Friday, May 02, 2014

A Pastoral Problem - part 2

I've been Mundaborised! He accuses me of being a Kasperite.
Do read his post it is well worth it. It is a characteristic reaction to my fictional pastoral problem of Mary and Sam.
Pope Francis sees the Church as 'a field hospital', dealing with the wounds and injuries of her members. Mundabor, I suspect would disagree robustly with that and see the Church in terms of offering preventative medicine.

It reminds me of a conversation with a friend who works in the Orthodox world, he told me recently of the incomprehension of the local Orthodox bishop when he heard my friend had actually performed non-sacramental marriages: marrying a Christian, someone baptised to a Muslim, or anyone else who was not baptised. According to both our theologies the sacrament of matrimony only exists if it happens between Christians, hence the old practice of 'sacristy marriages' for the non-baptised or doubtfully baptised. The Orthodox would presume that no-one would even presume to ask for such a thing, it would simply be impossible, whilst a second or third marriage is quite possible, even if it is celebrated with less solemnity than the first. It is worth pointing out that we too have different grades of marriage too, sacramental and non-sacramental, nowadays apart from the change of a few prayers there is little distinction, certainly not in the actual formula used to confect the bond in one case or the sacrament in the other.

Mundabor puts forward a valid argument, even if it is one that the Church has discarded increasingly in the last hundred years in its desire for increased numbers going to Holy Communion. His concern is the scandal and compromise that Mary and Sam's situation introduces. I am reminded of the situation of the twice widowed Maria Fitzherbert who the Prince Regent tried to woo, she refused to sleep with him unless the were married, so a secret marriage took place but she was known as the Princes mistress. Her monument in St John the Baptist, the mother Church of Brighton shows her defiantly wearing three wedding rings, proclaiming her third marriage, to the Prince.  In a way their moral but apparently immoral and scandalous lifestyle encouraged the growth of Brighton as a place for mistresses and unconventional lifestyles, they followed what the Prince and Mrs Fitzherbert were apparently doing.

What Mundabor is arguing for is a Church that is uncompromising in its proclamation of the faith, it is indeed a valid argument but one that we have moved away from, mainly I would suggest by the movement for frequent and regular reception of Holy Communion started by St Pius X.


Sean W. said...

Mundabor seems to be overreacting to me. The couple cannot easily separate without doing gratuitous and unnecessary harm to their children (or are we lying when we say divorce has terrible consequences?). Their solution is either to wreck their children's lives, to endeavor to live in chaste continence for the sake of their children until their marital situation can be regularized, or else to ignore the teachings of the Church and fornicate without remorse. Obviously they have chosen the second path, even if they don't adhere to it perfectly, and nothing about that second path *in principle* excludes one from communion.

Terry Nelson said...

You are a buon pastore - a good pastor - your parish is so fortunate to have you. I wish it was my parish and you were my confessor. God bless you Father.

Sixupman said...

Does the adage "a lion in the pulpit and a lamb in the confessional" no apply to a lot of problems?

Sadie Vacantist said...

1) I suggest that the only answer is to declare all marriages null and void i.e. declare bankruptcy on marriage.

2) My own view is that when B16 resigned the Church should not have an elected a new pope i.e. remained sede vacante which is what happened after Celstine’s abdication (unrelated I know but indicative of a new approach).

3) The logical correlation is to discourage regular communion (as you rightly suggest).

4) The church does not have the resources to dedicate to these complex pastoral situations as in we are not running a cricket match with interesting questions for the Test Match Special team at lunchtime.

5) The Church needs to ‘go into administration’ and actually do what the Holy Spirit commands it to do.

Stephen Spencer said...

Often when things start off outside of Church teachings, there is no good way to get them fixed latter down the road…

Good article.

Mark said...

Living as brother & sister is just a nonsense. We can't be seen to condone sexual intimacy between un-married people. It's that simple!

J said...

Father Blake, with due respect: the use of the extreme and exceptional case as a pretext to change the Law is diabolical. Is the same tactic that the pro-abortion side use to have a "reason" to kill with no restrictions.
Sorry F. Blake, but i wont follow you to this trap, and let me warn you: it is a trap.

Fr Ray Blake said...

J, I don't follow what you are saying, no one has mentioned the law here. I am agreeing with Mundabor (to some extent). He is disagreeing with current pastoral practice and making some very valid points.

What do you see as a trap?

Annie said...

