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More Catholic Thinkers on Pope’s Disparagement of Marriage

25483686473_79c167d236_hThe fallout from Pope Francis’ complete inversion of an authentic Catholic understanding of marriage last week continues. Over the weekend, notable American canonist Dr. Edward Peters took to his blog, later picked up by Catholic World Report, to discuss what this means (and doesn’t) for Catholics. Peters is known as a cautious thinker, not quick to rush to judgment and certainly not known as a papal critic. Nevertheless, he is clearly disturbed by what Francis has said, and begins by hammering away at the errors in his thinking:

The pope’s most recent comments on marriage point in a disturbing direction but let’s address two important matters first.

Point One. Cohabitation is not marriage. Largely overlooked amid the furor caused by Pope Francis’ rash claim that “the great part of our sacramental marriages are null”—an assertion reckless if false (which it is) and brimming with despair if true (which it is not), a claim followed not by an apology, an official retraction, or even a bureaucratic ‘clarification’ but instead by an Orwellian alteration of the pope’s words in Vatican records—overlooked, I say, in this greater mess was the pope’s later but equally problematic comment about his being “sure that cohabitating couples are in a true marriage having the grace of marriage”. Though multi-facetedly wrong (theologically, canonically, pastorally, socially) the pope’s equating cohabitation (‘faithful’, whatever that means) with Christian marriage did not, mirabile dictu, get edited down to a platitude or deleted completely: his words are still there, “in queste convivenze … sono sicuro che questo è un matrimonio vero, hanno la grazia del matrimonio…”

Let’s be clear: marriage is marriage but cohabitation (as that word is nearly universally understood in social discourse) is only cohabitation.

Peters moves on, later in his exposition, to the related difficulties proposed by a Roman Rite concept known as “canonical form” — the rule that makes Roman Catholic marriages valid only when witnessed by a duly-appointed minister within a Catholic ceremony, despite the fact that the sacrament itself is conferred by the spouses, not the priest.

While asserting that couples cohabiting ‘faithfully’ (?) are in a real marriage (which they aren’t) the pope also said that merely civilly-married couples are in real marriages (which they might or might not be). To understand what is at stake here we need to distinguish more carefully.

Couples, neither of whom is Catholic (i.e., most of the world), even if both of them are baptized, can marry (the Church would say, “validly”) in a civil-only ceremony. To that extent, Francis would be right to say that civilly married couples have a true marriage. But if the pope thinks that merely civilly married Catholics—and given the context of his remarks this is likely whom he had in mind—are, just as much as cohabiting couples (supposedly) are, in real marriages and enjoying the graces of Matrimony, then I have to say No, that’s wrong—even though I wish he were right. Once again, the requirement of “canonical form” (a cure that has long out-lived the disease it was prescribed to treat) seriously complicates the Church’s message on the permanence of marriage.

Because Catholics (let’s just talk Romans here) are required for validity to marry in (still keepin’ it simple) a Catholic religious ceremony, those tens of thousands of Catholics who ‘marry’ civilly-only are (outside a few rare exceptions) no more married than are couples just cohabiting (‘faithfully’ or otherwise). Moreover, because of the inseparability of the marriage contract from the sacrament, if one is invalidly ‘married’ (and ‘marriages’ among Catholics who disregard canonical form are invalid) then one does not receive the sacrament of Matrimony either nor any of its graces. Why? Because, No marriage means no Matrimony.

Here’s the rub: as virtually all of the rest of the world, including baptized non-Catholics, can marry civilly-only, they are bound to such marriages if they enter them. So, even though a civil wedding might be just as much of a lark for some non-Catholics as it is for some Catholics, only Catholics have, in virtue of the requirement of canonical form, a “Get Out of Marriage Free” card to play. And play it they do. Lots. Hence, the complications that I (and some sterling canonists going back 50 years) have been warning about in regard to Church teaching on the permanence of marriage in the face of canonical form. Thus I say, one of these days, form has to go—but this is for another discussion.

In short, if the pope had in mind non-Catholics, he would be right to say that their civil-only wedding would count toward marriage (though why he would discuss such persons with cohabiting couples escapes me); but if he had in mind Catholics (as he probably did) then he is wrong to say that such persons are truly married and are drawing on the sacramental grace of Matrimony (though it would explain why he mentioned such persons in the same breath with cohabiting couples, as neither are married).

At the risk of over-excerpting (Peters’ piece is long, but not unduly so) his conclusions are jarring, and we must face them:

The pope’s most recent statements on marriage were not slips akin to getting the date of a meeting wrong, they are not hearsay shared by a prelate known for a flexible attitude toward accuracy or stories shared by relatives from Argentina, and they are not hints of his views left ambiguous by some obvious omission. Instead these latest assertions were calmly offered by the pope before a large and sympathetic audience, with expert advisors readily at hand, in an extended manner, all of which factors point, I think, in a consistent if disturbing direction.

And what direction is that?

This one: Pope Francis really—and I think, sincerely—believes:

(A) most marriages (at least, most Christian marriages) really aren’t, deep-down, marriages (and so the annulment process has to be sped up to dispatch of what are, after all, probably null marriages anyway, and the consequences of post-divorce marriages need to be softened because most people in those second marriages probably weren’t in true marriages the first time, and so on); and,

(B) lots of things that aren’t marriages (like cohabitation and civil-only weddings between Catholics) really are, deep-down, marriages (so we need to affirm them and assure them that they enjoy the same graces as married people, and so on). That this is pope’s view can, I suggest, be directly determined from his own words (expunged and otherwise) and, if I am right, would explain many things, from his favoring Cdl. Kasper and side-lining Cdl. Burke, rolling out several problematic tribunal “reforms” in Mitis Iudex, and leaving ambiguous several crucial points that sorely needed clarity in Amoris laetitia. The irreducibly objective, ‘either/or’, nature of marriage would not sit well with someone who prefers subjective, flexible approaches that allow for ‘this and that’ responses, but, whatever problems the principle of non-contradiction poses here, a conviction that most marriages are not marriage but lots of non-marriages are marriage, would explain a lot.

That said, I see no way to avoid the conclusion that a crisis (in the Greek sense of that word) over marriage is unfolding in the Church, and it is a crisis that will, I suggest, come to a head over matrimonial discipline and law.

He makes clear that the dissolution of discipline and law, therefore, will lead to disaster for the Church. At The Week, Brendan Dougherty assesses this attack on discipline and law with a succinct — but no less devastating — opening salvo:

Pope Francis has a problem. He believes he heads a religious organization so inept and impotent, it cannot even marry its own members reliably.

Dougherty continues:

Previously, the pope’s thoughts on this matter were matters of hearsay. Now they can’t be denied. And it turns out that the pope isn’t just unguarded and especially candid; he’s juvenile and irresponsible. Maybe even a little stupid.

