More on the intrinsic viciousness of ‘pastoral accommodation’

November 5, 2017 § 94 Comments

Since 1999, I have directed a pastoral counseling agency that conducts over 12,000 [hours] of pastoral counseling per year.  That means that, over the last 18 years, I have either personally conducted, or been directly responsible for, over 216,000 hours of pastoral counseling, which is all about asking how one can apply the teachings of our Catholic faith to some of the most complex situations one could encounter in life.  Our agency’s services are delivered in English and Spanish to Catholic couples, families, and individuals across North and South America, Europe, Asia (primarily Hong Kong and India), Australia, and Africa, which has given me a uniquely multi-cultural lens through which to view this question of pastoral practice.  I am a Fellow of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, and I serve as the Chair of the Education Committee for the Catholic Psychotherapy Association, which is responsible for the professional  development of the next generation of pastoral psychotherapists.  I also direct a graduate program in pastoral studies which is forming the next generation of pastoral ministers.  I have written over 20 books and programs on a host of serious, practical, faith-based topics that have been translated into at least 7 languages.

The idea that the laity are doomed to be spiritual also-rans strikes me as a particularly pernicious failure of pastoral practice.  I am, frankly, appalled that what appears to be driving the progressive advocacy of an interpretation of Chapter 8 of AL that supports communion for Catholics who are remarried without the benefit of annulment is that lay people are just too weak to live holy lives.  It seems to me that some 50 years after Vatican II, lay people deserve a little better than “we think we have to lower the bar because, well, you suck.”

… I happen to work with an awful lot of people who have been heroically bearing the cross of living faithfully in their irregular marriages for years and who are a testament both to the fact that  the current teaching bears real personal and relational fruit AND the fact that heroism is for the average Christian (thank you very much).  On their behalf, I can only say, “How dare you.” to anyone, who out of their misguided approach to pastoral practice would seek to demean the witness of such faithful, courageous, godly, and yes, heroic people.

(HT: LMS Chairman)

 

§ 94 Responses to More on the intrinsic viciousness of ‘pastoral accommodation’

  • TomD says:

    Kasper had an interview where he said:

    To live together as brother and sister? Of course I have high respect for those who are doing this. But it’s a heroic act, and heroism is not for the average Christian. That could also create new tensions.

    That line right there is the problem; Catholics don’t believe Catholics can be Catholic anymore – the Gospel just is the call to heroism for the average man! Everyone has a heroic story to live, and who are we to deny that to the weak, and permit it only for the strong?

  • Zippy says:

    One can’t help but get the overriding impression that much of this call for ‘pastoral accommodation’ is the work of guilty consciences on the part of the clerics calling for it: attempts to turn the sort of faux ‘mercy’ they want for themselves into the practice of the Church.

  • Our Heroine says:

    I am a Catholic who has remained faithful to a husband who has abandoned her. It is a cross. The refrain I hear from the clergy on a regular/tiresome basis is, “Why not get your annulment so you can be free and find love again? Consider that there is something wrong with you that you don’t.”

    I have virtually no support from the Church for my choice to live out my marriage vows under these circumstances. And yet, here I am, years later, still doing it. If I, as a truly nothing-special Catholic can do it (without support) I can only say that honestly, anyone can.

  • ignacy says:

    Zippy:

    One can’t help but get the overriding impression that much of this call for ‘pastoral accommodation’ is the work of guilty consciences on the part of the clerics calling for it: attempts to turn the sort of faux ‘mercy’ they want for themselves into the practice of the Church.

    I second that. I was pushing for the proof of intrinsic evil of the current pastoral practice (i.e. analogous to the pastoral practice of torturing the heretics) because in the moments of weakness I see great temptation to go full amoris on my own sins. If it is merely evil because imprudent, a cunning man whose reason is dulled by grave sin can find sufficiently good justfication for applying it in his own case (or find a supportive priest).

  • Mike T says:

    I see this as a general failure to understand what grace really means. Grace is not there to enable us to live haaaaappy lives, but to enable us to avoid the consequences (in eternity) that we justly deserve.

    You see this clearly on the abortion issue where so few people are comfortable locking a college girl up in prison for even 3-5 years for having an abortion after getting pregnant at a party. Then they act surprised when she genuinely cannot understand, on a cost-benefit analysis, why there is any harm to her from diving into the hookup culture. Similarly, a lot of people don’t treat marriage and divorce with gravity because aside from men getting divorce-raped in a lot of family law courts, it’s not treated as a big deal by most authorities anymore.

    (On a side note, gotta love the conservatives who castigated Trump for divorcing perfectly healthy women and womanizing, but aren’t 10x more vitriolic in their views on Gingrich and McCain; particularly McCain)

  • LarryDickson says:

    A problem with “living together like brother and sister” is that it requires cooperation of both parties and apparently, in Pope Francis’s experience of Argentinian macho culture, that cooperation is often not forthcoming. It then becomes a choice between being raped and abandoning your children.

    Aside from that, Zippy’s point is well taken. The requirement for moral heroism is a possibility in the life of any of us. The hardest requirement is faith – that God is still with us when the grind sets in seemingly forever. Of course, people who do not have such experiences tend to have an attitude of moral superiority over those who do and who break down.

    I think Mike T puts too much weight on authority and punishment. I would rather convert that college girl, even if after the fact. Assuming that she cannot get beyond a cost-benefit analysis amounts to despairing of her soul and making her a good slave. If cost-benefit analyses are the rule, the optimal solution is to legalize killing toddlers so their organs can be sold.

  • […] post is inspired by this recent post over at Zippy’s. A major point of discussion in the comments is Christian (in that […]

  • Alex says:

    Men who kill their wives so they don’t have to part with their possessions also can’t get beyond the cost benefit analysis. Frankly, I think abortion is one of the crimes where the death penalty would fit best, especially when it is this frivolous.

  • Ian says:

    Mike T.,

    On a side note, gotta love the conservatives who castigated Trump for divorcing perfectly healthy women and womanizing, but aren’t 10x more vitriolic in their views on Gingrich and McCain; particularly McCain

    What about the conservatives who castigated Clinton in the ‘90s but then downplayed Trump’s adultery? That seems like the more obvious inconsistency.

    As for Gingrich, the conservatives I know who castigated Trump for his infidelities also castigated Gingrich and were appalled by the thought of his nomination. Gingrich never got the nomination, so it didn’t become as big an issue as it might have otherwise. Then there’s Herman Cain, whose sexual peccadilloes sunk his campaign. Of course, that was in that bygone sexually-repressed puritan era of five years ago when GOP candidates were still expected to oppose public celebration of sodomy. What prudes we were back then!