There are times in our lives when we have to accept the consequences of our actions. We can always say, "I was too young, I was too ignorant, I was too trusting . . .". I get it. However, I fail to see why Christ is supposed to be the one left holding the bag for it.

If you are in a marriage you shouldn't be in and it would harm your children to remove yourself from it, fine. Stay. Do what you have to do. But if your "brother and sister" routine works out except when it doesn't be honest and admit you're living in a state of mortal sin and have the decency to keep Jesus out of it. My guess is that when the Host goes into your mouth He goes out of it because God will not be mocked and your attempt to call the tune that He must dance to will be unsuccessful. Blaspheme Our Lord and you will find He is a very just judge. Stick to a Spiritual Communion and you may find that He is a very merciful one.

George said...

The historical Church seemed to be very lenient at times with the likes of Charlemange and many other princes throughout the ages. To suggest that a moderating pastoral approac is a modern phenon is ahistorical. Peter and Heloise are remembered with a sort of hagiographic respect.

Truth is truth, yes. At points the Church has put down her foot when it came to the likes of Henry VIII. But she has tolerated a lot too.

As laity especially we have a hard time understanding the Church's many degrees of pastoral approaches. We read sermons of saints and holy priests, and by this educate ourselves. But sermons, even by the holiest of priests, are not the place for learning and understanding pastoral considerations to moral theology. We can read the sermons fo St. John Vainney, but we are not privy to his pastoral advice and counsel.

Liam Ronan said...

I hope this isn't too 'off-topic' but it is (I believe) marginally relevant.
I've always wondered if Jesus ever laughed. If He had a sense of humour.
I know He wept. I know He became angry. I know He was sorrowful to the point of death. I know He was indignant and, on occasion, exasperated..but does anyone ever wonder if He had a good old laugh once in a while?
I want to believe He did.

TLMWx said...

Jesus Christ is very clear and uncompromising on the subject.

The Way of Dodo said...

I think Mundabor is correct. His statements are consistent with the Catechism of the Church. It seems to me he is primary concerned with the eternal destiny of souls, believes in Satan and Hell and takes the words of scripture and the teachings of the Church seriously.

Childermass said...

Imagine if Charles Ryder and Julia Flyte moved into Brideshead together as "brother and sister"...that would have made quite a different book!

Mary Kay said...

I think because I am re-reading the Old Testament, I am reminded of God's justice, in a way I don't often think about. I am inclined to be more pastoral in my own approach. But I can only think of the adage about 'give an inch...'. G. K. Chesterton said the Church has to be so demanding because everything counts when it hangs in the balance.
I also cannot believe that the world has never in 2000 years come upon this concern. Once we start to whittle away at the rules, it is easy to guess what will follow. And how is the damage to be undone?

Karl J said...

I agree with Mundabor.

I am a divorced husband and father who remains faithful to our vows which my wife has violated for over two decades. Now I am facing a second round of the annulment process after having fought for twelve years to defend our marriage, starting over twenty two years ago.

I am expecting the second instance court to rule in favor of my wife's petition for nullity based upon her saying she deceived me into marriage. The first instance court ruled in favor of our valid, sacrament. They did so properly and rationally.

My wife has repeated her litany of lies to herself for so long and so consitantly thazt she believes them to be reality. She is mistaken and needs serious help.

I do not view the Catholic Church as a hospital for sinners. I see it as a support group for the unrepentant, designed to persectute their victims, even unto their death, either by suicide or by the long term effects of their terrible persecution. The Catholic Church has become a scandal, at least regaring marriage.

I pray to remain faithful to our vows even if the Catholic Church rule against its validity.

At least, I have tried to give an example of fidelity to all of our children and grandchildren.


Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...

@Liam; He made a quip about Nathaniel after his, 'can anything good come out of Nazareth.' - "Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him: and he saith of him: Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile." (contemporary trans' replace 'guile' with 'deceit'.

Jacobi said...

Relax Father, you’re not a Kasperite, Heaven forbid!.

But you raise an interesting point, namely, the move during the 20th century towards universal reception of Holy Communion.

What has happened is not what St Pius X had in mind. He advocated more frequent Holy Communion - not universal, or unthinking, or routine, or show off, or for social acceptance of an inherently mortally sinful irregular lifestyle, as for instance with “Mary” who “desperately” wishes to receive. I f she is so DESPERATE, there are other solutions. She can grab her kids and go. That’s not being frivolous. Believe you me, there are plenty where I live, who do just that – for whatever reason.