“What if Catholic marriages are mostly shams, and the sham marriages are mostly Catholic?” is a sophomoric, dorm-room level effusion. And it would be good for a laugh, save for the fact that this was the freaking pope expressing his Olympian contempt for his co-religionists. In effect, he told millions of Catholics that they are not just unmarried, but were incapable of being married, because the modern world has corrupted them and because the Church failed to “catechize” them. This is a view of such sour pessimism, it is hard not to spit.

The pope’s statement openly contradicts the constant teaching and practice of the Church, which put great faith in the ability of humans to marry one another, and in the sacraments of the Church to be effective. The pope may be right that we live in a culture marred by impermanence. Previous cultures that the Church stepped into were marred by tribalism, or even local prejudice and tradition. Special pleading is not new to the world with modernity. The presumption of validity still applied to marriage bonds made inside or outside of the Church.

The Church has always held that valid marriage occurs whenever a single man and a single woman freely vow to marry one another, and intend to live faithful to that union for the rest of their lives. They don’t even have to be Catholics. The Church confidently strode into pagan Europe and affirmed the marriage bonds of non-Christians, who had never had a chance to be “catechized” or who married under greater social and familial pressures than any modern Westerner.

It is telling that the Vatican even “corrected” the transcripts of what the pope said, inserting “some” where he really said “vast majority.” That may reflect Francis wishing to step back from what he said, or it may just be an act of charity by Vatican staff to “cover his nakedness,” so to speak.

Doughterty glosses over the issue of canonical form, which is why I find it so central to Peters’ argument: it’s an often misunderstood but nevertheless essential part of the larger debate. That said, I agree with Dougherty’s overall characterization of the import of this action, and I appreciate that he echoes both Peters and myself about the dishonesty of changing a papal transcript after the fact.

Then, however, Dougherty slips this in:

A pope’s off-the-cuff statements and personal opinions are not, and never have been, infallible guides. This presents no existential crisis for Catholicism.

This is where he and I part ways. It is, in fact, perhaps subconsciously, a response on his part to an exchange we recently had on Twitter, where in the context of a larger political debate, I argued that Francis does pose an existential threat to the Church, and Dougherty disagreed.

For what it’s worth, I consider Michael a friend. We’ve talked about this topic a lot over the past three years, and he’s earned his papal criticism merit badge many times over, even if we don’t see eye-to-eye about the damage being done. That said, while the Church does (as Michael reminded me, come “with promises” given by God), her ultimate indestructibility can fall within more narrow confines than we might otherwise imagine. For the gates of hell to not prevail against the Church, how many of us need to be left standing when the battle has ended? A thousand? A hundred? Ten? One? We tend to think of these promises more broadly, I think, than the way Our Lord intended them. It is my belief that He reassured us that hell would not prevail precisely so that we would take heart when the contrary appeared to be true.

Sister Lucia of Fatima told Cardinal Caffarra that the “final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family.”

Don’t be afraid, she added, because anyone who operates for the sanctity of marriage and the family will always be contended and opposed in every way, because this is the decisive issue. And then she concluded: however, Our Lady has already crushed its head.

Whatever its finality, this is precisely the battle we’re in, and somehow, the pope has wound up actively and persistently on the wrong side. The Church will never be drummed out of existence entirely, but her existence as we know it will never be the same. To believe otherwise is self-delusion.

116 thoughts on “More Catholic Thinkers on Pope’s Disparagement of Marriage”

  1. The issue of canonical form is huge. I’ve been married 20 years but the Church would consider us as cohabitating. Why? We were married in an SSPX chapel by a SSPX priest without faculties. Do I consider myself “living in sin”. Nope.

    • Can. 1059 [] Even if only one party is Catholic, the marriage of Catholics is governed not only by divine law but also by canon law, without prejudice to the competence of civil authority concerning the merely civil effects of the same marriage.

      Which at one time was among the 6 precepts of the Church in the Penny Catechism = [paraphrasing] “to follow Church Law as regards marriage”. This is an example of:

      16 “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” – Lk 10:16 (RSVCE)

      If I were you I would seriously reconsider the situation I was in and how I also shared it with the rest of the world.

      • In times of crisis, the Church supplies. And if you doubted the crisis before, the Holy Father has now affirmed the woeful fruit of those with the vested authority not properly preparing and/or rushing to the altar those who should not have received the sacrament.

    • Check on that. I believe SSPX sacraments are considered valid. They were considered in schism after the consecration of the bishops, but the bishops were validly consecrated, their ordinations are valid, and I would imagine the marriages are valid as well. Ask somebody reliable.

          • So, is it not recognized by the Catholic Church? I’m going through a hard time now with my faith. Seems like since VII the church is less holier as my parents used to say. They felt lost with the change back then. I think I feel lost myself because the Church changes ‘rules’ so much especially with Pope Frances. Thanks again.

          • The best way to get information on the SSPX is to visit their website.

            In the nutshell, although some may disagree with my analysis, the Society is the response of those prelates who recognized the inherent danger of changing the mass, the sacraments, and muddling with the previously clear teachings of the Church by allowing ambiguous passages that could – and absolutely are for many – able to be interpreted as teaching that which opposes what the Church has always taught.

            Say the passages that imply the Muslims worship the same God as Catholics do. This is contrary to previous teaching which called out Mohamedism as leading souls to worship a false god. Now while individual Muslims may be seeking to worship the same God, the religion itself proposes a false one. So there’s a subtly of language wherein Catholics are now presumed to engage with Muslims as if it’s just the exercise of religion that’s the issue, but not a false god. (That’s been relegated to some silly myth.)

            The idea of religious liberty proposed in VII also gives way to the idea that human beings have an inherent right to worship God however they choose. Can you imagine Moses being chastened by the bishops of today for now allowing the Israelites to worship by way of a golden calf? After all, they didn’t say God was dead, only Moses and were merely seeking to liken their “worship” of God to the worship the Egyptians gave their false gods so they could all be pals and enjoy the plenty of Egypt.

            This is some of the change pre-versus-post VII. And while a lot of those changes didn’t really effect the lives of individuals. Except to give them a pass when it came to speaking the truth about God to neighbors, those of other religions, etc (really squirmy stuff). Now you have the ax being struck at our marriages wherein the soft speak is being brought out to indicate that adults really aren’t adults and cannot know what marriage is or the priesthood. The only heresy now is supposedly clear doctrine (dubbed rigid or medieval to make it sound undesirable.) Now the only commandment that seems to be clear is the 5th wherein we are supposed to believe that capital punishment is evil. But the 6th commandment – the same that covers those sins for which Our Lady is reported at Fatima sends a majority of souls to hell – is really indeterminate and hard to tease out from cultural norms, psychology, the difficulty of staying married, and my personal fave, the absolute necessity of sex to ensure the fidelity of marriage. So those in second invalid marriages are presupposed as needing to commit regular adultery with their new partner for the good of the children who would be upset if their parents broke up because they weren’t allowed to have sex.