    But the McCain example is a good one. American social conservatives seemed to have made their peace with being divorced once and remarried. But get divorced twice and remarried? What a mockery of marriage!

    Of course, one could make the same point about Reagan.

  • TomD says:

    Soon we’ll have reached the Orthodox position – once, twice, three times is ok, but four is just too much.

    But once you cross over to the lesser evil, there’s no evil you won’t vote for.

  • Ian says:

    Soon we’ll have reached the Orthodox position – once, twice, three times is ok, but four is just too much.

    At least we’ll still be able to signal our opposition to the moral decadence of Islam in that case.

  • TomD says:

    Islam has the “remarriage” option without the divorce one, too!

  • Scott W. says:

    “Soon we’ll have reached the Orthodox position – once, twice, three times is ok, but four is just too much”

    There’s a parody of Kenny Rogers in there somewhere.

  • Mike T says:

    I think Mike T puts too much weight on authority and punishment.

    It wasn’t until St. Ronnie started us onto no fault divorce that the problems got out of control. It wasn’t until Roe v. Wade that it became perfectly legal to slaughter a child to avoid responsibility. Now authorities are telling women that anything less than highly enthusiastic, fully informed sex with her on top could very well be rape.

    The sexual revolution was almost entirely driven by cultural elites and “competent authorities.”

  • Step2 says:

    Mike T,
    I’m having trouble with the “perfectly healthy women” description. Is there some weird manosphere angle that makes it more sympathetic to cheat on a healthy wife?

  • TomD says:

    All I know is some have tried to explain away Gingrich by pointing out that his wife was dying so he had to go somewhere.

  • Zippy says:

    Isn’t the modern wedding vow something like “for better but not worse, in health but not sickness, until being with you becomes burdensome and I want sexytime with someone else?”

  • Mike T says:

    Step2,

    Is there some weird manosphere angle that makes it more sympathetic to cheat on a healthy wife?

    Consider two situations:

    One man has a wife who is 35, healthy and eligible to take half of his money and move on with her life.

    Another man has a wife who is now badly crippled, cannot do for herself and would blow all of the alimony on therapy and eat cat food for the rest of her life.

    Are you going to tell me that both women are equally wronged instead of one being even more wronged than the other?

  • Mike T says:

    The fact that two things sit broadly in the same category of objectively evil act does not mean that they are equally evil. The fact that there is a floor on the level of evil does not mean that there is a ceiling.

  • Step2 says:

    Are you going to tell me that both women are equally wronged instead of one being even more wronged than the other?

    No, but my question was about sympathy for his selfish behavior. Even using Zippy’s rubric of “selfish modern marriage vows” he is doing the opposite of what he believes is in his own interest.

  • Mike T says:

    It’s not sympathy, it’s just a lack of respect for the voices doing most of the condemning. A lot of people are getting tired of the forced moral outrage. After a while it feels like getting told you’re going to Hell by a pastor who keeps getting caught in the red light district or hanging out with johns.

  • Karl says:

    “I happen to work with an awful lot of people who have been heroically bearing the cross of living faithfully in their irregular marriages for years”

    Heroic?

    More like f***ing for Virginity, more than anything else.

  • Step2 says:

    A lot of people are getting tired of the forced moral outrage.

    Irony is dead.

  • Hrodgar says:

    Related to TomD’s comment up top, I wonder how much of the idea that virtue is “not for the average Christian” is a product of the idea that monastic life and the evangelical counsels are “not for the average Christian.”

    Fr Richard Butler’s Religious Vocation: An Unnecessary Mystery harps on this problem quite a bit. Perhaps the best summary of the problem, though, is a quote he takes from the Dominican Fr Maggiolo, “The contemporary ways of considering religious vocation, although diverse and opposed among themselves, also have this point in common: that they suppose it to be something quite rare, even exceptional in the Christian life. This is a supposition as gratuitous as it is dangerous; for once admitted it is not possible to divorce it from its consequences, which just about amount to the total suppression of religious life.”

    First we made the Counsels “heroic” and shrouded them and the monastic life in what Fr. Butler calls the “hazy aura of ‘special-strange-something'”, and with that accomplished we’ve begun to do the same thing even to the bare minimums necessary for a just life.

  • Hrodgar:

    Excellent comment. I wrote a blog post on that book at my blog; very highly recommend the book.

  • Hrodgar says:

    That’s where it was! I had picked up the book at Rad Trad’s recommendation some time ago, and your mention of it bumped it onto the short list. I had been going to look at what you said to make sure I wasn’t being redundant, but somehow I thought it had been in the comments over here, and I didn’t realize it had already been two months.

    I’m actually only about halfway through at the moment, but from what I’ve read, yes, it’s a very good book.

  • buckyinky says:

    With Zippy’s kind permission…Can anyone reading here help me with direction on how to think about marriages between non-Catholic baptized persons?

    From what I am able to piece together so far it seems the Church treats these as something along the equivalent of the following: If they stay together, it’s a valid marriage; if they divorce it was an invalid marriage (FWIW it seems from my view the Church is treating a huge number of marriages between Catholics this way also).

    I come from a family of devout Protestants (Catholic convert myself), and all my siblings were married in our Protestant church. My knowledge of things is that all siblings and their spouses were validly baptized, and understood marriage as a peculiarly Christian institution and indissoluble, though certainly their understanding was imperfect as regarding the Sacrament. I don’t know what their stances were on the exception that Protestants often grant as divorce and remarriage in the case of infidelity on the part of one or either spouses. Heck, I don’t even know what my stance on that was when I was still a Protestant as I didn’t ponder it much. What was ingrained in all of our minds though from very early childhood is that “divorce is not an option.” That’s what I remember, and all I have to go on in my siblings’ understanding of marriage also.

    Now one of my siblings has left her marriage, and her husband is rumored to have become Catholic and gotten an annulment. I have no way of confirming the truth of this rumor of annulment, but from what I am able to piece together it is beginning to look like it is true that an annulment has been granted. Not sure whether I’ll ever know for certain.

    Assuming an annulment was granted, how am I then to look at my other siblings’ marriages, they having no variables in their marriages that would recommend their validity over that of the one for which judgment of nullity was given? Should I assume my other Protestant siblings are living in adulterous relationships since whatever defect that was in the one sibling’s marriage is likely to be present in theirs also, despite my other siblings’ devotion and fidelity to their spouses (and vice versa) motivated by their Christian faith (albeit imperfect)? Is it as it appears to me to be, that the judgment about the validity of the marriage depends upon whether the spouses stay together or not?