The Catholic Mass today, in so many parishes, is indistinguishable from a protestant communion service. Comprehension of the Real Presence, of any theological interpretation, is now a minority position among practising Catholics. We are not good at stats over this side of the pond, but Voris’ recent stats for the US of A, are frightening!

That is the sad, and certainly unforeseen outcome, of the move towards more frequent Holy Communion.

By the way I agree with the Holy Fathers’ concept of the Church as a field hospital. But it is the hospital of a confused, shrinking, divided, demoralised army quite unable at present to face up to the formidable foes advancing on it.

Oh yes, we live in very interesting times.

Jacobi said...


Good point. It’s a pity more people don’t read Waugh’s book today. He was of the pre “be nice” generation of Catholics who looked their religion in the face and accepted it, if they were Catholic.

Julia loved Charles but chose, let’s say, a sinful life with the hope of salvation, instead of a life of sin, with little hope!

A lesson we should all be contemplating these days!

ps : it’s also a very good read!

Jane said...

When I was a child in the late 50s and 60s, my parents knew quite a few people who lived celibate lives, having been deserted by spouses and today I can, without much thought, call to mind 2 of my contemporaries who are likewise remaining faithful to Church teaching, strengthened by the grace they receive in Holy Communion.

These souls are heroic. They are shining examples of what is possible for the human soul with the support of Christ, and His Church.

Grace flows from their sacrifice and their prayers, to their children and grandchildren.

We will lose Heroism and Grace, both of which contribute to the salvation of the world, if we meddle with the rules around the sacrament of marriage.

We will be, yet again, bowing to mediocrity. We will be lowering the bar, patronising souls who are capable of heroism, embracing relativism.

Let us hold the banner high for chastity, for fidelity, for Grace abounding, which enables great and amazing sanctity.

Thank God for the example of my friends and my parents` friends who shrink not from the Cross, but bravely embrace it as the passport to complete life in Jesus Christ. Praise Him for His love and demands which liberate us from self and mediocrity.

GP said...

Thanks to Fr Blake for raising this thought-provoking scenario.

I would like to take one step back from the question of whether Mary should be allowed to receive Holy Communion, and ask: is Mary living in mortal sin? Is she doing the right thing by continuing to live with Sam?

The fact that Mary and Sam have children is a critical point. It would do enormous harm to the children for their parents to separate. This is a key factor in this case which I fear some commentators have either overlooked or not properly addressed.

In saying this I also recognise the enormous harm caused to others (including the children!) by "scandal". I am also not denying the enormous harm Mary is doing to her soul if she is using the children as an excuse for continuing to live with Sam in a relationship which she knows will be a sexual one.

I do not have an answer. Only God knows if she is sincere in her desire to be completely continent, or whether the picture painted in Mundabor's post is in fact the correct one. I do not know whether the intention to live in complete continence is a "fantasy" or whether it is realistic in this case.

I have a few questions for the fictional Mary:

(1) What will you do when the children are grown-up and have left home?
(Btw, what I am thinking is does she intend - albeit with great difficulty and heartache - to leave Sam at that point to take both herself and Sam out of risk? That is to say, is she just using the children as an excuse? Or perhaps she would only continue to live with Sam for as long as they continued to remain continent?)

(2) (i) Do you believe that Sam is sincere in his desire to live in complete continence with you for the sake of the children?
(ii) Have you ever had evidence that this is not the case?
(Clearly Sam has found this difficult to date. But what I am thinking is has Sam ever blackmailed Mary into sexual intercourse: i.e. "have sex with me or I will leave you, and think of the harm this will do the children" - in which case, is it realistic for Mary to expect their relationship to remain completely continent? Just a thought.)

(3)(i) Are there any risks posed to your children by continuing to live with Sam?
(The answer should be "yes": they may learn wrong lessons about sexual morality.)
(ii) What have you done / what are you doing (and what will you do, should you continue to live with Sam) to protect your children from those risks?

(3) Ditto regarding others being scandalised.

I am not saying these questions would give an answer to the issue here but they might be helpful.

Gungarius said...

Jane - I would agree with you, their example is heroic. I think the problem is that most people are not capble of heroic and the choice they seem to have is heroic or damned.

Not too many years ago the church deemed it a Mortal Sin to eat meat on a Friday, now it is quite rightly not, but the Church encourages people to do so and they receive many graces if they do so.

