Leading African cardinal critiques Vatican spokesman Fr Rosica

From LifeSiteNews:

ROME, October 9, 2015

UnknownSouth African Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, a leading cardinal on the organizing committee for the Synod on the Family, issued a pointed critique on Twitter of a controversial report on the Synod by the Vatican’s English-language spokesman, Fr. Thomas Rosica, in which the priest emphasized that the Church should “embrace reality” in dealing with sinful situations.

Rosica’s summary of Synod fathers’ addresses at Tuesday’s press briefing was criticized for its emphasis on liberal proposals and the strong language he used to describe them. The remarks fuelled ongoing concerns from last year’s Synod about the manipulation of the message by the Vatican press office and the Synod’s organizing body.

After the press conference, Salt and Light TV, Rosica’s Toronto-based media organization, tweeted out a link to an article about Rosica’s remarks, saying, “Fr. Rosica Speaks on Synod Delegates, The Need to Embrace People Where They Are.”

In reply, Napier tweeted: “‘Meet people where they are’ sounds nice, but is that what Jesus did? Didn’t he rather call them away from where they were?”

Read on here

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A Prayer for the Synod


tumblr_luyuhhu1A81qcjvpvo1_500Dear Lord Jesus Christ, the eyes of all men now look on those who are entrusted in a special way with the care of your Bride as they deliberate in Synod.

Knowing that the gates of hell shall never prevail against Your Holy Church, yet aware of many denials and betrayals by current bishops and their predecessors, we come to you begging that this event give no scandal to the faithful, no compromise to Your revealed truth, no comfort to the enemies of Holy Church and no plausible pretext for those who seek to continue in unrepented mortal sin.

Fill your children with a passionate zeal to cleanse the world of the grievous offenses against human dignity found in polygamy, divorce, concubinage, bastardy, fornication, pornography, promiscuity, sexual obsession, child abuse, the love of violence, relativism and all other forms of idolatry, eugenics and euthanasia in all their many forms, the misguided tolerance of sexual depravity as a behaviour and the most reprehensible of all atrocities, the imposition of sexual depravity as a component of human identity and as a sacrilegious substitute for human families to the extent that those who have fallen into these sins come to repentance; those who advocate the open practice of such evils be debilitated by shame and guilt; those whose minds are unstained by knowledge of such sins remain innocent; those who learn of such atrocities be overwhelmed with contempt, disgust, horror and revulsion at them; and that no human society ever again deem sexual depravity a topic suitable for public mention. Amen.

(With thanks to Gregg the Obscure who posted this prayer in the comments section of Fr Z’s blog)

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Synod Flash – day four

Cardinal Peter Erdö

Cardinal Peter Erdö

Thanks to Rorate Caeli for today’s update:

An English translation of the very conservative opening address by Cardinal Peter Erdo, Relator General of the Synod of Bishops, delivered on September 5, Day 1 of the Synod, has been made available in the past few hours, by the National Catholic Register and the Catholic News Agency.

We appreciate their effort, but it seems that our editorial decision not to waste our scarce resources on this was not wrong: already on the fourth day, the second of the meeting of the “circuli minores” (the small groups of bishops according to general language groups), and in the following press conference, what do we get from Italian Synod Father Cardinal Menichelli? That no one is listening to Cardinal Erdo’s words, they are all going directly to the highly problematic and profoundly liberal Instrumentum Laboris, the document that undermines all Catholic doctrine on family and marriage, from Trent to Humanae Vitae (despite poor Erdo’s best efforts to spin it to a more conservative direction).


As Matteo Matzuzzi, reporter for Il Foglio has just tweeted from the Synod press conference: “Cardinal Menichelli: ‘The Erdo report is his interpretation? One would have to ask him! The debates are [centered] on the Instrumentum.” Instead, as Wall Street Journal’s Francis Rocca mentions, Cardinal “Menichelli says women’s rights and human sexuality are pertinent to theme of family Synod”. As for the Africans? They are also learning their place: Archbishop Palmer-Buckle from Ghana, also present in today’s official press conference, says Africa is growing up: “Africa is growing on subject of homosexuality.”

It was worth the effort, Cardinal Erdo. The show must go on.


The other interesting news of the day is that the sole German-language group, the Germanicus, asked to move out of its meeting place, because its windowless place in the first day smelled bad and had “foul air”. Sulfur, we presume?… Indeed, the group includes luminaries of orthodoxy such as Cardinals Kasper and Marx, and Bishop Bode…

Today, they met in the Palace of the Holy Office, hosted by Prefect Cardinal Müller, who provided much needed light and fresh air.

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Dear Synod Fathers

This Letter from Rachael Marie Collins was published on First Things:

Dear Synod Fathers,

My husband and I were married in April 2008. Despite a lovely courtship and beautiful wedding, the first eighteen months of our marriage were terrible. Although we loved one another, we were unprepared for the daily compromises, negotiations and renunciations of self that a loving and successful marriage requires. Independent and extremely willful, we fought. We fought so ferociously and so often that after we entered couples therapy, our therapist told my husband that he should leave me. It would always be this way, she said. Things would never “change.”

Our marriage is now strong, happy and healthy. We’ve been married for over seven years and have three beautiful children. We hope to have more children and we’re committed to leading hidden, holy lives within the sacrament of our marriage in service of one another and the children given to us by God. How did this change happen? How was our marriage saved and transformed?

Our most steadfast supporter was the Church Herself. The Church’s position on the indissolubility of marriage and Her willingness to stand by this teaching in praxis (and not just in doctrine) strengthened us. She left us with no choice but to try and try again until things improved. She also provided us with the support and help we needed. We attended confession often. Faithful priests counseled and encouraged us. Older Catholic couples joyfully showed us that it was possible to have a happy marriage and how to do so.

When family members and secular therapists were ready to approve us walking away from the commitment we’d made, the Church wasn’t. I don’t know that our marriage would have survived if the Church had wavered in its teaching and practice on marriage, if it had offered us the false hope of a “merciful” way out. Instead, the Church encouraged us to rely on God’s help, to seek answers from Scripture and strength from the sacraments. We slowly learned to practice the Christian virtues of patience and forgiveness. By forcing us to persevere, the Church taught us how to love one another.

Read on here

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Scared of this Synod


By Mark Lambert from De Omnibus Dubitandum Est:

For me, this articulates what is going on with the Synod perfectly.

The scary thing is not that Church teaching will change; it can’t and it won’t (as everyone seems to be repeating ad nauseam, almost like some desperate mantra). The scary thing for faithful Catholics is that there are Ordained men; bishops and priests, who have lost their faith to the extent where they are openly pushing for a sinful agenda. That’s why the media are all in Rome; like vultures awaiting the final expiration of some great beast, they are circling, anticipating the capitulation of the Church to the world. As Michael Voris puts it:

…what is happening here is the appearance at least of the Church giving up the ghost, so to speak, and adopting the ways of the world with regard to divorce and homosexuality. At the end of the day, that’s why the press is here in droves — no other reason. Most of the media outlets are here to chronicle the demise of the Church, its throwing in of the proverbial towel and becoming more worldly. At least, they think that’s what might happen. They aren’t pouring resources into covering this for a month to get the headline at the end of October “Church Teaches Marriage Is a Sacrament” or “Church Condemns Homosexual Acts.”

They already know that and have already reported that kind of thing in a zillion stories. The headline they want and are looking for — probably safe to say even hoping for — is “Church Accepts Divorce” or “Church Blesses Gays.” They have reported on the possibility of all this quite a few times, and that’s what all the interest here is about — nothing else.

This is a scandal to anyone who loves the faith, and the tension for those who are committed to it is palpable. Everyone knows that these are things that do not change; the Pope’s job is not to make up new doctrine, but to hold the teaching of Christ (the deposit of faith) in perpetuity, unchanged, until the parousia (the second coming). That is the function and purpose of the papacy. In the interim period, he is commissioned with preaching anew this Gospel in every age.

This morning, The Catholic Herald carries the story that, In a surprise speech to the synod yesterday, Francis said the ‘Catholic doctrine on marriage has not been touched or put into question‘. Is the Holy Father beginning to wake up to the scandal and confusion that has been caused by his facilitating what has come to be called “the Kasper proposal”? Think about it: how shocking is it to hear that the pope has had to stand up at a synod held in the Holy See and say that Marriage doctrine will not change. How on earth did we get here?

Meanwhile, this morning, Voice of the Family suggests the Pope has just made it worse!

The Ordinary Synod on the Family moved much closer yesterday to a repudiation of the teachings of the Catholic Church on human sexuality. The hopes of faithful Catholics were raised on Monday by the reassertions of Catholic orthodoxy made in the relazione introduttiva of the General Relator of the Synod, Péter Cardinal Erdő, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest. Yesterday Erdő’s report and position were seriously undermined after an intervention of Pope Francis indicated to the synod fathers that the question of Holy Communion for the “divorced and remarried” was still open. Cardinal Erdő was also undermined by remarks made by synod fathers invited to a press conference organised by Holy See press spokesman Fr Lombardi S.J.

Father Hunwicke, that erudite scholar, has several good posts on the synod, (including this one for example) and reminds us that ‘Proclaiming and publicly defending any sin is worse than committing it.‘ These men must have lost their faith, because they display no fear of God (c.f. Matthew 18:6). There is a terrifying responsibility for those who seek to lead us in faith. And it seems that relationship has broken down. It has broken down because of the abuse crisis and the apparent hypocrisy of those who lead us. Especially in this Country I fear, it has broken down because of an attitude that says “oh we don’t believe in that any more…You don’t have to do that any more…”. If it doesn’t matter for them, why should it matter for any of us?

Imagine how hard this now is, under this papacy, for bishops and priests. Each Parish is fairly autonomous in any case. The Church isn’t great at authority, it is more about broad consensus post Vatican II, which is a very adult approach to communion. However, under Pope Saint John Paul II and under Pope Benedict XVI, we had the sureity of the See of Peter behind that authority. It was easier to administrate by pointing to the Holy See and saying, with the Apostle, “not I but the Lord” (1 Cor 7:10). In the current climate, any individual priest might say “Well, Pope Francis says…” or commonly; “Who am I to judge?

