go through a tedious and legalistic process that almost always ends in the granting of the annulment.
Hence our pastoral practice does not seem to reflect our faith and doctrine vigorously. Pastorally, this is troubling, and it has grave effects on marriage in the Church and on how people regard it. Are we really serious about upholding the Lord’s strict doctrine on marriage? Though doctrinally I think we are, pastorally I think most Catholics don’t think we are all that serious about it in the end. What we do speaks more loudly than what we say. And this is a big problem.
Issue # 2- Many pastors struggle with Annulment, not as an abstract debate about policy, but rather as a problem that affects real people who come to them with needs. Often it isn’t as crass as somebody coming in and saying, “Well I got rid of my first wife and have got me another I want to marry; let’s get the paperwork going, Father.” It is usually far more poignant than that. Perhaps someone married early, before he or she was really very serious about the faith, and married someone abusive. Now, years after the divorce, he or she has found someone supportive in the faith. Perhaps they even met right in the parish. Should a marriage that was entered into in the young and foolish years, and lasted all of six months, preclude entering into a supportive union that looks very promising? Maybe so, some still say.
Another common scenario is a person showing up at RCIA who has recently found the Catholic faith and wants to enter it. However, he or she was married 15 years ago in a Protestant Church to someone who had been married before. Now, mind you, the current marriage is strong and they have both been drawn to the Catholic faith. They have four children as well. What is a priest to do? Well, I can tell you that this priest will help the one who needs an annulment to get it.
And I can tell you, a lot of cases come to the Church this way. It’s hard and perhaps even unjust to say to someone like this that there is nothing the Church can do—he or she will never qualify for the Sacraments. No, we just don’t do that; we take such individuals through the process for annulment.
Perhaps too, another person shows up at the door: a long lost Catholic who has been away for 30 years. During that time he or she did some pretty stupid stuff, including getting married and divorced—sometimes more than once. Now he or she shows up at my door in a current marriage that seems strong and helpful, and which includes children. The person is in desperate need of Confession and Holy Communion. What is a pastor to do? He takes him or her through the process of annulment to get access to those Sacraments.
So there it is. There are very grave pastoral issues on both sides. On the one side, we lack coherence for many when we say we are against divorce and remarriage, but then grant so many annulments. On the other side are tens of thousands of people whom we seek to reintegrate into the life of the Church and her Sacraments.
Frankly, some of the reports (and they are only reports) of the upcoming Synod have been a bit discouraging. Many influential leaders, Bishops among them, have suggested a further watering down (my assessment) of the teaching of Jesus (who himself refused to water it down when pressured to do so) on divorce and remarriage. My own prayer is that we would move more in the direction of internal clarity regarding valid grounds for annulment. Right now the lack of clarity over what is meant by “grave lack of due discretion” (a.k.a. “immaturity”) sows confusion and even cynicism among the faithful.
It will be granted that some degree of maturity is required to enter into sacramental marriage. We don’t let 10-year-olds marry for good reasons. And when someone turns 18, he or she doesn’t magically reach the maturity required to enter into a valid Catholic marriage. However, when does one reach maturity? What are the signs of or criteria for such maturity? Exactly how much maturity is required for one to enter into a valid marriage? On what grounds can a priest refuse to marry a couple he deems to be immature? As you can see, nailing down the concept of ”maturity” may seem easy, but it is not.
This is significant because many, if not most annulments are rendered on the grounds of grave lack of due discretion (a.k.a. lack of full maturity).
If there could be any reform that might be helpful coming from the Synod, it would be to order further clarity and reflection over what we mean by “due discretion” and proper maturity. Sadly, I do not see such a proposal on the table. If reports are true, it sounds like many are looking for (hoping for) a solution that, to my mind, makes things far more murky, and may even set aside or weaken what Jesus taught without compromise.
Thanks be to God for the Holy Spirit, who I am sure will prevent the Synod from teaching outright error. But protection from error is a “negative protection” in that it only prevents error. And thanks be to God for that! But is it too much for me to pray for greater clarity, for me to pray that the Spirit will lead us to become clearer and more prophetic in our teaching? Veni Sancte Spiritus!
Originally posted at: Archdiocese of Washington adw.blog.org
Citing Canon 915, Bishop Says Senator Durbin Is Not Allowed to Receive Holy Communion
by DR. SUSAN BERRY, Breitbart
Following the priest’s withholding of the sacrament, Bishop Thomas Paprocki replied to a pro-life activist’s email about the issue. Matt Abbott at RenewAmerica published the bishop’s response:
Dear Mr. [name redacted], Senator Durbin was informed several years ago by his pastor at Blessed Sacrament Parish here in Springfield that he was not permitted to receive Holy Communion per canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law. My predecessor upheld that decision and it remains in effect. It is my understanding that the senator is complying with that decision here in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois.
Bishop Thomas John Paprocki
Paprocki has been an ardent enforcer of the Church’s teachings on the sanctity of human life and marriage.
In October, Bishop Paprocki derailed an attempt by the gay activist Rainbow Sash Movement to have prayer inside Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Springfield specifically for the Illinois legislature’s approval of a same-sex marriage bill.
