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International Answer The Dubia Day!

Before we get to the fun and exciting details of the International Answer The Dubia Day!, we need first to understand some background.

There was presented to Pope Francis more than five months ago a sort of Theology 101, True-False quiz by some of his more academically minded colleagues from the College of Cardinals.

Before we get to the quiz’s questions, the reason for its origin is that the Holy Father published a paper (not peer-reviewed) called Amoris Laetitia which appeared to argue (via a footnote) that marriage was not for life and indissoluble as our Lord Jesus said it was.

I say “appeared” because that is how a good chunk of priests, bishops, and cardinals are interpreting the document. It is their opinion that our Lord Jesus was issuing a sort of guideline or ideal that can be aimed for but which is not expected to be reached often in practice. That “one-flesh” business was fine for its time, but, well, times change, and so must the Church.

Others say that this modern interpretation is (to use a theological term) bonkers. These fellows say that once we assume our Lord Jesus wasn’t serious about marriage, we’d have to assume he wasn’t serious about anything. And this is the first step on the verified slippery slope to Unitarian Universalism and practical atheism.

This is no small dispute between the two groups. Either we take God (as Jesus) at His word, or we don’t. Tempers are flaring, friendships are dissolving, and camps are forming. The terms heresy and schism are being tossed about.

Hence the True-False quiz, or dubia. The dubia were formed to see into which camp one falls.

Here they are. The following five questions are those submitted by Four Cardinals to Pope Francis last September. You will want to print these out: also, there is a long explanation of the nature of each dubium here.

  1. It is asked whether, following the affirmations of Amoris Laetitia (300-305), it has now become possible to grant absolution in the sacrament of penance and thus to admit to holy Communion a person who, while bound by a valid marital bond, lives together with a different person more uxorio without fulfilling the conditions provided for by Familiaris Consortio, 84, and subsequently reaffirmed by Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, 34, and Sacramentum Caritatis, 29. Can the expression “in certain cases” found in Note 351 (305) of the exhortation Amoris Laetitia be applied to divorced persons who are in a new union and who continue to live more uxorio?
  2. After the publication of the post-synodal exhortation Amoris Laetitia (304), does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of St. John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor, 79, based on sacred Scripture and on the Tradition of the Church, on the existence of absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts and that are binding without exceptions?
  3. After Amoris Laetitia (301) is it still possible to affirm that a person who habitually lives in contradiction to a commandment of God’s law, as for instance the one that prohibits adultery (Matthew 19:3-9), finds him or herself in an objective situation of grave habitual sin (Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, “Declaration,” June 24, 2000)?
  4. After the affirmations of Amoris Laetitia (302) on “circumstances which mitigate moral responsibility,” does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of St. John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor, 81, based on sacred Scripture and on the Tradition of the Church, according to which “circumstances or intentions can never transform an act intrinsically evil by virtue of its object into an act ‘subjectively’ good or defensible as a choice”?
  5. After Amoris Laetitia (303) does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of St. John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor, 56, based on sacred Scripture and on the Tradition of the Church, that excludes a creative interpretation of the role of conscience and that emphasizes that conscience can never be authorized to legitimate exceptions to absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts by virtue of their object?

Taking the mood of the Church and thus inferring the intent behind these dubia, we might say the following are short versions of the questions, along with the old-fashioned, medieval, stodgy answers:

  1. Can folks living in adultery receive the sacraments of holy Communion and reconciliation? NO
  2. Are there any absolute moral norms? YES
  3. Are there such things as grave habitual sins? YES
  4. Is that which is always evil always evil? YES
  5. Are sins still sins even though the sinner says “I don’t feel bad about them so they’re not really sins”? YES

The modernistic, spiritual-discernment-journey accompanying, mercy-without-repentance answers are, of course, the opposite.

What To Do?

As said, the Holy Father was given this quiz some time ago, but he hasn’t yet discovered time to answer. Well, he’s a busy fellow. Yet given the clamor, concern, and consternation over the matter, it is a good idea to ask the dubia of all church leaders.

After all, it’s a short quiz, with easy questions and easy answers. Any seminary graduate should ace it. Should take no more than two, three minutes tops to complete.

There can be no objection to answering the dubia by any priest or bishop. Think: these are the very kind of things they went to seminary to learn, and these sorts of questions are met regularly in confessionals and counselings.

Why not let’s have an International Answer The Dubia Day! where lay people, from abject sinners like Yours Truly, to those saintly ladies who show up for the daily rosary, put the questions to our leaders, the clergy?

Let’s get it all out in the open! We long for clarity, and it’s only right that our duly appointed Biblical bosses, folks who accepted the duties and responsibilities of leadership, do the manly thing and say what’s what. Right?

Now I’m an idea man, and have no organizational skills whatsoever. I couldn’t organize a fist fight at a Hell’s Angels reunion. I couldn’t give away free How To Be A Good Freemason pamphlets at a Jesuit convention. So if this International Answer The Dubia Day! is to be any kind of success, we’re going to need your talents, Dear Reader, to help with spreading the word and in bringing the quiz to your local leaders.