With the clergy so at odds over the transmission of the faith, what hope then for the sheep they shepherd? Anything goes.

Father Ray Blake considers this issues in his recent blog post, where he states:

I have been pondering the connection between ‘trust’ and ‘faith’. Because Christ gave us a Church founded on the Apostles rather than a book in order for people to believe in Christ they must first of all trust the Apostles, the bishops are the successors of the Apostles. Perhaps the saddest development in the Church has been the break down in trust between the faithful and their bishops and maybe equally important the paralleled break down in the trust between the world and the Church, to the point, in the West at least, where the idea of the Church was on the verge of becoming toxic….

The centrality of Peter is essential to the Church, it is Dr DeVille points out at the service of ‘unity’. After the lio Pope Francis has to re-establish trust not just in himself but in but in the bishops in the Church as he has done outside it in his Papacy, because trust is an essential to faith and mistrust of the Pope and Bishops is seriously damaging to the Church’s integrity and ultimately to individuals’ faith. Unitatis Redintegratio is clear that not only is disunity a scandal but it is also detrimental to faith. Speaking for myself the shifting sands of the build up to the Synod has hardly strengthened my faith.

These words should be reflected on by those who are creating such a mess in Rome at the moment, scattering the sheep, confusing the faithful, opening up the solid sureity of the tried and tested message of Revelation to interpretation and ignorant mis-interpretation.

In yesterday’s report on the Synod, Michael Voris tells an anecdote from the Press Briefing after the morning sessions:

…in one particular episode right at the very end of the press conference, one last question came up from the press gallery, and on stage was the archbishop of Gatineau, Quebec, Paul-André Durocher, who was asked, “What about this question of the discipline versus the doctrine of administering Holy Communion to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics? Is it safe to say that this issue is still under debate? And if so, what does that say about the question of the dogma and the discipline?”

And he gave an answer that stunned a number of us inside the press room. He said, ‘If you want dogma, go read Denzinger. The Synod will be deciding and talking about whether this is a discipline or it’s a dogma.”

That caused one priest who was sitting very, very close to us to sort of go into a rage. He actually confronted the archbishop on the way out of the door and said, “All you bishops, everything you’re doing here, is this conciliarism, which is destroying the Church! You are confusing the faithful. You don’t know the Faith.”

What is really scary is when someone says one thing and does something else. We don’t follow any man, we follow Christ and always will, but the lack of humility before the spiritual reality of the Church is stunning and sad. The worst part for me is the effect it is having, right now, on the little ones who look to these men as the great and the good; as those who are to lead us in faith, and the longer this goes on, the sad look of hurt, betrayal and disappointment on their trusting faces.

When I look at the dossier built up by Cardinal Nichols for the Synod, and the quote he has included I quoted in this postand repeat again here:

“…To the younger generation the Catholic Church is a medieval irrelevance. While I, myself, believe in Jesus – I am appalled at what the institution He founded has become. A tyrannical power structure, stuck in a medieval culture and unable to bring itself into the modern world. One good example of this is the so called New Translation of the Mass. A backward step from language that ordinary people understood to a ridiculous artificial so-called sacral language which is no more than a mixture of garbled English, medieval theological vocabulary and transliteration from Latin…”

it seems self-evident to me that no amount of pandering to people like this will bring them to Christ. No amount of watering-down or giving way will make any difference to them. What it will do is betray those who are so faithful they would lay down their lives for the faith. Those who have heroically lived with same sex attraction or after their spouse has deserted them. If only Cardinal Nichols had the courage to see that if he only stood up for Christ, if he only stood for what he says he does, he would engender such loyal support as he could scarcely imagine at present!

Lord save us from the wolves who would ravage your Bride!

Let us continue to pray for the Synod Fathers.

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Synod roundup

Thanks to Edward Pentin at the National Catholic Register for this summary:

At a Vatican press conference on the synod yesterday, language attachés for the meeting highlighted a number of subjects that appeared to take precedent in the opening debates.

To take the English language attaché, Father Thomas Rosica, as an example, he placed a special emphasis on the need to end “exclusionary language” saying a synod father, (or was it synod fathers?) said the Church should “embrace reality as it is and not be afraid of new and complex situations.”

Father Rosica was particularly focused on “homosexuals or gay persons,” saying “we don’t pity gay persons, but we recognize them for who they are — they are our sons and daughters and brothers and neighbors and colleagues.”

He later returned to the subject of homosexual relationships, saying the subject “came up several times” and that a synod father asked, “How do we speak about them and offer a hand of welcome to them?”

It wasn’t clear who said what under the synod rules, but neither was it clear how many synod fathers addressed the issues Father Rosica, or the other language attaches, had mentioned.

In effect, this meant the public were left with a skewed interpretation of what was said at the opening debate, as happened throughout the last synod.

Thankfully, reliable sources have shared with me a few of the subjects covered by other synod fathers, helping to provide a more rounded picture of what was discussed:

* A number of synod fathers spoke in support of Cardinal Peter Erdo’s introductory speech, including one who underlined the importance of keeping fidelity to truth about marriage, the family and the Eucharist.

* A synod father asked “What are we doing here?” and stressed the synod is about the family, not other relationships such as homosexual ones. He also stressed that if the synod accepts the divorced-remarried issue, the Church effectively “supports divorce”.

* Another said the emphasis should be the sacrament of marriage, so the spiritual beauty of marriage is brought to the fore. Often the Church is not united around the “positive vision” of marriage and family. He said instability around marriage is “against its nature”.

* A synod father referenced St. Augustine, saying some of the baptized living in “irregular situations” don’t want to approach the Sacrament of Penance; he said the crisis of the family is a crisis of faith. He quoted 2 Timothy 4:2-5

* Another intervention noted the flock are too few, and that one should show respect for families which battle and try to remain faithful, those who in particular remain faithful to their marital vows given before God, although there are controversies and difficulties.

* A further intervention stressed that the Church has to defend that which God revealed about marriage and family and that the work of prelates is to support healthy families. A danger for families are “certain cultural currents,” as well as a sociological approach. In order to serve the family one has to take as the point of departure the word of God.

These were just some of the interventions the press didn’t hear about from Father Rosica among the 72 delivered to the synod on Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning.

The other language attaches also largely left such interventions out, although as we reported yesterday, the French and German ones did at least mention that some synod fathers had used their interventions to stress the importance of scripture, tradition and truth in this debate.


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Why pray the Rosary?

2a696046f5290a84e333005f5a628bc4“We well know the Rosary‘s powerful efficacy to obtain the maternal aid of the Virgin. By no means is there only one way to pray to obtain this aid. However, we consider the Holy Rosary the most convenient and most fruitful means, as is clearly suggested by the very origin of this practice, heavenly rather than human, and by its nature…

There emerges another very great advantage (of the Rosary), so that all, even the most simple and least educated, have in this a prompt and easy way to nourish and preserve their own faith.

And truly, from the frequent meditation on the Mysteries, the soul little by little and imperceptibly draws and absorbs the virtues they contain, and is wondrously enkindled with a longing for things immortal, and becomes strongly and easily impelled to follow the path which Christ Himself and His Mother have followed. The recitation of identical formulas repeated so many times, rather than rendering the prayer sterile and boring, has on the contrary the admirable quality of infusing confidence in him who prays and brings to bear a gentle compulsion on the motherly Heart of Mary.”

Pope Pius XII
Excerpt from the Encyclical Letter Ingruentium malorum, September 15, 1951


“The Rosary is not a practice relegated to the past, like prayers of previous eras we might think of with nostalgia. On the contrary, the Rosary is enjoying a new springtime.”

“The Rosary is undoubtedly one of the most eloquent signs of love that the young generations nourish for Jesus and his mother Mary.”

“In today’s world, which is so fragmented, this prayer helps us to place Christ at the centre, as did the Virgin who meditated interiorly about everything that was said about her Son, and about what He said and did.”

“When reciting the Rosary, we relive the important and meaningful moments of salvation history; we visit anew the stages of Christ’s mission.”

“With Mary, we turn our heart to the mystery of Jesus. Jesus is placed at the centre of our life, of our time, of our cities, through the contemplation and meditation of his holy mysteries of joy, light, sorrow and glory.”

Excerpts from Pope Benedict XVI speeches for the opening and closing of the month of Mary (May 2009)


“Continue to pray the Rosary every day.”

Our Lady of Fatima to Sister Lucia


“The Most Holy Virgin in these last times in which we live has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Rosary to such an extent that there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, whether temporal or above all spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families…that cannot be solved by the Rosary. There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary.”

Sister Lucia dos Santos


“You shall obtain all you ask of me by the recitation of the Rosary.”

“When you say your Rosary, the angels rejoice, the Blessed Trinity delights in it, my Son finds joy in it too, and I myself am happier than you can possibly guess. After the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, there is nothing in the Church that I love as much as the Rosary.”

Our Lady to Blessed Alan de la Roche


“If you persevere in reciting the Rosary, this will be a most probable sign of your eternal salvation.”

“The Holy Rosary is the storehouse of countless blessing.”

Blessed Alan de la Roche


“Give me an army saying the Rosary and I will conquer the world.”

Pope Blessed Pius IX


“The greatest method of praying is to pray the Rosary.”

Saint Francis de Sales


“One day, through the Rosary and the Scapular, Our Lady will save the world.”

Saint Dominic


“Never will anyone who says his Rosary every day be led astray. This is a statement that I would gladly sign with my blood.”

“When the Holy Rosary is said well, it gives Jesus and Mary more glory and is more meritorious than any other prayer.”

“If you say the Rosary faithfully unto death, I do assure you that, in spite of the gravity of your sins, ‘you will receive a never-fading crown of glory’ (1 St. Peter 5:4).”

“Recite your Rosary with faith, with humility, with confidence, and with perseverance.”

“Never will anyone who says his Rosary every day become a formal heretic or be led astray by the devil.”