    Surely there are some weighty writings on this matter from trustworthy Fathers since 1517 – anybody have any leads?

  • TomD says:

    As far as I know from talking with my friends who are on the tribunal, marriages between baptized non-Catholics are valid and sacramental just as a proper Catholic marriage would be.

    And yes, great scandal in the Church today is either granting annulments where there should be none (condoning adultery), or vast swathes of null marriages.

    If the tribunal didn’t even try to contact your sister, they have failed horribly; she could bring that up to the Rota if she wanted to.

    As Catholics, we basically assume all marriages are valid unless we know a reason they’re not.

  • TomD says:

    To be nit-picking precise; the Catholic position is not that divorce is impossible – it’s divorce and remarriage that is impossible. A couple can divorce for serious grave reasons but they must work toward reconciliation until one dies; and they cannot remarry until such a time (or the Church declares the marriage null).

  • buckyinky says:

    Thanks TomD – in trying to obtain counsel from trustworthy priests on this matter, they are (understandably) cautious in giving it. So cautious in fact that their counsel has gone no further than suggesting I would be unreasonable to question the decision of the tribunal, they are very careful in their proceedings, etc., etc.* Wishing to accept the authority of the Church in the matter, I wish not even in my heart to challenge a legitimate declaration of nullity. And yet, obvious questions come to my mind as detailed above. The declaration is an attempt to illuminate us on the reality of a marriage or the absence thereof. I would know exactly what makes marriage a reality among baptized non-Catholics, and what makes it fall short.

    My train of thought is traveling in this way: the Church is looking at Protestant (i.e., baptized, non-Catholic) marriages in a default way as a real thing, but not reaching the level of the Sacrament. Something about like a pagan marriage: as a real bond between a man and woman that binds morally, but not so strongly as the indissoluble bond of Christian matrimony. Otherwise this all seems too messy when it comes to my other (faithful) siblings and their marriages. Surely there is something real there, recognized by the Church, even if it doesn’t amount to a Sacrament. It is still troubling to me even if I’m right about it, all verifiable evidence pointing to a valid Sacrament in all cases, but at least this is one reasonable way to guess as to the way these things are being treated.

    * I didn’t mention this above, but among the rumors are that my sister was contacted by the tribunal, that she declined to respond (perhaps out of animosity to the procedure … “none of their business”), but that she considers herself to have been validly married to her husband (the petitioner), and that the grounds raised in requesting the declaration were bogus. Again, none of this do I ever see myself being able to confirm the veracity of, but what do you do when you suspect that the grounds upon which a declaration of nullity were made were given in bad faith and the tribunal could not know it – e.g. what if my brother-in-law testified that he was not validly baptized when I know that he was? I grew up in a denomination that validly baptized according to the Trinitarian formula, but did not see the need to keep extant record of baptisms, and so did not. The tribunal would not have any way to corroborate such an assertion, yet are they not making their decision about the reality of the situation based upon such evidence? What if I know that the tribunal didn’t have sufficient knowledge to declare on the reality, but thought it did? Is it rebellious to hold to the validity of the marriage even through the hierarchy does not?

  • Zippy says:

    buckyinky:

    From what I am able to piece together so far it seems the Church treats these as something along the equivalent of the following: If they stay together, it’s a valid marriage; if they divorce it was an invalid marriage.

    Formally that is incorrect (though practice may make it look that way).

    (The following falls under the “to the best of my knowledge” qualifier).

    Marriages between baptized protestants are exactly the same as marriages between baptized Catholics. (Also once a baptized Catholic, always a baptized Catholic, even if the person never practiced or went to Mass etc.)

    The only difference is that baptized Catholics have additional requirements in order to validly marry: a Catholic must follow proper form or receive an explicit dispensation from the local ordinary, and must be explicitly dispensed to marry a non-Catholic. Protestants are explicitly exempted from these requirements. So someone who married as a protestant would never get a declaration of nullity based on a “defect of form” or “disparity of cult”.

    But once a valid marriage has been confected there is no difference.

    Marriage where one or both of the spouses has not been baptized are “natural” non-sacramental marriages.

    Declarations of nullity are just juridical findings of fact, with all of the fallibility that implies. In the current climate I’d be more likely to believe that your sister’s ex got a flawed declaration of nullity than that all the rest of your protestant siblings are invalidly married. But of course particular facts about particular cases are dispositive here, not my general expectations given the current cultural climate.

  • Zippy says:

    buckyinky:

    My train of thought is traveling in this way: the Church is looking at Protestant (i.e., baptized, non-Catholic) marriages in a default way as a real thing, but not reaching the level of the Sacrament. Something about like a pagan marriage: …

    I believe that that is just flatly false. When two validly baptized people marry the marriage is a sacrament, period. There is no merely ‘natural’ marriage between two baptized people, period.

  • buckyinky says:

    Zippy:

    I believe that that is just flatly false. When two validly baptized people marry the marriage is a sacrament, period. There is no merely ‘natural’ marriage between two baptized people, period.

    Thanks, I prefer it to be false for what it’s worth, and the train of my thought does not travel very fast, nor very certainly for the sake of my (or anyone else’s to state the obvious) reliance upon it. Yet, still I’m left with just what was the tribunal thinking?

    Appreciate hearing your other thoughts above also.

  • donnie says:

    Marriage where one or both of the spouses has not been baptized are “natural” non-sacramental marriages.

    Since we’re on the topic, I’ve always wondered about “natural” non-sacramental marriages. Are they subject to the same conditions regarding validity and invalidity? Is a valid natural marriage dissoluble?

  • Zippy says:

    And if this stability seems to be open to exception, however rare the exception may be, as in the case of certain natural marriages between unbelievers, or amongst Christians in the case of those marriages which though valid have not been consummated, that exception does not depend on the will of men nor on that of any merely human power, but on divine law, of which the only guardian and interpreter is the Church of Christ. However, not even this power can ever affect for any cause whatsoever a Christian marriage which is valid and has been consummated, for as it is plain that here the marriage contract has its full completion, so, by the will of God, there is also the greatest firmness and indissolubility which may not be destroyed by any human authority. – Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubi

  • buckyinky says:

    I believe that that is just flatly false. When two validly baptized people marry the marriage is a sacrament, period. There is no merely ‘natural’ marriage between two baptized people, period.

    I should clarify a little though. I’m not figuring that the Church has changed her understanding of marriage in any way, just surmising the way it is approaching Protestant putative marriages in our current epoch. Perhaps taking the default approach of a suspicion of defective consent as to the permanence of the marriage bond, since the “infidelity exception” is so widespread as a belief among Protestants.

