Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Synod, the Bishops, and the Catholic Mind

     To really understand the seriousness of the fact that the majority (104 out of 178) of the Catholic Bishops at the recent Synod on the Family actually voted in favor of admitting the divorced and remarried to Sacramental Communion, one must examine the origins and reasons for their Modernist mindset. “It is in the mind and writings of Joseph Ratzinger that we will find the explanation.” To date, I have read no better explanation for this betrayal of the traditional Catholic position than a recent article by noted commentator James Larson, from which the above quote is taken. Mr. Larson, a frequent contributor to journals such as Christian Order, is an expert on Catholic philosophy and the thought of Fr. Ratzinger.

     Larson begins by discussing Ratzinger's now famous 1972 article, in which he had initially concluded that reception of the Eucharist for those in the divorced and remarried situation “seems to be nothing more than fair,” and is in keeping with Church tradition. While this conclusion has been deleted in the new edition of his complete works, Larson shows that deleting the conclusion “solves nothing,” since the entire article is devoted to proving why pastoral practice can tolerate such a situation. What is needed is an admission that the entire article is wrong, and its renunciation.

     Larson then delves into the former Pope's writings, and illustrates by direct quotations that essential Catholic concepts are rejected in them: specifically the absoluteness of Divine Revelation, the principle of non-contradiction, and the Catholic concept of substantiality. These foundational principles which are necessary for “thinking with the Church,” have been uprooted from Catholicism by reductive science and technology, and their denial can only be counteracted by a return to Thomistic Metaphysics. Their rejection has so imbued the contemporary Catholic that Larson writes that “It can seriously be doubted, therefore, if there was even one bishop in the Synod who fully 'thinks with the Church,' despite the fact that there was a significant minority that possessed the good will to accede to traditional Catholic doctrine."

     The Church's teaching on the absolute indissolubility of the marriage bond is the foundation of the entire structure of the family. This teaching “now hangs upon a delicate thread,” and the means being used by Satan to sever this thread “is the Catholic episcopate itself.”

     Here is the Link to the article, which is part of Larson's web site,


  1. I'd suggest that the traditional Catholic teachings have been challenged rather than uprooted by Science's empiricism. Science and Religion have historically been able to cohabit thoughtful people's minds.

    1. I agree that there is no incompatibility between true science and the Faith. It is pseudo-science based on the unproven theory of evolution that is the main problem - leading to denial of Adam and Eve and of Original Sin.

  2. A Carmelite brother told me that St. John of the Cross wrote (paraphrase) that the Lord leaves us all with a predominant fault as to keep us humble and for other reasons as well.

    Now whether that is true or not it does make sense. It is well documented how many great saints gave us fabulous revelations, lived most holy lives, yet, may have had a predominant fault such as a short temper, etc. But even more of a fault would have been an incorrect prophecy of sorts. That, too, has been demonstrated.

    I cannot think of any pope I admire more than Benedict XVI and Frances because of their inspired words. But I also think both, like the rest of us, could be wrong on X or Y. Case in point, evolution. No way do I believe God created animals and man via evolution. I could be wrong too, but I doubt it. The evidence is not on their side.

    Anyway, none of that bothers me much. What I would like to ask is the following: Is it possible that in this sort of “lose-lose situation” charity wins out over Church teaching? How else can I say this? Is a dedicated and devoted divorced Catholic who confesses, repents and constantly seeks forgiveness for his past sins ---- is his or her receiving Holy Communion at mass all that terrible, or will it truly upset the foundation of Catholicism for the faithful? Will it render all other teachings as dubious or hypocritical? What is the true fallout if the Church allows Holy Communion to truly repentant divorced Catholics? Is it their second marriage which is the great sin? Or is it receiving communion while in a second marriage that is so scandalous?

    As St. Paul said, in the end that which remains is faith, hope and charity and the greatest of these is charity. That is what I see and read about Frances in almost all of his teachings and interactions. “Who am I to judge?” regardless if the unchurched take that too far is a glorious message to a lost and dying world. “There is hope for the atheist” (paraphrase) was also a great message of hope for the hopeless, and it is surely true as well. Welcoming the downtrodden and fearful divorced Catholic who feels put out for life would also bring so much more joy and gratitude to this suffering soul than it would harm the Catholic Church as the guardian of truth. At least, I just do not see such a ruling bringing down Jesus’ Church, but more one of true charity.

  3. Dear Anonymous, you ask what is the "true fallout" if the Church allows the divorced person in a second marriage to receive Communion. The "fallout" is that the Church would then be saying that one can be in a state of mortal sin and still receive Communion! In the eyes of God, and the Catholic Church, neither of which recognize divorce, that first marriage is still the valid one. Therefore the person in the second marriage is committing adultery/fornication - mortal sin. If that person were truly penitent about the divorce, he/she should end the second relationship, or at the very least continue it in a state of celibacy, an option not being talked about. So yes, the fallout is very serous - OK to receive Communion in a state of mortal sin! Second fallout: OK for us Catholics to get divorced and remarried since we can get Communion anyway. This is false mercy. As Mr. Larson says in his article, it is from Satan.

