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Amoris Laetitia: License to Sin & Profane?  (Special Feature)

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Special Feature:

Amoris Laetitia: License to Sin & Profane?

WARNING: This article treats of adult topics and may contain adult language.

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Please Note: After spending more than a week on this papal document, we regret that must limit the amount of additional time spent on this matter. Unfortunately, it is necessary for us to cut a few corners on this lengthy article and not fully subject it to our usual checks. If we have made any punctuation / spelling / capitalization / grammatical or other errors, please accept our apologies. If the error(s) are important, even though we cannot promise to make any given correction(s), you may want to let us know (click here). Thank you for your patience & understanding.


The following are some initial thoughts on the 'Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia' (On Love In The Family) for whatever they may be worth. Note that the actual document itself is very long (the English language .pdf version obtained from the Vatican website is 264 pages long and contains close to 60,000 words). It would seem almost impossible to adequately address all elements of this revolutionary document here, so the following is limited to some first reflections. Although the document does contain some very nice parts (there is 'lots of good stuff' - honest), the VERY REAL danger is elsewhere.

By the way, let me first note that I have read a lot of criticism of the document (and its author) online. One article that treated of the radical papal document referred to the Pope as the 'Vicar of Satan'. Another alleged that the Pope's document was a blow to all four marks of the Church. It is very difficult to argue with this later statement. As for the former statement, I will not consider it here in order to try to remain charitable. (Believe me, that is hard to do in light of what the document contains!)

Without further delay, the following are my 'first thoughts' on the document (and, yes, at this point I prefer to call it 'document' instead of 'Apostolic Exhortation' for reasons that may become obvious as you ponder the following)... [Notes: The thoughts below generally follow the order of the document, NOT the order of importance. Also, only certain elements of the original document are addressed below. Please also note that some elements below (e.g. punctuation, paragraphing, spacing, references, etc.), may differ from the original.]

Document Text

Some Thoughts...

As the Synod Fathers noted, for all the many signs of crisis in the institution of marriage, "the desire to marry and form a family remains vibrant, especially among young people, and this is an inspiration to the Church".

* If this supposed 'vibrancy' is true, why have the marriage rates declined so much? Why are so many young people choosing to live in sin (cohabitate) rather than getting married? Note that the document itself later states that...

"Indeed, in many countries where the number of marriages is decreasing, more and more people are choosing to live alone or simply to spend time together..."

* With reference to a 'crisis', it is NOT in the institution (sacrament) of marriage itself, of course, that is experiencing a 'crisis', but rather in the living out of marriages among much of the population that has experienced a 'crisis'. Let's not blame the sacrament here, but rather let's consider the failure of people to live up to their responsibilities with regard to marriage (not to mention the failure of many prelates to provide clear instruction with regard to marriage).

Since "time is greater than space", I would make it clear that not all discussions of doctrinal, moral or pastoral issues need to be settled by interventions of the magisterium. Unity of teaching and practice is certainly necessary in the Church, but this does not preclude various ways of interpreting some aspects of that teaching or drawing certain consequences from it. This will always be the case as the Spirit guides us towards the entire truth (cf. Jn 16:13), until he leads us fully into the mystery of Christ and enables us to see all things as he does. Each country or region, moreover, can seek solutions better suited to its culture and sensitive to its traditions and local needs. For "cultures are in fact quite diverse and every general principle... needs to be inculturated, if it is to be respected and applied".

* "Time is greater than space" is supposed to mean what exactly in regards to this statement about settling issues?

* Actually, the magisterium SHOULD settle 'all doctrinal issues'. If an actual doctrinal issue arises, who else should provide the solution? Why else do we have a magisterium ('the official and authoritative teaching of the Roman Catholic Church') if not to teach & resolve doctrinal issues? Do we really want someone without authority and without the promise of the Holy Spirit to 'settle doctrinal discussions' for us? Wouldn't that serve to undermine the catholicity of the Church?

* If unity of teaching and practice is "certainly necessary" in the Church, then it flows that the "various ways of interpreting some aspects of that teaching" must all be consistent in order to maintain the "certainly necessary" unity. Likewise, the ability to draw "certain consequences" from the unity of teaching and practice would also require consistency in order to maintain the "certainly necessary" unity in teaching and practice. Otherwise, there is a contradiction.

* One could easily be mislead by the biblical quote referenced in the document ["...the Spirit guides us towards the entire truth (cf. Jn 16:13)"] to the false conclusion that the Church has for 2,000 years been lacking some important truth regarding the Sacrament of marriage - or that the Church has not previously held "the entire truth" with regard to marriage - that will 'eventually' be provided to us by the Holy Spirit. Remember that the following proposition was CONDEMNED by Pope Pius X in "Lamentabili": "Revelation, constituting the object of Catholic faith, was not completed with the apostles." That's not to say there will be no development, but that dogmas will always be maintained 'the same sense, and the same understanding'...

"For the doctrine of the faith which God has revealed is put forward not as some philosophical discovery capable of being perfected by human intelligence, but as a divine deposit committed to the spouse of Christ to be faithfully protected and infallibly promulgated. Hence, too, that meaning of the sacred dogmas is ever to be maintained which has once been declared by Holy Mother Church, and there must never be any abandonment of this sense under the pretext or in the name of a more profound understanding. May understanding, knowledge and wisdom increase as ages and centuries roll along, and greatly and vigorously flourish, in each and all, in the individual and the whole church: but this only in its own proper kind, that is to say, in the same doctrine, the same sense, and the same understanding." (First Vatican Council)

And, as the First Vatican Council also states...