    If this is the case though, I’m trying to balance this with my other siblings’ marriages. If defective consent was the case in one, it would be the case in all of them. All of this is at once a lot of surmising on my part, but also not done just for fun and games. It is affecting my entire family in how we relate to one another. Believe me, I’d rather not think about any of this and just take the approach of Let’s just all get along!

  • TomD says:

    A valid natural marriage is dissolved by death and can be dissolved by the Pope *personally*. But that’s it. (See Petrine and Pauline privileges.) Sacramental and consummated cannot be dissolved save by death.

  • Rhetocrates says:

    TomD:
    Even in death, sacramental marriages are not dissolved; rather, they are fulfilled.

    (Quibbling, but methinks an important quibble.)

  • TomD says:

    True, but I was referring to the death of one spouse permitting the remaining spouse to marry again.

  • Advenedizo says:

    Since we are nit-picking.

    TomD just mentioned that we are supposed to consider all marriages valid unless we know of something that would invalidate it. This is incorrect. We are supposed to consider all marriages valid until the Church produces a nullity decree. After that moment we are free to consider the marriage either valid or invalid. The Church will consider it invalid.

    So buckyinky. Your siblings are validly married.

  • KevinD says:

    Buckyinky:

    One thing to remember about Protestants in general is that very often, they see divorce as a perfectly valid way to end a marriage and allow remarriage. As such, at the time of marriage most don’t consider marriage to truly be a lifelong commitment. This would seem to me to be the easiest grounds upon which a Protestant could get a valid declaration of nullity. All one would have to do would say that they thought marriage allowed divorce, and they’d have a valid argument for an impedemant.

  • TomD says:

    I completely understand the reasons behind what KevinD mentions, but it still sounds much like “Marriage is forever, but I thought you could divorce, so give me that Catholic divorce, yo.”

    The Roman Rota has upheld marriages where the person held that as a hypothetical but the Rota determined that it did not determine the will.

    Most people intend their marriage to be forever (and don’t work out “exit” clauses specifically).

    There’s tons of nuance here, too, and it can be quite hard to be 100% accurate.

    To Advenedizo – correct; unless the “marriage” is one you’re involved in – for example, if you are divorced and remarried, and come to convert (or just come to realize the reality), you are obliged to treat the second marriage as invalid until such time as either the first spouse dies or the tribunal rules.

  • buckyinky says:

    This discussion is all helpful. I appreciate being able to read it as well as Zippy’s allowing it to happen.

    The important thing I am taking away from it is:

    Assuming my sister and brother-in-law’s marriage has in fact been declared null, and assuming the form was identical in all my siblings’ marriages (significant assumptions I know), then the only two options are

    1. There was an erroneous declaration of nullity given or
    2. My other siblings are all living in an objective state of adultery; there is no marriage, natural or otherwise, that can possibly occur between two baptized persons except for sacramental.

  • buckyinky says:

    …living in an objective state of adultery

    Or rather, just general fornication, since they wouldn’t be cheating on a true spouse.

  • TomD says:

    Note that “form” has particular meanings when referring to marriage – the requirement to marry following Canonical Form is something all baptized Catholics are held to.

    Outwardly two marriages may look identical, but one could be valid and the other not. However, it is quite likely that the tribunals are overstepping their bounds in declarations of nullity, and canonists and bishops should be prayed for.

  • ignacy says:

    Zippy, did you notice that the Buenos Aires letter has meanwhile become doctrine, along with “reduced culpability” interpretation which it promotes:

    https://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2017/12/pope-francis-promulgates-buenos-aires.html

  • TomD says:

    The authentic magisterium triggers Canon 752, not doctrine in this case.

    this is a good writeup on it.

  • Ignacy says:

    Well, it may be that Pope Francis cannot into Canon Law or other formal stuff, but hey, Canon Law is just the decisions of the popes. It it extremely obvious what he intends to teach. In 100 years, when it is included in Denzinger, no one will wonder whether it is authentic magisterium, ordinary magisterium or whatever. It will be just quoted, much as Victim Pervenit is quoted today by Zippy.

    I see all these as “hey maybe not all is still lost, look”. But it is.

  • Zippy says:

    Ignacy:

    Well, it may be that Pope Francis cannot into Canon Law or other formal stuff, but hey, Canon Law is just the decisions of the popes.

    Yes and no. Different levels of positive law carry different authority, and Canon Law certainly trumps random entries in the acta. Francis certainly could change Canon Law; but he hasn’t actually done so.

    That said, I think too many people remain confused over the difference between positive law / praxis and doctrine. This is a central reason for some of the core resistance to accepting what has happened with usury: the official, legal, pastoral practice of the Church has marginalized and ignored the Church’s own doctrine on usury – which remains infallibly, fully, permanently, irrevocably true – for a century and a half at minimum, and many people simply cannot wrap their minds around this being the factual case. It feels like “the gates of Hell have prevailed”.

    Amoris and the rest of the sexual revolution cannot be resisted inside the Church Herself without aggressively turning back the clock on usury. I keep telling folks that, and reality keeps confirming it; but those who listen are few. None at all among the Hierarchy, as far as I can see.

  • Ignacy says:

    Zippy, but this is doctrinal matter, not only just “pastoral” issue. In other thread (apologies for paraphrase instead of quote) you asked me if I really believe that one can negotiate with the confessor that one knowingly persists in acts being grave matter and still receive valid Sacraments, for the reason of reduced culpability. Pope Francis ruled yes and explicitly so.

    As a consequence, the title of the OP is wrong – the pastoral accommodation may be vicious in some concrete cases, but not intrinsically.

  • Zippy says:

    Ignacy:

    I don’t agree that it is a doctrinal matter.

    Suppose Francis ruled that there would be no more annulments: individuals can simply decide for themselves if they think that their prior marriage is null.

    Is this a doctrinal change? No it is not. It defines the conditions under which priests may witness putative marriage ceremonies, and has no effect on the objective validity or invalidity of any marriage.

    Similarly, defining the conditions under which a priest may (under the positive law which governs his priestly acts) pronounce the words of absolution has no effect on the objective validity or invalidity of a sacramental confession.

  • Ignacy says:

    But this is obviously a bad analogy. If people decided for themselves about the validity of their marriage, at least in some cases they could be right.

    If on every occasion of pronouncing the words of absolution absolving penitent persisting in grave matter it would be invalid, then well, it seems to me that magisterium would be in error.

    So no, it is a doctrinal matter.