            To answer your question, yes, the Church recognizes the SSPX. They just do not offer them an “official” ministry because the Society holds out in not accepting as binding the ambiguous teachings within VII. But again, read as much as you can. Visit the Society website. Talk to those who are against and talk to those who are pro.

            Bottom line is that in times of crisis, the Church Herself supplies requisite jurisdiction. But the pretense for a long time is that “there is no crisis”. This is patently absurd to anyone with eyes, ears, and a functioning mind.

            So thank God for your confusion. It means you’re paying attention which is what we’re all called to do. Not blindly obey. That is a Protestant misconception. And moving forward, I’d say find a solid Tridentine Latin Mass, cultivate some solid friendships therein (those who are well balanced), and maintain your peace of soul and the state of grace.

            As for Francis, we should thank him. Always better to see someone play their cards in the open. And he is doing that in spades so even those who would have been happy to remain blind cannot pretend there is nothing seriously wrong.

            God bless!

          • Thank you. This has been so helpful I have been researching a church that has a Tridentine Mass. I grew up in Ireland and came to the US in the late 1970’s and have seen from afar how secular and the US and Ireland has become. Still remember the Latin Mass as a toddler. I think when Ireland voted for SS Marriage last year I became so sad. And, then Cardinal Dolan so ‘relaxed’ a couple of years ago when asked about a homosexual footballer coming out, said: ‘that great” It’s time to re-think it all. Pope Francis is not doing that.

          • I’m glad to help, Caroline. Really, that’s all we can all do for one another at this time. It’s nice to have the reassurance that one isn’t the only one in the room or family sensing that something’s not right with Dad.

            I grew up here in the States attending Catholic schools where the Catholicism that was taught negated what I learned was true at home. Parents didn’t quite believe what I said about what was going on at school. And at school, they really didn’t want to hear much except that you were learning to give the new correct answers that fit the social justice why can’t we be friends narrative.

            There’s something seriously wrong when those entrusted with defending and passing on the Truth cover Him up like an unwanted embarrassment at a party. But the Church is following her Spouse in crucifixion. Jesus was surrounded by “friends” after all when He was taken and tried then subsequently given over to the secular authority for a proper killing. Anything to keep the safe places and the “proper” order of life.

            And there are so many Judas priests, Peters, and those hiding out for fear. Hope you find a good St. John at your new mass location. They’re a great help in learning what it means to console Our Lady at the foot of the cross.

            Best to you!

          • Manifesting the magnitude of the crisis: strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered. [Cf. Mt 26:31 (RSVCE)]. Always stick with the Church:

            What is to be done if one or more dissent from the rest.

            [7.] What then will a Catholic Christian do, if a small portion of the Church have cut itself off from the communion of the universal faith? What, surely, but prefer the soundness of the whole body to the unsoundness of a pestilent and corrupt member? What, if some novel contagion seek to infect not merely an insignificant portion of the Church, but the whole? Then it will be his care to cleave to antiquity, which at this day cannot possibly be seduced by any fraud of novelty.

            [8.] But what, if in antiquity itself there be found error on the part of two or three men, or at any rate of a city or even of a province? Then it will be his care by all means, to prefer the decrees, if such there be, of an ancient General Council to the rashness and ignorance of a few. But what, if some error should spring up on which no such decree is found to bear? Then he must collate and consult and interrogate the opinions of the ancients, of those, namely, who, though living in various times and places, yet continuing in the communion and faith of the one Catholic Church, stand forth acknowledged and approved authorities: and whatsoever he shall ascertain to have been held, written, taught, not by one or two of these only, but by all, equally, with one consent, openly, frequently, persistently, that he must understand that he himself also is to believe without any doubt or hesitation. – Catholic Encyclopedia > Fathers of the Church > Commonitorium (Vincent of Lerins) > Chapter 3. []

            PS It is Pope Frances Francis. With an “e” is the female form.

          • Yes, I knew the feminine is spelled with an “e” Just got carried away as I have an Auntie Frances and have gotten used to writing that way lately. Thanks for the reply.

  2. Even my husband who does not follow any Catholic blog or anything near to it has asked about what the pope said on marriage. Constantly explaining to new or uncatechized Catholics is not easy as one does not want to criticize the pope but what he says and does is scandalous and putting a pretty face on it is difficult. Is every teaching and every sacrament now open for change????

    • It appears all of the sacraments are in his crosshairs. E.g. communion for the divorced and civilly remarried [without them living as brother and sister if they cannot separate], impacts directly the sacrament of marriage and the teaching of its indissolubility cannot be upheld, and also directly impacted are the sacraments of Reconciliation/Confession and the Blessed Eucharist. It can also be shown that the rest of the sacraments are also impacted in some way.

      • And he said a person could be forgiven in the confessional without verbally confessing sins. Maybe he just doesn’t believe in sacraments.

  3. It is my understanding that the “gates of hell” has been explicitly tied to the “tongues of heretics” at least twice within the history of the Church, once in an official papal document. I honestly don’t understand how a person can claim that a Pope can lead people to hell via heresy. It creates a cognizant dissonance in any rational mind. The Pope simply can’t be a manifest heretic. It is one of those positions that makes Christ a liar or a lunatic. None have existed in the past and none will exist in the future.

    If the Pope can be a manifest heretic, then it also negates the entire purpose of the papacy and the visible Church on earth.

    St. Bellarmine defended every Pope up till his day, even Honorius and Liberius, from being considered heretics. Liberius is considered a Saint by the Church along with Athanasius, yet that stops very little people from calling Liberius a heretic.

    • The idea of a heretic pope is still an open discussion because, up to this point, no pope has ever officially taught heresy. Except, perhaps, Francis.

      Honorius was anathemitized not for preaching or believing heresy but for failing to defend the deposit of faith. I think it is reasonable to think the same may be the case for Francis. From Francis we have heard heresy.

      There are 2 questions that arise, I think. First, since much of it comes from off-the-cuff statements and interviews, does it count as officially teaching such? (That it is public is certain.) Secondly, can a pope who is a material heretic validly hold office? That a formal heretic would lose his office de facto from his heresy is suggest by the same St. Robert Bellarmine, but the matter of a material heretic has not, to my knowledge, ever been addressed.

      I don’t have answers and your comment just got me thinking. I’m just deeply disturbed and don’t know what to do with myself at times.