"The Holy Spirit was not promised to the successor of Peter that by the revelation of the Holy Spirit they might disclose new doctrine, but that by His help they might guard sacredly the revelation transmitted through the Apostles and the deposit of faith, and might faithfully set it forth." (First Vatican Council) 

* With regard to inculturation, there can be some legitimate differences in the Church on certain matters (e.g. certain practices), but not, of course, with reference to doctrine itself. Without proper, clear guidelines/limitations, promoting differences in the Church due to 'inculturation' can be dangerous. Further, EVERY "general principle" does NOT need to be inculturated "to be respected and applied". This seems to be quite an exaggeration.

...I thought it appropriate to prepare a post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation to gather the contributions of the two recent Synods on the family, while adding other considerations as an aid to reflection, dialogue and pastoral practice, and as a help and encouragement to families in their daily commitments and challenges.

In the long run, might this not be the best part of the entire document? Since the document itself is labeled as "an aid to reflection, dialogue and pastoral practice, and as a help and encouragement", individuals or the media should NOT get the false idea that the document is intended to be anything else or to carry any more weight. (At least one can hope!)

Let us once more take up the song of the Psalmist. In the home where husband and wife are seated at table, children appear at their side "like olive shoots" (Ps. 128:3), that is, full of energy and vitality.

...not to mention abundance. In the document, the Pope later speaks nicely concerning "the gift of children" and children being "a reward". He later quotes scripture:

"Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons of one's youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate" (Ps. 127:1, 3-5)

...yet he seems to put a damper on things by immediately stating that "These images reflect the culture of an ancient society". It is hard here to forget the Pope's previous (offensive!) comments about faithful Catholics not 'breeding like rabbits'. By referencing "the culture of an ancient society" immediately after presenting the beautiful family images with the 'full quiver' of children, he again seems to get back to this.

Love also bears fruit in mercy and forgiveness. We see this in a particular way in the scene of the woman caught in adultery; in front of the Temple, the woman is surrounded by her accusers, but later, alone with Jesus, she meets not condemnation but the admonition to lead a more worthy life (cf. Jn.8:1-11).

An admonition to 'lead a more worthy life'? My bible quotes Jesus telling her to "sin no more".

He just can't say 'sin' though can he? Even when Jesus does! This practice is common throughout the document. It seems the Pope finds it almost impossible to use the term 'sin'.

Several decades ago, the Spanish bishops noted that families have come to enjoy greater freedom "through an equitable distribution of duties, responsibilities and tasks"; indeed, "a greater emphasis on personal communication between the spouses helps to make family life more humane", while "neither today's society nor that to which we are progressing allow an uncritical survival of older forms and models".

In typical modernist fashion, all of human history is swept aside. God forbid we allow an "uncritical survival of older forms and models"! Even though those "older forms and models" were marked by strong marriages, intact families, large number of offspring, etc. No, we must reject the old ways because the new ways are so much better with their fornication, adultery, contraception and abortion! NO! The practices that served societies and souls well for thousands of years can't just be written off because they are 'old'. Maybe some specific tweaks could be called for, if necessary, but it is wrong to simply state that "today's society nor that to which we are progressing [do not] allow an uncritical survival of older forms and models". Especially when what we really need more of today is an increased number of people following those older forms!

Ultimately, it is easy nowadays to confuse genuine freedom with the idea that each individual can act arbitrarily, as if there were no truths, values and principles to provide guidance, and everything were possible and permissible.

And yet the document fosters precisely this!

The ideal of marriage, marked by a commitment to exclusivity and stability, is swept aside whenever it proves inconvenient or tiresome.

How does the Pope help the problem when he refers to necessary - ESSENTIAL - components of marriage as "the ideal"? In the document, he - regrettably - often speaks of required elements as 'ideals' instead of 'basic standards' or 'requirements'. This way of speaking can be very confusing/misleading.

The fear of loneliness and the desire for stability and fidelity exist side by side with a growing fear of entrapment in a relationship that could hamper the achievement of one's personal goals.

Imagine that(!): Marriage as "entrapment in a relationship that could hamper the achievement of one's personal goals."

It is true that there is no sense in simply decrying present-day evils, as if this could change things. Nor it is helpful to try to impose rules by sheer authority. What we need is a more responsible and generous effort to present the reasons and motivations for choosing marriage and the family, and in this way to help men and women better to respond to the grace that God offers them.

I beg to disagree on several points...

1. The Pope decrying present day evils actually could change things (there is little chance people will change if they aren't told that present-day evils are, in fact, evil)

2. It is VERY helpful - and necessary - to impose rules by sheer authority. The Church would do well to remember this 'forgotten truth'

3. Well and good about presenting "reasons and motivations for choosing marriage", but the obligations of marriage should also be presented. Is it not neglect of the latter that's causing today's 'crisis'? People don't need to be sold on marriage as much as they need to be instructed concerning marriage

We also need to be humble and realistic, acknowledging that at times the way we present our Christian beliefs and treat other people has helped contribute to today's problematic situation. We need a healthy dose of self-criticism. Then too, we often present marriage in such a way that its unitive meaning, its call to grow in love and its ideal of mutual assistance are overshadowed by an almost exclusive insistence on the duty of procreation. Nor have we always provided solid guidance to young married couples, understanding their timetables, their way of thinking and their concrete concerns. At times we have also proposed a far too abstract and almost artificial theological ideal of marriage, far removed from the concrete situations and practical possibilities of real families. This excessive idealization, especially when we have failed to inspire trust in God's grace, has not helped to make marriage more desirable and attractive, but quite the opposite.