  • donnie says:

    Ignacy,

    But the Church already authorizes priests to pronounce the words of absolution absolving a penitent persisting in grave matter in the cases of usury and contraception. Zippy’s point is that if you want the Church hierarchy not to authorize this for cases of impenitent permanent adulterers then you should ever more strongly pray that the Church hierarchy cease authorizing it for usurers, because that’s where this mess started to begin with.

    If you think the Church is committing itself to doctrinal error by ceasing to instruct priests that impenitent adulterers are to be withheld absolution and Communion (a change which, despite all the weaponized ambiguity, has not yet taken place and cannot licitly take place until Canon 915 is either revised or abrogated by the Holy Father), then you would also have to conclude that the Church has been committed to that exact same type of doctrinal error for the last 137 years.

  • ignacy says:

    Donnie:

    But the Church already authorizes priests to pronounce the words of absolution absolving a penitent persisting in grave matter in the cases of usury and contraception. Zippy’s point is that if you want the Church hierarchy not to authorize this for cases of impenitent permanent adulterers then you should ever more strongly pray that the Church hierarchy cease authorizing it for usurers, because that’s where this mess started to begin with.

    I was writing from mobile, so that could significantly impair the readibility of my previous comment, so let me say it in different words.

    True, Pope Francis follows the path of usury and contraception, and I agree that you cannot win the current war without winning these two battles. But he does more than that. In the case of usury the exact conditions for absolution were not specified (or I missed that), and in the case of contaception invincible ignorance is mentioned explicitly.

    Now, in this case, Pope Francis (in AL and in the Buenos Aires interpretation) mentions reduced culpability and characterises it as something that can be persistent in time, dependent on circumstances. He also explicitly states that those who persist in grave sin and do not suffer from invincible ignorance may receive absolution and Holy Communion when their culpability is reduced. He also repeatedly calls the confessors to actively participate in such negotiations with the penitents. This is a precedent, to my knowledge, and a doctrinal precedent, not a pastoral one.

    If you think the Church is committing itself to doctrinal error by ceasing to instruct priests that impenitent adulterers are to be withheld absolution and Communion (a change which, despite all the weaponized ambiguity, has not yet taken place and cannot licitly take place until Canon 915 is either revised or abrogated by the Holy Father), then you would also have to conclude that the Church has been committed to that exact same type of doctrinal error for the last 137 years.

    I do not know what the Church is doing and I do not claim that this is the doctrinal error. In fact, I think that probably Pope Francis is right and I’m wrong, he is the Pope. It is just hard for me to come to terms with.

    But this talk about Canon 915 is really missing the point, the Pope is the ultimate interpreter of the Canon Law and the Buenos Aires Apostolic Letter guides the interpretation of the Canon – at least that is how everyone (except perhaps you, dr Peters and few others) view the commands of His Holiness.

    I might be mistaken, but this is the first time Pope magisterially states that one can negotiate with the penitent that he will knowingly persist in grave sin and receive absolution and Holy Communion. If this would always result in an invalid absolution and sacrilegious Communion, then I don’t see how this wouldn’t be an error.

  • ignacy says:

    Also, as I said elsewhere, Canon 915 only applies prohibition to manifest grave sin, Buenos Aires directives simply call to check if that applies on a case by case basis, not in a wholesale manner (i.e. it does not assume that every cohabitation or divorce & “remarriage” is manifest).

  • donnie says:

    Also, as I said elsewhere, Canon 915 only applies prohibition to manifest grave sin, Buenos Aires directives simply call to check if that applies on a case by case basis, not in a wholesale manner (i.e. it does not assume that every cohabitation or divorce & “remarriage” is manifest).

    Every cohabitation is publicly manifest (unless the couple is pretending to be married, which would be a separate grave sin). The overwhelming majority of post-divorce remarriages are publicly manifest (the small minority that are not have the option of living as brother and sister). It is not controversial that Canon 915 applies in these cases. If the Holy Father would like to authoritatively interpret Canon 915 to no longer apply to these cases particular cases it is well within his authority to do so. The fact that he has not done so means Canon 915 is still Church Law, to be interpreted as it has been universally interpreted since the new Code of Laws was promulgated. Penning (and subsequently publishing) a strong endorsement of highly ambiguous pastoral directives that strongly point toward (but, if read narrowly, actually fall short of) contradicting the law of the Church is not the same thing as revising the law of the Church no matter how many in the hierarchy (including, perhaps, the Holy Father himself) wish to believe that it is.

  • donnie says:

    But this talk about Canon 915 is really missing the point, the Pope is the ultimate interpreter of the Canon Law and the Buenos Aires Apostolic Letter guides the interpretation of the Canon

    You can read Dr. Peters yourself, but the bottom line is that this is not how the interpretation of Canon Law works.

    https://canonlawblog.wordpress.com/2017/12/04/on-the-appearance-of-the-popes-letter-to-the-argentine-bishops-in-the-acta-apostolicae-sedis/

  • TomD says:

    Nobody talks about Canon 1007 which is much more blatant:

    The anointing of the sick is not to be conferred upon those who persevere obstinately in manifest grave sin.

  • ignacy says:

    Law is not doctrine, if both the authority explicitly issues new laws circumventing the old, and no one actually obeys or even remembers the old, and the authority is very satisfied with that, the law withers (one can argue about that even from the provisions of the Canon law itself, but it is something of a general nature of law as a written general command by human authority).

    Besides, all this talk about it being ambiguous is completely unconvincing. Both Amoris and Buenos Aires letter is rather straightforward and I cannot even see how these could be interpreted in line of traditional practice, not even in narrow reading. And I didn’t see any attempt to do so.

    And my points regarding doctrinal change still stand, IMO.

  • Zippy says:

    ignacy:

    But this is obviously a bad analogy. If people decided for themselves about the validity of their marriage, at least in some cases they could be right.

    Same for whether the subjective conditions for mortal sin are met.

  • ignacy says:

    Zippy:

    If you believe that this is good analogy then you have to acknowledge that it is possible that at least in some cases the “full knowledge reduced culpability due to circumstances” thing applies to the adulterers in new unions. It also implies that cohabitation or civil union adultery can sometimes be not manifest in the Canon 915 sense. And the OP is wrong, since the qualifier “intrinsically” cannot apply.

  • donnie says:

    If you believe that this is good analogy then you have to acknowledge that it is possible that at least in some cases the “full knowledge reduced culpability due to circumstances” thing applies to the adulterers in new unions.

    Yes, there are almost certainly cases where this is the case, though only God can know where and how many.