Lent is about to begin. How about let’s start the Sunday (March 5th) after Ash Wednesday? If you like, report back in the comments here the answers you receive.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We liked William’s idea so much, we decided to design a flyer to go with it. Just click the image below for a downloadable PDF that you can print from home. Look up the information for your local bishop – telephone number, email address, mailing address – and write it in the white box. Then hang up your flyer on your parish bulletin board, at your local Catholic bookshop, at your Catholic university, or to make an even bigger statement, somewhere on the chancery or cathedral grounds. We’re not advocating following in the steps of Martin Luther, but taping this to the front door of your local Cathedral would probably get it noticed. (Probably not a good idea to use nails. Vandalism charges aren’t fun.) Email it around. Put it on your social media. Encourage your friends and family to take action. Feel free to print out the text of the five questions above or otherwise include them in electronic communications for easy reference.

We deserve answers from our shepherds. Let’s ask them.

108 thoughts on “International Answer The Dubia Day!”

  1. Great idea! I was thinking that we would say that we just want one-word answers for each question, but the wrong answer will not necessarily be the opposite of the correct answer. I bet you will get many, many clergy who will answer “sometimes” to your five simplified questions.

    • I would propose the most simple of questions to any prelate: Do you believe that everyone needs to be Catholic?
      No need for more questions. If he even flinches at answering that (with a resounding yes, by the way), then you know something is very wrong there.

      • I asked a very similar question of dozens of them years ago here in NZ – the response I got from several of them was: “There’s more than one way of looking at the truth.” I replied in each case “Yes there is more than one way: The right way and the wrong way”. Disturbed them a great deal – to say the least.

      • And if you asked that question Fr. PD, you would have to preface it with a more important question: “What is the Catholic faith”? because it seems that there as many answers to that question as there are stars.

      • It was “old-fashioned and stodgy” in that it requires nothing more than a yea or a nay. Modern men cannot answer a simple yea or nay as there are always exceptions or extenuating circumstances where nothing is either black or white but always grey.

    • Reminded me immediately of the following excerpt from “Little Red Riding Hood”:

      Red Riding Hood says “Oh Granny, what BIG EARS you’ve got!” and the wolf replies “All the better to hear you with, my dear!”
      Red Riding Hood says “Oh Granny, what BIG TEETH you’ve got!” and the wolf replies “All the better to EAT you with, my dear!”

      We all know the conclusion to the story – and it wasn’t good news for the wolf..

  2. Duct Tape works well to attach just about anything to any surface — namely church doors, wood or glass — and it comes in many different colors not just the old-fashioned gray. Since Francis seems to like Martin Luther so well, I’m sure he will absolutely love the campaign. Not! I stand in awe at the power of our modern-day printing press. What Luther and Calvin wouldn’t have done for a laptop computer, a printer and the world wide web. Awesome!

    • Some friends and I, two years ago, went to some local Lutheran Churches and duct taped the Canons of the Council of Trent to the doors on October 31. Was great fun!

    • Please, in all seriousness, do not Duct Tape anything on the doors of parishes who have good priests! Duct Tape leaves a horrible residue and it is hard to get it off, and those good priests have many more important things to do than scrub the door because their fellow priests, bishop and pope are heretics.

      Thank you,
      Fr. RP

      PS: If anyone duct tapes anything to my door, I will find them and apply said tape to their doors…

      • Fr. RP, I had meant my post tongue in cheek as a good nature bit of humor. That said, in all seriousness, if you ever need to remove a sticky gummy mess from adhesive, stickers, tar, gum, crayons, tape, and/or grease ….. there is a “miracle cleaning product” called Goo Gone. Seriously. It does not take much of the liquid, and it truly works wonders. Yes, I know, it’s 1P5, but this is really great info, and for the record, I do not own stock in their company nor am I a sales representative.

        • There is a very old product called “Brasso” which is a chrome polish. It was wonderful in removing tar from my fingers in the 1930s. My mother made good use of it.
          Then again you could use Acetone but don’t try it on a normal painted surface because it is a solvent for normal paint and will strip it off.

      • I actually find your response demoralizing.

        Tape residue is a problem? Perhaps a Luther sized nail would do the trick better. I vote for a big one. The Dubia deserve nothing less than a 5″ spike.

          • The Dubia have been submitted. Crickets in every Dioscese and Parish; from every Cardinal, Bishop, Priest in all the land. Crickets at the CDF and from the Pope.

            I have to assume by the silence, there is agreement with the opposite reading that inspired the Dubia in the first place.

            The Sacrament of marriage; the one my daughter will soon be entering; has been changed. “Mercy” is now extended to her husband-to-be if he strays one day. Full participation in the Church and Her Sacraments will be offered to him if he settles with another. The Sacrament she will be entering soon is deeply colored by this. Their “eternal vows” have been mitigated; damaged by Amoris. Let me tell you about “torment”.