We have long thought that simply by stressing doctrinal, bioethical and moral issues, without encouraging openness to grace, we were providing sufficient support to families, strengthening the marriage bond and giving meaning to marital life. We find it difficult to present marriage more as a dynamic path to personal development and fulfilment than as a lifelong burden. We also find it hard to make room for the consciences of the faithful, who very often respond as best they can to the Gospel amid their limitations, and are capable of carrying out their own discernment in complex situations. We have been called to form consciences, not to replace them.

These paragraphs are loaded with issues. For example...

* "...the way we present our Christian beliefs and treat other people has helped contribute to today's problematic situation" - actually it is more likely that the FAILURE to present our Christian beliefs (e.g. truths / rules / regulations about marriage & its indissolubility) over the last 40+ years has led to today's problematic situation

* "We need a healthy dose of self-criticism" - If by 'we', you mean the Vatican II Church, then YES! If you mean the pre-Vatican II Church, then NO!

* "Then too, we often present marriage in such a way that its unitive meaning, its call to grow in love and its ideal of mutual assistance are overshadowed by an almost exclusive insistence on the duty of procreation" - when in the last 40+ years has there been an "almost exclusive insistence on the duty of procreation"? If only! Rather, there has been too little emphasis on this essential truth of marriage - namely that "The primary end of marriage is the procreation and education of children" (1917 Can. 1013 § 1)

And of course, there is the ending of the first paragraph, which is filled with issues:

"Nor have we always provided solid guidance to young married couples, understanding their timetables, their way of thinking and their concrete concerns. At times we have also proposed a far too abstract and almost artificial theological ideal of marriage, far removed from the concrete situations and practical possibilities of real families. This excessive idealization, especially when we have failed to inspire trust in God's grace, has not helped to make marriage more desirable and attractive, but quite the opposite."

...as if the Church is supposed to understand 'timetables' of young people, rather than guide them to spiritually beneficial 'timetables'. And, yes, the post-Vatican II Church has often provided very poor guidance to young people, but it wouldn't seem that the Church provided them with a "far too abstract and almost artificial(!) theological ideal(!) of marriage". It sounds as if he thinks the Church should cater to today's 'crisis filled' families rather than to teach people to live up to the (correct!) 'theological ideal' of marriage (again, living up to the basic requirements of marriage is a necessity, not an 'ideal').

As far as making marriage "more desirable and attractive", this is not the Church's job. Rather the Church's job is to teach the truth about marriage and to help persons properly live out their marriages.

The second paragraph is likewise full of issues [e.g. when in the last 40+ years have doctrinal issues been stressed? (if only!); since when is it the Church's role to present marriage "as a dynamic path to personal development and fulfilment"?; when has the Church ever presented marriage as a lifelong BURDEN? An obligation/commitment yes, but burden?], the most dangerous of which may be the part about 'making room for the consciences of the faithful, who very often respond as best they can to the Gospel amid their limitations'. Sorry, but Jesus never said we could 'very often' simply 'respond as best we can' to His rules, using our consciences to excuse us from responsibility. Rather, we are to follow His rules at all times, asking for divine assistance to fully live up to what is required, even with our very real limitations.

And, sadly, MANY (most?) people are probably NOT "capable of carrying out their own discernment in complex situations", but rather need the Church's help. I think the saints would agree that they should not rely on their own discernment in complex situations, but should rather seek the Church's help.

Nowadays we are grateful too for the witness of marriages that have not only proved lasting, but also fruitful and loving.

It's a nice sentiment, but shouldn't we generally expect this? By singling such marriages out for special gratitude, it seems like something unusual, rather than something that should be expected. As an illustration, wouldn't it be strange to express 'gratitude' to people for not robbing banks? Shouldn't this be expected? Should people be singled out for gratitude because they have done what they are supposed to do? Or rather, shouldn't it be the norm? As scripture says...

"Is [the master] grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded?" (Lk. 17:9)

This may be kind of a petty issue, but perhaps it is still something to consider in the event that impressionable persons take the Pope's comments to mean that such marriages are rare and deserving of special gratitude instead of what is to be expected of all.

Yet we have often been on the defensive, wasting pastoral energy on denouncing a decadent world without being proactive in proposing ways of finding true happiness. Many people feel that the Church's message on marriage and the family does not clearly reflect the preaching and attitudes of Jesus, who set forth a demanding ideal yet never failed to show compassion and closeness to the frailty of individuals like the Samaritan woman or the woman caught in adultery.

Really? It's "wasting pastoral energy" to "denounc[e] a decadent world"? Didn't Jesus do that quite a bit? And since when is it the Church's business to be "proactive in proposing ways of finding true happiness" if this refers to an earthly happiness? Rather isn't it the Church's job to be proactive in helping people find true happiness - i.e. a good relationship with God culminating in an eternity of happiness with Him in heaven - even though this means carrying crosses here on earth?

Sadly, it does seem true that "the [Post-Vatican II] Church's message on marriage and the family does not clearly reflect the preaching and attitudes of Jesus", but NOT for the reasons mentioned.

