Catholic Laws on Marriage and Divorce

Recently I made this response to the LMS Chairman’s “we’re not facing a heretical Pope”:

Dear Dr Shaw,
Thank you for your post.

I feel that you have omitted something important:

For the Church to say “sorry everyone it seems we’ve been wrong all along” it may also entail saying “sorry everyone it seems that Jesus has been wrong all along”.

This is particularly the case with the Indissolubility of Marriage, since it is not something that the Church has defined using her Ordinary or Extraordinary Magisterial Authority (such as in the case of the Assumption, or the Immaculate Conception).

An attack on Indissolubility of Marriage is an attack on the Person of Jesus Christ, and the Inerrancy of Sacred Scripture.

Of course if the Church has permitted a perversion or betrayal to the teachings of her Divine Lawgiver (as given in the Gospels), then the Church, should, and must repent.

In the case of the sin of Sodomy, the present attack, is not so much on the Person of the Divine Lawgiver, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Nor is it so much an attack on the Inerrancy of Scripture. It is more an attack on the Tradition of the Church.

The law regarding the sin of Sodom comes from the Old Testament, and unlike certain other Old Testament Laws, the Divine Lawgiver did not give any further clarification (such as in the case with Indissolubility of Marriage), so it remained as is.

That which remains, such as that which is passed down through oral tradition, is in the custody of Sacred Tradition.

I think that these are important points to weigh in on your considerations.

Yours respectfully,
CatholicScout

To which Dr Shaw added:

The teaching on sodomy is reiterated by St Paul. Rom 1:27

The problem is that with marriage a new teaching will always be presented as an interpretation, not denial, of Scripture. The reason Catholics are more secure in how we understand Our Lord’s words on divorce is because we have an authoritative interpretation through Tradition.

These subjects have brought to my attention the issue of Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and the Saints.

Dr Shaw is correct, St Paul does condemn sodomy in Romans 1:27, thus showing that the law regarding the sin of Sodom is continued in the Church (and for all time).

Dr Shaw rightly points out the issue of “a new teaching will always be presented as an interpretation“. In researching my response to this, I came across an excellent article titled “Catholic Laws on Marriage and Divorce by Monsignor Matthew Smith, 1921″ – posted on catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com which I copy here in its entirety for your convenience:



Catholic Laws on Marriage and Divorce

by Monsignor Matthew Smith, 1921

The Catholic attitude on marriage is not debatable for anyone who is really willing to live by the doctrine of the Scriptures. Here are some of the Biblical references to marriage: “Whilst her husband liveth she shall be called an adulteress if she be with another man” (Romans vii, 3). “Whosoever shall put away his wife and marry another committeth adultery against her” (Mark x, 11). “What God hath joined together let no man put asunder” (Matt. xix, 6). “Everyone that putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and he that marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery” (Luke xvi, 18). “To them that are married, not I, but the Lord commandeth, that the wife depart not from her husband: and if she depart, that she remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband. And let not the husband put away his wife (I Cor. vii, 10-11). “A woman is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but, if her husband die, she is at liberty: let her marry to whom she will: only in the Lord” (I Cor. vii, 39).

The reason why Christian marriage is monogamous is because Jesus has made it a figure of the union of Christ with His Church. The union of the Master with the Church is extraordinarily close. We are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones, to use the striking words of St. Paul in Ephesians. The Church is the bride of Christ. Marriage is defined in the Scriptures in this fashion: “A man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall be two in one flesh” (Genesis ii, 24). Christ merely restored marriage to the pristine condition God intended it to have from the very beginning. Because of the hardness of men’s hearts, God permitted divorce to the Jews; but there is absolutely nothing in all the Christian dispensation that gives the Church permission to grant any divorce in Christian marriage with the right to remarry.

All the loose legislation on divorce in the dissenting denominations rests upon the assumption that it is impossible to live a happy or decent single life. Separation has to come in some marriages. If a man is always abusive, a drunkard, or a libertine; or if a woman is an adulteress or a spendthrift who cannot manage a home; or if there are other grave reasons, a divorce without the right to remarry is permissible. But it is possible for these people to live both happily and virtuously without remarrying. The Catholic Church knows; she has had plenty of experience with celibates, far more than any other organization. God never commands what He does not give the strength to accomplish; there is no question about the fact that He has definitely commanded the Catholic legislation on Matrimony.

Many arguments can be brought forward to show that, from a social welfare standpoint, the Catholic legislation is ideal. But the reason why we obey it is not particularly for these reasons, but because Christ commanded it. Our chief concern is to save souls. We are not running after mere earthly goals. We are not conducting a Church simply as a sociological experiment. We are glad, indeed, that Catholicity in action turns out to be the best sociology; but that is incidental.

We obey Christ because we deem Him to be God. We are here for a brief space on probation, and then we are to be judged. Our happiness or sorrow throughout eternity depends on the way we now obey Him. Hence the argument that we hold before the man or woman struggling with the question of obedience or disobedience to the Christian law of marriage comes down simply to this: Are you willing to jeopardize eternal happiness for a few brief years of tarnished happiness in this world? That, after all, is the only question that must be answered.

Those who oppose our marriage legislation try to make out that the Church has no right to interfere in such delicate and purely personal matters. Inasmuch as Christ is God, and Christ said that she has, we side with Christ. Modern man did not make the world; God made it; God made the laws, natural and supernatural, by which we will be judged. Christ taught that we should center our attention on the next world, not on this. He did not make Christianity a worldly religion in any sense; He often declared that it is wholly opposed to the spirit of the world. He compared the living of a Christian life with His carrying of the Cross to Calvary. We do not promise easy salvation to anybody. It is far easier to damn one’s soul than to save it; but, nevertheless, a sincere attempt to save one’s soul brings such peace that Christ was able to call the yoke sweet and the burden light.