            So someone suggests, “Heck yeah! Post that puppy with Duct tape! We demand an answer.”

            “Better not. It will leave a residue on the door.”

            Shows you how important the topic is. Again.

          • Now, now. No giving a hard time to a good father! He just doesn’t want more grief in a job that already has enough grief. I donated from my single-mother’s income to have the doors to our local church refinished, because the sun had so faded the shine that the doors deserved to have. Father just wants to keep God’s beautiful house looking beautiful. Do you think Mary never said, “Jesus! Not duct tape! Do you know what a mess that leaves?” I bet she would have, if they had been fortunate enough to have duct tape back then.

          • It’s about the Dubia. Not the duct tape.

            Those in apostolic authority are more concerned with their own versions of “residue” than insisting on answers to these simple questions.

            And people are being personally harmed by a heck of a lot more than duct tape residue when answers to the Dubia are not forthcoming.

            I am more inclined to remember the money-changer tables. Turned them over and left quite a mess, He did. Peace, order and tranquility when He went in. Spilled money, broken cages and chaos when he walked out.

          • Like I said, don’t torment the GOOD guys. They won’t mind the posters going up. Those who cheat on their respective spouses will incur eternal damnation no matter what the Pope or anyone else tells them. We’ve been through all that stuff in our family. It’s heartbreaking, but let’s be kind to the one’s who are following Christ

          • Well, the point of this article (see the editor’s note) is to tape it to the front door. It’s in the editor’s note.

            Isn’t that why 1P5 made it available in a printable format? To print it? And post it? With tape?

          • I made the flyer, and I was thinking Scotch tape. Duct tape is the worst once it gets hot and the adhesive starts to come off.

            I’m laughing as I type this, but seriously: the point is to…make a point. Not to be pain in the rear end. It’s to show that people care, and that they want answers. A little inconvenience isn’t a big deal. But I’d prefer our tactics to be unassailable in terms of any damage or mess left behind. We never signed on to the whole hagan lio thing.

          • Sigh. Yes. Scotch tape would be better.

            I think the “residue scandal” is kind of a proxy for 3 years of “don’t worry; keep quiet; take care of your own family, let us take care of the Church”. Culminating in this unanswered Dubia; and now the scandal of the “residue”. And still, crickets instead of answers. And I remain confused.

            My daughter will be married soon, and I’d like some answers from the Church about her imminent Matrimonial Vows. What does the Church, (as a whole; Bishops in union with the Pope) right NOW, believe in a practical way about one or both breaking their Vow and the consequences of IM-permanence. I would like to know this as I give away my daughter in Matrimony.

            But I do hear what you’re saying. And I very much appreciate your work here.

          • I’m deeply, deeply frustrated. Don’t get me wrong. Elsewhere in this thread someone mentioned Bishop Finn changing his cover photo to “No, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes” and I said he shared this article.

            This afternoon, his entire Facebook account has been deleted.

            Sometimes, it feels like we can’t win a single battle. And here we are, still playing by Queensbury rules. But I don’t know what else we can do except keep the faith, not back down, and retain the civility and rule of ecclesiastical law that our enemies won’t. We may die, metaphorically speaking, but at least we’ll die with honor.

          • Duct Tape is a game changer. It’s really good stuff. Scotch tape is for sissies.

            But seriously. Your comment about Bishop Finn is Ominous. Are you referring to Bishop Robert Finn, emeritus of K.C, now a school chaplain in Nebraska? His correct Dubia answers and Facebook presence were deleted?

            I’m sure you’ll have more on this. I would like to know who is behind it. I’ll keep checking back and continue support for your good work.

          • “This afternoon, his entire Facebook account has been deleted.”

            What conclusions, if any, should be drawn? That sounds ominous, truly chilling. I hope it was a computer virus or a Lenten decision (give up FB for Lent) and not censorship.

          • The dubia have been submitted to one person and he alone has a responsibility to answer them. Please pray for him.

          • Sorry Mike. Yes, I was referring to Francis. You’re right, the way clergy answer the dubia would be a very good indication of who’s ‘side’ they’re on.

      • To get red of adhesive residue use nail polish remover — cheap, available a Walmart. I wish it worked on the theological sixties residue.

  3. Great idea! The local non-FSSP parish will for sure be getting one. I’ll head on over the the Cathedral too! And maybe the seminary…

    • Agreed! I’ve downloaded the PDF (took a while for some reason) and am heading down this afternoon to my local NO parish to pin it on the cork Parish Notice Board. Mass has already finished here in NZ (it’s nearly 1.00 pm NZ time). I’ll tell the Parish Priest it was me – he already knows I’m a stirrer:) Second thoughts…no, not the Bishop – I’ll pin it up in his Cathedral instead.

