Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke continues to shine as a beacon of hope for the faithful during these days of trepidation. As the Extraordinary Synod on the Family continues, Catholics are hearing a steady drumbeat of self-styled reformers calling for “pastoral solutions”, “less offensive language” and the revisiting of “alleged interpretations of dogma” in an effort to respond to the difficulties facing families today. Despite the media hype focusing on the divorced and civilly remarried, or ministerial outreach to the LGBT “community”, most faithful are aware that the real challenges facing the family are of a much more fundamental nature.
Interviewed on Monday by Vatican Radio, Cardinal Burke was asked what he believed the three biggest challenges to the family were today. As we have come to expect from him, the good Cardinal responded with his usual (and we might add refreshing) candor and clarity.
“One of the biggest challenges is the defective catechesis in the Roman Catholic Church—I can speak from my experience in the United States—for the past 40 to 50 years. Children and young people are not well catechized with regard to marriage. Coupled with that is the recent entrance of a so-called “gender theory” that alienates human sexuality from its essentially conjugal meaning. This is now being brought into schools along with the advancement of the homosexual agenda. This is a big challenge for families. It is only in the family that the true sense of who we are as man and woman is taught effectively both by the example of the father and mother, but also in catechesis to amplify that and assist the parents in the fuller teaching of the faith. So this is one major difficulty.”
In other words, the post conciliar Church has failed to teach that most foundational of concepts-the Christian family. Two generations catechized with coloring books and word searches has taken its toll upon the Faith. This “defective catechesis” was further reinforced by the subversive and destructive acceptance of contraception by both clergy and laity alike. With the procreative aspect of the conjugal act separated from the unitive, christian marriages have become only shadows of their true meaning and purpose.
“Obviously too, we are dealing with a culture, at least in the West, which is totally secularized and therefore denatured. When God is no longer taken into account, and His plan for creation is no longer considered… Instead, we have the pretense to decide for ourselves the meaning of our own lives and the meaning and destiny of our world, the family suffers first and foremost. The family today has to be especially alert to the subtle influences of the secularized culture, what St. John Paul II once called the Godless culture, especially its insinuation into the lives of the members of the family and the family itself, through the mass media and above all through the Internet and the horrible reality of pornography on the Internet, which is causing so much damage to families. The second big challenge to families is secular society itself and the challenge to Christian families today to be countercultural.“
This is an assessment that seems so obvious that one wouldn’t think it necessary to qualify or defend. An authentically Catholic family today is counter-cultural by its very nature and values. The family in post-christian America does well to remember Our Lord’s admonition, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” (Jn 15:18). Cardinal Burke and other orthodox prelates like him understand this.
“A third challenge is the whole question of marriage itself and the effective presentation of the Church’s teaching about marriage, which in fact is also known by reason. Marriage is part of our human nature and therefore it is taught by natural law. Faith illumines reason and helps to see the truth in all its richness. So, we need to help especially young people when they are at the age where one is preparing for marriage to see marriage itself as a beautiful call, a way to eternal salvation—not only to their happiness now on earth—and to assist them in every way we can. I think if we have a good catechesis for children and for young people it will be easier to reach them with the message of the Church, the message of reason and faith with regard to marriage as they come into their young adult years.”
Amen and thank you Cardinal Burke.
Brian Williams is a convert who entered the Catholic Church in 2006. He is a graduate of Long Beach State University with a BA in History. Brian blogs on life, liturgy and the pursuit of holiness at liturgyguy.com. He lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with his wife and five children.
So here we are seeing the destruction of marriage and conjugal objectives in every aspect.
In Humanae Vitae, didn’t Pope Paul VI change the objective of marriage from children and procreation to the happiness of the spouse? The objective changes from duty to pleasure? Did this not set us on the trajectory to where we are today?
Rather than admiring Humanae Vitae as a statement on contraception, maybe this should be viewed as containing that Trojan Horse that destroyed marriage with that subtle change from the eternal teaching of the Church. Humanae Vitae is considered a dire warning of the ensuing chaos of contraception. But in reality, maybe Paul VI’s statement is a triumphant prediction of a destructive end to marriage achieved at the highest level.
When the objective of children is removed from the purpose of marriage, then the focus becomes pleasure at any cost and by any means. Here we are.
I don’t mean to offend, but perhaps it might be better to actually read the document for yourself. Your suggestion that Paul VI ‘changed the objective of marriage’ is a pretty clear indication that you haven’t. You may find answers to some of your questions there.
Robert thanks for the response, I appreciate your charitable comment. I am uncertain of the effect of Humanae Vitae, and with very careful reading, have come to a slightly different conclusion.