Matrimony is the sacrament that unites a Christian man and woman in lawful marriage. God instituted marriage in the Garden of Eden (Gen. ii, 24) and Christ raised the contract among baptized people to the dignity of a sacrament. The primary object of marriage is the procreation and education of offspring; the second purpose is mutual assistance and the remedy for concupiscence. Large numbers of people outside the Catholic Church put the secondary purpose above the first, and this explains why marriage is falling more and more into contempt among them. The essential qualities of marriage are unity and indissolubility, which in Christian marriage receive their peculiar firmness by reason of the sacrament.

St. Paul in Ephesians v tells what a Christian marriage should be like. “So also,” he says, “ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever hateth his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, as also Christ does the Church, because we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. ‘For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be two in one flesh.’ This is a great sacrament; but I speak in Christ and in the Church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular love his wife as himself: and let the wife fear her husband.”

Jesus Christ Himself said, when asked (Matt. xix) whether divorce was to be permitted by Him (it had been allowed by Moses because of the hardness of the Jews’ hearts), “What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.” When His questioners argued with Him, He went on to say that anybody who put away his wife and married another committed adultery, and whoever married her that was put away committed adultery. In Matt. v, Jesus also warned that whoever put away his wife, except for good reasons, was to be held equally guilty of whatever adultery she might commit. “Whosoever shall put away his wife, excepting for the cause of fornication, maketh her to commit adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away committeth adultery.”

The Catholic Church holds that a married couple can separate when grave spiritual or temporal good of either party demands it. Christ mentions only fornication in the instance above, because it is the chief reason for which this separation is permitted. But remarriage of either before the other’s death is not allowed.

Owing to the exceptions made by Christ in regard to fornication, in Matt. xix and v, many non-Catholics hold that absolute divorce with remarriage is permitted to the innocent party in a case where adultery has occurred. But this has never been the teaching of the Catholic Church. Other texts in the Bible prove that Christ did not intend the permission of absolute divorce in any consummated Christian marriage. The Council of Trent has settled this matter for Catholics. Christ was referring to simple separation, not to absolute divorce, when speaking of fornication.

If the texts are to be used in justifying remarriage of the innocent party in divorce cases growing out of fornication, remarriage of the guilty person would also have to be legalized. But this is so foreign to all other texts about divorce in the New Testament, and to the spirit of Christianity in general, that the question is not debatable. Furthermore, the saving phrase in the text “excepting for the cause of fornication,” refers only to the first clause, not to the second.

Jesus, in Mark x, 11, 12, made the unqualified statement that absolute divorce is not allowable. “Whosoever shall put away his wife and marry another committeth adultery against her. And if the wife shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.” Again in Luke xvi, 18, Jesus is quoted as absolutely forbidding divorce with remarriage. “Every one that putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and he that marrieth her that is put from her husband committeth adultery.”

St. Paul in I Cor. vii, 10-11, also makes it clear that divorce of Christians with remarriage is forbidden. No exception whatever is made. “But to them that are married, not I but the Lord commandeth, that the wife depart not from her husband. And if she depart, that she remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And let not the husband put away his wife.”

Again, in verse 39, St. Paul declares the same truth, making no exception whatever: “A woman is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but, if her husband die, she is at liberty: let her marry to whom she will; only in the Lord.” In Romans vii, 2, 3, St. Paul again explicitly states that a woman who is fulfilling marital relations with another man while her husband is living is an adulteress, but a wife is free to marry again when her husband dies.


Separation of Married Couples

Married persons are obliged to live together in conjugal relations, unless a just cause frees them from this obligation. If one of the two commits adultery, it is reason for the other to live apart, unless the party that wishes to leave consented to the crime, or was the cause of it, or committed the same crime himself or herself. Tacit condoning of the crime means living in marital relations with the guilty person, without bringing legal accusation or leaving the person within six months.

Other reasons that justify separation are: If one party joins a non-Catholic sect; educates the offspring as non-Catholics; leads a criminal and despicable life; creates great bodily or spiritual danger to the other party; or if through cruelties he or she makes living together too difficult; and for other such reasons, which are to the innocent party so many legal causes to leave the guilty party by authority of the Bishop, or also by private authority, if the guilt of the other party is certain beyond doubt, and there is danger in delay.

Except in case of adultery, the common life must be restored when the reason for the separation ceases. But, if the Bishop pronounced the separation for a certain time or indefinitely, the innocent party is not obliged to return during this allotted period or until the Bishop orders it. In case of adultery, the innocent party is not under compulsion ever to readmit the sinner. The innocent one, however, has the right to take back the sinner, and even compel him or her to return, unless the sinner in the meantime has, with the consent of the innocent party, embraced a state of life contrary to marriage, like going into a religious community.



Catholic Sources in Defense of the Indissolubility of Marriage

“The union of husband and wife has from the very beginning had stamped and impressed on it two peculiarly striking characteristics in order that it might more adequately correspond with the wise counsels of God; these are unity and perpetuity. . . . This we see declared and patently confirmed in the Gospel by the Divine authority of Jesus Christ Who testified to the Jews and to the Apostles that Matrimony, even from the time of its institution, ought to be only between two, a man and a woman, that of those two were made one flesh, and that the marriage bond was by God’s will so intimately and closely knit that it can be neither dissolved nor broken by any man: ‘A man . . . shall cleave to his wife and they two shall be in one flesh. Therefore now they are not two but one flesh’ (Mt. xix, 5-6).

“Christ restored marriage to its state of primitive excellence when He condemned the morals of the Hebrews who had many wives and who misused the permission to put away their wives; for He sternly forbade anyone to dare dissolve what God had bound by a perpetual bond of union. When He had solved the difficulties alleged from the decisions given by Moses, He, in the Person of the Supreme Lawgiver, laid down this law for married people: ‘And I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery, and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery. (Mt. xix, 9).