Jesus did not set forth a "demanding ideal" (which, by the way, wrongly implies that something about His teaching is optional and not required). Rather Jesus set forth the demanding truth. And in response to his teachings concerning marriage, his disciples even said to him: "If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry." (Mt. 19:10) After their response, Jesus did not worry about pleasing them or making them 'happy' or changing His 'demanding' teachings, but instead proposed that certain persons renounce marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven (cf. Mt. 19:3-12).

Lastly, it seems disingenuous to state that Jesus "never failed to show compassion and closeness to the frailty of individuals like the Samaritan woman or the woman caught in adultery." While Jesus certainly was compassionate, he strongly condemned certain individuals for their actions [using terms like "Satan" (to Peter!), "serpents" & "brood of vipers", even saying to some Jews: "You belong to your father the devil" (Jn. 8:44)]. Furthermore, Jesus clearly instructed persons to whom he showed mercy to sin no more. He didn't merely "show compassion and closeness to [their] frailty".

We treat affective relationships the way we treat material objects and the environment: everything is disposable; everyone uses and throws away, takes and breaks, exploits and squeezes to the last drop. Then, goodbye. Narcissism makes people incapable of looking beyond themselves, beyond their own desires and needs. Yet sooner or later, those who use others end up being used themselves, manipulated and discarded by that same mind-set. It is also worth noting that breakups often occur among older adults who seek a kind of "independence" and reject the ideal of growing old together, looking after and supporting one another.

It starts out great, but then ends with the "ideal" again. This is not the "ideal", it is what is expected to occur if both parties in a marriage live long enough. And sadly, there is no condemnation of these (tragic, sinful) breakups that he says "often" occur.

"At the risk of oversimplifying, we might say that we live in a culture which pressures young people not to start a family, because they lack possibilities for the future. Yet this same culture presents others with so many options that they too are dissuaded from starting a family". In some countries, many young persons "postpone a wedding for economic reasons, work or study. Some do so for other reasons, such as the influence of ideologies which devalue marriage and family, the desire to avoid the failures of other couples, the fear of something they consider too important and sacred, the social opportunities and economic benefits associated with simply living together, a purely emotional and romantic conception of love, the fear of losing their freedom and independence, and the rejection of something conceived as purely institutional and bureaucratic". We need to find the right language, arguments and forms of witness that can help us reach the hearts of young people, appealing to their capacity for generosity, commitment, love and even heroism, and in this way inviting them to take up the challenge of marriage with enthusiasm and courage.

He lists all these supposed reasons why people don't get married today, but neglects to mention that many people may not get married today because they are already enjoying the 'perks' of marriage (e.g. marital relations) without any of the corresponding obligations of marriage. He fails to mention how the current situation of such persons is MORTALLY sinful. He mentions "the social opportunities and economic benefits associated with simply living together", but never condemns this practice as mortally sinful. He completely fails to stress (or even mention!) that there must be no sex outside of marriage.

He also claims some young persons might postpone a wedding because they fear marriage is something "they consider too important and sacred". More sacred than the Eucharist? But they attend Mass, right? Who has ever postponed their wedding because they consider marriage 'too important and sacred'? Indeed, this is a strange claim.

Lastly, doesn't it seem dangerous to invite young people to 'take up the challenge of marriage'? A challenge is something a person may OR MAY NOT succeed at. Remember that if a couple is sacramentally married, they are GUARANTEED the graces to succeed in their marriage (assuming, of course, that they cooperate with those graces).

In this context, "couples are often uncertain, hesitant and struggling to find ways to grow. Many tend to remain in the early stages of their affective and sexual life. A crisis in a couple's relationship destabilizes the family and may lead, through separation and divorce, to serious consequences for adults, children and society as a whole, weakening its individual and social bonds". Marital problems are "often confronted in haste and without the courage to have patience and reflect, to make sacrifices and to forgive one another. Failures give rise to new relationships, new couples, new civil unions, and new marriages, creating family situations which are complex and problematic for the Christian life".

I don't really think I want to know, but what exactly does he mean 'early stages' of their 'sexual life'? Furthermore, why does he say that 'marital failures' give rise to "new civil unions, and new marriages, creating family situations which are complex and problematic for the Christian life"? Such 'failures' give rise to ADULTEROUS unions, not "new marriages". And the new 'family situations' he is referring to are not just 'complex and problematic', but typically traumatic (e.g. for the children), destructive, and sinful.

"...The development of bio-technology has also had a major impact on the birth rate". Added to this are other factors such as "industrialization, the sexual revolution, the fear of overpopulation and economic problems… Consumerism may also deter people from having children, simply so they can maintain a certain freedom and life-style". 

As is typical in this document, the Pope lists some issues, but fails to (forcefully or otherwise) condemn them. This is a glaring omission.

The upright consciences of spouses who have been generous in transmitting life may lead them, for sufficiently serious reasons, to limit the number of their children, yet precisely "for the sake of this dignity of conscience, the Church strongly rejects the forced State intervention in favour of contraception, sterilization and even abortion". Such measures are unacceptable even in places with high birth rates, yet also in countries with disturbingly low birth rates we see politicians encouraging them. As the bishops of Korea have said, this is "to act in a way that is self-contradictory and to neglect one's duty".