The dogma does not need to change but IMHO there does need to be a similar sense of proportion in Sexual matters. Apart from anything else people live far longer and are far healthier and better fed than in any previous age; so are going to be "sexually active" far longer, meaning that the Churches norms can befar more of a burden than for previous generations.

Jane said...

Gungarius, I have to differ.

You say,"the problem is that most people are not capable of heroic."

I reply that the vocation of a Christian is to be heroic. The practice of virtue is in itself heroic, and is designed to bring us all to perfection in Christ. Our fellow Christians are to support us in our heroic struggle with their prayers, guidance and friendship, and the Communion of Saints exists for us as examples and intercessors, friends in Heaven to help and encourage us on our way.

The road to sanctity, then, demands heroism from us all. Our Blessed Lord knew the battles we would face( He who faced temptation so extreme Himself) and He provided for all our needs because He willed that we should be successful ( ie. heroic!)As well as the comradeship of our fellow soldiers in the Church Militant, and the inspiration of our friends in the Church Triumphant, He offers us the Sacraments where we can gather untold graces to renew our strength, for God really does want us to fly as high as the eagles, to know Him and to be perfect, as He is.

So we must not judge others to be " not capable of heroic". That was not Jesus way`. The Samaritan woman He told to go and sin no more, she who had had seven husbands! He offered her Living Water and He believed in - no, he knew her potential to be a heroine.

Why is it that you, and others, do not believe that all souls can achieve heroism? All souls are made in the image and likeness of God. All souls are created to `know Him, love Him and serve Him in this life and to be happy with Him forever in the next.` Do you doubt that His grace is sufficient for us? Or do you -please don`t be offended Gungarius - not really believe in the Faith we all profess?

Supertradmum said...

I honestly do not think there will be a change in the sacramental definition of marriage, as no pope or conference can do this. What God has ordained is so.

As to those living as brother and sister, this is not a new problem People who have not long memories of pre-Vatican II days would not know that some people in irregular marriages were allowed to stay together for the sake of the children, but had to agree to a non-sexual relationship.

Some couples who convert come to this on their own, when they are waiting for annulments or are in sticky situations. Of course, scandal is a possibility, but such people are not setting up a lie, such as the wife of the Prince Regent. Sadly, he could have been brave and acknowledged that his wife was a Catholic, which was the real reason for the deception. He would have had to give up the throne he finally attained.

Such are the bad decisions of the worldly.

But, there are not two standards, one pastoral and one moral theology. This is the dark side of some priests in the confessional who allow sin and supposedly ok public sin.

The Pope is validly elected and as such, he will not declare anything out of line with the Teaching Magisterium of the Church, which is protected by the Triune God and specifically by the Holy Spirit. Those who doubt this lack faith.

Supertradmum said...

PS I should have stated that the brother and sister relationship did NOT mean that the couple could receive the sacraments. That is the big question here. Whether people are together and go to Mass and do not receive and whether they are forced by circumstances not to receive cannot be changed.

By the way, I repeat that I do not believe in the phone conversation as such. I believe it was either a set-up or deceitful reporting.

Supertradmum said...

Jane, you are correct and those who do not believe we are called to be heroic and, more, to become perfect, have not heard Christ on this subject.

Karl J said...


I am no hero!

Yet, I have remained faithful to my wife who is an unrepentant adulterer, for decades!

I am little different than my wife. It is simply that I have worked to stay the course. Our children have noticed.

This brother and sister thing is simply garbage, that, through sophistry, has been made to be called heroic.

It dishonors the valid sacrament and no theologian or Pope will ever, ever, ever change my opinion on this. This part and parcel to the disgrace that the Catholic Church has become.

Were there another place to go, I would leave this adulterous Catholic Church, in a heartbeat. But ALL of the others are worse sluts than she.

I am impressed by those who strive to remain faithful to their vows. I am sickened by those who "live as brother and sister" and are made to seem heroic. They get the BRONX CHEER from this New Yorker.

Every person who supports this brother and sister thing mocks our sacrament, denigrates my efforts and scandalizes me, almost to the point of giving up, jumping in the sack with a rich babe and working endlessly to destroy the hierarchy of the Catholic Church by any legal means available. Everyday, I consider those options and have to face them down because of the work and support of Popes for this crap! My temptation NEVER ends, in great part because the Catholic Church is the "RED LIGHT DISTRICT" to me for its support of this.