“A Christian marriage which has been consummated is complete in every respect, and should therefore possess more firmness and more stability than any other. If God had so willed, it could have been made dissoluble by adultery, as the Greeks and Protestants claim it is. But the Catholic Church has always maintained that there is no evidence of any such divine disposition, and consequently the principle holds good: “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.

“The Church is the best interpreter of the law of Christ and when she teaches that a ratified and consummated marriage, and this alone, is absolutely beyond human power to dissolve, it is a certainty. The ultimate reason must be sought in the Divine Will. Its sacramental character alone would not give it this firmness, but in addition the contract must be consummated. The Church has defended this doctrine always even against powerful princes and in the face of serious temptation.”

(Excerpts from Leo XIII, Arcanum divinae Sapientiae, Feb. 10, 1880).


St. Augustine, De Adulterinis conjugiis, i, 9:

“If, then, we were to say: “Whosoever marries a woman put away by her husband for any other cause than fornication commits adultery, we should certainly be saying what was true; yet it does not therefore follow that we can pronounce him innocent who marries a woman who has been put away because of her fornication; we have not the remotest doubt but that they are both of them adulterers. And in the same way we pronounce him an adulterer, who for some other cause than fornication, puts away his wife and marries another; yet we do not on that ground pronounce innocent of adultery a man who puts away his wife because of her fornication, and then marries another. We regard both of them as adulterers, although the sin of one is graver than that of the other.” (P.L., xl, 456.)

St. Augustine, De Nuptiis et Concupiscentiis, i,10:

“Now since not only fecundity, whose fruit is offspring, nor chastity, whose safeguard is fidelity, but also a certain nuptial Sacrament is set before the married members of the faithful, for the Apostle says: ‘Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the Church’ (Ephes. v, 25), it follows that the ‘thing’ of this Sacrament consists in husband and wife remaining inseparable for the rest of their lives once they have been joined in wedlock, and in the unlawfulness of separation between partners except it be because of fornication (Mt. v, 32). But if a man has done so (taken another wife during the lifetime of his former partner) then by the Gospel law he is guilty of adultery, as also is the wife if she marries another (Mt. xix, 8-9), though not so by the law of this world whereby, owing to divorce, marriage can be added to marriage and no legal crime incurred; in fact, as the Lord Himself testifies, even holy Moses conceded this to the people of Israel owing to the hardness of their hearts. Between married people, then, there remains, so long as they live, a certain conjugal bond which neither separation nor subsequent union with another can remove. But this bond then remains, not as a bond of fidelity, but as the penalty of a crime; just as the soul of an apostate who withdraws from Christ’s espousals, even though his faith has gone, does not lose the Sacrament of faith which he received in ‘the laver of regeneration.'” (P.L., xliv, 420.)

“No one is permitted to know a woman other than his wife. The marital right is given you for this reason: lest you fall into the snare and sin with a strange woman. ‘If you are bound to a wife do not seek a divorce'; for you are not permitted, while your wife lives, to marry another.” (St. Ambrose–A.D.387)”Do not tell me about the violence of the ravisher, about the persuasiveness of a mother, about the authority of a father, about the influence of relatives, about the intrigues and insolence of servants, or about household financial losses. So long as a husband lives, be he adulterer, be he sodomite, be he addicted to every kind of vice, if she left him on account of his crimes he is still her husband still and she may not take another.” (St. Jerome–A.D. 396)

“The practice is observed by all of regarding as an adulteress a woman who marries a second time while her husband yet lives, and permission to do penance is not granted her until one of them is dead.” (Pope Innocent I.– A.D. 408)

“Just as a woman is an adulteress, even though she seem to be married to a man, while a former husband yet lives, so also the man who seems to marry her who has been divorced does not marry her, but, according to the declaration of our Saviour, he commits adultery with her.” (Matthew 14:24–Origen A.D. 248)

“That Scripture counsels marriage, however, and never allows any release from the union, is expressly contained in the law: ‘You shall not divorce a wife, except for reason of immorality.’ And it regards as adultery the marriage of a spouse, while the one from whom a separation was made is still alive. ‘Whoever takes a divorced woman as wife commits adultery,’ it says; for ‘if anyone divorce his wife, he debauches her'; that is, he compels her to commit adultery. And not only does he that divorces her become the cause of this, but also he that takes the woman and gives her the opportunity of sinning; for if he did not take her, she would return to her husband.” (Clement of Alexandria–A.D. 208)


Trent, Sess. xxiv, De Sacramento Matrimonii:

“Can. v.     If any one shall say that the bond of matrimony can be dissolved for the cause of heresy, or of injury due to cohabitation, or of willful desertion; let him be anathema.”

“Can. vii.     If any one shall say that the Church errors when she has taught, and now teaches, that according to the doctrine of the Gospels and of the Apostles the bond of Matrimony cannot be dissolved owing to the adultery of one of the partners, and that neither party, not even the innocent party who has not by committing adultery given any ground (for separation), is free to contract another marriage during the lifetime of the other partner, and that he who after putting away his adulterous wife marries another, commits adultery, or the wife who after putting away an adulterous husband marries another, let him be anathema.”