“Even if you are on the brink of damnation, even if you have one foot in hell, even if you have sold your soul to the devil as sorcerers do who practice black magic, and even if you are a heretic as obstinate as a devil, sooner or later you will be converted and will amend your life and will save your soul, if—and mark well what I say—if you say the Holy Rosary devoutly every day until death for the purpose of knowing the truth and obtaining contrition and pardon for your sins.”

Saint Louis de Montfort


“The Rosary is THE weapon.”

Saint Pio of Pietrelcina


“You must know that when you ‘hail’ Mary, she immediately greets you! Don’t think that she is one of those rude women of whom there are so many—on the contrary, she is utterly courteous and pleasant. If you greet her, she will answer you right away and converse with you!”

Saint Bernardine of Siena


“The Rosary is the most beautiful and the most rich in graces of all prayers; it is the prayer that touches most the Heart of the Mother of God…and if you wish peace to reign in your homes, recite the family Rosary.”

Pope Saint Pius X


“‘Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee!’ No creature has ever said anything that was more pleasing to me, nor will anyone ever be able to find or say to me anything that pleases me more.”

Our Lady to Saint Mechtilde




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Head of Polish Bishops: No Compromise Between Truth and Untruth

Polish laity also issue appeal to synod fathers to uphold the Church’s teaching on marriage and the family.

BY EDWARD PENTIN 10/06/15 – National Catholic Register

Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, president of the Polish bishops' conference.

Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, president of the Polish bishops’ conference.

The head of Poland’s bishops has given a lengthy and hard-hitting interview in which he upholds the Church’s teaching on marriage and the family, voices his opposition to Church decentralization, and calls gender ideology worse than Communism.

In the interview broadcast on EWTN Germany, Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki said that the Church “can’t sing with 100 different voices as postmodernity would like it to.”

“If the Church were to teach 10 or 100 doctrines,” he added, “she would break apart into 100 churches, but the Church is one, catholic and apostolic.”

The archbishop, who is one of three Polish bishops attending the Oct. 4-25 Ordinary Synod, was responding to comments made earlier this year by Cardinal Reinhard Marx, president of the German bishops’ conference.

The cardinal said Germany can’t wait for the current Synod on the Family to make this or that decision, and that the German church is not “a subsidiary of Rome.” Archbishop Gądecki was also responding to a general push by some European bishops ahead of the synod to devolve teaching authority away from Rome.

In the EWTN interview, the archbishop also quashed talk of a spirit of consensus ahead of the synod, saying he saw “no way to create a compromise” between truth and untruth. “What compromise can there already be between truth and untruth?” he asked.

As the synod got underway yesterday, some of those running the meeting were at pains to point out the general spirit of consensus that is present. Archbishop Bruno Forte, the synod’s special secretary who was criticized last year for forcing through an agenda many believed was at odds with Church teaching, insisted “there’s no division, conflict, it’s not what I feel.”* He instead criticized last year’s media interpretation of the synod as “often bipolar.”

Elsewhere in the interview, the president of the Polish bishops’ conference said gender ideology has similarities with Communism in that it has “no regard for the human person” as it doesn’t recognize human dignity as Christianity does, and is even worse than Marxism because it is “a pure ideology that is actually bent on destroying marital and familial relationships.”

“By teaching gender theory, the good of having marriage and family is thrown into doubt, the institutions of marriage and family are destroyed by being labeled as ‘oppressive’, as diminishing humanity rather than growing it,” he warned. He said the ideology may take different forms, but the aim is the same: “the pulverization of society, so that man stays alone and is more easily manipulated.”

The archbishop also highlighted the problem of discussing mercy, but with less emphasis on justice, sin and the notion of the truth. “That is a hermeneutic mistake [an erroneous interpretation],” he said. “Justice and mercy are inseparable from one another.” A person can experience mercy “by converting, by returning to the House of the Father after staring into the abyss.”

But he stressed that “no matter what situation a marriage might find itself in, be it regular or irregular, they must be aware that divine mercy accompanies them, immutably, for it is only in such a setting that they will not revert to guilt but strive to extricate themselves from sin and return to grace.”


Meanwhile, a lay Catholic forum in Poland has issued an appeal to the synod fathers to reaffirm Church teaching at the meeting.

Called “Between the Synods”, representing many “intellectual and formative circles” actively involved in the Church’s role in the modern world, the forum stated they “are deeply convinced that the modern world needs Christian teaching on the subject of marriage and the family since there is a serious danger of diluting the notion of sacramental marriage and the family built on it.”

They added: “We consider it extremely important to remind of supernatural and legal-natural purpose and sense of the family together with its rights and principles.”

They also expressed hope that the upcoming Synod would “seek to deepen the theology of marriage and family” and that problems of education “deserve a special attention.”


* This is not to say there isn’t a spirit of communion. Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, president of the USCCB, told the Register yesterday: “We are in communion with one another and so there really is a certain level of trust that I enter into, trust also that we do need to speak frankly and I hope every synod father would intend to do that.”

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Full text of Cardinal Erdo’s introductory report for the Synod on the Family

The opening assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Oct. 5, 2015. Credit: L'Osservatore Romano.

Vatican City, Oct 6, 2015 / 10:26 am (CNA).- On Oct. 5, the opening day of the 2015 Synod on the Family, Cardinal Peter Erdo of Esztergom-Budapest — who is the synod’s relator general — gave an introductory speech to the synod fathers. Drawing from the working document for the synod as well as recent magisterial documents, Cardinal Erdo surveyed the work the assembly is called to do. He examined current challenges to the family and marriage, the vocation of the family, and the family’s mission today. The full text of his prepared remarks were published in Italian on the Vatican’s website. Please find below CNA’s English translation of the entirety of his remarks:


Holy Father,
Most eminent and excellent synod fathers,
dear brothers and sisters,

Jesus Christ is our master, our Lord, and the Good Shepherd. When, according to the evangelist Mark, he saw a great crowd, he had compassion on them: “and he began to teach them many things” (Mark 6:34). In this regard, Pope Francis has indicated the method and the program which in certain ways we too should follow in our work: “…to see, to have compassion, to teach. We can call them the verbs of the Shepherd … The first and second, to see and to have compassion, are always found together in the attitude of Jesus: in fact his gaze is not the gaze of a sociologist or a photojournalist, for he always gazes with “the eyes of the heart” … From this tenderness is born Jesus’ wish to nourish the crowd with the bread of his Word, that is, to teach the Word of God to the people. Jesus sees, Jesus has compassion, Jesus teaches us.” (Pope Francis, Angelus, July 19, 2015). This vision corresponds with the three great themes of the instrumentum laboris, the fruit of an intense, collegial path. Without being able to mention in this introductory relation all the important themes which have emerged in the discussion and the document of the last synod, and since then, we try then to follow in particular only the principal themes.

I. Listening to the challenges to the family

I.1 The social-cultural context

In its first part, the instrumentum laboris speaks of a listening which is nothing more than “seeing”, an acknowledgement of the challenges currently facing the family. There seem to be in the world, in external circumstances, and in the discussions or in the mentality of peoples, at least two great sorts of problems. The first is traditional, seemingly constant, but which assumes in our globalized world new dimensions and new, unexpected consequences. These are the effects of climate and environmental change, and those of social injustice, of violence, of war, which push millions of persons to leave their homeland and try to survive in other parts of the world. If we look, for example, at the thousands of immigrants and refugees arriving daily in Europe, we see immediately that the vast majority is composed of rather young men, though they arrive, sometimes, with their women and children. Already from this picture it is evident that the migratory movement is disintegrating families, or at least makes it difficult to form them. In many parts of the world, young parents leave their home and their children to seek work abroad.

In not a few parts of the world persons work for a salary so low that it permits them to survive to continue to work, but it does not make it feasible to care for a family. In this context one cannot forget that commercial enterprises, too, have a responsibility in this situation.

It also happens that to ensure the so-called mobility of the “workforce”, entire families have to transfer to other cities or regions, ever lacerating the human and social structures of family, friends, and neighbors, school and work mates. So all this great mobility seems to be one of the factors which drive persons to individualistic attitudes and tendencies.

So the industrialization which began the 19th century, has arrived today to all parts of the world. The typical form of labor becomes one of dependence. The employee, working outside of his family, is payed for what he does outside his family, while the most precious work done inside the family community, such as the education of children and care of the sick and elderly at home, are but rarely recognized and aided by society. As Pope Francis has said: “We experience the shortcomings of a society programmed for efficiency, which consequently ignores its elderly. And the elderly are a wealth not to be ignored.” (General Audience, March 4, 2015)

I. 2 Anthropological change: fleeing from institutions

In the more wealth regions of the world, there is another elementary phenomenon, not independent of the first, and present now in other parts of the world, that is the so called “anthropological change”, which runs the risk of becoming an “anthropological reductionism.” (Pope Francis, address to participants in a seminar on his proposal for a “more inclusive economy”, July 12, 2014) The person, in seeking his freedom, often tries to be independent of any link, at times even of religion, which constitutes a link with God, or of social links, especially those which relate to the institutional form of life. The life of society, in fact, especially of those called ‘developed’, risks being ‘suffocated’ by bureaucratic formalism. A phenomenon which does not follow necessarily only from the complexity of economic and social structures or the complexity of scientific conquest, but which seems also to have another source – a change of attitude. If we do not have the confidence to know objective truth and objective values which are based on reality, then we risk looking for the guidelines of our social comportment on the basis of purely formal criteria, such as majority votes, independent of content, or the formality of proceedings, at various organizations, as the only justification for a choice. This phenomenon can push legislators to multiply juridical norms, and even to control information, for fear that otherwise there will not be a voluntary observance of laws, which can only come from a moral conviction, by a common, objective knowledge of reality. From this picture comes a notable alienation, which explains the instinctive flight of many people from institutional forms. So it seems we can explain the growth in the number of couples cohabiting seemingly stably, but without contracting any kind of marriage, neither religious nor civil. In certain countries the high percentage of this kind of choice shows a correlation with a high percentage of those who do not wish to bury their parents with any ceremony. Where the law allows it, they prefer to bring home their ashes, or to spread them without any formality. It is clear, here, that the fundamental escape from institutions also affects some forms of live which have per se a communitarian and institutional aspect. Marriage and family are not only for isolated individuals; rather, they transmit values, and offer a possibility of development to the human person, which is irreplaceable.