      • Honorius was anathematized by Third Council of Constantinople as a heretic. The council did not just anathematized him for failing to defend the deposit of faith, but for being a heretic himself and following the heresy. Honorius was condemned in Session 13 of the council:…”And with these we define that there shall be expelled from the holy Church of God and anathematized Honorius who was some time Pope of Old Rome, because of what we found written by him to [Patriarch] Sergius, that in all respects he followed his view and confirmed his impious doctrines….. To Honorius, the heretic, anathema!….”

    • Have you considered that Francis is not the Pope – i.e. that the Papal election was indeed conducted (behind the scenes) in a manner which violated canon law.

      In that case Benedict XVI is still the Pope.

      It would certainly explain a lot.

      • The validity of Pope Benedict’s resignation and the validity of Bergoglio’s election are two separate questions. If Benedict resigned validly, then he is no longer pope. If then Bergoglio was not validly elected, he is not pope and there is no pope.

        • Then it could be that we have no pope if Benedict’s resignation was valid and not as a result of coercion.

          (But remember coercion can take a number of forms; including, for instance, being shocked out of your shoes once having completed a reading of a two volume red leather-bound 300 page report summarizing 9 months of covert investigations into the diabolical inner machinations of the Vatican……)

          If that was the case then I suspect the Church is being run by a hidden cabal – with an Antipope merely acting as their mouthpiece.

        • No that would be Sedevacatism, a heretical error. Vatican I defined as doctrine, that there would be perpetual Popes. There is a Pope. It’s either Benedict or Francis.

          If Benedict’s resignation was valid, then Francis is Pope. If not, Francis is not Pope. The validity of the election of Francis depends entirely on the resignation of Benedict, and not on anything else.

          • Asbury,

            Please show me where Sedevacatism has been declared a “heretical error” by an ex Cathedra pronouncement, or even one not so by the Church. As far as I know, the Church has never made such a judgment, especially since she admits of a vacant seat when a Pope dies.

          • especially since she admits of a vacant seat when a Pope dies,
            Brilliant! The Church continues when the pope is physically dead, it must continue should a pope be spiritually dead.

          • The Church has actually never made any type of pronouncement about Sedevacantism. The Church has not yet addressed the issue of Sedevacantism. I personally believe it’s a heresy, and I think once the dust settles on this epoch and era, the Church will declare Sedevacantism to be a heresy.
            What the Church had declared as infallible, is that there will always be perpetual Popes and successors to St. Peter. They did that at Vatican I. It is impossible that there is no Pope (outside of the interregnum of course, that is a given) There will always be a Pope.

          • The validity of the election of Francis requires first that the see was vacant, that Benedict’s resignation was valid. But it also requires that all other conditions for a valid election were met.

          • Okay I get it. However, putting aside the question of Benedict, I see no issues or impediments that would interfere with conditions for a valid election.

    • St. Bellarine was wrong. Liberius and Honorius were heretics. Liberius is not a saint in the Catholic Church. Liberius was the first Pope after St. Peter not to be canonized. Every Pope until Liberius had been canonized.

      Pope Honorius was declared a heretic and anathematized by The Third Council of Constantinople. Pope Leo II also did the same after the council. St. Bellarmine was a great theologian, but he had his errors when it came to the office of the papacy. A dogmatic Church Council trumps St. Bellarmine. Popes can be material and formal heretics. They can even be apostates.

      • Do you mean council teachings like this one from Vatican I?

        For the holy Spirit was promised to the successors of Peter
        not so that they might, by his revelation, make known some new doctrine,
        but that, by his assistance, they might religiously guard and faithfully expound the revelation or deposit of faith transmitted by the apostles.
        Indeed, their apostolic teaching was
        embraced by all the venerable fathers and
        reverenced and followed by all the holy orthodox doctors,
        for they knew very well that this see of St. Peter always remains unblemished by any error, in accordance with the divine promise of our Lord and Saviour to the prince of his disciples: I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren [60] .
        This gift of truth and never-failing faith was therefore divinely conferred on Peter and his successors in this see so that they might discharge their exalted office for the salvation of all, and so that the whole flock of Christ might be kept away by them from the poisonous food of error and be nourished with the sustenance of heavenly doctrine. Thus the tendency to schism is removed and the whole church is preserved in unity, and, resting on its foundation, can stand firm against the gates of hell.

          • I am sorry but…”for they knew very well that this see of St. Peter always remains
            unblemished by any error, in accordance with the divine promise of our
            Lord and Saviour to the prince of his disciples: I have prayed for you
            that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen
            your brethren [60] .” says quite clearly that the see of St. Peter ALWAYS remains UNBLEMISHED by ANY ERROR. I am not sure how one can read this and then say the Pope can be a heretic.

          • That comes from Pastor Aeternus chapter 4. On the infallible teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff. The context is Papal Infallibility. The Popes do not err in Papal infallibility. The preceding paragraph was explaining Popes calling councils and defining doctrine. There is no error in the Extraordinary Magistrium.

          • I have asked repeatedly on this forum how that works. How does the infallibility issue work….it appears that to argue that, then it means the spirit only shows up when it wants to…I am having a hard time buying this bit that often the spirit is ‘out to lunch’ on some issues while present at other times. How does one invoke the spirit on said issues declaring infallibility? why not always?

          • Vatican I in the document Pastor Aeternus defined how Papal Infallibility works:

            “…we teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma that when the Roman Pontiff speaks EX CATHEDRA, that is, when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church, he possesses, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, that infallibility which the divine Redeemer willed his Church to enjoy in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals. Therefore, such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are of themselves, and not by the consent of the Church, irreformable.”

            For the Pope to be infallible he has to meet the following three conditions: (1) By virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, he (2) defines a doctrine concerning faith and morals, (3) to be held by the universal Church.
            Since definition of the dogma of Papal Infallibility at Vatican I, only 2 Popes have met the conditions. Pope Pius IX with the dogma of the Immaculate Conception and Pius XII with the dogma of the Assumption of Mary. No Pope since Pope Pius XII has been infallible.

          • Thank you for making my point—-“Since definition of the dogma of Papal Infallibility at Vatican I, only 2 Popes have met conditions.” Thus, making a legitimate point, when considering most of any pope’s rants/personal thoughts, as so much flapping of gums in the breeze. Francis has perfected this.

            Not to mention that the Holy Spirit surely takes very long vacations from the truth! Somewhere in the annals of my mind, I recall the Lord telling us he’d leave the spirit to guide us forever—why do we not believe that?……Christ never did mention anything about an intercessor! I find it strange that in the course of 145 years, that only two infallible issues have borne fruition, considering that Vat 1 was 1869-1870.

            For myself I worship only my Father and Lord and not any mere man…even one in a white robe. One cannot deny the truth that for decades pedophilia and gay priests have loomed large in the liberal land of Vatisham. Often resulting with boys committing suicide over what was done to them.