That is what I think of it and those who support it.


Liam Ronan said...

Thanks for responding to question regarding whether there is anything explicitly stating that Jesus laughed.

I did a bit more research and I think this passage from Hebrews clearly answers the question:

"Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people." Hebrews 2:17

Laughter is such a natural part of the human psyche that, 'being like His brothers in every respect', Jesus would have laughed...a thing we are often in desperate need of.

The Way of Dodo said...

Father Blake you asked:
"What do you see as a trap?"

I respectfully suggest you reread Mundabor again and see past some of the expressions he uses and understand his points.

As I understand him, he is saying the Church is in danger of compromising 2000 years of teaching because of misdirected attempts to be "loving" and "pastoral".

Fr Ray Blake said...

that's why I thought it worthwhile giving space to it here, the Church is always 'both and' not 'either or'!

Fr Ray Blake said...

Liam, Read 'The Name of the Rose', this is the precise theological question that is the background to the various murders that leads to the destruction of the library.

It was a very real theological question in the 13th cent and exercised some brilliant minds.

Liam Ronan said...

@Father Ray Blake,

Whaaa! The library is destroyed? THE LIBRARY IS DESTROYED??

Awww gee, Father I was just at that point in the book...LOL...sorry, I'm just having a laugh. Feels good too.

I'll get my hands on Umberto Eco's book and have a read. Thanks for the suggestion. God bless you.

Paul Goings said...

" theologian or Pope will ever, ever, ever change my opinion on this..."

No offense intended, but how is this any different, in principle, from the Me-n-Jesus approach to religious truth espoused by some Protestants, or even the position of the Sedevacantists, who are also convinced of their position and unwilling to consider any refutation?

Fr Ray Blake said...

A field hospital?

Anonymous said...

The Deposit of Faith and the natural moral law do not - can not - change.

Anonymous said...

Your great witness to the truth is extremely edifying and will have saved souls I am sure. You are a light in the darkness. Thank you.

Liam Ronan said...

@ Father Ray Blake,
I have read Mundabor's link that you offered, Father Ray, and can only point out that contra Mundabor is not only Pope St. John Paul II's Familiaris Consortio, The Catechism of the Catholic Church, and:

The fact that on 14 September 1994 Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the CDF issued a letter to all of the Bishops of the Catholic Church concerning the reception of Holy Communion by divorced and remarried members of the Faithful within which letter Cardinal Ratzinger stated:

"The faithful who persist in such a situation may receive Holy Communion only after obtaining sacramental absolution, which may be given only "to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that when for serious reasons, for example, for the children's upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they 'take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples'"(8). In such a case they may receive Holy Communion as long as they respect the obligation to avoid giving scandal."

Under such conditions the faithful may receive Holy Communion. It does not preclude those who form such intention from subsequently receiving sacramental absolution should their resolve weaken and they sin only to renew their resolve to live a life of marital continence. Unless there are those who would argue that absolution may be given only once in a lifetime for this particular sin.

Liam Ronan said...

Not to over-egg the pudding, but it ought be noted too that on the June 24, 2000 Declaration of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts published “Concerning The Admission To Holy Communion Of Faithful Who Are Divorced And Remarried”

The Pontifical Council stated:

“c) the manifest character of the situation of grave habitual sin.
Those faithful who are divorced and remarried would not be considered to be within the situation of serious habitual sin who would not be able, for serious motives – such as, for example, the upbringing of the children – “to satisfy the obligation of separation, assuming the task of living in full continence, that is, abstaining from the acts proper to spouses” (Familiaris consortio, n. 84), and who on the basis of that intention have received the sacrament of Penance. Given that the fact that these faithful are not living more uxorio is per se occult, while their condition as persons who are divorced and remarried is per se manifest, they will be able to receive Eucharistic Communion only remoto scandalo.”

Fr Ray Blake said...

Yes Liam, but the problem is that the Church's teaching has not been taken seriously, there is great gulf between the Magisterium and pastoral practice of most bishops/priests.
I think Pope Francis, I hope, wants to heal this breach.

Liam Ronan said...

For those of you who might be interested in reading a word-for-word translation of a 1972 analysis of then-Father Joseph Ratzinger "On the Question of the Indissolubility of Marriage" I offer the following link:

I suggest you might want to read the publication in its entirety with attention to "Conclusions" while bearing in mind this was the thinking of the future head of the CDF and Papacy 42 years ago.