      • Great idea! I will be personally responsible for taping this to many a parish door and even the local Cathedral, down under, in Sydney Australia. I think an international papal resignation day as suggested previously is a great idea too!!! LOL

  4. I’m sensing a fundraising campaign to pay for large versions of these to be put up as ‘adverts’ on billboards around Rome might be of interest to a lot of people here…? Or on the side of trucks driven around the city. Or we could go completely wild and go for one of those light aircraft pulling a banner timed nicely for the Angeles address. Now this could be a lot of fun…

  5. Don’t bother with Cupich – he can’t talk on his own, he has to wait for Bergoglio to have an opinion. Can anyone get it to Victor Manuel Fernandez? Bergoglio seems to plagiarize a lot of stuff from him.

  6. I see no indication that anyone cares about the Dubia. Pphhhtt! Like a dud bottle rocket.

    A collective Priestly shoulder shrug. I see that now, and have for the past three years. I find that demoralizing. “Don’t worry about it”; that is the advice I always receive.

    Does anyone in authority care? It seems not.

    It makes no sense to me. Nothingburger.

    Slouching toward Gomorra.

  7. Great idea. William M. Briggs always has great ideas. Likely outcome. Posting on the church door or sending to the clergy will be considered a hostile act critical of the Pope and obviously the work of radical traditionalists. So what is the action plan? Send it our immediately to your local Bishop and Pastor. Think of it as virtue signaling.

  8. Maybe the Pope was slipped a protestant version of the Bible when he was young. Maybe we should buy Him a Copy of the Holy Bible, and after reading the non adulterated(has there ever been a more appropriate term when addressing Francis?) Francis might just acknowledge his mistakes, repent and recant his false interpretation of Our Lord as an act of humility and penance, sack cloth and ashes might help as well. But how does that explain all of the Bishops who share his heretical interpretations? Sounds like sending them a Holy Bible, might not help solve this dilemma. To err is human to clerical error is anything but Divine.

  9. I must say I am not joining this.

    I know already where particular priests and bishops stand.

    Then there’s the priest who gets the answer right but keeps quiet because he does not want to rock the boat. Pretty much how it is now with the college of Cardinals.

  10. If the bishops are reluctant (or unable) to pass the quiz, we could make it easier by making this single statement from the above excellent essay: “Others say that this modern interpretation is (to use a theological term) bonkers.” And then, we can simplify even more by offering only one choice: “True”.

  11. This is so funny, engaging, educational, positive, and proactive! Thank you! There is no doubt that these 5 Dubia will go down in history. What will be even more remarkable is if Pope Francis comes to be known in history as: “The Pope who Failed to Answer the Dubia.”

    • He is already aware that he will be probably known in history as the Pope who split the catholic Church, though he may prevent this happening in replying the five dubia letter.

    • Maybe answering the Dubia should become part of tradition for every prelate regardless of rank…although they make a solemn promise to protect the faith and all Her teachings when they are ordained I think that the dubia, and the specific questions asked, are so important that maybe this should be a new tradition that can be attached to our other traditions.

      • You mean like the oath against modernism…that has gone away?

        I agree we need bold standards. They may call them litmus tests. That is fine. Whatever they are called, they are desperately needed today.

    • A very good point. The Dubia are not going anywhere. Unlike Amoris, they are concise corrections, rooted in Tradition and compelling. They are the disinfectant that will one day clean Amoris germs out of the House of God.

      They remain unanswered for now. But history will not forget, nor the sides chosen by the faithless ones for or against Truth.

  12. To my wife’s and children’s dismay I asked our Pastor who was Correct? The Pope or Jesus? Can divorced receive communion?
    I expected some tap dancing or I guess “Liturgical dance”, but his answer was QUICK and Decisive.
    I am quite sure that here in Chile in my little community that I am likely the only person to have asked him these questions, and indeed he was quite surprised that I knew anything about “AL” (not al gore mind you).
    What a relief! Now I do not have to move or chose a new Church.

  13. AL is simply one more method of making Catholics Protestant. It wasn’t enough to create a new liturgy and Divine Office to Protestantize the Catholic; they had to write new translations of Sacred Scripture to reflect Protestant heresies as well.

    For example, we know how much the pope loves Martin Luther. In AL, he simply expresses Luther’s false doctrine of the depravity of human nature because of original sin. For example, in the Catholic Douay-Rheims Bible for 1 Cor. 7:9 we read: “If they DO NOT contain themselves, let them marry”. In the corrupted and mistranslated RSVCE Bible, one of the corrupted English translations of the Bible the USCCB loves for Catholics to use, reads: “If they CANNOT contain, let them marry.”

    By changing the words “do not” to “cannot” St. Paul is falsely made to affirm that a Christian cannot lead a stainless virtuous life. Thus, the pope claims that the words of Jesus Christ himself are merely ideals that in reality, no one can be expected to follow. Why? Luther’s false doctrine is the doctrine of the Vatican.

  14. I would love to get these in my inbox, but everybody already knows where I stand. I am willing to bet the author every red cent I have that if you could get Pope Francis to answer the questions just like Bishop Flynn did, every slinking, slimey, sycophantic bishop-who-wants-to-be-a-cardinal, and every cardinal who is such a company man that he has lost the ability too shake his head no in front of the boss would fall into line overnight!