            In the seventies I read a gem of a book revealing how most nuns ended up in old age..basically in poverty. However you found many if not most priests ended up living fat cat life styles. What makes any man so good that he deserves more in his old age than any nuns who emptied bed toilet pans or did any number of jobs most men would cringe at doing?

            And YET, misogyny still carries the day. The emphasis is still on sexual sins, especially of females. Take abortion…(which by the way I don’t believe in except for rape cases, incest and the life of a mother who already has kids) which is pounded into our gourds by the Church, but never a word about gayness or pedophilia which scripture tells us, you’d be better drowning yourself at sea than to defile an innocent life.

            Projection has been one of the key features of the church for eons…no real acknowledgment of life being precious both before and after birth. Seems that life after you are born is not so important in their eyes, for if so, this Pope would not be teaching communism as the cure-all for what ails mankind. For sure he’d speak out on the Christian genocide in the ME.

            Papal bull is often just that! And Francis proves it everyday.

          • The Holy Spirit guides the Church in the Ordinary Magisterium. The teachings of the Popes, bishops, Councils, and saints. Teachings held always and everywhere. Papal Infallibility is rare, because doctrine is usually defined through the Ordinary Magisterium.

            As far as abortion, it is the murder of an innocent human person. Always morally evil. That includes the abortions for rape, incest, and health of the mother. All children have a right to life. Abortions for incest, rape, and health are still murders.

          • There is more than one way to abort…as in the killing of a child’s soul/body and mind…such as happens with pedophilia. Or worse, the decades of Jesuits in Ireland raping/torturing catholic kids in orphanages…..they had help from nuns too. All those kids, now older are speaking out.

            I fail to see that the aforesaid is anything but murder…..and knowing Christ said for a man to even get ideas about another woman, he has already sinned, one can only imagine what he would say about clergy who did far more than JUST think about murdering a child’s soul and ruining the rest of his life and relationships/marriage, et al. I fail to see why you can’t see that taking a child’s innocence is also murder of body/mind/soul.

            And FYI, the church did not always hold the present stance on abortion…eons ago the thought was that ‘quickening’ didn’t take place until about the third month. Malleable majesterium!

            I take it when a woman naturally aborts that you have no problem with God aborting that baby. After all, he is in charge of everyone’s body..he knows everything about that soul in utero. Do you ever ask yourself why God would abort a baby?

          • Just to note the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was formally defined [8 December, 1854] before Vatican I (1869–70). When Denzinger was online, I believe I came across some dogmas attributable to some Popes in the distant past [will post an example when I track it down]. Infallible as well is Pope St. John Paul II’s Ordinatio Sacerdotalis On reserving priesthood to men alone.

          • Yes, you are right. It was actually defined before Vatican I. I think the issue that I was getting at that, was that it is only one of two acts of Papal Infallibility acknowledged by the Church. That is, since the official definition at Vatican I, those two dogmas have been acknowledged as ex cathedra statements.
            Papal infallibility has always existed, but it was only officially defined de fide at Vatican I. There have been acts of Papal Infallibility throughout the centuries by the Popes, but the Church during, and after Vatican I, has never officially put out any type of list. The Church at this time, has only acknowledged officially the acts of the Immaculate Conception and Assumption.

          • And I have posted this several times:

            In general, exemption or immunity from liability to error or failure; in particular in theological usage, the supernatural prerogative by which the Church of Christ is, by a special Divine assistance, preserved from liability to error in her definitive dogmatic teaching regarding matters of faith and morals. – Catholic Encyclopedia > I > Infallibility []

            From the same article the organs of infallibility in the Church are:
            a) the bishops dispersed throughout the world in union with the Holy See;
            b) ecumenical councils under the headship of the pope; and
            c) the pope himself separately, when he speaks ex-cathedra.
            The understanding here is that even if if these organs of infallibility wanted to define an erroneous dogmatic teaching regarding matters of faith and morals, they would be unable to do it, because of charism of infallibility Christ endowed his Church with [cf. CCC 890 –, his special Divine assistance will preserve them from liability to error.

          • “the supernatural prerogative by which the Church of Christ is, by a special Divine assistance, preserved from liability to error in her definitive dogmatic teaching regarding matters of faith and morals.” That being the case, then how do you explain what this pope is doing, not to mention bishops who agree? Again, I would ask why this special Divine assistance does not preserve them from error as we see happening now? Pray tell!

          • preserved from liability to error in her definitive dogmatic teaching regarding matters of faith and morals And the definitive dogmatic teachings regarding matters of faith and morals come through and by the organs of infallibility. Outside these Divine assistance is still there for the Pope and the Bishops should they choose to avail themselves to it as Pope St. John Paul II the Great did in Familiaris Consortio itself a post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation.
            Pope Francis is the one to explain first to God and then to the Church and then to the flock in his charge as to why he is doing what he is doing. The same goes for the silent Bishops and Prelates.

          • Considering that this pope is a Jesuit. and the Jesuits for some time have been saying that nothing we have been taught is true, I wouldn’t hold my breath on Francis talking to God soon. Now why would the Jesuits disavow the story we have been told for decades/centuries, is up for grabs. Does it have anything to do with the longstanding similar stories which came eons before Mary and her Son? As with Horus, Mithras, Krishna, Dionysus and Other Pagan Gods?

            Albeit Christianity incorporated some pagan elements in the religion, it does not follow that all of Christianity is pagan. So if any Jesuits are reading this, if you actually believe that Christ was an offshoot or imitation of any previous ‘gods’, think again and learn that although there may be similarities, when it comes down to it, nothing jives 100% between Christ and previous ‘gods’ who bore some resemblances.

            Found this an interesting and legit site pointing to the validity of Christ’s birth, mission and crucifixion..


          • It’s called the Ordinary Magisterium of the Catholic Church. It’s teaching by any Pope, Bishop, priest, or Catholic who has authority to teach, that has been held always and everywhere. The teachings of the Church in her Magisterium, do not come just from Popes, but from the collective teachings of the entire Church. The vast majority of the teachings of the Popes are joined together with the teachings of the saints, bishops, and Councils together in the Ordinary Magisterium.

            The Extraordinary Magisterium or Papal Infallibility, is very rare and extraordinary. Only rarely, does a Pope by himself step out to define a doctrine ex cathedra. Since Vatican l, it’s only happened twice.

          • The Ordinary Universal Magisterium is also infallible when teaching faith and morals but if it does not have the signature of the Pope, it is nothing. Think about it, the only reason we can even reference Scripture as being Divinely inspired is because of a teaching of the Church and promulgated by the Pope.

            The only reason we know that we must believe all things held by the Fathers of the Church when unanimous among them is because the Church told us so and the teaching was promulgated by the Pope ex Cathedra or not. It simply does not matter. Scripture is nothing without Tradition and Tradition is known to be true only when the Vicar of Christ tells us so.