Karl J said...

Paul Goings,

The truth stands.

Nor do I falsify the scandal I see, which the Catholic Church IS.

I know what I face, I have addressed it, everyday, since my wife abandoned our common life. I know, intimately, the injustice involved in "brother and sister" accomodations. I know how perilously close I have come to giving up. All of it is a living Purgatory. It pastorally codifies injustice and infidelity, sexual or not.

The marital promises are not just in the negative. They are in the positive as well. A person who gives their support and love to one who is not their spouse commits grave, deadly sin. When the Church tells them it is ok, then the Church blesses sin and takes that sin upon itself, unrighteously. Thus, it mocks the very sacrificial death of its Savior, who took upon Himself, all sin, but righteously and without fault. It does not imitate Him. It executes Him.

I will neither make you, nor Father Blake, nor Father Z nor Benedict nor Francis, nor any cleric see what is so very, clearly, wrong on the part of the Catholic Church. That is simply reality. I do not know why they are blind. But they are.

I did not understand any of this. It had never crossed my "radar", until I was abandoned. Living it has made what I have learned, very clear.

I, as much as anyone, understand lonliness. My closest friends are women. I am not, at all, without great empathy for those who face temptation , literally, all their waking hours.

But, God willing, I will never allow myself to be positioned to "consider", living as "brother and sister" with another woman, with the exception of my wife.

It simply is not "neutral". It is
always harmful, when it is not your spouse you are living with and your spouse is living. As much as my wife is an unrepentant adulterer, I, nevertheless, promised her a spouse's love and support. I am doing my best to live up to that. One living as "brother and sister", has, by definition, already given that promised love to another. They cannot maintain that violation, even if sex is excluded completely and honestly. They owe, in justice, what they are sharing with their "non-spouse", to their rightful spouse, alone, even if that rightful spouse no longer wants it.

It is that simple.

Poverty, nor other children, nor threat of incarceration, justify such a marital violation. Fidelity is fidelity or it is not.

Adulterers must repent and separate. The Catholic Church cannot white wash it, as it has tried. And it does not matter if this has been the practice from the time of the is wrong.

Justice requires the marital promises to be honored, even in absentia and not "shared" with another, even the most wonderful, loving person one could imagine.


Clare A said...

Is this the same Mundabor who was banned from commenting Damian Thompson's blog? He was never actually wrong, but he liked to tell it as it is - Anglicans were told they had a Mickey Mouse religion. I wonder how many that converted? It was as if he came upon a heated but convivial discussion in a pub, picked up a chair and trashed all the furniture.

For all that he upholds the traditional teaching of the Church, his style is often that of the bar room bully. I am not saying that I want 'niceness', which we can do without, just common courtesy. Having said that, his illustration of Campbell's soup tins made me laugh. But it's not edifying....

Keep up the good work. I find your blog helpful and challenging. It must be difficult to have a successful blog without falling into egotism (one reason why I don't blog), and yours is one of those which gets it right in that regard.

Sadie Vacantist said...

Mundabor was one of many banned on Holy Smoke. The problem with his blog is that it seems a mishmash of American style neo-conservatism and traditional Catholicism. It's not clear that he understands that the two might even be mutually exclusive. Although he thinks in sectarian terms, he avoids ethnocentricity, an understanding of which is key to grasp modern American conservatism.

Paul Hellyer said...

Mundabor is great. He is 'hot' not like the English who tend to be 'lukewarm' and we know what the Lord thinks of the lukewarm.
Karl : I agree with you. If the Church overturns its attitude to divorce it betrays the party to the first marriage and this is wrong.

Paul Hellyer said...

Lining as brother and sister is just wishful thinkng and is not 'avoiding the occasions of sin' It may try to address the 6th commandment but it completly ignores the 9th commandment and this is patently wrong. The second spouse is coveting the wife of the first husband. As for the children. Well they always suffer at the hands of their unfaithful parents.

Paul Goings said...

"And it does not matter if this has been the practice from the time of the is wrong."

I admire Mundabor's passion, and I advocate for neither lukewarmness nor niceness.

My question is about authority and trust. If a certain position in moral theology has been officially endorsed by the C.D.F., what is the basis for saying, "No, that's wrong. Those people are all mortal sinners. Etc.?" If only "Eternal Rome" (as privately interpreted) is actually reliable, what of the Catholic Church? Why bother with it at all?

Anonymous said...