Pius IX, The Syllabus, Condemns the following assertion:

“The marriage bond is not indissoluble by the law of nature, and in various cases divorce strictly so-called can be sanctioned by the civil authorities.”–Condemned

(Acta Pii IX, I, iii, 703)

Explanation of Canon 1069 of the 1917 Code of Cannon Law:

Persons who attempt marriage while bound by the impediment of the bond of previous marriage are declared to be infamous by the Code; after due warning they are to be punished by the ordinary with excommunication or personal interdict.(30) By a decree of the III Plenary Council of Baltimore,(31) automatic excommunication is visited upon those who dare to attempt marriage after a civil divorce. One guilty of this offense is also suspected of heresy as if denying the dogma defined by the Council of Trent regarding the unity of marriage.(32) If he actually thought he was free to enter the second marriage and contumaciously affirmed this, he would be a heretic and subject to the penalties visited upon heretics in canon 2314. Such a criminal is also irregular.(33) Unless his action is occult, he is also a public sinner, to be denied admission to the sacraments(34) and to associations of the laity,(35) as well as Christian burial.(36) Outside the case of urgent necessity the delinquent cannot be given absolution merely on the promise to put away the person with whom he is living in adultery; actual reform and cessation of concubinage is required.

30. Cf. can. 2356.
31. Acta, no. 124. Cf. II Plen. Council of Baltimore, Ada, nos. 326-27.
32. Gasparri, op. cit., no. 559; ct. Conc. Trident., sess. XXIV, de matrimonio, can. 2;
Schroeder, Council of Trent, p. 181.
33. Cf, commentary on can. 985, 3.
34. Cf. commentary on can. 855.
35. Ct. commentary on can. 693, 1.
36. Ct. commentary on can. 1240, 1, 6.

Prayer in an Unhappy Marriage

O God, Lord and Director of my life, You have placed me in the state of marriage. In it I hoped for joy and happiness, but alas! I experience only tribulation upon tribulation. But this is Your will. O Heavenly Father, may Your will be done! You place before my eyes Your only, Your well-beloved Son, Whose whole life here below was the hard way of the cross. You call upon me to follow Him. I will do, 0 Lord, what You demand of me. I thank You from my heart for Your love in treating me as You treated Your well-beloved Son, eternal with Yourself, and equal to You in essence. But behold my weakness! Have pity on my cowardice! I know that, without Your special grace, I shall be unable to bear my cross as I should. Give me what You demand of me, and then ask what You will. Give me Your most amiable Son, as You gave Him to the most Blessed Virgin Mary, that He may be always with me, to counsel and assist me, to preserve and daily confirm me in Your love. Place me in the open wound of His Heart. Fill me with His meekness and humility.

Grant me a share in His fortitude, and I shall be able to endure all things. Lord, send me sufferings, trials, and tribulations as numerous and as heavy as seems good to You; but, at the same time, increase my patience and resignation. Teach me, after the example of my sweet Savior, to repay evil with good, angry words with silence or gentle replies; to merit Your favor by a strict fulfillment of duty, and, by ready obedience and constant, faithful love, gain my husband’s (wife’s) heart for You. Preserve us, Almighty God, from the deceits of the evil spirits and from the malicious, or perhaps well-meant, though foolish language and counsels of silly people. Grant us peace and harmony, true affection and forbearance, devout sentiments and holy fear, that we may cheerfully labor, pray, and suffer with and for each other. May we tread together the way of Your holy Commandments and together reap the reward of our good works for an endless eternity! Grant us this, Heavenly Father, for the love of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, as also of all the saints who, in the married state, sanctified themselves and attained eternal life. Amen.


Other related links to the Sacrament of Matrimony from catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com

CatholicScout Ponders: Traditional Mass attendance plateaued – really? and why?

There has been much talk of the second springtime for the Church since the Second Vatican Council. Much talk, but little to no concrete evidence. I have heard people talk of the vibrancy of the Church in Africa, the Far East and in Central and South America. But here in the UK things are grim, to say the least.

joke about people leaving after "opening up the Church"

Mass attendance in the Novus Ordo is declining sharply (along with vocations, marriages, baptisms etcetera). But what about the Traditional Mass? Surely the stalwart Traditionalists are increasing, and people are being attracted to the depth and spiritual richness of the Traditional Rite?

Well, in the United Kingdom, the answer is “not really”. Sure, since the promulgation of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum by Pope Benedict XVI, there are a lot more Masses in England and Wales. Mass attendance at the Traditional Rite, rose slightly after the promulgation of the Motu Proprio, but it is common knowledge that it has now largely plateaued.

One thing for sure is that the Traditional families attached to the Traditional Rite, are far more observant of Holy Mother Church’s teachings, such as those regarding fecundity. So there is a phenomenal fecundity in the Traditional communities, in comparison to Novus Ordo communities.

And there is a trickle of people being attracted from the Novus Ordo to the Traditional Rite, which, for sure, is the working of the Holy Ghost. But it is also fair to say, that logically, there isn’t the “boom” of attendance and appreciation that many Traditionalists expected.

In the UK, I think we are blessed with the Latin Mass Society (LMS) which organises many public events with the Traditional Rite, but from what I can see is that a lot of them are very poorly attended. Why? Where are all the Trads? What can be done to change this?

One thing which struck me, was how often I have come across people saying “with Summorum Pontificum, the LMS should not need to exist”. For sure, after Summorum Pontificum the LMS had to rethink it’s existence, and I think (correct me if I am wrong) they changed their constitution to reflect that. But I think that public organisations like Federatio Internationalis Una Voce, or the Latin Mass Society, do have an important role to play.

So why do I think that Traditional Rite Mass attendance has plateaued in the UK?

  1. Recusant mentality
  2. Elitism
  3. Over focus on the Mass

Recusant Mentality

Recusant mentality is two things: It is an instinctual response to a perceived threat, and it is a historical pattern in British Catholicism.

So firstly, instincts. What is the threat? We live in an age of unprecedented information. We find out what the Pope has said, quicker than the Vatican dicasteries themselves.

We get information (news) almost instantaneously, the problem is that the information comes directly to us, leaving us with the temptation to interpret those ourselves. Or worse, listening/reading other people’s private interpretations of events.