    It also implies that cohabitation or civil union adultery can sometimes be not manifest in the Canon 915 sense.

    If someone is living publicly as a remarried person while their first spouse is still alive, this is manifestly grave matter. Canon 915 would still apply even if we could somehow know for certain which couples are, in actual fact, not in a state of mortal sin due to mitigating circumstances.

    The primary purpose of Canon 915 is not to prevent sacrilege (even though sacrilege is always a grave concern). It’s primary purpose is to prevent scandal. And yes, pastoral practices that cause scandal are intrinsically vicious.

  • ignacy says:

    Donnie, I think we have trouble understanding each other.

    1) Do you admit that circumstances, such as having children from the second union, can at least in some cases diminish subjective culpability?
    2) Do you agree that in such cases, penitents can at least in some cases validly receive absolution despite no intent to stop gravely immoral behavior?
    3) Do you agree that questions (1) and (2) are doctrinal, not pastoral?
    4) Does answer yes to (1) or (2) represent a development or change in doctrine?

    Also, Canon 915 indeed aims to prevent scandal, not sacrilege. So the sin has to be manifest. AL and Buenos Aires letter commands checking whether the sin is manifest on case by case basis, not assuming that in the wholesale. This way, nothing in the Canon could stop the practice at least as a possibility (assuming anyone cared about that Canon).

  • TomD says:

    Canon 915 can trigger on someone even if they’re completely innocent – if scandal would result from publicly granting the sacraments, it must not be done. 1 Corinthians 8.

  • donnie says:

    ignancy,

    1) Yes I admit the possibility that in certain instances there may exist circumstances that diminish the subjective culpability of someone engaged in manifest grave sin. That said, to whom this applies is not something we human beings can know. Only God knows who is and who is not in His friendship.

    2) A penitent persisting in objectively gravely sinful actions can approach the confessional and confess all his other sins, assuming he is truly sorry for them and intends not to commit any of them again. The priest, should he know about the penitent’s unconfessed grave behavior, may licitly choose to grant the penitent absolution in certain cases. This has been the approved pastoral policy in regards to those penitents objectively committing the grave sin of usury for the last 137 years.

    AFAIK, if a priest chooses to do this, the penitent is truly absolved if and only if he truly is not subjectively culpable for the persistent grave behavior he is committing. Otherwise, the confession is invalid just as it would be for anyone who deliberately withholds a mortal sin in confession.

    3) No, I don’t. The doctrine as to what sins constitute grave matter has not changed. The doctrine that a penitent must, to the best of his ability, confess all his mortal sins for absolution to be valid does not change. What changes is the pastoral practice that the priest takes in regard to the penitent.

    4) See answer to #3.

    AL and Buenos Aires letter commands checking whether the sin is manifest on case by case basis, not assuming that in the wholesale.

    Where in either of those endlessly malleable documents does it clearly command anything of the sort?

  • donnie says:

    Publicly living as husband and wife with someone other than your validly married spouse while that validly married spouse is still alive is pretty much the textbook definition of manifestly grave immoral behavior. Maybe the couple are actually in the state of grace due to mitigating factors that only God can judge, but the idea that their living situation is not publicly manifest is so absurd it’s actually kind of hilarious.

  • donnie says:

    To the extent that “checking whether the sin is manifest on case by case basis” is a serious proposal, I’m pretty sure it was already covered by JPII when he authorized those who have grave reasons to remain under one roof (i.e. children) and whose status as divorced and remarried were unknown to their communities (i.e would not cause scandal) to receive Holy Communion if they agreed to live as brother and sister.

  • TomD says:

    An example of the publicly manifest is where the first marriage is actually truly null but has not been declared – then they are not living in adultery but in sin, even if it appears to be adultery.

    However, the Church could easily resolve this by again forbidding unmarried co-ed cohabitation with non-family members. Then the publicly manifest sin would be direct disobedience of the Church (again).

    Basically, trying to loosen restrictions causes all sorts of confusion.

  • Can. 1055 §1. The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring, has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament between the baptized.

    §2. For this reason, a valid matrimonial contract cannot exist between the baptized without it being by that fact a sacrament.

    Can. 1086 §1. A marriage between two persons, one of whom has been baptized in the Catholic Church or received into it and the other of whom is not baptized, is invalid.

    Can. 1099 Error concerning the unity or indissolubility or sacramental dignity of marriage does not vitiate matrimonial consent provided that it does not determine the will.

    I would think that a moral obligation would exist to inform the defender of the bond if one knew for a fact that a declaration of nullity had been obtained based on perjured testimony. In any case, disparity of cult is only an impediment for Catholics, so one of the spouses to a Protestant marriage having been unbaptized would not invalidate it (unless the marriage were invalid under civil law). So buckyinky’s brother could not have obtained an annulment that way anyway. Most likely it was granted based on some psychological cause, from which no presumption could be drawn regarding his buckyinky’s other siblings.

    There’s also no reason to think that there’s mass marital invalidity today. As Tom said earlier, most people intend to remain together at the time of their marriage, regardless of their beliefs about divorce. The Church has not historically granted such a presumption of invalidity in pagan countries where divorce was permitted.

  • buckyinky says:

    Thanks AR for your further thoughts. I do keep in mind that we’re all just some guys on the internet; even so, this discussion has helped me in thinking through these things.

    For what it’s worth, since I raised the issue a couple weeks ago here, I have been able to confirm in black and white, from an unlikely source, that the annulment was in fact granted.

  • ignacy says:

    donnie:

    To the extent that “checking whether the sin is manifest on case by case basis” is a serious proposal, I’m pretty sure it was already covered by JPII when he authorized those who have grave reasons to remain under one roof (i.e. children) and whose status as divorced and remarried were unknown to their communities (i.e would not cause scandal) to receive Holy Communion if they agreed to live as brother and sister.

    Yes. Pope Francis goes a step further and drops this “brother and sister” thing when the sin is venial-but-grave. And thus Canon 915 is evaded whenever this venial-but-grave is not manifest.

    Publicly living as husband and wife with someone other than your validly married spouse while that validly married spouse is still alive is pretty much the textbook definition of manifestly grave immoral behavior.

    Not necessarily. For example, when no one knows (except e.g. the confessor and the minister of Holy Communion) that the couple living together in a civil union is not in a sacramental marriage.

    This even could sound sort of reasonable, but it hurts so much that the general rule is established that it is somehow possible to be in a-okay civil union. And I believe that here the battle is lost.

  • donnie says:

    And thus Canon 915 is evaded

    No, it’s not.