  15. More disturbing news found on LifeSiteNew today, if I may.

    Francis urges priests to ‘welcome’ cohabitating couples in the ‘style of the Gospel’
    By Jan Bentz You can find the article over there on their site.

    I am afraid at this moment, I can no longer call him pope. He is not from Peter.
    And the sooner this is recognized and action taken to formally call him out, the better!
    And so, I shall carefully weigh these things, and hence turn from Francis and not take the sand from
    my sandals with me. No more!

    I will await a prelate of authority to speak to this and refute this man by name.
    Yes he is pope, but he really isn’t. Are people too foolish to not understand this?

    Fr RP, I hope you are out there somewhere, but I really cannot deal with this situation much longer.
    I shall protect my loved on at all cost. For if no one protects our Church now, before things really get worse, what shall I expect in the future?

    • Someone posted on 1P5 something along the lines of not allowing faithless men to rob us of our own faith. I think it may have been one of the priests who frequents this site. I think that is good advice. Francis will be responsible for his own acts and omissions — as will each of us.

      I have taken to calling him Francis because I hear the words of a snarling, growling wolf in what he says and does. The 90 healthy M&Ms in the bag of candy do not make up for the 10 poisoned M&Ms that he dishes out. I will follow Christ. I will not follow Francis on the road to perdition (nor should anyone).

      Most of us here on this website have been blessed with discernment and with truth. You have been so blessed. It is both a gift and a cross to carry. I will not allow faithless men to steal my faith. None of us have to deal with the situation for it is not ours to remedy — it is the job of Our Lady and Our Lord.

      I am sure you have read my posts filled to the brim and overflowing with frustration. Today, I went to confession (one of the parishes has a daily mass and daily confession). I will live the Lenten sacrifices; I will live my faith. I will go back to mass — even if the homily itself is a crucifixion of Christ on the alter of praise and adoration of Francis. Mass itself may be the cross that I will carry.

      “Are people too foolish to not understand this?” Yes, some people are. Whether it is denial or cognitive dissonance or a wrong understanding of Catholic teaching or a combination of these factors — many do not, cannot and will not understand. We cannot make people see what they refuse.

      I believe it will get worse — much worse — as critical dates and anniversaries approach. Take heart, He that is within you has overcome the world, and He loves His Bride (His Church) more than any of us could possibly love her. When all seems lost, there will be victory and it will be a supernatural one.

    • If you live in Rome, perhaps it is time for more posters to be placed around the city? Only I recant my suggestion (below) to use duct tape — painters tape works better and leaves no sticky residue. Of course, send it to the Bishop of Rome; perhaps you will have better luck than Cardinals Burke et al.

  16. Serious question, and a request for assistance in research and understanding:

    According to 1735 of the Catechism (,

    1735 Imputability and responsibility for an action can be diminished or even nullified by ignorance, inadvertence, duress, fear, habit, inordinate attachments, and other psychological or social factors.

    and from 2355 specifically regarding prostitution (,

    While it is always gravely sinful to engage in prostitution, the imputability of the offense can be attenuated by destitution, blackmail, or social pressure.

    can not a case be made that some attenuation of the imputability of the offense of the divorced and remarried applies here?

    The language of the Catechism is, unfortunately, terrible. There are enough holes in it you could sail a fleet through. By how much can the imputability of an offense by attenuated by destitution (divorce has a 99%+ success rate at creating two very poor, broke single people, and historically secular marriage was as much an economic contract a social/familial one) or social pressure (to get remarried, to stay remarried, having kids with the 2nd spouse, etc)?

    I’m not kidding. I would really like someone with more theological education than I to help me understand the various ins and outs here. It seems to me that Francis could make a very good and compelling case for some parts of AL. It would require clarifying a lot of things, getting rid of errors, etc, and I don’t think that is likely to happen. Francis does spread confusion, not clarity, and there are way too many data points to allow one to come to the conclusion that he does so out of ignorance or incompetence rather than out of intent.

    It is always best to attempt to understand fully the opposition’s argument in full when opposing it, so that you may do so effectively, particularly when the outcome has legal consequences and will result in the establishment of law.

      • 1786 Faced with a moral choice, conscience can make either a right judgment in accordance with reason and the divine law or, on the contrary, an erroneous judgment that departs from them.

        1789 Some rules apply in every case:
        – One may never do evil so that good may result from it;
        – the Golden Rule: “Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.”56
        – charity always proceeds by way of respect for one’s neighbor and his conscience: “Thus sinning against your brethren and wounding their conscience . . . you sin against Christ.”57 Therefore “it is right not to . . . do anything that makes your brother stumble.”58

        Neither of those addresses the diminished culpability or responsibility of an individual’s sin in circumstances specifically described in the catechism. If Francis states that the divorced-and-remarried lifestyle is an objectively serious sin, but that some/many/most doing so are not guilty of mortal sin as the immutability has been mitigated to such a level due to social factors and are therefore warranted in receiving the sacraments, is there any counter argument to that?