Paprocki warned that people who call themselves Christians should not profane God by asking Him to publicly degrade the sacrament of matrimony.
The following month, Bishop Paprocki performed an exorcism at the cathedral on the day Gov. Pat Quinn (D-IL) signed the same-sex marriage bill into law.
Bishop Paprocki referenced Pope Francis’s words about same-sex marriage while he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, referring to it as “a move of the father of lies who wishes to confuse and deceive the children of God.”
The Awesome Gift Of The Priesthood!
Father James Farfaglia - While I was pouring myself a hot cup of coffee in the rectory kitchen a number of years ago, a priest friend who lived in the same rectory came through the kitchen, his face beaming with his characteristic joviality. “Come here,” he said,” I need to show you something.” Father had just celebrated his birthday and he had bought himself a little present. As he carefully opened the box he looked at me with the anticipation of a small boy with a new toy and cheerfully said, “Look at this!” What he was showing me was a beautifully stitched corporal and matching altar cloth that he had ordered from a liturgical supply company for his celebration of the Mass. “This new corporal and new altar cloth will remind me to say Mass better and better,” he exclaimed. I was profoundly moved by his words.
Similarly, Pope Paul VI prayed a beautiful prayer each time before he celebrated Mass, “Lord, grant me the grace to celebrate this Mass as if it were my first Mass, my only Mass, and my last Mass.” When I was newly ordained, I mentioned this story to another priest friend who said, “Yes, I know about the Pope’s prayer, but I have changed the wording. Rather than saying as if it were my first Mass, I pray that my Mass will be better than my first Mass.”
How wonderful it is for me to be in the company of Catholic priests who passionately love Jesus, the Church and their vocation to the priesthood!
When I contemplate the mystery of the Eucharist, I am continually reminded of these beautiful words from the Sacred Scriptures: “Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life. For God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world, but so that through him the world might be saved” (John 3: 16-17).
We cannot even begin to fathom the depth of God’s love for us. His love is so immense that he himself is defined as love. “God is love” (1 John 4: 8, 16). The Holy Eucharist is the most visible sign of God’s love for each of us. Jesus loves us so much that he cannot leave us. “And know that I am with you always until the end of time” (Matthew 28: 20).
As we consider the mystery of God’s unconditional love we are reminded that love defines the very purpose of our existence too. The purpose of our life can be summed up with only one word: love. “…since God has loved us so much, we too should love one another” (1 John 4: 11).
A few years ago I came across an acquaintance that I had not seen in a long time. We exchanged warm greetings and she asked me how everything was going at my parish. Are you still the only priest over there?” she asked. When I told her that I was, she wondered if I was ever bored with saying many Masses on the weekend. I assured her that everything was wonderful, but I thought to myself, “bored”? I love what I do! I did not want to embarrass my friend, but I wanted to tell her that my biggest problem on Sunday is that each Mass has to come to an end. How could I be bored when I have been called to the Catholic priesthood? Each time I celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, it is as though a new Bethlehem and a new Calvary have become present for me. How could I be bored when I hold Jesus in my sinful and trembling hands?
What intimacy! When Jesus comes to us, he comes to us as communion. God and man become one. He comes to us as the divine lover. His communion with us is more intimate than the intimate union of husband and wife or a mother with her unborn child. Let us recall then the words from the first encyclical letter written by Blessed Pope John Paul: “Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it” (Redemptor Hominis, 10.1).
When we consider the vocation to fatherhood through the prism of the Eucharist, we find that fathers have been called by God to love in a very special way. “Husbands love your wives as Christ loves the Church” (cf: Ephesians 6: 25).
How does Christ love his Church?
The answer to this question may be found in the Eucharist: “This is my body; this is my blood.” Love is total, unconditional, a complete oblation.
Married men with children are called “Father” by a select group, their families. As a priest, people call me “Father.” I too have been called “Father” by the thousands and thousands of people that I have provided for, nourished and educated for more than twenty-six years as a priest. It is my vocation to celibate fatherhood that allows me to stretch my heart and give of myself unconditionally with joy and love each day with renewed commitment and dedication.
Our nation needs good fathers, be they heads of families, parishes, or dioceses; furthermore, that they be true and loving men who will live out their vocation. And what is their vocation? It is simply this: love. “A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends” (John 15: 13).
Am I bored? That question from my friend caused me to reflect.
I realize that the older I get, the younger I feel. With the rapid passage of time, I begin to understand Saint Paul’s dilemma: his passionate love for Jesus caused him to desire to be with him in heaven, yet that same love caused a passion to continue the work of the Lord here on earth. The daily encounter with our Eucharistic Lord allows us to be caught up in the mystery of continual and unconditional love.
Yesterday was Holy Thursday. Let us all thank God for the awesome gift of the priesthood. Some among our ranks have caused tremendous scandal. There is no place in the Catholic priesthood for a modern day Judas. Rather than focusing on what Pope Francis once called “the little monsters,” let us celebrate today the vast majority of Catholic priests who joyfully serve their people with profound dedication and joy.