    Let’s imagine we have a priest who is a latter-day John Vianney and can read souls. He has a couple in his parish who are both civilly remarried divorcees. Due to his divine gift, however, he knows neither of them are culpable for their current state.

    According to you, Pope Francis’s footnote in AL combined with his letter to the Argentine bishops appearing in the AAS provides a clear, unambiguous directive that our saintly priest, having divinely discerned that the couple under his care are not culpable for their manifestly grave living situation, ought to provide this couple with free access to the Sacraments. But this is wrong because, canon law still applies in this situation and the Holy Father has yet to change it!

    So what can our saintly priest do? He cannot convalidate the couple’s marriage unless they both obtain declarations of nullity for their prior marriages (assuming their prior marriages were in fact null). He cannot perform the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick (should one of them need it) because, as TomD points out above, Canon 1007 prevents priests from administering this Sacrament to those persevering in manifestly grave sin. And he cannot admit either of them to the Sacrament of the Eucharist because Canon 915 prevents ministers of Holy Communion from admitting to the sacrament those obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin. The sure knowledge of the couple’s subjective state does not change the fact that their objective state is manifestly gravely wrong.

    So what Sacraments can our saintly priest administer to them? At best, our priest can offer them Sacramental absolution for all the sins that they are culpable for, and then advise them to separate until they can obtain declarations of nullity or reconcile with their real spouses (in the event that their first marriages were actually valid). But if they refuse to accept his guidance he has no other canonically licit alternatives when it comes to administering the Sacraments. The Pope can wink and nudge and hint all he wants that a change in the application of canon law is what he desires, but until he actually changes the law, it still applies even in this situation.

    Again, I agree that it looks like the Holy Father personally wants remarried divorcees admitted to Holy Communion, but the fact of the matter is that this is still prohibited according to the laws of the Church which he has yet to change. If we are correct in surmising that the Holy Father personally wishes these laws to no longer be followed, but has yet to alter them, perhaps we must consider the possibility that he is prevented from altering them by the Holy Ghost.

  • ignacy says:

    You assume that every adulterous civil union is manifest. I pointed to an example where it isn’t.

  • TomD says:

    He doesn’t need all of them to be manifest for his example; he just needs those to appear so.

  • TomD says:

    As to being unable to change the Canon (prevented by the Holy Spirit) – I highly doubt it; I suspect it’s more that Pope Francis totally agrees with the Canon. (He’s changed others so he knows how to do it.) He could even just make it say “or where it would cause scandal” or something if he wanted to.

    As I’ve always thought, I suspect that if you got Pope Francis, Cardinal Burke, and some others together and gave them a specific case, they’d have basically identical recommendations.

  • ignacy says:

    TomD, I’m not sure that I understand you. I need only one example of grave but venial sin of adultery, which is not manifest on its own (i.e. without the assumption that the very fact of contracting a new civil union is manifest and thus Canon 915 always applies), in order to my thesis to be true.

  • TomD says:

    Since grave and mortal are synonyms, you’re asking for a mortal but venial sin. I don’t understand what that would mean.

  • KevinD says:

    Ignancy:

    To maybe clarify what TomD is saying, all grave sins are always mortal all the time. One might not be mortally culpable for this sin, but that’s not what the relevant canons are talking about.

  • Step2 says:

    KevinD,
    To maybe clarify what TomD is saying, all grave sins are always mortal all the time. One might not be mortally culpable for this sin, but that’s not what the relevant canons are talking about.

    This post makes an argument that they aren’t the same. The short version is that grave sins become mortal with full knowledge and deliberate consent. Although in such a case it doesn’t seem like it should be reduced to a venial sin either and there is the further matter of the intrinsic temporary nature of lacking those qualities.

  • donnie says:

    Step2,

    That’s a very interesting link. The author there has clearly done quite a lot of work in researching and defending his position that Amoris Laetitia is fundamentally consistent with Catholic teaching, all the while maintaining that it does in fact seek to change in the Church’s sacramental discipline.

    I guess the difference in opinion is over whether, canonically speaking, AL and the Buenos Aires letter succeeds in doing what its supporters say its doing. Since I’m not a canon lawyer, I have to defer to those trained in the canonical legalese, which in this case has been canonist Ed Peters. Peters argues fairly convincingly IMO that whatever AL and the Buenos Aires letter may appear to be attempting to do, they have not in fact successfully done. He also points out that if the Holy Father wants to successfully do what people are claiming he wants to do, it would to be incredibly easy for him to clearly and authoritatively do so. Therefore, we are forced to default to the opinion that despite all the hullabaloo, the Church’s sacramental discipline has not actually been changed.

    This opinion of the author you link to is substantially different, but highly nuanced, and will require careful consideration. But it is clear that the author believes AL represents a change in the application of Canon 915, which is interesting because, as Peters points out, neither AL nor the Buenos Aires letter so much as mention Canon 915. And it’s not like the Holy Father doesn’t know how to clearly and unambiguously change a canon (or its application), far from it.

    ignancy,

    I don’t think you understand what the term “manifest grave sin” means in the context of Canon 915 and other canons. You may find this text helpful to that end:
    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/intrptxt/documents/rc_pc_intrptxt_doc_20000706_declaration_en.html

  • ignacy says:

    Donnie, Step2:

    I believe that I have already linked to this blog somewhere here, and my arguments are at least partially inspired by it.

    I could agree that per se, AL and Buenos Aires letter fail to make the case for applying the term “manifest” not as a general rule, but by checking individual circumstances. However, I really really cannot see how can one interpret these documents in the light of traditional practice. Either they are compatible with e.g. Canon 915 in the way I and the reducedculpability.blog suggest, or we have a contradiction.

    Could you perhaps point to any such interpretation?

  • Zippy says:

    As I have pointed out many times, there is really no substantive difference between the pastoral practice w.r.t. adultery which AL asserts to be the (new) policy of the Church, and the pastoral practice w.r.t. usury which has been the formal, magisterial policy of the Church under the authority of Popes since the 1830’s. The only difference is that AL imposes this pastoral policy w.r.t. the grave sin of adultery rather than the grave sin of usury.

    In neither case does the pastoral policy alter any actual doctrine. In both cases the policy creates the viciously scandalous appearance of a doctrinal change, and leads people to forget the doctrine. In both cases the policy is horrifyingly cruel to the most vulnerable: to people who rely on the Church’s doctrinal steadfastness in order to deal with their difficult circumstances without choosing gravely sinful behavior.

    And this is why it is pointless to oppose liberalization of new pastoral practice in the sexual realm without opposing, with equal vehemence, long established liberalized pastoral practice in the financial realm.