        Francis hasn’t made such an argument that I’m aware of, based upon my understanding of things, but if that argument is made, then what? If it is recognized as a venial sin, not a mortal, in some or all instances, how does this affect things?

          • *sigh* I think this conversation is beginning to circle.

            1789, which I’ve quoted above, says no such thing, and I don’t think anyone is claiming that folks are intentionally committing evil acts in order to achieve a greater good. I’m not sure how one would even make that argument with divorce and remarriage, but feel free to give it a go. Even attempting it seems to me to be imputing motives on each and every person without knowledge, and seems dangerous and foolhardy at best.

            It sure would be nice for you to actually link or quote the parts you keep referring me to, but that’s OK. Here’s 1756, which you reference:

            1756 It is therefore an error to judge the morality of human acts by considering only the intention that inspires them or the circumstances (environment, social pressure, duress or emergency, etc.) which supply their context. There are acts which, in and of themselves, independently of circumstances and intentions, are always gravely illicit by reason of their object; such as blasphemy and perjury, murder and adultery. One may not do evil so that good may result from it.

            This is making the exact same point I just made above. The act may be objectively mortally sinful. However, the 1735 specifically notes attenuation of guilt of that sin depending on circumstances. If you aren’t convinced, here’s another, 1793 (emphasis mine)

            1793 If – on the contrary – the ignorance is invincible, or the moral subject is not responsible for his erroneous judgment, the evil committed by the person cannot be imputed to him. It remains no less an evil, a privation, a disorder. One must therefore work to correct the errors of moral conscience.

            That is two direct passages from the CCC that specifically state that while an act may objectively be a mortal sin, the practitioner of that act need not be guilty of mortal sin.

            To my knowledge, Francis has not made this argument. That doesn’t mean he can’t, or that other bishops or Cardinals won’t make it for him on his behalf. What then?

            Might it be a legitimate or valid reason for clarification and still result in an endorsement of AL?

          • Follow-up reply:

            Adultery is always a mortal sin, no matter the circumstances.

            False. You don’t get to make blanket assertions in an argument, particularly and not back them up. I have quoted chapter and verse from the CCC specifically stating that prostitution, of necessity and by definition a form of adultery, need not be a mortal sin for an individual. The act itself may be objectively sinful, but the individual committing the act may not be fully guilty, or even guilty at all.

          • Indeed? Then give me some examples taken from the real world that a person freely practising adultery mat not be guilty at all of that sin.
            In passing, Coccopalmerio gave one in his pamphlet supporting AL, which I myself refuted elsewhere. So, please, don’r waste your time giving me that one, OK?

          • I don’t need to give you any such example, and any attempt to give you an example only puts you in the seat of Judgment, which you cannot fill, so that exercise would be entirely pointless.

            However, I would again refer you to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which specifically states that one who commits adultery as a prostitute need not be guilty of a mortal sin if there are sufficient mitigating circumstances. See above.

            Your argument is not with me, but with the Catechism and the teachings of the Holy Church. I’m trying to reason my way through potential scenarios where by Pope Francis may covered for or protected by these arguments. I’m trying to play Devil’s Advocate here. If these arguments cannot be refuted, then we must face the very real possibility that we will lose the wider argument against AL, if in fact AL can be defended with these arguments. I’m not certain, and I’m not an expert. I’m someone who can read, and can follow logic.

            If these cannot be refuted, as you so far have been unable to do, then we also have to face the possibility that Francis may be correct.

          • You need to give examples in order not only to make your case but also, and above all, to help priests discerning when they should give absolution to faithfuls living in adultery and allow them to Holy Eucharist. That’s how things work when one appeals — as Francis and his entourage appeal — to ‘situation ethics’, ‘casuistry’ and ‘discernement’.
            What is more, that is why the Portuguese Episcopal Conference, while not rejecting AL, is waiting for specific instructions from Rome in order to implement it: without them, no priest in Portugal is allowed to give Holy Communion to a faithful living in adultery unless s/he abides by Saint John Paul II teachings.
            In the past, handbooks like Gury’s ‘Casus conscientiae’ (1865) or Regatillo’s ‘Casos canónico-morales’ (1958) were written to help priests administer sacraments. They contained hundreds of examples, most of them taken from real life, for that purpose. Authors like Gury, Regatillo et alii understood how casuistry works and they wrote their handbooks accordingly.
            Nowadays, people like me or the Bishops of my country are asking people like you and Francis and his entourage to act like Gury or Regatillo. Thus far, the only one who really tried it was Coccopalmerio, who failed miserably.
            The inability to provide examples to illustrate the point shows that people who are trying to make it are either disconnected from reality or trying to ruin sacramental economy. That is enough to put their ideas aside and keep the discipline as taught by Saint John Paul II.
            Before closing, we are not dealing here with prostitution. We are dealing here with people living as husband and wife while at least one of them is married with someone else before the Church. Comparing ‘more uxorio’ relationships with prostitution is nonsense.