In all the crises of instiutions and of institutional forms for human relations, and not only in the sphere of marriage and the family, though there in a special way, there is manifest the internal tension of the human person and the question of what is the human being. Already, linguistic expression and speech involve an institutional element in communication. Using words with precise content, we come more easily to abstraction and logical reasoning, which relieve the single person of having to create always new ways of communicating. Following customs and institutional forms of society are easier and more secure ways of comporting oneself in many of life’s situations. Institutions, in general, seem to be ‘checks’ which facilitate, and lighten, interpersonal relationships. Even unwritten norms of social comportment have a similar function. One can communicate the ideal of just comportment by giving an example, a story told or represented in a film, but one can also express it in a verbally conceived norm – in a law. Jesus Christ was the greatest of communicators, the living Word of God, who was able to relate the parables and then to say “go and do likewise”, but was also able to speak as the Lawgiver.

Current anthropological change touches on the deepest layers of the human being. It comes in among planning the smallest details of a wedding, providing everything – the music, the menu, the tablecloths. You see young engaged couples totally preoccupied with these details, while at the same time neglecting the true significance of marriage.

In this ‘magnetic field’ of the necessity and the apparent inaccessibility of many institutional forms, is located the issue of the law, as well as those of marriage and the family. Before this current, and truly new situation, it seems providential that this present synodal assembly is dedicated to this theme. Let us then deal with the ambit of this synod, as Pope Francis has indicated: “… to read both the signs of God and human history, in a twofold yet unique faithfulness which this reading involves” (Instrumentum laboris 3).

I. 3 Institutional instability

In addition to the flight from institutions, there is growing institutional instability which is manifest also in the high rate of divorce. That people are getting married at a later age, and youths’ fear in assuming the responsibility of definitive commitments such as marriage and family, are seen in this context. Indeed, if one’s sole objective is to feel good in the moment, then neither the past nor the future have any importance; indeed there appears a certain general fear of the future, for one might not feel good anymore then. Thus it seems too perilous to make a definitive choice regarding career and family. It so happens that many do not even feel their own responsibility, either for the present or the future.

I. 4 Individualism and subjectivism

Thus, as Pope Francis reiterated in his discourse at Strasbourg: “Today there is a tendency to claim ever broader individual rights – I am tempted to say individualistic; underlying this is a conception of the human person as detached from all social and anthropological contexts, as if the person were a ‘monad’ (μον?ς), increasingly unconcerned with other surrounding ‘monads’. The equally essential and complementary concept of duty no longer seems to be linked to such a concept of rights. As a result, the rights of the individual are upheld, without regard for the fact that each human being is part of a social context wherein his or her rights and duties are bound up with those of others and with the common good of society itself.”

“I believe, therefore, that it is vital to develop a culture of human rights which wisely links the individual, or better, the personal aspect, to that of the common good, of the ‘all of us’ made up of individuals, families and intermediate groups who together constitute society.” (Pope Francis, Address to the European Parliament, Nov. 25, 2014)

Therefore, we must avoid the current trend, and pass those which are simple desires, often selfish, as true and proper right, while negating the basic objective of any law.

“An aspect of great importance for our responsibility is the need to rethink the orientation of world systems through an ecological culture … which includes not only an environmental dimension but also those of society and economics, which allow sustainable development and a culture of creation.” It is in the light of our relationship with the Creator that we find the fullness of our responsibility and vocation.

In addition to these individualistic and anti-institutional tendencies, one can observe the phenomenon of confounding or rendering uncertain the continues of such fundamental institutions as marriage and the family. This also contributes to the growth of individualism, which ultimately results in both cause and effect.

I. 5 Biological and cultural aspects

With the development of the natural sciences, new possibilities have appeared regarding the biological relationship between persons and cultures. Consumer society has separated sexuality and procreation. This too is one of the causes of the falling birth rate. It stems at time from poverty, and in other cases from the difficulty of having to assume responsibility.

While in developing countries the exploitation of women and the violence done to their bodies and the tiring tasks imposed on them, even during pregnancy, are oftentimes compounded by abortion and forced sterilization, not to mention the extreme negative consequences of practices connected with procreation (for example, a womb ‘for rent’ or the marketing of embryonic gametes). In advanced countries, the desire for a child at any cost “has not resulted in happier and stronger family relationships.” (Instrumentum laboris 30) All things considered the so-called bio-technological revolution has introduced new possibilities for the manipulation of the generative act “… making it independent of the sexual relationship between man and woman. In this way, human life and parenthood have become modular and separable realities, subject mainly to the wishes of individuals or couples.” (Instrumentum laboris 34)

Immaturity and affective fragility are of great relevance here. First of all it is forgotten that these are the effects of a true lack of effective and affective education among families, in that parents do not have time for their children, or are divorced and the children are not able to see the example of adults, and are confronted only with the comportment of their peers. So the affective maturity remains held back and is not given permission to develop. Of prime importance in this context is pornography and the commercialization of the body, helped by a distorted use of the internet. Do not forget, however, that this more of a consequence than a cause of the current situation. Thus the crisis of couples destabilizes the family and weakens family links between generations. (cf Instrumentum laboris 33)

“Finally, there are theories according to which personal identity and emotional intimacy ought to be radically detached from the biological difference between male and female. At the same time, however, some want to recognize the stable character of a couple’s relationship apart from sexual difference, and place it on the same level as the marital relationship, which is intrinsically connected to the roles of a father and a mother and determined on the biological basis of child-bearing. The resulting confusion relegates the special bond between biological difference, reproduction and human identity to an individualistic choice. ‘The removal of difference […] creates a problem, not a solution.’” (Instrumentum laboris 8)

II. The discernment of the family vocation

II. 1 Family and the divine pedagogy

The gaze of Jesus is that of mercy, of the mercy which is based on truth. Jesus’ teaching on marriage and family are from creation (cf Mt 19:3). The life of the human being and of humanity is part of a great project: that of God the creator. As in all aspects of life, we find our wholeness and our felicity if we can insert ourselves freely and consciously into this great project full of wisdom and love. If we seek the truth about marriage and family, according to the best of our natural capacities, and if we listen to the teachings of Jesus Christ, then we grasp it in all its fullness and all its holiness. So resplendent are marriage and family in their beauty, that Saint Paul said this is a great mystery which manifests the love of Christ for the Church (cf Eph 5:32). This beauty is not simply the meaning of something that attracts without interest, it does not have merely an aesthetic value, but is found to be a true and profound, objective interest in human existence, a true way to felicity, which in turn makes of sacramental marriage a means of sanctification and a font of grace.

II. 2 Jesus and the family: the gift and task of indissolubility

“Jesus himself, referring to the original plan of the human couple, reaffirms the indissoluble union between a man and a woman, though saying to the Pharisees that ‘for your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so’ (Mt 19: 8). The indissolubility of marriage (‘what therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder’ Mt 19:6), is to be understood not as a ‘yoke’ imposed on persons but as a ‘gift’ to a husband and wife united in marriage. Jesus was born in a family; he began to work his signs at the wedding of Cana and he announced the meaning of marriage as the fullness of revelation that restores the original divine plan (Mt 19:3). At the same time, however, he put what he taught into practice and manifested the true meaning of mercy, clearly illustrated in his meeting with the Samaritan woman (Jn 4:1-30) and with the adulteress (Jn 8:1-11). By looking at the sinner with love, Jesus leads the person to repentance and conversion (‘Go and sin no more’), which is the basis for forgiveness.” (Instrumentum laboris 41)

II. 3 The family, image of the Trinity

Marriage and the family express in a special way that the human being is create in the image and likeness of God. In this context, Pope Francis recalled that: “… man alone is not the image of God nor is woman alone the image of God, but man and woman as a couple are the image of God. The difference between man and woman is not meant to stand in opposition, or to subordinate, but is for the sake of communion and generation, always in the image and likeness of God.” (General Audience, April 15, 2015). The complementary nature, in fact, of the unitive and procreative character in marriage is written into the divine plan in creation. (cf Instrumentum laboris 45).

Family and marriage have been redeemed by Christ (cf Eph 5:21-32), restored to the image of the Most Holy Trinity, the mystery from which comes every true love. This implies at the same time that they are, for the baptized, a gift and a special commitment.

II. 4 The family in the Magisterium of the Church

The Second Vatican Council emphasized the importance of the promotion of the dignity of marriage and of the family (cf Gaudium et spes 47-52), reiterating the fact that marriage is a community of life and love (cf GS 48). True love in fact is not reduced to some elements of the relationship but implies a mutual gift of self (cf GS 49). Thus the sexual and affective dimensions are built up during daily life. In the Creator the human couple is already a bearer of the divine blessing. In fact, in Genesis we read that: “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them: ‘Be fruitful and multiply…’” (Gen 1:27-28). In the incarnation, then, God assumes human love, purifies it and brings it to fulfillment and gives to the spouses, with his Spirit, bestowed already in the sacrament of Baptism, the capacity to realize it fully and through his grace, to build up the Body of Christ and to be a domestic Church (cf Lumen gentium 11; Instrumentum laboris 47).