            What is the point of the papacy if this is not so?

          • Point of the papacy:

            Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful. – Pope St. John Paul II the Great > Ordinatio Sacerdotalis[]

            Obviously something Pope Francis is currently failing to do, and worse instead, purposefully creating confusion.

          • The issue is that there can be bad Popes who can go against tradition. They can make errors. That is why we have the teachings of the Popes throughout the centuries and the Ordinary Magisterium. We can see when a Pope has fallen into error when he contradicts the Ordinary Magisterium and his teachings go against tradition.

          • Asbury, thank you and FMShyanguya for the responses. I am going to leave the conversation now. God bless.

          • Then you have to reconcile the examples @asburyfox has provided with your understanding of what you have posted. To those examples I add Pope John XII (reigned 955-64) who it is said toasted to the devil and invoked pagan gods during dice games and refused to make the sign of the cross. A synod even deposed him. You may answer whether or not such a pope kept the truths of the faith. According to the Council you refer to the pope is only infallible when he speaks ex-cathedra other than that, the errors such as those in AL are shocking but ought not be surprising.
            Cf. This comment [] of mine here: Can a Pope Be a Heretic? by Jacob W. Wood, March 4, 2015 []

          • St. Bellarmine already reconciled the positions. He even states, if I remember correctly, that it is likely that Honorius’ name was added after the fact by the heretics.

          • This is the argument of St. Bellarmine that leads to his conclusion:

            “For to this point no Pope has been a heretic, or certainly it cannot be proven that any of them were heretics; therefore it is a sign that such a thing cannot be.” (On the Roman Pontiff, book 4, ch. 6.)

            He obviously ignores history and it is evident that such an argument is not ironclad.
            Cf. Arnaldo da Silveira, l’ipotesi teologia di un Papa eretico []

            La prima opinione è quella di Alberto Pighi a cui aderiscono molte auctoritates ma più come ad una pia opinione che come ad una certezza; solo il teologo Agostino Matteucci la riterrà di fede. Arnaldo da Silveria presenta diversi argomenti contro questa prima opinione rilevando come la storia stessa della Chiesa la smentisca e come l’ipotesi di un Papa eretico sia stata pacificamente esposta per secoli dalla teologia e dal diritto canonico.

            And Un papa eretico? []

          • If you have done any reading on past church history and popes, then surely you know that the See has been blemished time and time again….thus one can say some popes were heretics. It is a falsity to say that popes are always divinely inspired..balderdash.

          • The help is always there but a pope can reject it. How much help did Pope Francis get from perennial Church Teaching, Prelates and the laity alike leading up to and during the Synods of Bishops? He even did not listen to the Synods he had stacked and rigged in his favor. My understanding is that only if he wanted to bind us ex-cathedra in an error as regards faith or morals, he would be unable to.

          • Pope St Leo II anathematized Honorius I as a heretic, therefore, the two logical choices which face you are as follows:

            1) Pope St Leo II was right and, therefore, Pope Honorius I was BLEMISHED by ERROR.

            2) Pope St Leo II was wrong and, therefore, Pope St Leo II was a BLEMISHED by ERROR (for believing that another Pope could be a heretic).

            Pay your money and take your choice – one or the other was BLEMISHED by ERROR – which one? The fact that Honorius was not teaching under the conditions of infallibility – merely failing to oppose the heresy of Monothelitism – means that what we hold about papal infallibility still holds true.

          • Errors in fact are not covered under infallibility. Only errors concerning faith and morals. Bellarmine defends this position in the very case you present.

          • Brilliant @Deacon_Augustine! God bless you and yours and his work at your hands. I can just imagine how tough it must be for the LORD’s ordained who are trying to remain faithful to him under this papacy.

    • Useful resources:
      1) Indefectibility of the Church in Catholic Encyclopedia > C > The Church []
      2) Fathers of the Church > Commonitorium (Vincent of Lerins) []
      3) St. Vincent of Lerins: The “Vincentian Canon”, AD 434 From Chapter 4 of the Commonitorium []

      Can. 751 [] Heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.

      • I’m beginning to think he’s more an apostate than a heretic. He’s come up with his own religion, and it’s not just a particular doctrine with which he has problems.

        • My belief as well. It is apparent to me that he does not hold the Catholic Faith. In addition to what has been commented on here, he does not appear to give due reverence to the Blessed sacrament, and he even when he prays, he doesn’t appear to be praying.

        • Yes he is an apostate. And my concern is that so many naive Catholics are taken in by his seemingly “humble” and “loving” demeanor. I was at a new group of catholic women yesterday and when I brought up PF I was the only one of 7 who had questions about him. They all proclaimed him to be “a breath of fresh air”, a “treasure” who will bring back lapsed Catholics with his “merciful” message that they believe is so needed. I was appalled. PF will undoubtedly be attractive to those with “itching ears” who are looking for laxity in Catholic doctrine. IMHO his next move will be to offer holy communion to cohabiting (unmarried) couples as he is already making noises about these types of relationships having an inherent “grace”. Quickly to follow will be practicing homosexuals. At what point will Jesus withdraw His Holy Presence from the Eucharist? Tighten yor seat belts, it’s going to be a wild ride..

          • To theorize a private apostasy of a pope, unthinkable as it should be, is one thing. To declare it as a fact is another, and it crosses the line. Apostasy is defined (Catholic Encyclopedia) as “the complete and voluntary abandonment of the Christian religion, whether the apostate embraces another religion such as Paganism, Judaism, Mohammedanism, etc., or merely makes profession of Naturalism, Rationalism, etc. The heretic differs from the apostate in that he only denies one or more of the doctrines of revealed religion, whereas the apostate denies the religion itself, a sin which has always been looked upon as one of the most grievous.”

            Thus, apostasy has a public character of renunciation and alternate profession.

            We cannot — we must not — make such declarations. To do so is to overstep our bounds. Let us restrict ourselves to addressing his errors, and not presume to sit in judgment over him.

            The comments here, while understandable, have lately veered too far from the respect we owe to the office and the avoidance of rash judgment.

          • Steve, with all due respect, Patti D is correct. And, so are you.
            However, whether or not the pope is a heretic or an apostate really does not matter.
            What does matter is fraternal correction. Yes, even of the pope himself when he is wrong. However, I see your point only from the context that it is not the laity who must make such pronouncements, but the bishops themselves. Aside from a very small number of prelates out of the thousands of them worldwide, the shepherds remain asleep at the helm.

          • We are, in a sense, victims of our own belief that the Church is not a democracy. Laymen may fight error and promote truth, but such decisions about ecclesiastics — in particular the pope — are not ours to make.