Of course, because we Baptised Catholics suffer from concupiscence, the tendency in our private interpretations is towards to pessimistic. There is all kinds of catastrophic interpretations of current events within and outside the Catholic Church.

The threat is our negative, or catastrophic, interpretation of the information fed to us by media. This perceived threat triggers our instinctual response. Fight or flight. For us British, we hunker down (flight) and fight off all comers (fight).

Let me be the first to say however, that I am not saying that we should walk around whistling in the dark, pretending everything is okay. Things are definitely not okay. For this reason I keep reminding my readers:

poster saying "keep calm and be holy"

What I am pointing out, however is that there seems to me to be a mass instinctual response to the signs of the time. Instinctual responses are not rational responses.

More on Elitism in the next post!

Synod on the Family 2014 – Déjà vu?

Hans Memling's Painting of St John's Apocalypse

I have been living by some sage advice given to me: “Stop worrying about what is happening in Rome, and get on with being holy in your day-to-day life”.

Being holy in my day-to-day life is about trying my best to live by the Commandment that Christ left us recorded in the Gospels (John 13:34). I fail regularly. Thanks be to God for Confession!

That being said, I commented on a post by Dr Shaw, and would like to share it here. I think that this is important.

Dear Dr Shaw,

Thank you for your thoughts on the matter of the Synod, the attempts to undermine the perennial teaching of Christ and the likelihood of further attempts in the future.

I would like to highlight a little statement that you wrote which I think is very important – “But it is possible that, with the approval of the Supreme Legislator, Canon Law could cease to say what it says today about the reception of Communion, which gives the teaching on indissolubility some practical implications. It could cease to implement Divine Law in this respect.”

You then go on to hypothesise how that could manifest, but I would like to add one for your consideration. The introduction of a “theory of a just communion for divorced and remarried couples“. This method already exists in both canon law and the catechism, to get around perhaps the most difficult subject that Christ taught authoritatively – violence.

The future synod could produce a theory. In doing so, the Theory, while being just a Theory, would in effect override the original perennial and immutable teaching of Christ.

And I agree, doing this has horrendous effects on the Church and her efficacy in the world.

Respectfully,
CatholicScout

 

Joseph Shaw
Can you give an example of how this method has been used in the past?

 

catholicscout
Dear Dr Shaw,
Thank you for asking.
I am aware of only one example of the introduction of a theory as a means to mitigate the teaching of the Divine Lawgiver.
The theories found in Cicero’s work De Officiis were imported by Saint Ambrose in his work De Officiis Ministorum, to mitigate the teaching of Christ (in particular His teaching during the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5, Lk 6), the questioning of the Pharisees regarding the greatest Commandment (Mt 22, Mk 12, Lk 10), and most importantly the New Commandment given to the Disciples at the Last Supper (Jn 13)).
The theory put forward in De Officiis Ministorum, was developed further under Saint Augustine in his work De Civitate Dei. The theory continued to grow and develop. Saint Thomas Aquinas writes about it in the Summa Theologica (Secunda Secundae Partis, Q.40).
That theory now finds it’s place in all the Catechisms (usually referencing De Officiis Ministorum). For example, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 2307-2317).
It is unique because it is the only theory (that I am aware of), that appears alongside dogmatic declarations.

I find it interesting that these two issues are found within the same chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. The issue of violence and enmity is dealt with by the Divine Redeemer as born testimony in the Gospel of Matthew (Mt 5:21). The issue of the Indissolubility of Marriage is dealt with almost immediately after (Mt 5:31).

There are quite a few interesting coincidences between the introduction of Just War Theory, and the latest attempt to undermine the Indissolubility of Marriage.
In the first case of the introduction of a Theory to undermine Divine Teaching;
There was an outside pressure (Roman Society), and a corresponding interior “lobby” (of which we only have Saints Ambrose and Augustine recorded).
The “loophole” was introduced covertly, not by a Papal exhortation, but rather by an Archbishop (ref: De Officiis Ministorum.

I hope that helps.

Respectfully
CatholicScout

This isn’t a Vatican II repeat, although there are elements of the tactics used. Anyone who knows their history will know that the Second Vatican Council was undermined by a predetermined effort from a minority group. I’m not going to analyse all of the tactics used. But the Synod on the Family is strikingly similar to the events of the Second Vatican Council and the introduction of De Officiis Ministorum into the corpus of Catholic teaching.

We need to be aware, that we can’t claim that this hasn’t happened before.

Christ’s teaching regarding violence and enmity has been buried. By a theory from an Archbishop.

Christ’s teaching regarding the Indissolubility of Marriage is being threatened with being buried, by very similar means.

Mass. Prayer. Rosary.

Guest Article – FrECM on “Who is the aggressor?”

by Fr Emmanuel Charles McCarthy

Friends,

Here is a letter to the editor by a friend,  Ben Jimenez, S.J., to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, October 3. Plus a brief commentary by me.

-ECM

Marine should quit the fight

 

I express my sympathy for brother alumnus Kevin Midgley and his parents. Despite our best efforts at St. Ignatius High School to teach Gospel values, some insist on picking up the gun and delivering ”a high volume of firepower” (”Former St. Ignatius football player on duty as a Marine in Afghanistan,” Sept. 11, Cleveland Plain Dealer). Instead of imitating the gentle and meek Lamb of God, our brother has joined the wolf pack.

 

Pope Francis recently said, ”Where there’s an unjust aggression, I can only say that it is licit to stop the unjust aggressor. I underscore the verb ‘stop.’ I’m not saying ‘bomb’ or ‘make war,’ just stop.”

 

Brother Kevin, and all brothers and sisters in the military, remember you are under no obligation whatsoever to obey an order contrary to the laws of God. I urge you to put your weapons down and use your considerable talents to promote life rather than destroy it.