Again, there are a number of problems here. First, the spouses who 'have been generous in transmitting life' and who supposedly have 'sufficiently serious reasons, to limit the number of their children' are not instructed that they may NEVER use contraception, sterilization, or abortion to achieve this. Rather, the end of the sentence condemns "forced State intervention in favour of contraception, sterilization and even abortion". It fails to condemn these 'interventions' if used by the individual couple. Of course, it is presumed he must have meant this, but he does not say it. Further, he says that the Church rejects these actions "precisely 'for the sake of this dignity of conscience'" instead of rejecting them because they are SINFUL. Even the last sentence rejects these terrible actions because they are "self-contradictory and...neglect one's duty" rather than rejecting them because they are SINFUL and will send souls to hell.

Remember that...

"Even with a lawful wife, the marriage act is unlawful and shameful if the conception of offspring is prevented. That is what Onan, the son of Juda, did and on that account God put him to death." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, 5th century A.D.)

And...

"For since the bringing of children into the world is the principal end of marriage, to do anything in order to prevent the accomplishment of this end is always a mortal sin." (St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church)

The lack of dignified or affordable housing often leads to the postponement of formal relationships. It should be kept in mind that "the family has the right to decent housing, fitting for family life and commensurate to the number of the members, in a physical environment that provides the basic services for the life of the family and the community".

He claims that the family has the "right" to "decent housing, fitting for family life and commensurate to the number of the members, in a physical environment that provides the basic services for the life of the family and the community", but he never says who has the obligation to provide them with these items. If families have these inherent rights, why were these rights never known to previous generations? Why have people throughout human history known that they had a duty to provide proper shelter to their own families instead of an apparent 'right' to receive them? If it is a right, who is obligated to provide them and pay for them? It's certainly nice to have 'dignified' & 'affordable' housing and 'basic services', but it doesn't seem to be an inherent right. Rather, it is generally an obligation placed on the head of the family to provide suitable housing for those under his charge. That is probably his motivation for getting up each morning to go to work!

And, if the Pope is really concerned with "affordable housing", why does the document so promote women working outside the home? (Note: See below for example) Does he not realize that home prices are driven up so high precisely because (sadly) two people are now working for pay outside the home? Housing would become far more affordable if home sellers knew that only one person in the family (the husband) worked. Naturally the fewer funds associated with a single wage-earner society would make exorbitant home prices untenable. Housing prices would have no choice but to fall - because if they didn't, no one could afford to buy a home.

"A great number of children are born outside of wedlock, many of whom subsequently grow up with just one of their parents or in a blended or reconstituted family..."

Unfortunately this is true nowadays, but sadly he does not condemn it or even a mention the word sin. There is also no mention of fornication or hell. The traditional terms such as 'bastard' (used even by St. Paul, cf. Heb. 12:8) and 'illegitimate' ["Illegitimate is that which is against the law. Now those who are born out of wedlock are born contrary to the law. Therefore they are illegitimate." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")] are not mentioned. Although these terms may seem harsh to modern ears, they are nonetheless accurate. Further, the regular use of such 'negative' terms could provide persons an incentive to avoid the associated sins.

Migration is particularly dramatic and devastating to families and individuals when it takes place illegally...

Not only does he fail to admonish illegal immigrants and remind them of their obligation to follow legitimate laws, he fails to consider the negative consequences of illegal immigration on the 'host country' (e.g. high costs, crime, identity fraud, impact on jobs, etc.)

The Fathers also called particular attention to "families of persons with special needs, where the unexpected challenge of dealing with a disability can upset a family's equilibrium, desires and expectations... Families who lovingly accept the difficult trial of a child with special needs are greatly to be admired. They render the Church and society an invaluable witness of faithfulness to the gift of life.

There are some nice sentiments at the end, however, it seems unfortunate that what should be expected of all people - to accept and love their children no matter what - is singled out as something "greatly to be admired". How would you feel if you were disabled and you heard someone tell your parents that they were "greatly to be admired" because they lovingly accept you? As if there was some other real option!

Worse yet, the document suggests there really is another option by the following statement that appears shortly afterward...

"If [!!] the family, in the light of the faith, accepts the presence of persons with special needs, they will be able to recognize and ensure the quality and value of every human life, with its proper needs, rights and opportunities."

There is no 'if' about it! The family is obliged to accept the offspring, special needs and all.

In highly industrialized societies, where the number of elderly persons is growing even as the birth rate declines, they can be regarded as a burden.

Okay, this may be true, but 1-the document's later (troubling) calls to 'responsible parenthood' which lowers the birth rate could be implicated in the situation, and 2-it is not true that the elderly really are a burden, only that they may be 'regarded as a burden'. Wouldn't it have been better to phrase this as "they can (wrongly) be regarded as a burden"? A minor point, maybe, but the Pope may be quoted widely, so it would seem best to use careful wording.

Euthanasia and assisted suicide are serious threats to families worldwide; in many countries, they have been legalized. The Church, while firmly opposing these practices, feels the need to assist families who take care of their elderly and infirm members"

The Church shouldn't just 'firmly oppose' these 'practices', but should absolutely reject these GRAVE SINS. Why is it so hard to say sin?

Here I would also like to mention the situation of families living in dire poverty and great limitations. The problems faced by poor households are often all the more trying. For example, if a single mother has to raise a child by herself and needs to leave the child alone at home while she goes to work, the child can grow up exposed to all kind of risks and obstacles to personal growth. In such difficult situations of need, the Church must be particularly concerned to offer understanding, comfort and acceptance, rather than imposing straightaway a set of rules that only lead people to feel judged and abandoned by the very Mother called to show them God's mercy. Rather than offering the healing power of grace and the light of the Gospel message, some would "indoctrinate" that message, turning it into "dead stones to be hurled at others".