  • Zippy, ignacy,

    As Dr. Peters argues, and zippy points out, pastoral policy cannot be magisterial. So the parts of AL and the letter for Buenos Aires, as well as the church’s official policy on absolution and communion for usurers, are not and cannot be magisterial in the areas where they pertain to pastoral practice because they are matters of discipline not matters of doctrine.

  • TomD says:

    In fact, you could plug the pertinent facts into these responses and basically have AL in old language:

    B. To the doubt of the Bishops of Buenos Aires:

    “Whether penitents, who have taken a second wife only, under title of the law, in doubtful or bad faith, can be sacramentally absolved without the imposition of the burden of separation, provided they are sincerely sorry for the sin committed because of doubtful or bad faith, and are ready in filial obedience to observe the commands of the Holy See.”

    The Congregation of the Holy Office responded Dec 2, 2017:

    Yes, provided they are ready to observe the commands of the Holy See.

  • Zippy says:

    TimFinnegan:

    … pastoral policy cannot be magisterial …

    It depends on what we mean by magisterial. Priestly celibacy (for example) is magisterial in the sense that it is in fact the positive law of the Church and binds those subject to it to certain behaviors. Priestly celibacy is a legitimate and binding exercise of the juridical, positive-law authority of the Church. Same for the requirement for baptized Catholics to follow canonical form in marriage, for priests to refrain from celebrating marriage on behalf of presumptively already married persons who lack a formal declaration of nullity, etc etc.

    The only doctrinal (as opposed to juridical) issue implicated here is that mortal sin requires the subjective conditions of full knowledge and consent in addition to the objective condition of grave matter. But this is uncontroversial, in general if not necessarily in the details.

    What is at issue is what conditions juridically authorize a priest to pronounce the words of absolution — an act which does not guarantee a valid sacrament, any more than “I now pronounce you man and wife” guarantees a valid marriage. Other conditions obtain for validity. (There is also, one level up if you will, the issue of conflict between canon law and the pastoral license asserted in the 1830’s decrees and most recently in AL — but this is a matter of conflict between different layers of positive law which are incompatible on their face, kind of like an unresolved conflict between state law and federal law in secular terms).

    Of course when the Church spends centuries pastorally acting in a way obscuring rather than illuminating doctrine, doctrine tends to be forgotten: it becomes an embarrassing decorative historical oddity which nobody really believes anymore. Positive law, not natural law or doctrine, most closely shapes what people treat as morally true in practice.

    This is the fruit of the Jesuit method. The Jesuit method is to attempt to find an absolute minimum requirement for technical orthodoxy as a way of making their job as an order — counterrevolution against the Protestant revolt — as easy as possible. The perceptive may notice that this is a form of positivism, and anyone with any sense at all can see that it has been a pastoral disaster. “Minimum daily requirement” Christianity is contrary to the Gospel: is contrary to taking up the Cross and following Christ.

    And as I’ve said, this is terrifically cruel – literally vicious – to the most vulnerable among us.

  • Mike T says:

    “Minimum daily requirement” Christianity is contrary to the Gospel: is contrary to taking up the Cross and following Christ.

    Consider how sex is treated by Christians today. It’s treated sorta like a minefield because of the minimal requirements attitude when there is actually a straight path that is wide enough to walk safely:

    1. Between husband and wife.
    2. No contraception.
    3. The act must be completed vaginally.

    Perhaps #3 is too minimal (I’m not a moral authority here), but once you view it from “what should I do” instead of “what can I do and still not go to Hell” it feels a lot less burdensome.

  • donnie says:

    for priests to refrain from celebrating marriage on behalf of presumptively already married persons who lack a formal declaration of nullity

    This probably cuts to the heart of ignacy’s concern better than anything else we’ve discussed so far. In theory, there is nothing preventing the Church hierarchy from loosening priests from this discipline and allowing them to do what Eastern Orthodox priests have been doing for centuries now – celebrating marriages for people who are (presumptively) already validly married. This would be a horrific policy, but it would not endanger the validity of the Sacraments in general. The Eastern Orthodox have been serving at second and third “marriages” for centuries now and yet Our Lord still descends upon their altars at every Divine Liturgy.

  • Zippy says:

    Right donnie, many folks have a very backward view of declarations of nullity. A declaration of nullity doesn’t grant any new rights or permissions whatsoever to the person whose legally presumed never-was-a-valid-marriage is declared null. A declaration of nullity grants permission to Catholic priests to preside over the “new” marriage of that person. It does not absolutely guarantee the validity of this “new” marriage nor the invalidity of the old, any more than a guilty verdict in a court of law provides an absolute guarantee of the guilt of the condemned and the innocence of others.

    Similarly, conditions which legally permit a priest to pronounce the words of absolution in Confession do not provide an absolute guarantee of sacramental validity. The subjective factors cut both ways: grave matter doesn’t in itself guarantee mortal sin; but likewise a priest pronouncing the words of absolution doesn’t guarantee a valid Confession.

    Modern day traditionalists posit a close connection between sacramental ontology (to coin a phrase) and pastoral practice which does not hold up to even superficial historical scrutiny.

    Of course the fact that this conflict is “merely pastoral” doesn’t make Jesuit laxity any less insane and cruel. “But it was just a pastoral practice” is cold comfort in the face of even a single soul lost to Hell, and “prudential judgment” doesn’t substitute for penitence and the Cross of Christ any better than ignorance. The Gospel preaches repentance for the forgiveness of sins, not ignorance and pleas of prudential judgment for the forgiveness of sins.

  • Rhetocrates says:

    Modern day traditionalists posit a close connection between sacramental ontology (to coin a phrase) and pastoral practice which does not hold up to even superficial historical scrutiny.

    But it should, as an ideal, for all sorts of reasons from the salvation of the souls of priests to avoiding scandal and error in the laity. So any time we see the Church moving in a direction that hews the distinction further there is and should be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

    (I’m not adding to the rational discussion by saying the above; I’m merely uttering a heart’s-cry. I’m really pretty sure everyone here agrees with this.)

  • TomD says:

    Yeah, the key is to recognize that it’s not the shaving of the privates that matters, it’s the fact that the emperor has no clothes and the entire system has gone insane. “Retreat to 50 years ago” has not been the answer, and never will be the answer.

  • buckyinky says:

    Possibly of interest to some here, there is a bit of metadiscussion at Dalrock on the subject of annulments in the Church.

    I’m loathe to get involved in the discussion, even though part of me would like to. Dirty laundry principle, so it seems to me,and I’m terribly embarrassed about the way annulments are being handled presently.

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