    1. Which makes me wonder what the 100+ bishops of the 178 present at the synod were thinking? I do find it very hard to argue with you or the Church teaching because it is moral sin as you call it. So I suppose my following example does not carry much weight, i.e. where Pope John Paul II sent a letter to all priests about the penitent confessing a continuous practice of artificial contraception their marriage. Paraphrasing gratuitously, Pope John Paul essentially said to the priests, do not be hard on these faithful. They are to be deemed to be “invincibly ignorant” and we do not want to condemn their act to the point of alienating them from all blessings of remaining part of the Church. Essentially, the divorced Catholic may have had very good cause for leaving their first marriage, albeit not “annulment worthy,” yet because the Church is telling them they are mortal sinners heretofore, they are banished and possibly lost. Is this not what the pope, the bishops, et al. are struggling with? I know God’s mercy extends well beyond only Christians and so many flavors of quasi-believers and I would like to think it will also be extended to those who struggle with their faith and the realities of their present lives. In other words, “mortal sin” is the most difficult thing for anyone to define or be certain of, and therefore, would it be the worst of rulings if they found this to be a special case for some pardon? - - - As it were, I think you already answered that question. I see the wisdom on your side as well.

    2. I'm a different anonymous.

      I think it is understandable the bishops felt empathy for the divorced as they are probably confronted with this specter every day; new families formed out the shipwrecks of former marriages, including additional children biologically related to the newly married couple. It all becomes so personal.

      But, I just want to add, that besides the theological reasons why these couples should move to separate beds at the very least, I personally think that one factor that often holds first marriages together is the knowledge by one or the other of the couple that they would face the choice of living celibately the rest of their lives or lose the Eucharist. This is a powerful reason to keep the first marriage together. Once this incentive is removed, then what?

  4. I am Anonymous #1 who offered the first two (anonymous) comments on this thread. I really do not favor playing trick games, but for the sake of interest may I propose one anyway? First of all, divorced Catholics can receive Holy Communion so long as they remain single, correct? Now is it also not true that a Catholic who has never been married but has had illicit sexual relations (on occasion) with another, yet goes to confession regularly, is properly disposed to then receive Holy Communion? That is an important question which I believe the answer is ‘yes’ and not unlike all other Catholics who can receive communion after they have gone through a valid confession to remove any mortal sins from their souls. Question: Does that include two never married Catholics living together? If they go to confession regularly and confess their sins of fornication, are they in good standing or does this habitual recurrence render their confessions invalid?

    Perhaps now you can see where I am going with this “game?” If the latter scenario of two singles living together kept allowing for full and repeated forgiveness then why would not a divorced Catholic opt to live together with their mate instead of marrying them, and just go to confession regularly?

    I do not want to give the impression I am in favor of any of this because “God is not one to be mocked,” but I am just looking for answers. A semi-related thought: The Church did yield some on condom use when it came to spouses in Africa at risk for Aids. Is there any room for reconsideration for a devout, repentant divorced Catholic (besides annulment) except to remain celibate their entire lives or risk the fires of hell? Thanks for any considerate response.

  5. Confession requires a firm purpose of amendment and repentance. If they deliberately intend to continue sinning, the Confession is invalid. Please see this short explanation from Pope John Paul II:
    "Confession Must be Humble, Complete and Accompanied by Firm Purpose of Amendment"

  6. Getting back to why Pope JP 2 and Benedict XVI in theory turned lenient in their theology on Communion to the divorced/remarried: can it not have something to do with Von Balthasar and the enormous influence he had on both men? (“Dare We Hope That All Men May Be Saved?”) Suggestions, if not answers, perhaps may be found in his writings—which could take a lifetime of studying, and often even deciphering. I do not know, for I have only "dabbled" in Von Balthasar, but perhaps these two Popes were uncomfortable with the idea that God would lock out so much humanity from the Eucharist or the Kingdom of Heaven even if the souls were devoted, sincere, and longing for that peace. Extend that thinking, then, to the Communion rail. where graces can be at work.

    Everything, of course, is intention. Intention and the repentence of the heart. Only God can know for sure the sincerity of intention. Only God knows the worthiness of the soul presenting itself. But If a priest, in Christ's place, feels the pain of conscience and compassion and decides to forgive and allow Communion to that soul, can God's forgiveness and love be outdone by the priest? If forgiveness reaches the heart of a human, can it bypass the Heart of God?

    I'm merely asking and wondering. I do not have answers, only a dwelling and meditating on some of the last words of Christ on the Cross: “Forgive them, Father, for they do not know what they are doing?”