Poor little "single mother" who probably fornicated, divorced, or committed adultery (otherwise just say widow!). What is to be expected when she commits these sins? Let's be honest - she (and the father) are the cause of her own suffering and the suffering of her child (who she "needs" to leave alone) - not to mention the burden she causes to be placed on society. And what exactly is the "acceptance" the Church is supposed to offer? She has sinned gravely and her child (and society) has to suffer terribly as a result. The Church is supposed to offer her "acceptance" instead of a path to conversion? Since when does maintaining rules (which by the way, helps others to avoid sin) mean that one is "imposing straightaway a set of rules that only lead people to feel judged and abandoned by the very Mother called to show them God's mercy." The priests ARE tasked with judging (cf. Jn. 20:22-23), presenting truths is NOT abandoning people, and the Church isn't so much tasked with 'showing them God's mercy', but rather helping them to resolve their sinful situations so that they may actually receive God's mercy. Calling for a sinner's conversion is an essential element of the Gospel message - it is NOT "dead stones to be hurled at others" (quite the contrary!).

We need to acknowledge the great variety of family situations that can offer a certain stability, but de facto or same-sex unions, for example, may not simply be equated with marriage. No union that is temporary or closed to the transmission of life can ensure the future of society.

What we REALLY need to acknowledge is that:

1. Many of today's "great variety of (so-called) family situations" are sinful, threaten one's salvation, and deserve condemnation

2. The so-called 'certain stability' in a sinful situation is not a good, but rather an evil. It would seem better for things to be unstable in order to encourage the parties to get out of the situation

3. Not only can 'same-sex unions' NOT be equated with marriage, but they are sinful and perverse. "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; such a thing is an abomination." (Lev. 18:22)

4. The reason homosexual unions are condemned is NOT because they are temporary or closed to the transmission of life or unable to ensure the future of society, but because they offend God, are MORTALLY SINFUL, and keep one from attaining salvation. As holy scripture says, "Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor practicing homosexuals...will inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Cor. 6:9-10)

"Some societies still maintain the practice of polygamy; in other places, arranged marriages are an enduring practice... In many places, not only in the West, the practice of living together before marriage is widespread, as well as a type of cohabitation which totally excludes any intention to marry". In various countries, legislation facilitates a growing variety of alternatives to marriage, with the result that marriage, with its characteristics of exclusivity, indissolubility and openness to life, comes to appear as an old-fashioned and outdated option. Many countries are witnessing a legal deconstruction of the family, tending to adopt models based almost exclusively on the autonomy of the individual will. Surely it is legitimate and right to reject older forms of the traditional family marked by authoritarianism and even violence, yet this should not lead to a disparagement of marriage itself, but rather to the rediscovery of its authentic meaning and its renewal.

Again, the document provides a list that includes sins with out any condemnation. How about remind that fornication leads to hell?

"Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor practicing homosexuals nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Cor. 6:9-10)

And rather than seeming to agree that marriage may "appear as an old-fashioned and outdated option", why not explain how marriage has always been and will always be relevant, important, and necessary?

And, no, it is NOT 'legitimate and right' to blanketly reject 'older forms of the traditional family marked by authoritarianism'. The 'older form of the traditional family' - with the father as the head - is ALWAYS the proper form, as it was established by God. Accepting this fact just might result in the "rediscovery of its authentic meaning and its renewal". As St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church, states:

"A household cannot be a democracy, ruled by everyone, but the authority must necessarily rest in one person."

And, as scripture confirms...

"To the woman also [God] said: I will multiply thy sorrows, and thy conceptions: in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and thou shalt be under thy husband's power, and he shall have dominion over thee." (Gen. 3:16) [Note: Douay Rheims translation. Modern translation says "and he (your husband) shall be your master"]

"But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and a husband the head of his wife, and God the head of Christ." (St. Paul, 1 Cor. 11:3) 

"Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything." (St. Paul, Eph. 5:22-24)

"Wives, be subordinate to your husbands, as is proper in the Lord." (St. Paul, Col. 3:18)

In this brief overview, I would like to stress the fact that, even though significant advances have been made in the recognition of women's rights and their participation in public life, in some countries much remains to be done to promote these rights. Unacceptable customs still need to be eliminated. I think particularly of the shameful ill-treatment to which women are sometimes subjected, domestic violence and various forms of enslavement which, rather than a show of masculine power, are craven acts of cowardice. The verbal, physical, and sexual violence that women endure in some marriages contradicts the very nature of the conjugal union. I think of the reprehensible genital mutilation of women practiced in some cultures, but also of their lack of equal access to dignified work and roles of decision-making. History is burdened by the excesses of patriarchal cultures that considered women inferior, yet in our own day, we cannot overlook the use of surrogate mothers and "the exploitation and commercialization of the female body in the current media culture". There are those who believe that many of today's problems have arisen because of feminine emancipation. This argument, however, is not valid, "it is false, untrue, a form of male chauvinism". The equal dignity of men and women makes us rejoice to see old forms of discrimination disappear, and within families there is a growing reciprocity. If certain forms of feminism have arisen which we must consider inadequate, we must nonetheless see in the women's movement the working of the Spirit for a clearer recognition of the dignity and rights of women.