          • Joao, I think you need to take a step back and re-evaluate your comments.

            #1, I’m on your side. I believe it is likely Pope Francis is a heretic. He doesn’t believe in the eternal soul, he doesn’t believe in eternal damnation, and therefore cannot believe in the redemption purchased by Christ on the cross. However, that isn’t the particular issue we’re discussing. My belief in Francis position doesn’t mean squat, and I’m not in charge of Francis, nor Christ’s church. I try to learn as best I can, spread the love as best I can.

            Regarding our discussion, I’m not appealing to any situational ethics, casuistry, or discernment. I’m asking questions using nothing but what I know of the Catechism to poke holes in our side’s argument to 1) strengthen our arguments and 2) make sure we’re correct. I’m doing this in order to better understand it myself, as the pre-argument research to use when having similar discussions with others, and to ask for the assistance of more knowledgeable folk that frequent 1P5.

            I’m simply asking, using my reasoning, is there ever a situation where, in conjunction with the dubia, answers may be given along these lines that would adequately explain Francis’ position in AL? If so, how and why? If not, how and why?

            I’m not dealing with examples, because they are irrelevant here. We’re talking Church teaching and law, universal truths, etc. It is a simple, logical argument along the lines of “given X, Y, and Z, if P then Q,” or, “given X, Y, and Z, if P, then not necessarily Q.”

            Examples can help illustrate the point and provide analogies to help explain it, but examples don’t have any bearing in the argument nor its logical consistency. It either is, or is not. There isn’t a middle “sometimes.” If there is a “sometimes,” it will be, “given X, Y, and Z, if P then Q, but only in the presense of N,” which really then becomes, “given X, Y, Z, and N, if P then Q, if and only if N.”

            Furthermore, the arguments you are making here in our discussion so far have been completely false. You have asserted that all adultery is always a mortal sin. The CCC specifically debunks your argument. Prostitution is always adultery, but the CCC specifically states that those who commit prostitution MAY NOT be guilty of a mortal sin, ergo, adultery is not always a mortal sin. Specifically, adultery is always a grave offense, but individuals engaged in it may not be judged guilty of it by God do to extenuating circumstances, such that it would damn their soul. Your argument holds no water, so to speak.


            Let me ask my question again. In the fullness of charity towards Francis, and in an effort to understand most completely the dubia:
            By how much can the imputability of the offense of adultery/more uxorio in someone who was divorced and remarried be attenuated by destitution (divorce has a 99%+ success rate at creating two very poor, broke single people, and historically secular marriage was as much an economic contract a social/familial one) or social pressure (to get remarried, to stay remarried, having kids with the 2nd spouse, etc)?

            For the purposes of this question, assume the most attenuation theoretically possible in the most extreme of circumstances. I would guess there are basically only four possible answers: It cannot be attenuated sufficiently to remove the guilt of mortal sin, it can be attenuated sufficiently to remove the guilt of mortal sin but leaves the individual with the guilt of lesser venial sin, or it can be attenuated sufficiently to remove all guilt of sin, or we cannot know the answer.

            I’m trying to understand what is even a possibility, not whether or not it is good law, applicable, etc. If it is a possibility that the stain of mortal sin can be attenuated by circumstance, how might that color or influence any answers to the dubia by Pope Francis?

          • I gave the answer above : *it cannot be*, at least up to the point of him/her being absolved and allowed to Holy Eucharist. S/he can be absolved and allowed to Holy Eucharist *only* if s/he has the firm resolution of living thereafter as brother/sister with his/her companion.
            In passing, let me tell you that much of this quarrel would not make any sense if people would know or remember that faithfuls who cannot have access to Holy Eucharist can, at least, practise *spiritual communion*. Benedict XVI spoke about it before resigning, but few have paid attention to His words. It is an ancient and highly commendable devotion. As far as I know, theologians agree that a faithful who practises *spiritual communion* with the dispositions s/he’s able to have is more aggraciated by God than a faithful who receives Holy Communion with inadequate or absent dispositions.
            Besides being a lawyer, I’m also a canonist. While the matrimonial cases I have in hand are going through the Church courts, I recommend *spiritual communion* to my clients. For what is worth, all my clients thus far have felt and been feeling great spiritual comfort with that devotion. After all, why shouldn’t they?…

          • Great, then we’re making progress. Why cannot it be attenuated sufficiently? What is the theological basis for this answer? How can we be certain we know the answer, and that we are correct?

            I’m not trying to set up straw man arguments, or move the goalposts. I’m trying to understand the entire question and answer. Please explain and give me more resources for research as to why.