 

Ben Jimenez, S.J.

Ben,

Excellent letter!

Of course we always have to first make an accurate determination with the highest degree of moral certainty regarding who exactly is the aggressor*. For example, if the U.S., in a divide and conquer middle east strategy aimed at procuring de facto sovereignty over the land, water, oil and people of that region, were supplying ISIS with the money and weapons to kill and maim  (https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#search/Global+Research+on+ISIS/148931411f5a412f) who would be the aggressor?** Does one have to consider the level of order and stability this region knew before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 in order to determine who the aggressor is? Does one send the child abuser to rectify a situation of child abuse which he is responsible for and which he is perpetuating? Who is the aggressor is?*** I would submit it is all but impossible to honestly and truthfully determine, even with a low degree of moral probability, who is the aggressor in the activities in which nation-state are involved, that are pathologically deceitful and have such organizations as the CIA, NSA, the Moussad, MI6, etc. clandestinely interfering in the life of any nation they want to use or conquer for their purposes. I think this would be an important question to ask your fellow Jesuit, Pope Francis: “How can one determine with the necessary moral certainty required where homicide is involved, who is the aggressor before deciding who is to be “stopped?”.

Think of the poor misguided, or U.S. Government stooge, Catholic Archbishop of Atlanta, Georgia, who led his Catholic flock into war, death and murder in 2003 by telling them that they do no have to wait to invade Iraq and to kill, and maim the people of Iraq, until Catholics in his diocese wake up some morning and see a mushroom cloud in their backyard! In a society with a long history of the government, the military and the mass media chronically lying whenever it serves their interests to do so, in order to deceive the public by saturation propaganda, it is either stupidity, gross negligence or chosen complicity with evil to even suggest that in matters of homicide the government, the military and the mass media be given even the slightest presumption of truth, regarding who is at fault or who is the aggressor in homicidal activity. Of course, this issue is mute if a Christian is following the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels and His Way of Nonviolent of Love of friends and enemies, who is the only Jesus there is to follow. But, “Who is the aggressor?” is an axial moral issue where any application of Christian Just War Theory is the moral validation for a Christian participating in a war. Personally, I am still waiting to hear how it is possible, if—as is universally known—truth is the first casualty of war, the presumption of truth can be given to any king, queen, dictator, president, prime minister. parliment or government once war is on the horizon. They all lie with abandon, saying whatever is necessary to get innocent young Christians, whose brains are not even fully developed yet, like Kevin Midgley, to kill, to die and to be maimed for them. If you are not killing the aggressor in a war, you are engaged in in unjust war and hence the unjustified killing of human beings. he proper name in Catholic moral theology for the evil of the intentional unjustified killing of another human being in war or in the womb is the same: murder. I can only assume that the Jesuits at St. Ignatius High School thoroughly apprise their students of the level of evil they are entering into if they participate in an unjustified war by Catholic Just War Standards. If they have not, then they themselves are engaged in grave evil.

Keep up your good work for the Good News, Ben.

Charlie

http://www.globalresearch.ca/isis-leader-abu-bakr-al-baghdadi-trained-by-israeli-mossad-nsa-documents-reveal/5391593

**http://www.globalresearch.ca/bidens-admission-us-allies-armed-isis/5406539

***http://www.globalresearch.ca/isis-made-in-usa-iraq-geopolitical-arsonists-seek-to-burn-region/5387475

The root cause of Just War Theory – why is this important?

Then Jesus came with them into a country place which is called Gethsemani; and he said to his disciples: Sit you here, till I go yonder and pray. And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to grow sorrowful and to be sad. Then he saith to them: My soul is sorrowful even unto death: stay you here, and watch with me. And going a little further, he fell upon his face, praying, and saying: My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me. Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. And he cometh to his disciples, and findeth them asleep, and he saith to Peter: What? Could you not watch one hour with me?

Watch ye, and pray that ye enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh weak. Again the second time, he went and prayed, saying: My Father, if this chalice may not pass away, but I must drink it, thy will be done.

- Matthew 26:36-42

Why is the way we understand Christ’s Agony in the Garden important?

Because it’s about Salvation. What was the thing that Saves? Is it Christ’s death on the Cross? Is it Christ’s decision to accept the Will of the Father, that Christ should suffer and die for the Salvation of All?

What I am saying is that the Saving Grace, the thing that Saves, is the free choice (free use of the will) to be obedient to the New Testament. Christ Saves by being obedient to the New Coventant.

That you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

John 13:34

Everything within Catholic Salvation History, Tradition, Canon Law, Theology and on, falls into place, and only into place with this understanding.

I am Saved by, until the day I die, cooperating with God’s Grace, in freely choosing with my will to be obedient to the New Testament.

The Gates of Heaven, were thrown open, and Salvation was offered to all, when Christ showed us the Way. He freely chose to be obedient to the New Testament. He did not resist evil, he did not retaliate, he repaid good for the evil done “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”. And He went to His death showing us The Way.

If I choose not to be obedient to the New Testament, my salvation is in peril. If I die, unreconcilled with God and His One Holy Catholic Apostolic (Roman Catholic) Church, then I will not see the Beatific Vision.

That is why it is important.

Just War Theory cannot exist under these circumstances.

The root cause of Just War Theory – a misinterpretation of the Agony in the Garden?

Then Jesus came with them into a country place which is called Gethsemani; and he said to his disciples: Sit you here, till I go yonder and pray. And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to grow sorrowful and to be sad. Then he saith to them: My soul is sorrowful even unto death: stay you here, and watch with me. And going a little further, he fell upon his face, praying, and saying: My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me. Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. And he cometh to his disciples, and findeth them asleep, and he saith to Peter: What? Could you not watch one hour with me?