Of course women should not be abused. However, his 'nod to feminism' may be considered very problematic/dangerous. First of all, it seems inappropriate to use certain terms - that will not be mentioned again here - in a papal document. Could not a more delicate term be used? [Note: I wanted to mask the term in the original text for this site, but regrettably felt must be left as-is, in order for the points to be made. Sorry about that.]

Secondly, lamenting women's "lack of equal access to dignified work and roles of decision-making" is troubling (even though, sadly, it is to be expected from a liberal Jesuit). As the Church has always held, the most suitable work for women is work within the home...

"Women, again, are not suited for certain occupations; a woman is by nature fitted for home-work, and it is that which is best adapted at once to preserve her modesty and to promote the good bringing up of children and the well-being of the family." (Pope Leo XIII, "Rerum Novarum", 1891 A.D.)

Even scripture says that women are saved through motherhood (see 1 Tm. 2:15) and that women were NOT permitted by St. Paul to "teach or to have authority over a man." (1 Tm. 2:12)

The bible clearly indicates that the father is to be the breadwinner and head of the family, and this has always been backed up by the Church.

"The most holy law of nature is that the father of a family provide with training and livelihood all whom he has begotten" (Pope Leo XIII, "Rerum Novarum", 1891 A.D.)

"Now, just as it belongs to the woman to be subject to her husband in matters relating to the family life, so it belongs to the husband to provide the necessaries of that life." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

The bible even says that a man "is a slave, in disgrace and shame, when a wife supports her husband." (Sirach 25:21)

The document also claims that the argument that "many of today's problems have arisen because of feminine emancipation" is "not valid...false, untrue, a form of male chauvinism". He is, frankly, WRONG. Many of today's problems have arisen precisely because of this. Some examples include: contraception, abortion, divorce, children 'abandoned' for most of the day and educated in godless state schools, higher home prices (due to dual-wage couples), etc. Women are NOT more holy because they have entered the workforce, nor are their children or husbands more holy - quite the opposite. He may "rejoice to see old forms of (so-called) discrimination disappear", but I don't. I rather lament the poor effects on families, souls, and society that women are now expected to be in 'competition' with men in the workforce and are, typically, encouraged/forced to be 'career-women' instead of being full-time wives & mothers as they should be. I didn't "rejoice" in it either when I grew up as a 'latch key kid', as my mother left the house for most of the day to work outside the home. It did not make me feel more loved or valued, nor did it assist my education/formation, nor did it make me more holy. If anything, it distances the child from the mother and makes the child tend to feel that the mother has little time (or energy or patience) left for him/her. In the long run, her job will always come first, and the child will know it. Like it or not, it's a FACT that when a woman accepts a job outside the home, the things that should be most important to her (after God, this is her husband and children) are necessarily given a lower priority. And since there are only so many hours in a day, when a woman chooses to give some of those hours over to a job, she is at the same time taking those hours away from her family. It's a simple mathematical fact.

He further says we "must(!)...see in the women's movement the working of the Spirit for a clearer recognition of the dignity and rights of women". I DO see the 'women's moment' as a working of the spirit - but I think it is a nefarious spirit at work, certainly not the Holy Spirit! I think the facts clearly bear this out [again, think contraception, abortion, divorce, children 'abandoned' for most of the day and educated in godless state schools, etc. - all rampant nowadays precisely so women can work outside the home (or as a result of them working outside the home)]. Women of today are NOT more holy because they are working outside the home. And, their children are certainly NOT more holy as a result. The devil - and a woman's pride - may be well served by all this 'emancipation', but I don't see how God or children (not to mention the husband or society) are better served.

It seems like a good time to remind of Pope Pius XI's comments on such matters...

"The same false teachers who try to dim the luster of conjugal faith and purity do not scruple to do away with the honorable and trusting obedience which the woman owes to the man. Many of them even go further and assert that such a subjection of one party to the other is unworthy of human dignity, that the rights of husband and wife are equal; wherefore, they boldly proclaim the emancipation of women has been or ought to be effected. This emancipation in their ideas must be threefold, in the ruling of the domestic society, in the administration of family affairs and in the rearing of the children. It must be social, economic, physiological: - physiological, that is to say, the woman is to be freed at her own good pleasure from the burdensome duties properly belonging to a wife as companion and mother (We have already said that this is not an emancipation but a crime); social, inasmuch as the wife being freed from the cares of children and family, should, to the neglect of these, be able to follow her own bent and devote herself to business and even public affairs; finally economic, whereby the woman even without the knowledge and against the wish of her husband may be at liberty to conduct and administer her own affairs, giving her attention chiefly to these rather than to children, husband and family. This, however, is not the true emancipation of woman, nor that rational and exalted liberty which belongs to the noble office of a Christian woman and wife; it is rather the debasing of the womanly character and the dignity of motherhood, and indeed of the whole family, as a result of which the husband suffers the loss of his wife, the children of their mother, and the home and the whole family of an ever watchful guardian. More than this, this false liberty and unnatural equality with the husband is to the detriment of the woman herself, for if the woman descends from her truly regal throne to which she has been raised within the walls of the home by means of the Gospel, she will soon be reduced to the old state of slavery (if not in appearance, certainly in reality) and become as amongst the pagans the mere instrument of man. This equality of rights which is so much exaggerated and distorted, must indeed be recognized in those rights which belong to the dignity of the human soul and which are proper to the marriage contract and inseparably bound up with wedlock. In such things undoubtedly both parties enjoy the same rights and are bound by the same obligations; in other things there must be a certain inequality and due accommodation, which is demanded by the good of the family and the right ordering and unity and stability of home life." (Pope Pius XI, "Casti Connubii", 1930 A.D.) 