II.5 The missionary dimension of the Family

The missionary dimension of the family is rooted in the sacrament of Baptism and is realized within the Christian community. The Christian family, a domestic Church based on the sacramental marriage of two Christians, by its nature tends to diffuse its faith by sharing it with others. The Christian family, in fact, are called to witness to the Gospel either by its life according to the Gospel itself, or by a missionary proclamation. Spouses mutually reinforce their faith and transmit it to their children, but the children, moreover, together with the other family members, are also called to share their faith. In the family you can experience who the spouses in their mutual love, reinforced bu the spirit of Christ, live their call to holiness. So the family constitutes, as Saint John Paul II said in Familiaris consortio, the way of the Church (cf FC 13). It is in this framework that the teaching of Blessed Paul VI fits, which highlights the intimate relationship between conjugal love and the generation of life (cf Humanae vitae). This truth seems to be particularly important today, when there are so many technical possibilities for separating procreation from conjugal love. The love lived in marriage and the family is the principle of life in society, as recalled by Benedict XVI in his encylical Caritas in veritate (n. 44). The family, in fact, is the place where a person learns to experience the common good (cf Instrumentum laboris 50). The teaching of the Popes deepens also the spiritual dimension of family life, beginning from the rediscovery of family prayer and listening in common to the Word of God. Equally fundamental is the rediscovery of Sunday as a sign of the profound rootedness of the family in the ecclesial reality. The spirituality of the family must be nourished by strong experiences of faith, in particular by participation in the Eucharist. (cf Instrumentum laboris 51; LG 11). Above all in the Sunday Eucharist, the Christian family announces that great and definitive family to which we are all called in eternal life.

Pope Francis in his encyclical Lumen Fidei spoke of family ties and the faith, saying: “Faith is no refuge … but something which enhances our lives. It makes us aware of a magnificent calling, the vocation of love. It assures us that this love is trustworthy and worth embracing, for it is based on God’s faithfulness which is stronger than our every weakness” (LF, 53).

The reciprocal gift constitutive of marriage, rooted for Christians in the grace of Baptism, stabilizes the fundamental alliance of each person with Christ in the Church. The engaged promise a total gift, fidelity, and openness to life, recognized as the constitutive elements of marriage and gifts given them by God, taking seriously their commitment in his name and before the Church. In sacramental marriage God consecrates the love of spouses and confirms indissolubility, offering them assistance to live their faithfulness, mutual complementarity and openness to life (cf Instrumentum laboris 54).

II. 6 The indissolubility of marriage and the joy of living together

The teaching of Christ on the indissolubility of marriage was very demanding, to the point of provoking a certain confusion among his own disciples (cf Mt 19:10). The Gospels and Saint Paul confirm equally that the repudiation of one’s wife, practiced first among the people of Israel, does not render possible a new marriage for either party. This affirmation, so unusual and so demanding, has continued through the course of centuries in the disciplinary tradition of the Church, constituting an element still to the point which draws people back to Christianity, a disciplinary question that matters nearly as much as monogamy and the indissolubility of marriage (cf Mt 19:1-10; Mark 10:1-12; Luke 16:18; 1 Cor 7:10-16).

This teaching of Christ regarding marriage is truly Good News and is a source of joy, as it is the full realization of the human person and of his vocation to gratuitous personal relationships, to giving himself, to be fully accepted (cf Instrumentum laboris 55).

II. 7 The project of the Creator and natural marriage

The Church, it should be remembered, has always recognized the existence of true, natural marriage between two unbaptized persons. Since the beginning of humanity such an alliance between a man and a woman has corresponded to the creative plan of God, and was blessed (Gen 1:27-28). So, among true marriages, even today there are in the world many natural marriages, and other marriages sacramental, contracted between the baptized, which involves a special grace (cf Instrumentum laboris 57). “The seriousness of adhering to this divine plan and the courage required to witness to it is especially to be esteemed in these times” (Instrumentum laboris 57).

II. 8 Mercy for wounded families: mission of the Church

In virtue of the sacrament of marriage the Christian family becomes a good for the Church, but its insertion into the ecclesial context is always good for the family being helped at the spiritual and communitarian levels despite difficulties, and helps to guard the marital union and to discern any respective obligations or eventual shortcoming.

The organic insertion of marriage and the family among Christians in the reality of the Church, requires also that the Church community pay realistic and merciful attention to the faithful who cohabit or who live in civil marriage only, because they do not feel prepared to celebrate the sacrament, given the difficulties that such as choice to result in today. If the community can prove to show itself welcoming to these persons, in the varied situations of life, and presents articulately the truth about marriage, it will help these faithful to arrive at a decision for sacramental marriage.

II. 9 Mercy and truth revealed

From this intimate connection between the sacrament of marriage and the reality of the Church it follows that the Church community has a vocation to help even those Catholic couples and families who find themselves in crisis. It has a duty to care for all those who cohabit or are in marital or family situations which cannot become a valid marriage, much less a sacramental one. “Conscious that the most merciful thing is to tell the truth in love, we go beyond compassion. Merciful love, as it attracts and unites, transforms and elevates. It is an invitation to conversion (cf John 8:1-11)” (Instrumentum laboris 67).

III. The mission of the family today

III. 1 The family and evangelization

Among the practical consequences and tasks regarding the mission, some require the Church’s commitment to families, others regard the family itself, and others require the concerted efforts of both.

Marriage preparation, which often engages the attention of engaged person at the exterior and emotional level, should be enriched by placing a proper accent on the spiritual and ecclesial character of marriage. In pastoral preparation for marriage we have to go deeply into the aspects underlining the essential properties of marriage at the natural and supernatural levels. It is extremely useful to have the joyous participation of the Christian community which welcomes the new family, which is to be a living member of the ecclesial family (cf instrumentum laboris 73; 103). Thus it is very useful for Catholic families to be involved in the preparation of engaged couples. The newlyweds can come to know a community of true friends, and from these encounters there can be born human relationships of enrichment, support, and help in difficult situations or in problems within the couple. Belonging to such a group, the faith of the couple can mature, especially if these communities of family meet regularly, read Sacred Scripture, pray together, and cultivate their faith in the light of the teaching of the Church, especially through the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Beside all this, and as its ‘fruit’, there is accomplished a mutual help in daily problems which are part of the life of every family. The formation of such groups of families seems to be a sign of the times. They often arise within new communities or ecclesial movements, but are also often rooted in the parish. It seems an urgent and fascinating task to form such communities, and promote them among all the dioceses.

It will often be good to animate these groups with the presence of a priest or a pastoral worker who is well prepared (cf Instrumentum laboris 75).

At both the level of small communities and of parish ministry and the mass media there is needed a “… conversion of language that it might prove to be effectively meaningful” (Instrumentum laboris 77-78). This constitutes a challenge for bishops, priests, and other ministers of the Word and requires, or may require, new forms of catechesis and testimony, in full fidelity to the truth revealed by Christ. If we speak from the depths of our heart, if we never tire of being accountable to ourselves and our faith, then we can turn to others with conviction and courage. If we speak frankly to others about what we believe, we don’t need to be afraid of being misunderstood, because we, too, are children of our time. While not everyone will accept what we announce, they will at least understand the proposal. This is confirmed especially by the experience of missionaries in large cities.

Beyond the joyous announcement of the Gospel, and within the context of announcing the good news of the family, it is necessary also to help those living in problematic and difficult situations to discern their living conditions in the light of the gospel. This discernment must not be content with subjective criteria, as a test for justification, but must bring together mercy with justice. The project of God in marriage and family is the way to happiness for the human being. In this work of announcing, the pastors of the Church, particularly where other worldviews or religions are present, should know such ways to conceive of and implement marriage and family to illuminate them with the light of the Gospel.

III. 2 Family, formation, and public institutions

In the preparation of both clergy and pastoral workers, and in their continuing formation, we must bear in mind that fact that their affective and psychological maturation is indispensable for the pastoral accompaniment of families. Diocesan offices and other structures for the family should collaborate in this regard.

“Given that the family is “the first and vital cell of society” (Apostolicam actuositatem, 11), the family ought to rediscover its vocation of involvement in all aspects of living in society. Essentially, families, in gathering together, need to find ways to interact with public, economic and cultural institutions so they can build a more just society” (Instrumentum laboris 91). Collaboration with public institutions is desired for the interest of the family. Yet in many countries and many institutions the official concept of the family is “…not in keeping with the Christian view or the sense of the family based on nature” (Instrumentum laboris 91). This mode of thinking influences the mentality of not a few Christians. Family associations and Catholic movements ought to work together to assert the real instances of the family in society (cf instrumentum laboris 91).

“Christians ought to engage directly in the socio-political life by actively participating in the decision-process and introducing the Church’s social doctrine into discussions with institutions. This commitment would foster the development of appropriate programs to assist young people and needy families at risk of social isolation and exclusion” (Instrumentum laboris 92).

Christians ought to try to create economic structures to support those families who are particularly affected by poverty, unemployment, job insecurity, lack of social and health care, or who are victims of usury. All of the Church community should try to assist those families who are victims of war and persecution.

III. 3 Family, accompaniment, and ecclesial integration

The mission of the Church is delicate and demanding regarding those who live in problematic marital or family situations. First are those who could be married in the Church but who are content with a civil marriage or simple cohabitation. If their attitude comes from a lack of faith or religious interest, it is truly a missionary situation. When, however, they have some relationship with the Church community, frequenting perhaps parish groups or ecclesial movements, a way is opened for their approach of sacramental marriage. The dynamics of pastoral relationships on a personal level can provide a solid basis for a sound teaching method which might foster the gradual opening of minds and hearts to the fullness of God’s plan (cf Instrumentum laboris 103).

Regarding the separated and the divorced who have not remarried, the community of the Church can help those who live these situations in a path of pardon and possibly of reconciliation, and can help the children who are victims of these situations and may encourage those left alone after such a failure, to persevere in faith and in the Christian life and also “to find in the Eucharist the nourishment they need to sustain them in their present state of life” (Instrumentum laboris 118).

It is important to have, at least at the diocesan level, listening centers which can in part help in moments of crisis, but also afterwards (cf Instrumentum laboris 117). Another kind of counseling, equally important, is offered to the divorced to help to clarify the possible invalidity of their failed marriage, as is previewed in the motu proprio Mitis Iudex.