You speak the truth. With so many deadened consciences today, the truth is not acknowledged, or even despised. You are giving great example, and your faithful suffering is the kind of virtuousness we are all called to aim for. Example like yours is so badly needed for the good of souls. Your time in purgatory is being foreshortened.

Anonymous said...

Just a point on your expectation re the second instance marriage tribunal: if the ground for finding the marriage null were to be as you say, that the petitioner deceived you into marriage - that would be absurd on its face. It would be accepting the petitioner's averment that she deceived you into marrying her, so as to get the annulment she wants. Now, if her averring that she deceived you to such an extent as to vitiate consent at the time of entering marriage, were against her interests, then yes, it might be credible even against your testimony - but in this situation where it would mean the petitioner getting what she is petitioning for, it would not be just and would bring the tribunal into disrepute. Why would the tribunal accept the credibility of the petitioner's contention which is reliant on accepting deception by her to the point of vitiation of the marriage contract - when that is to give her what she seeks, contrary to the testimony of the innocent party to the marriage? That would be to reward the person who comes to court with "unclean hands" - against a fundamental tenet of justice.

Liam Ronan said...


I always have a close read of your comments as they are usually pithy and insightful.

Would you be so kind as to grant me a boon (I'd vowed to use that word one day)?

Could you use the @ sign so that I might know precisely who you are replying to? It helps to put the topic(s) in context.


Karl J said...

No one, save Christ and His Blessed Mother were without sin. Logic, even in the best of hands, is subject to errors of judgement.

Either there is fidelity to a promise, or there is not.

To me, this becomes: If even a little compromise is allowed, then any compromise MAY be allowed(with sufficient justification). This is no answer, I know, and personally I mean you no disrespect but
If my wife is allowed such, then so am I. This does not end well.

I do not claim more intellect or more authority than the CDF. I simply have not heard a thorough, consistant, rational and just description of how this accomodation is, so, nor how it does not violate, knowingly and intentionally and gravely, the positive obligations of one spouse to another.

Forgive me for the emotion I attach to this. My brother in Christ, Paul, I have lived this Purgatory for more than two decades without a solitary explanation why my wife is justfied in her unrepentant adultery, for the sake of her two, precious(yes, precious to me) children, to have taken our five from me with no say in their lives(sacramentally) when the Catholic Church ruled, at the level of the Roman Rota that our marriage was abandoned for my wifes adultery, and it is good for her to give what she promised to me to the man who has never repented of nor accepted responsibility for the desecration of our marriage?

Please pray for me. A Church that cares nothing for the suffering of an abandoned spouse or the children of a valid abandoned sacrament, is who or what I have faced for decades, even though I have begged its intercession for decades!

This is my Cross. To me, it is nearly unbearable. Not simply over our wounded marriage but for the reality that those whose JOB it is to imitate Christ, can ignore my pleas for decades. DECADES!

My precious little faith seems based upon nothing.

Karl J said...


I think your thought process holds up in a system that is rational.

If you saw the first instance decision in our case, from 1993 in America, you would understand that rational thought may have little to do with a tribunal decision when the decision has been reached before the evidence has been gathered. Then it becomes a matter of selective use of facts while excluding the testimony of others, in this case an expert witness with more than two decades of tribunal consultation, because his written staements contradicted their working hypothesis, directly and insurmountably. So, it was discarded.

Ultimately, I made the choice to present the decision to three of our children's godparents, who knew both my wife and myself well and for numerous years. Independently, each of them adamantly indicated that neither of the characters described, in detail, within this canonical legal decision resembled either my wife or myself. They insisted that something very wrong was at hand.

So, I know, first hand, that there are corrupted canon lawyers, throughout the system, as I know of numerous other cases, scattered about, at least in the United States, wherein similar "fantasies" have been put forth as a caonical legal decision.

I have told our children that I will consider it a minor miracle if our marriage is upheld in this court of second instance. I will be surprised but it is far, to little, too late. It will not change my opinions of what I have seen.

I doubt there could be enough change to make me admit that the Church had moved in the proper direction, in these matters.

You and most rational Catholics give far too much credit to canon lawyers, who are just as corrupted as anyone, but in positions to do much more harm.

And they do, much more harm!

It is irrational to believe that they are not just as "pastoral" in their views as rank and file Catholics who, survey after survey shows believe precious little of what the teachings of the Catholic Church actaully says in most matters that are related to these issues. But these men and women pervert their expertice to destroy families, routinely, everyday!