The source of our chaos is betrayal in the Church on the inside. I have wondered if clues to the sources can be found in Church documents.
The ambiguity is subtle.
Humanae Vitae does present past teachings of the Church on procreation and the purpose of marriage. The document states ” excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means. (16)” Or in other words, ANY action with the intention of avoiding children is unlawful. The basis for judging lawfulness is not the method, but always the intention. Some propose that the document ambiguously back-peddles by arguing only against artificial contraception [leaving a gap for natural contraception, of which there are many means] and then also by stating:
“It cannot be denied that in each case the married couple, for acceptable reasons, are both perfectly clear in their intention to avoid children and wish to make sure that none will result. But it is equally true that it is exclusively in the former case that husband and wife are ready to abstain from intercourse during the fertile period as often as for reasonable motives the birth of another child is not desirable. And when the infertile period recurs, they use their married intimacy to express their mutual love and safeguard their fidelity toward one another. In doing this they certainly give proof of a true and authentic love. ”
This paragraph states that it is lawful to “avoid children and… to make sure that none will result”.
One paragraph says that intending to avoid children is unlawful, while another following statement says the opposite, oh, that there can be exceptions. This is similar to the arguments of those who are “anti-abortion”, except for certain dire circumstances. When as we all know, all abortion is wrong all the time.
In effect, doesn’t this strictly mean that the happiness of the couple takes precedence over the objective of marriage? Has “lawful contraception” ever been taught by the Church anywhere ever before this document?
It is, I’m afraid, perfectly true that Humanae Vitae is partially good, partially not so good for it did, indeed, open the door to the view, long since broadened, that a couple can avoid children “for good reasons”> The problem is, neither the Pope nor the Church since have defined what those “good reasons” are. Oh, of course, there was always the “grave reasons” statement made by Pius XII which sounded quite firm but in the ensuing absence of clarifying statements couples have been left pretty much to themselves as to what constitutes a serious reason.
A very sad sight to see so commonly these days is a Catholic family with one or two children only, imitating the Protestant/Jewish culture around them. What “grave reasons” does one suppose led to their decision to have only two children. Financial? Perhaps, but God does provide, if we ask Him. It is not my intention here to judge individual cases but I can tell you this: having a large family on a small income is something that can be done. Take it from me, it can be done. We may have to forgo those yearly trips, the summer homes, the second car, the 65″ TV screen, etc., but it can be done.
That doesn’t seem to matter with my Catholic dioceses who demand engaged couple to endure those horrendous pre-Cana conferences. Have you been to one recently? If not you should sit in. It’s all about sexual pleasure uber alles, and fishing for plausible reasons to avoid children using the “Catholic” version of refusing children. Am I exaggerating? Unfortunately, no. After this, and well into married life, priests tell their penitents in the Confessional that it is OK to avoid children, And let us not try to deny this. It is a public scandal, and everyone knows it. How many public admissions by priests who confirm this to we have to read before we are convinced that it is going on?
This Synod, I fear, is going to make a bad situation infinitely worse and I don’t know if solid people like Burke will be able to prevail. It looks like a rigged game from the outset. This article explains how these things sometimes play out:
I believe your instincts on this issue are correct and we should view Humanae Vitae as doing some good, and some bad.
@Schmenz: I’m so happy that you and Tina state what so many Catholics are thinking. The term “natural family planning” is like fingernails down a blackboard to me! When it first came out, I had a natural revulsion to it. I sensed it wasn’t right, but I kept telling myself, it must be right or the Church would not approve it! But it has been indoctrinated into the last 2 generations of “orthodox” Catholics, and now we see “orthodox” Catholic families of 3 or 4 children, thinking they have “large” families–using “natural family planning”. How I long for the pre-Vatican ll Church!
I am encouraged to see others pointing this out.
Thank God for Cardinal Burke. Cardinal Burke is such a lamp of bright light among the dross of material and formal heresy. May God keep him and bring his soul unto life everlasting.
As the secular world dances and parades with politically minded and fallen Priests the likes of Kasper, Dolan, Cupich, it looks to influence and poison our Catholic Family Synod in Rome with an invitation to “less inclusive language” and the “law of graduality”, a propaganda tool used to support, promote and advance a false Doctrine. We are given Hope yet by Cardinal Burke, who is “The Good Shepherd”. the voice recognized by Christ and “His” children. God Bless and protect Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke
I will try to remember to add the Cardinal to my prayers more often. God has been hearing alot from me lately on my frequent request for strong, orthodox, authentic leaders.