  4. Having a Pope who has taken to offending pious ears as though it’s his calling in life is one thing. Having an entire prelature too – what is it? cowardly? cautious? content? – to approach the man and demand, point-blank, that he formally abjure his many problematic statements is another. The former is bad enough; the latter is absolutely devastating.

  5. Jorge Bergoglio is so well trained in the practice of deception, he deceives other people about his true thoughts and motives not at all to a lesser degree than he is able to deceive himself.
    When his desire is to feel merciful (I believe that he is mistaken about priests being able to show mercy in the year of mercy, because mercy can be shown only be someone in position of power to his subordinates), he talks about Catholic doctrines as an ideal, almost impossible to attain. We, the mortals, are always striving toward that ideal, and should not be judged on the high levels of our shortcomings, be it cohabitation, be it divorce.
    Bergoglio insisted that people in “irregular situations” should be accompanied toward the ideal.

    Many people assumed that he wants Catholics to refrain from encouraging co-habiting couples to enter into a sacramental marriage, as their loyalty is to their internal forum, their life a process of individuation, an evolution, not a free-will response to already revealed, complete truth. If not ready for sacramental marriage, the ideal, they should be under no pressure from the Church. Maybe he thought so himself at the time, and maybe he has evolved (not unlike Obama regarding sodomy as a good basis for marriage),

    It turns out what he meant has been that marriage is not a sacrament, and it doesn’t require God’s grace bestowed upon people as they enter into the sacrament. Marriage is what people are able to achieve by themselves, in rare cases. Therefore some unmarried couples are truly married, while couples living in sacramental marriage, for the most part are not.

    Bergoglio divorces the concept of marriage from God’s grace. He sees it as a matter strictly between people, some of whom are more capable to feel happy and to want to be together than most.

    It is by our works, our abilities, our efforts, that we sometimes achieve marriage. It has nothing to do with God or with the sacrament of marriage.

    • I consider Francis the most clever Columbo-guy around. Many people think that he is foolish or ignorant, but instead he is a most deceptive Jesuit. I recall Fr. Kenneth Baker saying in a Wanderer conference many years ago that being Catholic and Jesuit at the same time is almost impossible. And he was one of those few faithful Jesuits.

      • He knows very well what he is doing. And even the innovators around him have openly spoken about him “not wanting preserve everything as it has been in the Church” and making “irreversible changes”. Reminds me of the one who became the current POTUS campaigning to “fundamentally transform America” Simply both were out with prior and full knowledge to purposefully wreck the institutions they were chosen to lead.

      • Oh yes. he knows exactly what he is doing. He was #1 Jesuit in Argentina and South America for that matter. He was key in Bishop Williamson’s exile/banishment from Argentina. From that issue, he started a “good” relationship with Bishop Fellay of the SSPX.

  6. I don’t think we need concern ourselves with the numbers of Catholics left standing. I understand “standing” has to do with persevering to the end (Mt 24:13). Plenty will fall away (cf. Mt 7:13, 14; Lk 13:23, 24) but ALL are given the grace to persevere and be saved.

  7. With regard to canonical form, it’s about 400 years old – probably came in after the Protestant rebellion made such a distinction seem adviseable – but interestingly enough, I think it could be useful in the future, since “marriage” has been utterly defined by the State.

    Also, while its true that what Francis is spouting is not magesterial – that really doesn’t matter and most people, furthermore, don’t even know or care what’s “magisterial.” Look at the impact these stupid “non-magisterial” words have made.

  8. Nice piece, Steve. I would offer that the Church *will* be “the same”, and more, after Her Immaculate Heart triumphs, as we know it will. There will be a period of great peace, and great conversion of the world, followed, ultimately, by the true final battle, of which the present is a prelude.

  9. With his thoughts on marriage et al. what Pope Francis seems to be leading up to is the conclusion of: why be a Catholic at all?. From his comments one gathers it is all pettifogging nonsense resulting in casuistic solutions to non existent problems. The Pope wishes to substitute the objective rule of law for the subjective ‘what’s right is what feels good.” He does have a point.

    For the last 50 years or so the Church has been freebasing on God’s mercy with such innovations as a man centered liturgy, lack of reverence to God, near automatic marriage annulments, Communion without confession, social justice vs God’s justice, etc. The official Church has, in many ways, set before us an earth bound pathway leading inexorably away from God and towards the Evil One. Let us pray that the “freedom of conscience” offered by Pope Francis must be rejected if we wish to attain eternal life.

  10. Which marriages do you think he believes are mostly invalid? Do you think he means the great majority of marriages which he himself has witnessed? Or is it only the great majority of all those that his fellow clergy have witnessed?

    If it is the former then he is clearly not fit to be exercising any office associated with the ordained ministry. If it is the latter, then this reveals an insidious lack of faith in the ability of his fellow-clergy to lead a couple to the point of making valid marriage vows, or it suggests he believes that the majority of engaged couples lie to the clergy when they claim that they do want to get married for the rest of their lives and intend permanence, fidelity and fecundity. Either way, such a belief in the inability of everybody else to act with integrity and follow canonical form would suggest (not for the fist time) a pathological tendency to narcissism on his behalf.

    Even if a significant number of cardinals and bishops rose up and insisted on abjurations and retractions of his blasphemous opinions, it would not be enough to undo the damage he has done. He needs to be deposed and all his “formal” magisterium be abrogated by a Catholic successor.

  11. “For the gates of hell to not prevail against the Church, how many of us need to be left standing when the battle has ended?” Excellent point, Steve. Far too many use this line to justify passivity. “The Holy Spirit’s got it covered,” is the neo-catholic mantra. But while they kick up their heels and get comfy in their chairs, Our Blessed Lord asks, “But when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8)

    • The gates of hell did not prevail against the OT Church which escaped from Egypt either. However, of the 600,000 who followed Moses and got out of there, 599,998 perished in the desert and only 2 – Joshua and Caleb – made it into the Promised Land. Even Moses failed to make it at the last.

      If the Lord only found faith in 2 out of 600,000 then – among a people who witnessed His mighty deeds and wonders first hand – that kind of ratio could be seen again. But if it were to repeat itself in today’s terms, then the gates of hell would still not have prevailed against His Church.

  12. Taken to its logical conclusion, if the great majority of married people are not validly married, then they could righteously split and find new spouses. How much destruction would this cause for millions of children?

    • 1P5 has previously posted that the final battle will be over the family. Not surprising therefore contraception and abortion, homosexuality agenda and gender ideology, divorce, and with this added, one can see the may fronts of the assault. It is an all out war and it appears they have recruited our own pope to fight on their side.

  13. A truly heretical pontiff cannot be the head of the Church, according to St. Bellarmine and numerous others. I’ve never been a sedevecantist. But either way, the Church is in the power of a ravenous wolf, and, without divine intervention, AND SOON, the Church will be destroyed. Thank God, He has promised us that’s impossible. Otherwise despair would be a perfectly rational response.