This is known, top to bottom, in the hierarchy and is used, intentionally, by the bishops to keep people in the pews through serial monogamy, "Catholic Style".

John Paul II knew of it but did nothing significant to address it. He did window dressing. But he oversaw the gutting of the 1917 code of canon law when the 1983 code replaced it. He knew, exactly, what he was doing. He knew he was destroying marriages.

To claim otherwise is preposterous.

pablito said...

There is much nonsense talked about so called "brother and sister" relationships. Even if the couple succeed in the gargantuan task of avoiding sex, there's much more to human sexuality than just "doing it." Are they likely to avoid all touch, all tenderness and all natural affection? Even there. there's likely to be adultery in the heart. The part of Familiaris Consortio which deals with this was a brave attempt by Pope St John Paul II to reconcile the irreconcileable.

Prior to that, remarried divorcees would have considered themselves banished from the Church, with the result that future generations would likely be lost to the Church. It was also a recognition of what had become an enormous pastoral problem. Those in irregular unions were henceforth to consider themselves still part of the Church. They should attend Mass, pray, be part of Adoration etc and raise their families in the Church, but were still banned from receiving the Eucharist unless they can show that their relationship is no longer sexual. This is next to impossible IMO, even for couples who refrain from penetrative sex.

Pope Francis, in calling his Extraordinary Synod in October is having to come to terms with the fact that the problem has probably doubled since Familiaris Consortio, and that the present arrangements don't do anything to offer the support intended by Pope St JP II of Pope Benedict XVI. However his room for manoeuvre are probably limited to a recognition, even shared by Cardinal Mueller of the CDF, that our Western society has so deformed the understanding of marriage, that many marriage vows may be defective: in practical terms it means easier, cheaper and quicker annulments. No attempt can be made to change doctrine.

I'm unconvinced whether such changes will do more harm of good. The major battle lines seem to be between those who would accept a smaller, but more pure Church, and to hell with all those who fall from grace, and those who believe that mercy trumps justice and that the Church should encompass as many people as possible.

Liam Ronan said...

While it seems no one can believe that the divorced and civilly remarried couple can refrain from sexual relations or affection, is there something that gives the 'wronged spouse' an inoculation so as to abstain from sexual relations for the rest of their lives?
Or do you believe the 'wronged spouse' is capable of and practising life-long continence?
Aren't sexual relations for the 'wronged spouse' adulterous too?

pablito said...

@ Liam Ronan

"Or do you believe the 'wronged spouse' is capable of and practising life-long continence?"

I think anyone is capable of practicing lifelong continence provided they avoid any "attachments" which could lead them astray. Sexual activity for the "wronged spouse" would be considered as adulterous as it is for the cheating spouse, a fact which totally baffles those who don't fully grasp the Catholic doctrine of marriage.

The people I was referring to are those who have already formed an irregular union, such as the fictitious Sam and Mary, and may for whatever reason, wish to return to the Church. The options available to them at present, are quite unrealistic, even where they believe they are doing their best to comply. Pope Francis has stated that he wants greater pastoral outreach to such families. Even if it means that they can't receive communion, they need to be made to feel part of the Church.

Liam Ronan said...

Thanks for clarifying your take on matters.

Isn't it ironic that if you want to file for a Declaration of Nullity you are required (by the Church, as I gather) to first obtain a civil divorce?

pablito said...

@ Liam Ronan

One thing about Pope Francis' style is that he wants it be inclusive. As his recent comments about baptising martians if they presented themselves at the Vatican. From his comment that atheists could taste God's mercy if they're true to their conscience, to to his non judgemental comments on gay lifestyles, he wants the faith to embrace as many people as possible.

Whether or not, behind this apparent bonhomie, he would still require these lost sheep to assent to the faith before they can taste the fruits of God's mercy, I haven't yet fully understood. Casting the net as wide as possible is just an invitation. Many may be called but few may be chosen.

I can't see how Cardinal Kasper's long term wish to extend mercy to remarried divorcees can result in them being admitted to communion, except under the guidelines of Familaris Consortio, but it's obvious that the Holy Father wants to achieve something from the Extraordinary Synod, and the Synod to follow in 2015.

But I see a fault line opening up between the strict and the liberal. Do we only embrace people who get it right, or should God's mercy extend to those who've failed to live up to the perfection of the Sermon on the Mount?

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