Watch ye, and pray that ye enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh weak. Again the second time, he went and prayed, saying: My Father, if this chalice may not pass away, but I must drink it, thy will be done.

- Matthew 26:36-42

All four of the Gospels record that Christ went to the Garden of Gethsemane before his passion, only the Apostle John does not record what happened there.

Last Sunday (14th September) was the Feast of the Exultation of the Cross, and while listening to the homily at Mass, I found myself disagreeing with the preacher on nearly every point of his sermon. I won’t try to recount the entire homily here, however the basic point was that the Christ’s passion and death on the cross, was what brought salvation to humanity.

In listening to the homily and my interior disagreement, I stumbled across what I think may well be the root cause of the prevalence of the Theory of Just War in the Catholic Church.
It comes down to a simple question:

What was the “chalice” in the Garden of Gethsemane?

The (post-Constantinian) Traditional Catholic understanding is that the “chalice” presented to Christ is the Father’s requirement that His Son should suffer and die, and by the Son’s suffering and death, the Son would save the world.

Perhaps putting it in plain English like this, you my readers may already perceive a subtle problem:

Arianism.

There is an every-so-slight corruption of the Dogma of the Hypostatic Union of Christ’s humanity and divinity and the Dogma of the Most Holy Trinity – specifically the Homoousios (consubstantial with the Father).

There are several understandings of the Chalice and the Agony in the Garden presented in Traditional Catholicism.

  1. Christ is presented with a revelatory command from the Father
  2. Christ is accepting the burden of all sin.
  3. Christ contemplates the sufferings about to come.

One or any combination of these, according to some Traditional understandings cause Christ to sweat blood (the Agony in the Garden).

The first position is Arian, because it corrupts the Hypostatic Union of Christ’s divinity and humanity, and the Consubstantiality with the Father.
God the Son knows perfectly everything that the Father knows (Homoousios clause of the Nicene Creed), and the human intellect of Jesus Christ knows what the Divine Intellect of the Son knows by the Hypostatic Union between Christ’s divinity and His humanity.
It is impossible for the Son to receive a “revelation”.

The second position Theologically is transferable. It can support an Arian point of view that says the Father commands the Son to take on the sins of the world – which equally means the Father commands the Son to suffer (because Scripture says the Son does indeed suffer). The cause of Christ’s Agony in the Garden as being the acceptance of all Sins is logically more complicated than my conclusion below (Occham’s Razor).

The third position frustrates the Dogma of Hypostatic Union and Homoousios. Like the first position, there is a concept that new information is being presented. But to admit that is Arianism, a denial of the Hypostatic Union and the Homoousios of the Father and the Son. Christ has always known the information.

Please note: I said that it is an “Arian point of view that says [...] the Father commands the Son to suffer”.

Why is it Arian to hold that the Father commanded the Son to suffer?

Homoousios means that the Father cannot withhold anything from the Son. The same works the other way around, the Son cannot withhold anything from the Father. What the Son teaches and holds as absolutely true, the Father teaches and holds as absolutely true. There can be no divergence.

The Incarnate Son condemned violence and enmity, so the Father condemns violence and enmity – absolutely and for all time (past, present and future). The Incarnate Son provided a New Covenant, a New Commandment; “Love one another as I have loved you”, which means that the Father Commands this too.

To hold otherwise would deny the Homoousios or the Hypostatic Union – Arianism. Either God the Son and God the Father say different things (no Homoousios), or there is a miscommunication between the Divine Person, God the Son and human intellect and will of Jesus Christ (no Hypostatic Union).

For example run this past your logic: “Son, I command You to suffer and die on the cross, for the fulfilment of scripture and the salvation of the human race”. Does that fit with “Son, I love You as You love Me”?

If it were respecting of the Homoousios (or consubstantiality) then the command must be mutually applicable. The Son must be able to say the same to the Father – “Father, I love you, so you must suffer and die”. Such a concept is absolutely abominable.

So if Christ already knows what is going to happen, and has not been commanded by the Father to suffer and die, what is left for the Incarnate Son, who at the time, is bound by the temporal?

Christ knows. Christ is also perfectly in control of Himself. What is the one thing that remains, one thing that can only be done in the moment?

Quite simple – the use of his human free will.

Christ, knowing all things, that he was about to be betrayed, to be violently abused, tortured and killed, had a choice whether or not to be obedient to the Commandment that He (and thus entire the Holy Trinity) gave to His Disciples in the Upper Room minutes ago. To return good for evil. Not to respond to violence with violence. To love those that did evil to Him.

And what was the ultimate Good that He could do, in the ultimate evil that was about to happen (Deicide)? To offer His suffering as expiation for sins.

The Chalice was not the sins themselves, it was the free assent to obey to His own law; Non-violence. Knowing, absolutely, what was to happen, Christ had the choice to run away, He had the choice to resist, even resist violently. It was the weight of the choice whether, or not, to be obedient to His own teaching (and therefore all the consequences), which was enormous enough to make Him sweat blood.

But He did, what He taught His disciples, and His Church to do. He freely chose to obey His own Command. He did not resist evil, He did not give way to violence, He repaid evil with Good. He did what He Commands us to do.

Christ saved us, by being obedient unto death, even death on the cross. Obedient to His own Command of non-violent love of those that do evil to Him.

The Cross, His Passion and death, are not what saved humanity. What saved humanity was His decision to abide by His own Law, and as a consequence of that obedience he was tortured and murdered. The Cross, the instruments of His Passion, are consequences, which if taken by themselves loose all importance. The key was free assent to His own Law.

He was obedient, and by being obedient, He did the greatest Good in return for the greatest evil, He offered His death in reparation.