          • From “The Apostolic Exhortation ‘Amoris laetitia’: a theological critique” (2016):

            [Proposition] 16).
            AL 300: ‘Since “the degree of responsibility is not equal in all cases”, the consequences or effects of a rule need not necessarily always be the same. [footnote 336] This is also the case with regard to sacramental discipline, since discernment can recognize that in a particular situation no grave fault exists.’
            AL 305: ‘Because of forms of conditioning and mitigating factors, it is possible that in an objective situation of sin – which may not be subjectively culpable, or fully such – a person can be living in God’s grace, can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity, while receiving the Church’s help to this end. [footnote 351] In certain cases, this can include the help of the sacraments. Hence, “I want to remind priests that the confessional must not be a torture chamber, but rather an encounter with the Lord’s mercy”. I would also point out that the Eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak”’.’

            Understood as saying that absence of grave fault due to diminished responsibility can permit admission to the Eucharist in the cases of divorced and civilly remarried persons who do not separate, nor undertake to live in perfect continence, but remain in an objective state of adultery and bigamy:
            i). ‘Erronea in fide’, ‘falsa’.
            ii). ‘Scandalosa’.

            John Paul II, ‘Familiaris consortio’ 84: “The Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage. Reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance, which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons, such as for example the children’s upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they ‘take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples’.”

            1 Jn. 2:20: “You have the unction from the Holy One, and know all things”.

            See also Ez. 3:17; Mt. 28:20; 1 Cor. 11:27-29; Eph. 5:30-32; 2nd Lateran Council, in: Denzinger-Hünnermann n. 717; Paul V, ‘Rituale Romanum’, 49; Benedict XIV, Confirmation of the Synod of the Maronites; Encyclical letter ‘Ex omnibus’; Benedict XV, 1917 Code of Canon Law, canon 855; John Paul II, 1983 Code of Canon Law, canon 915; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to bishops of the Catholic Church concerning the reception of Eucharistic communion by those faithful who after a divorce have entered a new marriage, AAS 86 (1994): 974-79; Code of Canon Law for Eastern Churches, canon 712; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1650, 2390; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, ‘Concerning Some Objections to the Church’s Teaching on the Reception of Holy Communion by Divorced and Remarried Members of the Faithful’, in “Documenti e Studi”, On the Pastoral Care of the Divorced and Remarried, Vatican City 1998, pp. 20-29; Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts (PCLT), “Declaration Concerning the Admission to Holy Communion of Faithful who are Divorced and Remarried”, on-line at
  ; Benedict XVI, Apostolic Exhortation ‘Sacramentum caritatis’ 29: AAS 99 (2007), 128-29.



            To complement the above quoted, check also ‘Dichiarazione di fedeltà all’insegnamento immutabile della Chiesa sul matrimonio e alla sua ininterrotta disciplina’, August 29, 2016, particularly nn. 12, § 1, and 13, § 1 (in:; and cf. BURKE, R., CARD., ‘”Amoris Laetitia” and the Constant Teaching and Practice of the Church’ (in: National Catholic Register [online], April 12, 2016:; SEIFERT, J., ‘Amoris Laetitia. Joy, Sadness and Hopes’, in: AEMAET, 5.2 (2016) 160-224; FINNIS, J.–GRISEZ, G., ‘The misuse of “Amoris lætitia” to support errors against the Catholic Faith’ (November 21, 2016), position G (in: The Way to the Lord Jesus [online]:; RUINI, C., CARD., ‘La communione ai divorziati risposati non è possibile. Il Magistero è chiaro e non modificabile’ (in: Il Timone [online], February 16, 2017:,News.html).

          • That is a lot to read through and start to research and digest, but it is a fantastic place for me to start more research. Thank you! That’s what I’m needing and looking for.

          • N. 1793 of the CCC only makes matters worse for those hoping to endorse AL. In the real world, it is impossible for one who is willfully living an adulterous relationship to ignore or be in error about the fact that s/he is *really* living an adulterous relationship.
            Even if that was possible, what n. 1793 of the CCC commands is to inform or correct the faithful; it does not allow to give him/her absolution and access to Holy Communion, unless s/he assumes the firm purpose of living thereafter as sister/brother with her/his partner, as taught by Saint John Paul II.
            Francis and his entourage know this much better than you and I. That is the reason why the ‘dubia’ have not been and will not be answered. If Francis would answer the ‘dubia’ personally or through the CDF, he would either contradict himself or become a formal heretic. He prefers to remain silent; but even that is a mistake. The only way he has to get out of this whole mess is to retract AL. That, I’m pretty sure he will *not* do.

    • Personal culpability can be mitigated or non-existent in many cases.

      The answer to your difficulty is: Personal culpability is entirely irrelevant to the minister of Communion.

      Denial of Communion (cf. Canon 915) has never been predicated on the would-be communicant’s personal culpability, but only on the notorious situation of grave sin.

      Cardinal Wuerl, among others, has been lying about this for years, claiming that Communion can never be denied to abortionists like Nancy Pelosi unless the priest knows “the state of the soul” of the person approaching for Communion.

      One could say that Amoris has grown directly from Wuerl’s rationalizing of his grave sin of disobeying Canon 915. (Every time Canon 915 is disobeyed, the act is grave matter.)

  17. As an Anglican catholic in the freewheeling Episcopal Church: Isn’t in poor taste to bring up such topics in polite company?


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