Regarding the divorced-and-civilly-remarried, a merciful, pastoral accompaniment is only right – an accompaniment, however, which leaves no doubt about the truth of the indissolubility of marriage taught by Jesus Christ himself. The mercy of God offers to sinners pardon, but demands conversion. The sin in this case is not especially the comportment which provoked the divorce of the first marriage. With regard to that failure it its possible that both parties were equally culpable, although very often both are to some extent responsible. It is therefore not the failure of the first marriage, but cohabiting in the second relationship that impedes access to the Eucharist. “Many parties request that the attention to and the accompaniment of persons who are divorced and civilly remarried take into account the diversity of situations and be geared towards a greater integration of them into the life of the Christian community” (Instrumentum laboris 121). What impedes some aspects of full integration does not consist in an arbitrary prohibition; it is rather an intrinsic demand of varied situations and relationships, in the context of ecclesial witness. All this requires, however, a profound reflection.

With respect to a way of penance, this expression is used in diverse ways (cf Instrumentum laboris 122-123). These ways need to be deepened and specified. It can be understood in the sense of St. John Paul II’s Familiaris consortio (cf n. 84) and referred to those who are divorced-and-remarried, who because of the needs of their children cannot interrupt their common life, but who can practice continence by the strength of grace, living their relationship of mutual help and friendship. These faithful will also have access to the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, avoiding the provocation of scandal (cf Instrumentum laboris 119). This possibility is far from being physicalist and does not reduce marriage to the exercise of sexuality, but recognizing its nature and purpose, is applied coherently in the life of the human person.

“In order to deepen in the objective situation of sin and moral culpability, the Letter to Bishops of the Catholic Church on the reception of Eucharistic Communion on the part of divorced and remarried faithful by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Sept. 14, 1994) (should) be taken into consideration as well as the Declaration on the admissibility to Holy Communion of the divorced and remarried by the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts (June 24, 2000),” (IL 123), as also said in the Post-synodal Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis by Benedict XVI.

The integration of the divorced and remarried in the ecclesial community can be realized in various ways, apart from admission to the Eucharist, as already suggested in Familiaris consortio 84.

In the traditional practice of the Latin Church the penitential path could have signified for those who were not ready to change their living conditions, but who tried to communicate the desire for conversion, that confessors could hear their confession, giving them good advice and proposing penitential exercises, in order to direct them to conversion, but without giving them the absolution which was possible only for those who actually intended to change their lives (cf RI 5 in VI; F. A. Febeus, S. I., De regulisiuris canonici Liber unicus, Venetiis 1735, pp. 91-92).

True marriages among Christians of different confessions and those celebrated with the dispensation of the impediment from the disparity of worship, between a Catholic and a non-baptized individual, they are valid marriages, but present some pastoral challenges. “Consequently, dealing constructively with differences regarding the faith would necessitate paying particular attention to people who are actually living in these marriages and not simply to couples during the period of preparation before the wedding” (Instrumentum Laboris 127).

For what regards the reference to the pastoral practices of the Orthodox Churches, this cannot be properly evaluated using only the conceptual apparatus developed in the West in the second Millennium. It should be kept in mind (that there are) great institutional differences regarding the tribunals of the Church, as well as the special respect for the legislation of the States, which at times can become critical, if the laws of the State are detached from the truth of marriage according to the design of the Creator.

On the search for pastoral solutions for the difficulty of certain divorced and civilly remarried, it must be kept in mind that fidelity to the indissolubility of marriage cannot be linked to the practical recognition of the goodness of concrete situations that are opposite and therefore irreconcilable. Between true and false, between good and evil, in fact, there is no graduality, even if some forms of cohabitation bring in themselves certain positive aspects, this does not imply that they can be presented as good. However, that the objective truth of the moral good and the subjective responsibility of single persons stand out. There may be a difference between the disorder, ie. the objective sin, and the concrete sin realized in particular conduct that also implies, but not only, the subjective element. “The imputability and responsibility of an action can be diminished or even nullified by ignorance, duress, violence, fear, habits, inordinate attachments and by other psychological or even social factors” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1735). This means that in objective truth good and evil are not given gradually (gradualness of the law), while at the subjective level the law of graduality can take place, and therefore the education of conscience and in the same sense of responsibility. The human act, in fact, is good when it is in every aspect (ex integra causa).

Both in the last synodal assembly and during the preparation of the present general assembly the question of pastoral attention to persons with homosexual tendencies was treated. Even if the problem doesn’t directly affect the reality of the family, situations arise when such behavior influences the life of the family. In every case the Church teaches that “’There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.’ Nevertheless, men and women with a homosexual tendency ought to be received with respect and sensitivity.’ Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided’” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons, 4, Instrumentum Laboris 130).

It reiterates that every person must be respected in their dignity independently of their sexual orientation. It would be desirable that dioceses devote special attention in their pastoral programs to the accompaniment of families where a member has a homosexual tendency and of homosexual persons themselves (Instrumentum Laboris 131). Instead, “Exerting pressure in this regard on the Pastors of the Church is totally unacceptable: it is equally unacceptable for international organizations to link their financial assistance to poorer countries with the introduction of laws that establish ‘marriage’ between persons of the same sex” (Instrumentum Laboris 132).

III. 4 Family, generativity, education

Openness to life is an intrinsic requirement of conjugal love. The generation of life, therefore, cannot be reduced to a variable of the plan of the couple or individual. The individualistic vision of procreation can contribute to the sharp fall in the birth rate, weakening the social fabric, undermining the relationship between generations and rendering the future more uncertain (cf Instrumentum Laboris 133).

We should therefore continue to make known the documents of the Magisterium of the Church which promote the culture of life in front of the increasingly widespread culture of death. Pastoral activity on behalf of the family should involve more Catholic bio-medical specialists in preparing couples for marriage and in accompanying married people (cf Instrumentum Laboris 134).

“Every effort should be made to establish a dialogue with international bodies and policy makers in order to promote respect for human life, from conception to natural death. In this regard, special care needs to be given to families with disabled children” (Instrumentum Laboris 135).

III. 5 Generative responsibility

For what regards generative responsibility: “…needs to start with listening to people and acknowledging the beauty and truth of an unconditional openness to life, which is needed, if human love is to be lived fully. This serves as the basis for an appropriate teaching regarding the natural methods for responsible procreation, which allow a couple to live, in a harmonious and conscious manner, the loving communication between husband and wife in all its aspects along with their responsibility at procreating life. In this regard, we should return to the message of the encyclical Humanae vitae of Blessed Pope Paul VI, which highlights the need to respect the dignity of the person in morally assessing methods in regulating births. The adoption of children, orphans and the abandoned and accepting them as one’s own is a specific form of the family apostolate (cf. AA 11), and has oftentimes been called for and encouraged by the Magisterium (cf. FC 41; Evangelium Vitae, 93)” (Instrumentum Laboris 136). It’s necessary to offer guiding paths which nurture conjugal life and the importance of the laity, which provide an accompaniment made with living witness (cf Instrumentum Laboris 139).

III. 6 Human Life, an Intangible Mystery

“Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “throw away” culture which is now spreading” (Evangelii gaudium 53). “In this regard, the task of the family, supported by everyone in society, is to welcome an unborn human life and take care of human life in its final stage” (Instrumentum Laboris 140).

Regarding the drama of abortion the Church reaffirms the inviolable character of human life. She offers advice to pregnant women, sustains teen mothers, assists abandoned children and is a companion for those who have suffered abortion and become conscious of their mistake. Equally the Church reaffirms the right to natural death, at the same time avoiding both aggressive treatment and euthanasia (cf Instrumentum Laboris 141). Death, in reality, is not a private and individual fact. The human person is not and should not feel isolated in the moment of suffering and death. In the world today, when families have become small and at times isolated and broken or headed by a single parent, their ability to care for their for their members has diminished, including the elderly, disabled and dying. Besides the great public social systems, often of the state, they (families) have great difficulties working, also due to the aging of society and the advancement of an exclusive market logic that considers social expenditures as factors which diminish competitiveness. In this context the Church is confronting a double challenge. On one part through her institutions and voluntary services seeking to make up for the deficiencies of the state welfare system and on the other hand the inability of families seeking to strengthen the human side of that service, offering more material aid, as well as human and spiritual support. Values which cannot be quantified with money.

III. 7 The challenge of education and the role of the family in evangelization

A special challenge the family must confront is that of education and evangelization. Parents are and remain the first ones responsible for the human and religious education of their children. All the crisis which threaten or weaken the family, however, impede the development of this task. However, many places “are witnessing a progressive weakening in the role of parents in upbringing, because of an invasive presence of the media in the family as well as the tendency to delegate this task to other entities. This requires that the Church encourage and support families in their vigilant and responsible supervision in a school’s academic and formative programs which affect their children” (Instrumentum Laboris 144).

In all this educative activity families can receive essential help from other families, especially from the community of Christian families, who seem to assume ever more certain important tasks of the Church, constituting a form of fundamental apostolate of the laity. In the context institutional crisis, they (laity) represent the community element in a providential way for single families and for the Church.


Listening to the Word of God, our response must give sincere and fraternal attention to the needs of our contemporaries, in order to transmit to them the liberating truth and being witnesses of the greatest mercy.

To face the challenge of the family today the Church must therefore convert and become more alive, more personal, more communitarian even at the parochial and small community levels. A certain reawakening seems to already be taking place in many places. So that this is more general and increasingly deeper, we ask for the light of the Holy Spirit, who indicates to us the concrete steps to make.

In this way the vocation and mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world, which is the theme of the current synod, appears in a serene and concrete light which makes us grow in hope and courage in the mercy of God. That mercy for which Pope Francis wanted to dedicate an extraordinary Jubilee. Let us thank the Holy Father for this choice of hope and entrust our work to the Holy Family of Nazareth.