The Exultation of the Cross, isn’t the exultation of His suffering and death exclusively. It is the proof that Christ was willing to show us, even to the most horrible torture and death, that obedience to His own Commandment is the Way. He loved those that tortured and murdered Him, to the extent of offering His suffering in expiation of all sin, for all time. The glory of the Cross, is the Exultation, manifestation, of Gospel Non-Violence.

The root of the Theory of Just War, I believe, is the Arian heresy. A denial of the Homoousios “oneness”.

CatholicScout Responds: Chesterton: Is War Irrational — or is Pacifism Feverish?

On the international traditional Catholic newsblog, Rorate Caeli, there was a post titled “Chesterton: Is War Irrational — or is Pacifism Feverish?“.

One of my readers has asked for my comments on the post.

Firstly, let me just clear the ground, Rorate Caeli is an outstanding blog, and I highly recommend it for keeping the pulse on Catholic News. However, I must swiftly point out that the contributors to Rorate Caeli are human and fallible. In this particular case, both the contributor and the original author are very wrong.

In the first case, the contributor (NewCatholic) is attempting to use G K Chesterton’s rant against 1915 pacifists, essentially as a Call to Arms for modern-21st Century Catholics to support homicidal violence in the Middle East (and elsewhere no doubt). The contributor here visibly demonstrates what I have mentioned in previous posts – the strong tendency that exists among Traditional Catholics towards “justifiable homicide”. In Traditional Catholic circles the theory of a “Just War” after almost 15 centuries of inculcation, has for them become dogma. Those that suggest otherwise are anathema.

Traditionalists will point out that Just War theory was supported by Saints Ambrose (d.397), Augustine (d.430), St Thomas Aquinas (d.1274) and so on. There are even Traditionalists with whom the appeal to Scripture and the Divine Lawgiver would be lost on. There are even some Traditionalists that believe that Our Lord Jesus Christ would kill humans in war (if it were just). There is one thing common to these and all other Christians who hold similar ideas:

Their perception of reality is incongruous to historical fact. They are deluded.
The fact that Saints were deluded too, shouldn’t be too much of a shock either, since Canonisation is simply saying that the Saint is in heaven, not his/her works.

The contributor is doubly wrong in using this quote from G K Chesterton for advocating “Just War” on a Catholic blog, because they quote G K Chesterton writing an article on “May 29, 1915“. G K Chesterton became a Catholic in 1922. At the time of writing this article G K Chesterton was a heretic…

The contributor is triply wrong in using a quote from the Anglican G K Chesterton, because Pope St Pius X, who died from grief at the outset of World War One, both warned the world and condemned the onset of war. Pope St Pius X, the person the contributor should have quoted, said before the onset of World War One:

Truly we are passing through disastrous times, when we may well make our own the lamentation of the Prophet: “There is no truth, and there is no mercy, and there is no knowledge of God in the land” (Hosea 4:1). Yet in the midst of this tide of evil, the Virgin Most Merciful rises before our eyes like a rainbow, as the arbiter of peace between God and man.

In the second case, G K Chesterton, a man of great renown and later on in life of great holiness, he is a fallible human being, just like you or I. In the case of this particular rant, he is most certainly wrong on several counts. Let us assume for a moment that the Anglican G K Chesterton had written this article about me. I respond as follows:


Dear esteemed sir,

In response to your article in The Illustrated London News, May 29, 1915.

Your argument that Pacifism is morally wrong, is correct, if by Pacifism you mean doing nothing in the face of evil. Firstly, I am not a “Pacifist”. I am a Christian who believes that Christ Commanded us not to commit homicide. However, Christ did not Command us to do nothing in the face of evil. Christ showed us a way to confront the power of evil, with the power of Good. He showed us the Way to return good for evil done, and to be “obedient [to His Commands] unto death, even to the death of the cross” (cf. Phil 2:8).

Christ’s Way of returning Good for evil, is the only morally pure and right course of action. War, homicide, violence are condemned by the Messiah.

If now we talk about Gospel Non-Violence (having put away the notion of Pacifism), I can assure you sir, that I believe that Christ Commanded His followers (and His Church to teach all future generations) to “love one another, as [He] has loved [us]” (cf. Jn 13:34). I believe that His New Commandment is absolutely binding to all who claim to be His disciples, just as the Commandments of Old were (and still are) to the Jews. I believe that there are no exceptions, no clauses, no excuses, and I believe that the Church and her Saints were, and are, wrong in suggesting otherwise. I emphasise “suggesting“, because let me remind you, the Church has never infallibly proclaimed the Theory of a Just War to be Dogma.

There is no moderation in my position, because there is no moderation in Christ’s position (as born witness by Sacred Scripture and the first three centuries of Christianity). Just because there are few of us that hold such a fundamentalist position, does not undermine the fact that it is supported by the Fathers of the Church, the Apostles and God His-Incarnate-Self.

Since our salvation rests on the Saviour of Mankind, and since He showed us the Way to Eternal Life, please, esteemed sir, point out to me where Christ said that there is such a thing as “wars that are right and wars that are wrong”. Christ didn’t pronounce judgements and commandments about many things (such as those things that were already absolutely anathema at the time – like contraception, abortion, sodomy etc.), but he did pronounce judgements on killing, violence and harming others (things which were at the time considered justifiable). War is simply an extension of the killing, doing violence or harming of a single human being.

Since Christ did condemn the killing, doing violence or harming of a single human being, how do you sir, justify that doing it to hundreds, thousands, tens or hundred of thousands, or millions, can be right?

The Way of Christ is one of obedience. Obedience to His Law. Not to man’s. It is not easy, but the reward is Eternity.

Yours Sincerely,
CatholicScout.


Lastly – please pray for us dear Gilbert Chesterton, that we don’t use your words to send our brothers, sisters, sons and daughters off to war, to kill other peoples’ brothers, sisters, sons and daughters.