  14. I totally agree that canonical form needs to be dropped. That is one area of reform I’d like to see ASAP.

    “It is my belief that He reassured us that hell would not prevail precisely so that we would take heart when the contrary appeared to be true.”

    Yes, a truly mass apostasy is certainly possible and at this point looking more and more likely, though I truly hope not. Who wants to see the majority of people going to Hell?

    • Why drop canonical form? Do we want Catholic marriages to look less and less the domain of the Church and cede that to the state? I like canonical form because it clearly defines the reasonable and distinct Catholic laws of the Church. The Church shouldn’t just rubber-stamp civil marriages, especially when the state’s concept of marriage is so distorted and unreasonable.

      • “Do we want Catholic marriages to look less and less the domain of the Church and cede that to the state?”

        It isn’t ceding to the state really. The Sacrament is conferred by the spouses onto one another. I would rather drop canonical form than see so many annulments because of the current ruling.

        • “I would rather drop canonical form than see so many annulments because of the current ruling”– Non-canonical marriages can never be annulled, because they’re ipso facto null already.

          • There is a reason that the Church requires the blessing of the priest and that the marriage take place in Church, etc. The Church doesn’t want couples to think it’s some kind of self-made thing only, without an act of God. Hallowe’en-themed weddings, beach weddings, Las Vegas-style weddings– all of these would be legitimised by getting rid of canonical form. It’s sacrilegious to confect a sacrament in such a way, and any Catholic who attempts to confect a marriage with no care for canonical form is obviously a bad Catholic anyway.

          • No. The reason canon law introduced the requirement for a blessing etc was to prevent clandestine marriages. You need to read Ed Peters on this. That particular problem is no longer the issue. Therefore, it would probably best if it were dropped.

          • I already know that. It would definitely be far worse if we dropped canonical form. Otherwise forget about marriage prep, actually informing a couple what a Catholic marriage is, and say hello to Disney-themed weddings with self-written vows. Huge move in the wrong direction for marriage.

          • Well, things are pretty idiotic in the USA, that’s true. But it’s far worse to see so *many* people have these fake marriages. A stupid wedding ceremony is not as bad by comparison.

    • Why drop canonical form?

      And yeah, it is a narrow path to paradise and a wide road to hell. Even among the virgins waiting at the door for the marriage feast (ie good Christians – something like that – Matthew 25 ish) Christ says 5/10 are sent into the place of tooth gnashing.

      • Sure thing, but we can hardly rejoice at it. It’s better to encourage one another to stay on the narrow path.

        As for canonical form, it was set up to counter clandestine marriages. That’s not much of an issue now. As long as a marriage is conducted such that it is public and there is a legal record, that should suffice really. The sacrament is conferred upon one another by the spouses.

  15. PF is just doing his assignment. He has to do what he has to do. Ask yourself a question like this, ” If I were an evil one what should I do to eliminate the Catholic Church?” Off course abolish the marriage which is established by God. No marriage foundation the Church would be collapsed. Right? He’s not stupid and confused like many people think, in deed he’s darn smart, but no wisdom. He falls captive to his pride. He think he can wipe out Jesus’ identity as a Savior of the whole human race and the only way to the Father, God Almighty. He will fail terribly even he concentrates all his energies in one single focus – Jesus.

    One thing many of us know that Satan, death, rebellious angels, false prophets, masons , communists, modernists, feminists and all untrue religions who are now assaulting the Catholic Church in order to destroy Her will be banished from the heavenly kingdom which is coming. God, deliver us from this evil.

  16. I’m not exactly a big Francis defender, as anyone who reads my stuff knows. But I think he is objectively correct that some large percentage (30%? 60%?) of Catholic ‘marriages’ are null.

    See one of my arguments in favor of this view here:

    Of course, I don’t believe that Francis himself fully believes and accepts what he is saying. Acceptance of the objective truth of his own words are not reflected in his own actions. If he really believed and fully accepted what he is saying himself, his top priority as Pope would be to get all of those invalid marriages convalidated.

  17. Hello 1 Peter 5,

    YES, very interesting topic herein.

    When I lived in Rome at the turn of the century I had the pleasure of an American Conventual Franciscan for my Confessor in St. Peter’s. While dining with Fr. Nevin one evening discussing marriage, I mentioned that I was divorced. He inquired where I had been married and I explained a Jesuit college under the Arch-Diocese of Seattle.

    His next two comments floored me – “Seattle!?!?, The Church should just declare it missionary territory and send in the Franciscans. As for most American marriages, they are probably anullable due to lack of due discretion.” When I probed him for clarification, he noted that most couples were overwhelmed by the modern culture of lust and therefore emotionally and spiritually incapable of entering into a truly Roman Catholic Bond of Marriage.

    Oddly, my own ‘marriage’ was annulled within a year of that conversation yet I have never married again, frankly because I agree with his analysis. My own perspective of the current family and social structures enforced upon the American people leads me to conclude that NO Roman Catholic man can safely marry without a greater chance of ‘family dissolution’, than a life-long covenant.

    I suspect many of my fellows [55-70 European-American males] have come to the same conclusion due to the fact that I meet so many on the streets of the larger US cities.

    So, just what is Pope Francis trying to do? Well, OK I’l throw out a completely off the wall analysis – He seems to be using the Pauline arguments from First Corinthians:

    “We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are honourable, but we without honour.” (1 Corinthians 4:10)

    “To them that are under the law, as if I were under the law, (whereas myself was not under the law,) that I might gain them that were under the law. To them that were without the law, as if I were without the law, (whereas I was not without the law of God, but was in the law of Christ,) that I might gain them that were without the law.

    To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak. I became all things to all men, that I might save all. And I do all things for the Gospel’s sake: that I may be made partaker thereof.” (1 Corinthians 9:21–23)

    In this Biblical vein, perhaps Pope Francis is trying to thread a theological needle through the secular-cultural haystack with a deftness that dare I say the Pharisees of Jesus’ time [Much less the Pharisees in the Vatican.] would admire.

    Which effort if successful, could result in millions of previously rebellious ‘CafCat’ supporters of ‘nuns-on-the-bus’ and other such extra-ecclesiastical nonsense, waking up one day to find themselves in regularized, e.g. ‘Canonical form’ marriages with ALL taint of the ‘sex-and-drugs-and-rock & roll’ revolution ‘exorcized from their lives, chanting;

    “Spirit of Vatican II that was our cheer, how in the hell did we end up here?”


  18. Thank you Steve Skojec for this well presented article along with Dougherty’s interspersed thesis.

    It brings to mind the thoughts of our Lord Jesus Christ and how He viewed marriage vs. cohabitation in secular culture: re. the Samaritan woman at the well.

    John 4:15-18 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.


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