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Hungarian cardinal champions Church teaching in synod address

By Andrew Guernsey at LifeSiteNews:

ROME, October 6, 2015

Cardinal Péter Erdő, General Relator of the Synod on the Family, walks into the Synod hall on the morning of October 6. (Patrick Craine / LifeSiteNews)

Cardinal Péter Erdő, General Relator of the Synod on the Family, walks into the Synod hall on the morning of October 6.
(Patrick Craine / LifeSiteNews)

In his opening plenary address on Monday to the Ordinary Synod, Pope Francis called for an “apostolic courage, which refuses to be intimidated.” Hungarian Cardinal Péter Erdő, General Relator of the synod, was not one to disappoint. In a ringing and lengthy address, Erdő championed Church teaching and discipline on the sanctity of life, marriage and human sexuality, and called for the synod fathers to reject the Kasper proposal to give Communion to divorcees in adulterous unions, and scrap the so-called “lifestyle ecumenism” of Cardinal Christoph Schonborn and Archbishop Bruno Forte.

At last year’s synod, Cardinal Erdő seemed caught unawares when he presented the scandalous mid-term Synod report, deflecting to Archbishop Bruno Forte to explain the supposedly “positive elements” in homosexual relationships, saying: “He who wrote the text must know what it is talking about.” At the opening session today, however, Erdő appeared to commit himself to closing those doors that Pope Francis and last year’s synod left open.

Erdő boldly rejected the notion of “lifestyle ecumenism” as an unacceptable instance of “gradualness of the law” declaring that “between truth and falsehood, between good and bad, there is no graduality.” Erdő resounded the synod hall with a restatement of the Church’s teaching in a 2003 document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on homosexuality: “There is no basis for comparing or making analogies, even remotely, between homosexual unions and God’s plan for matrimony and the family.” Erdő insisted that even if “some forms of cohabitation…carry some positive aspects, [it] does not imply that they can be presented as goods.”

Bishops walk into the hall for the Synod on the Family on Tuesday morning. Patrick Craine / LifeSiteNews

On the Kasper proposal to re-admit divorced and civilly remarried Catholics in a state of adultery to Holy Communion after a period of “penitence” without amendment of life, Erdő insisted that Church discipline on the matter is not an “arbitrary prohibition, ” but rather, it is an “intrinsic demand” of the sacrament, essential to “the Church’s witness,” as St. John Paul II’s and Pope Benedict XVI’s teaching on the matter made clear.  “The mercy of God offers forgiveness to the sinner, but requires conversion” to “practice continence through the strength of grace,” that is, abstaining from non-marital sexual activity. Erdő further underscored that against Kasper’s “so-called penitential way” without amendment of life would contradict the “fidelity to the indissolubility of marriage” which requires that the Church help the faithful to repent from “concrete situations that are contrary.”

In an interview last week with the Hungarian newspaper Kath.net, Erdo said the synod fathers on the whole oppose the Kasper proposal, relating that “The majority is of the conviction that, according to the Church’s law, whoever lives in an invalid marriage may not then go to Holy Communion.”

In his remarks, Erdő also reiterated the Church’s teaching on abortion, euthanasia and contraception as key to the defense of the family in the modern world.  “With regard to the tragedy of abortion, the Church reaffirms the inviolability of human life,” Erdő asserted, and “likewise…the right to a natural death.” Defending the Church’s teaching on contraception in Humanae Vitae, which many Catholic scholars argue the synod’s Instrumentum Laboris document undermines, Erdő said, “Openness to life is an intrinsic requirement of conjugal love.” Far from backing away from these unpopular teachings in the modern world, Erdő insists, “We should therefore continue to disclose documents of the Magisterium of the Church that promote the culture of life in the face of increasingly widespread culture of death.”

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, a leading advocate for progressive changes at the Synod on the Family, stands outside the Synod hall. Patrick Craine / LifeSiteNews

Although Erdő’s previous opposition to the Kasper proposal and other liberalizing reforms was known, his choice to lead off the synod on Monday criticizing at length and directly the most controversial agenda items at the synod speaks volumes about the gravity of the internal divisions among the synod fathers. “If we speak frankly to others about what we believe, we don’t have to worry about not being understood because we, too, are children of our time,” Erdő said, asking for clarity about Church teaching. “Even if not everyone accepts what we proclaim, at least our proposal will be comprehensible.”

Erdő’s decisive opening remarks contrasted with the more tentative and general remarks of Pope Francis at the opening of the synod. At points, the pope’s remarks seemed to favor the agenda to liberalize Church discipline, although he avoided taking clear sides. The Pope called for the synod fathers to have an “evangelical humility that knows how to empty itself of conventions and prejudices… that leads neither to finger-pointing nor to judging others, but to hands outstretched to help people up without ever feeling oneself superior to them.” The Pope continued that the synod fathers must be open to “the God who always surprises, the God who reveals himself to little ones, who hides from the knowing and intelligent; the God who created the law and the Sabbath for man and not vice versa; by the God, who leaves the 99 sheep to look for the one lost sheep; the God who is always greater than our logic and our calculations.”

With characteristic non-specificity, the Pope addressed the divisions among the synod fathers, warning them to avoid the extremes of, on the one hand,  “extinguish[ing] the light of truth in the hearts of men, replacing it with small and temporary lights”, and on the other hand, the “petrification” of some hearts “which, despite good intentions, drive people away from God.” Amid these “temptations,” the Pope urged “fidelity to the Magisterium, the good of the Church and the Salus animarum [the salvation of souls].” Francis also emphasized that the role of the synod is not to “make deals and reach compromises” but rather be a “protected space” to engage in dialogue between the Church’s “deposit of faith” and “the deposit of life” of Church discipline and the lived experience of modern Catholics. Francis explained that the “deposit of faith” is not “a museum to view…nor even something merely to safeguard, but is a living source.”

Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl and Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez walk into the hall for the Synod on the Family on Tuesday morning. Patrick Craine / LifeSiteNews

In a press conference after the morning session, when asked if his opening remarks sought to end discussion about the Kasper proposal, Cardinal Erdő responded, “The synod only begins now. … Further developments are always possible. … We’ll see.”

270 bishops are set to voice their opinions in the Ordinary Synod on the family this month from October 4-25, with Pope Francis having the final word. But Cardinal Erdő has sent a clear message that those who seek to liberalize Church teaching or discipline through further attempts at “rigging the synod,” in the words of Vatican journalist Ed Pentin, will encounter a zealous and faithful resistance.

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The parable of the wheat and the tares: Eccles’ take on the Synod

This gem comes from Eccles – a veritable tonic for the synod-weary:

There was a man who sowed good cardinal seed in his field: among the numerous varieties planted there were Burkeus Cappamagnificus, a traditional American grain, Pellus Boomerangus, a robust Australian variety, and Mueller Fortis, one of the few reliable German plants; but there were other spiritually nourishing varieties too numerous to mention.But then while men were asleep, an enemy came and sowed tares (cockle, darnel) among the wheat, and went his way.

tares or darnel

Warning – contains nuts!

Among the poisonous grains were the German weed, Kasperus Absurdus, guaranteed to induce dizzy spells,  Danneelus Pervertophilus, the toxic Belgian variety, not to mention the dreaded Baldisserius Liberraptor, and Marxus Stultusbarbus the hideous German creeper. And alas, there were many others.

So when the blade was sprung up, and had brought forth fruit, then appeared also the tares.

And the servants of the good man came to him and said, “Sir, did you not sow good seeds in the field? Where did the weeds come from?”

And he said to them, “An enemy has done this.” And the servants said to him, “Do you want us to gather up the weeds?”

“No,” said the man, “I have a better idea. We will allow both to grow until the time of the Synod, and then we will harvest them together.”

 burning the tares

Synod time!

“At the harvest, we’ll gather the tares, and bind them into bundles for burning (the CDF tells me we’re still allowed to do this); but the good wheat we’ll keep. But just to make it more fun, we’ll get the wheat and the tares to spend three weeks voting on which of them is the true harvest, and which the poisonous weeds.”

We are not sure what happened next.

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Fr. Dariusz Oko speaks: the homolobby is “the dark side of the Church”

This article was published Monday 5th October on Toronto Catholic Witness. This is a very grave matter that sheds a sinister shadow over possible manipulations by the Homolobby at the current Synod on the Family.

Fr. Dariusz Oko

Fr. Dariusz Oko

Fr. Dariusz Oko has given an interview this morning on the homolobby, and Krzysztof Charamsa, for the Polish language el.pl [Super Express]. Toronto Catholic Witess presents to readers a complete translation. Of note is Fr. Oko’s prophetic combat against the existence of a powerful, and malignant group of homosexual churchmen, that he rightly terms the homolobby. It is this same lobby that, according to Fr. Oko, enabled, protected and advanced the career of Krzysztof Charmasa.

The interview, in the original Polish, may be read here.

[Note: you may republish this translation, but you must, in your re-publication, credit and link to Toronto Catholic Witness]

Super Express: You mentioned, Father, that you are in a position to finance the treatment of Father Christopher Charamsa, who admitted he was gay, and requests changes in the Church’s teaching. Is he actually ill, or are we rather dealing with a cynical game?

Fr. Dariusz Oko: That we don’t completely know, because we can never totally know the human soul. He does, however, give an impression of someone with personality disorders. It could well be cynicism, but that perfectly combines with disorders. But what he says, and the article in “Tygodnik Powszechny“, this hateful attack, showing such inconsistency, shows that we are dealing with a man possessed by hatred and sex. A man who places sex above God and the teaching of the Church. He wants to prohibit Catholics from any emphatic stand against the enemies of the Faith and the Church; Jesus spoke of whitewashed tombs, a brood of vipers, and murderers of the prophets. Yet Charamsa himself uses language that is violent, and with incredible aggression and contempt for people. This shows disorders. His disorder is also due to his succumbing to becoming homosexual. In this regard, he needs treatment and I told him I would be happy to help him.

Super Express: Fr. Charamsa prior to his coming out, with his now famous article in “Tygodnik Powszechny“, was for years believed to adhere to the Church. The editor now says that he knew about the orientation of Fr. Charamsa and the text would still have been published …

Fr.Oko: Father Boniecki even said that every word in this article is true. However, Fr. Charamsa could not even quote accurately in the “Tygodnik Powszechny” article. This is a betrayal.

Super Express: How is this betrayal shown?

Fr. Oko: “Gazeta Wyborcza” and “Tygodnik Powszechny” have published dozens of hateful articles about me, and the height of this hatred was Fr. Charamsa’s article, that, if possible, was to destroy me. We know that “Gazeta Wyborcza” is the nexus point of hatred against the Church. If we even say one word that is critical of Jews or gays, we learn that we are anti-Semites or homophobes, people full of hate. In contrast, as was shown in Arthur Dmochowki’s book, “Kosciol Wyborcza“, [the church of Wyborcza] every issue, since its inception, has published about the Church. All of these articles are either negative or very negative. Their journalists are volcanic with hatred against the Church.

Super Express: But “Tygodnik Powszechny” for years was seen as close to the Church?

Fr. Oko: “Tygodnik Powszechny” lives in perfect harmony with “GW” [Gazeta Wyborcz]. It is therefore the centre of the largest betrayal in the Church. Wyborcza has different sections, such as autos, women and religion. It is in this last section that “Tygodnik Powszechny” plays a role. One sees that on all sensitive issues it takes a stand with the atheistic left, and not the Church. “TP” directly and fanatically supports homosexuality, in vitro fertilization and abortion. Fr. Michal Czajkowski, who reported to the SB [the Polish secret service during commnism] on Father Popieluszko, as well as Bartoś, Obirek, Węcławski – they are the greatest betrayers of the Church, and the stars of “Tygodnik Powszechny“. I think Fr. Charamsa has outdone them all. “TP” attacks the teaching of the Church, and the bishops. Just like “Gazeta Wyborcza“, it is a centre of the greatest hatred towards for the Church, and “Tygodnik Powszechny” is the centre of the greatest betrayal. If that newspaper attacks me, I consider it an honour.

Super Express: You ended up as a hero through Fr. Charmasa’s article.

Fr. Oko: The text is full of inconsistencies. Fr. Charamsa confuses Jihad with the Crusades. For such a thing a student at the seminary would fail the exam.

Super Express: But he finished in the seminary, is a doctor of theology, and until recently, was an important Vatican official. How is it possible to function like that in the Church for so many years?

Fr. Oko: It is, unfortunately the dark side of the Church. I myself wrote about the homolobby. There were in the Church people like Archbishops Juliusz Paetz and Jozef Wesolowski. It would seem that people of their kind have provided a career for Fr. Charamsa. Those people are very supportive, it is the so-called ‘Lavender Mafia’. This sick part of the Church has always existed. Judas among the twelve apostles constituted 8.5 percent. If you convert that to the 30,000 priests in Poland, it turns out that more than 2.5 thousand priests are living badly, like Judases. Charamsa belongs to this group of Judases, of Cains. Betraying the Church the person places himself above the bishops, theologians, popes, one can even say: above God. Pope Benedict XVI said that genderism is worse than Marxism. Pope Francis said it is like a tsunami, demonic, satanic. Jesus spoke of whitewashed tombs, a brood of vipers, murderers of the prophets. According to Fr. Charamsa these words are unacceptable, our language should instead purr sweetly. If someone thinks he knows better than God on how to speak of this, it indicates a madness or possession.


See also: Fr. Dariusz Oko responds to the slanderous attack by the Vatican “gay priest” Krysztof Charamsa

And this very important article first published on Rorate Caeli from February 2013: Fr. Dariusz Oko’s major article:”With the Pope against the Homoheresy”

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Archbishop Gänswein’s Thinly Veiled Critique of the German Bishops

From Rorate Caeli:

In a speech given at the opening of the academic year of the theological seminary of the Austrian Cistercian Abbey, Stift Heiligenkreuz (Philosophisch-Theologische Hochschule Benedikt XVI. Heiligenkreuz), H.E. Archbishop Georg Gänswein offered what amounted to a thinly veiled attack on the German episcopate’s current campaign to conform the Church to the world. The speech, which has been made available on youtube (embedded above), was concerned with the reception in Germany of Pope Benedict XVI’s Address to German Catholics in the Freiburg Concert House, on the necessity of purifying the Church from worldliness. Archbishop Gänswein bewailed the fact that many in Germany had tried to play down the implications of that speech for German ecclesial life (“the pope never mentioned the Church tax”). He didn’t say exactly who the people playing down the implications were, but it became clear that he was speaking about the German episcopate. The climax of Archbishop Gänswein’s speech (beginning at the 15:17 mark) seemed to imply as much (Rorate translation):

The decisive adaptation that is demanded of the Church and of us Christians is not adaptation to the modern world and its spirit, but rather adaption [conformity] to the truth of the Gospel. At this point I quote an entirely unprejudiced source, I will say where I found it afterwards: “The crisis of the Church’s life is not finally based on difficulties in adapting [Anpassungsschwierigkeiten] to our modern life and modern sensibilities, but rather on difficulties in conforming ourselves [Anpassungsschwierigkeiten] to Him in whom our hope is rooted and from Whose being it receives its height and depth, its way and its future: Jesus Christ with His message of the Kingdom of God.” This quotation is neither from Joseph Ratzinger nor from Hans Urs von Balthasar, but rather from the Common Synod of the Bishops of West Germany in the year 1976. [Laughter, applause]. 
The Archbishop went on to argue that many in the German Church see the Church not as the divinely instituted means of salvation, which must always stand in a certain opposition to the world, but rather as one organization among many in German society, whose chief mission is to contribute to a common social project, and which must therefore be in harmony with the moral consensus of German society. Therefore, the first thing that the German Church needs in order to purify itself from worldliness is a conversion to Christ.

The Archbishop did not go into much detail on what practical measures might help to enable such a conversion, nor into the status of Pope Benedict’s demands in the pontificate of Pope Francis. In our opinion the abolition of the Church tax, and the enormous Church bureaucracy that it funds would be a salutary first step. But even in a pontificate which has explicitly called for a “poor Church for the poor” the prospects are bleak for such a step being taken in the face of the implacable opposition of the German bishops.

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Ann Barnhardt heckles Bishop

From the new group blog set up by Hilary White for the duration of the Synod:

A little while back I had the opportunity to attend a small conference about Marriage and Evolution, as in Darwinian evolution, specifically addressing the damage that the Evolutionary theory has done to society in general, and to the cultural foundation of marriage and family, namely by the Evolutionary base premise that everything is constantly changing and that everything “new” is “better” and everything “old” is “inferior” or, sin-of-sins, “unevolved”. The morning session was a series of presentations on marriage and family, and then the afternoon sessions were incredibly interesting hard science – fossil records, genetics, molecular biology, etc.

The final presentation of the morning session was an overview by a laywoman of the horrific situation in North America that has existed for decades now with regards to annulments. The Catholic church in America has been handing out declarations of nullity – de facto “Catholic divorce” – to pretty much everyone who asked for them for, well, completely coincidentally, just about 50 years now. That is no secret. Just ask any Kennedy.

In fact, permit me to quickly recount as an aside an illustrative horror story from my time in RCIA in the very (relatively) conservative neocon parish in Denver, which is itself one of the more conservative dioceses in the former U.S.

The RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) program was run by a “team”, which consisted almost entirely of laypeople, mostly middle-aged and elderly women. In fact, I entered the Catholic Church without ever, one time, speaking to a priest. The first time I spoke to a priest was my first confession several weeks after entering the Church. But I digress.

Anyway, one of the team members told one of the RCIA catechumens who was in a romantic relationship with a civilly divorced Catholic to – and I quote verbatim – “Just go to Vegas and get married and let the chips fall where they may. All annulments are approved. You just have to do the paperwork.”

This team member was advising a person getting ready to enter the Church to commit mortal sin, thus excommunicating themselves, not to mention the presumption upon God’s Mercy. This woman also thought that it was unfair that her sodomitical hairdresser and his boyfriend couldn’t adopt a pet child, and that when people die they become angels. Ah, the New Pentecost…. It is enough to make a person ask whether or not these people actually believe any of it in the first place….

So back to the conference I recently attended. At the end of the laywoman’s presentation about the extreme injustice of both the no-fault civil divorce culture in North America, as well as the push within the Church to make the annulment process into de facto Catholic no-fault divorce, she touched very briefly on the September 8th Motu Proprio and how it was simply moving the entire Church toward the North American model of “annulment on demand”. There was a Q&A period, and there were two visiting bishops present in the audience, one from the Middle East somewhere and one from subsaharan Africa somewhere.

So I raised my hand and asked the final question of the session. My question was this:

“The disastrous September 8th Motu Proprio contains a list of criteria that could be cited as grounds for declaring a marriage null, including “lack of faith”, which is a universal condition. I myself am already receiving questions from orthodox faithful Catholics who are happily married who are now questioning whether or not they are even married because one or both of the spouses was “nervous” on the morning of the wedding, perhaps indicating a “lack of faith” per the Motu Proprio. This is the diabolical fruit of the September 8th disaster. My question is, what can we do or say to people to assure them that they are, in fact, sacramentally married and should not doubt this?”

Here’s the rest of the article written by the inimitable and intrepid Ann Barnhardt

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How Cardinal Vincent Nichols pulled the wool over our eyes just before the 2015 Synod.


An interesting, and rather worrying critique of the Bishops of England & Wales, and the Cardinal who purports to speak on our behalf.

Originally posted on Faith in our Families:

Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor and Cardinal Vincent Nichols Cardinal Cormack Murphy O’Connor and Cardinal Vincent Nichols

As we enter the first day of the 2015 Family synod, I cannot help but feel just a little bit uneasy about something. Lets step back in time briefly…

In November 2013 the Vatican released a questionnaire to be answered by the laity as part of the the Preparatory Document for the upcoming Family Synod meeting to be held in October 2014. The purpose of this questionnaire was to help the Church develop concrete proposals for the second Synod in 2015 which in turn will produce specific guidance on the pastoral care of the family for our times.

In October 2014 after the Extraordinary Assembly had finished it’s two week long synod meeting, the Vatican sent out the final report and a second questionnaire. The new questionnaire was intended to fill in the gaps that might exist in the synod’s vision. It asked bishops to conduct…

View original 2,008 more words

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