Yet another challenge is posed by the various forms of an ideology of gender that "denies the difference and reciprocity in nature of a man and a woman and envisages a society without sexual differences, thereby eliminating the anthropological basis of the family. This ideology leads to educational programmes and legislative enactments that promote a personal identity and emotional intimacy radically separated from the biological difference between male and female. Consequently, human identity becomes the choice of the individual, one which can also change over time". It is a source of concern that some ideologies of this sort, which seek to respond to what are at times understandable aspirations, manage to assert themselves as absolute and unquestionable, even dictating how children should be raised. It needs to be emphasized that "biological sex and the socio-cultural role of sex (gender) can be distinguished but not separated". On the other hand, "the technological revolution in the field of human procreation has introduced the ability to manipulate the reproductive act, making it independent of the sexual relationship between a man and a woman. In this way, human life and parenthood have become modular and separable realities, subject mainly to the wishes of individuals or couples". It is one thing to be understanding of human weakness and the complexities of life, and another to accept ideologies that attempt to sunder what are inseparable aspects of reality. Let us not fall into the sin of trying to replace the Creator. We are creatures, and not omnipotent. Creation is prior to us and must be received as a gift. At the same time, we are called to protect our humanity, and this means, in the first place, accepting it and respecting it as it was created.

This starts out fairly good, but it then claims that they are "at times understandable aspirations" instead of condemning them as perverse. It also asserts that "biological sex and the socio-cultural role of sex (gender) can be distinguished but not separated", which I find to be rather odd and confusing. Honestly, I don't think I really want to know for sure what this means, so I'll move on.

It later lists some sins, but fails to indicate specifically that they are, in fact, sins (including the fact that many embryos are - sinfully! - destroyed in the process of "manipulat[ing] the reproductive act"). However - YAY! - the word 'sin' actually does make it in the document! It really does! No, really!!! Yet, sadly the actual sins aren't indicated specifically as sins, but rather an admonition to "not fall into the sin of trying to replace the Creator". I guess we have to take what we can get. :-(

The Synod's reflections show us that there is no stereo-type of the ideal family...

Really? What about the family at Nazareth? Even the document itself had earlier said that "Every family should look to the icon of the Holy Family of Nazareth".

Seeds of the Word and imperfect situations (Header)

It seems wrong to use the term "imperfect situations" to refer to "sinful situations". Jesus always called a sin a sin. The Church should do the same. It is the right thing to do, and the most charitable thing to do. Note that persons in such situations may be more motivated to make difficult (but necessary) changes if their situation is called sinful rather than "imperfect". Who is perfect? Nearly all marriages may be called "imperfect situations", but that does not mean sinful. The Church should refer to sinful situations as sinful! That is not too much to ask of Christ's representative! And it is the most charitable thing to do for those involved and for others (who will be thereby instructed by the use of the correct/accurate term with regards to sin - and may consequently try to avoid it).

"The light of Christ enlightens every person (cf. Jn 1:9; Gaudium et Spes, 22). Seeing things with the eyes of Christ inspires the Church's pastoral care for the faithful who are living together, or are only married civilly, or are divorced and remarried. Following this divine pedagogy, the Church turns with love to those who participate in her life in an imperfect manner: she seeks the grace of conversion for them; she encourages them to do good, to take loving care of each other and to serve the community in which they live and work… When a couple in an irregular union attains a noteworthy stability through a public bond – and is characterized by deep affection, responsibility towards the children and the ability to overcome trials – this can be seen as an opportunity, where possible, to lead them to celebrate the sacrament of Matrimony".

Another collection of issues...

* No mention that "the faithful who are living together" are committing a serious sin that can keep them from heaven. Likewise for those faithful that "are only married civilly" (meaning: they aren't really married at all). Remember that scripture says: "Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor practicing homosexuals...will inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Cor. 6:9-10)

* Also, there is no mention that the "divorced and remarried" are committing the serious sin of adultery which may keep them from heaven. It is also troubling to see the term 'remarried' without any special notation, because the couple is NOT really 'remarried', but both persons are rather STILL married to their original spouses and living in adultery with someone else that they are NOT really married to. Remember that the two sets of original spouses have "become one flesh" (see Gen 2:24). The other party is, so-to-speak, an 'intruder' (really a co-adulterer).

* Again, we have misleading terms (e.g. "those who participate in her life in an imperfect manner", "a couple in an irregular union") instead of the clear truths that these people are living in adultery and sinning gravely. Glossing over the truth does not help anyone become more holy or change their lives.

* Instead of specifically calling for sinners (e.g. adulterers) to end their situation, the document says the Church "encourages them to do good, to take loving care of each other and to serve the community in which they live and work". Honestly, it may sound cruel at first, but wouldn't it actually be better in the long run - for the adulterers' souls - if they were not quite so loving to each other, in order that they may end their adulterous union and go back with their true spouse? And can't adulterers "serving the community" together tend to foster scandal?

Lastly, the idea that a 'civilly married', fornicating, or adulterous couple can attain a "noteworthy stability" is just false. The truth is that such couples have remained for a long time in a SINFUL state. Sinning for a long period of time is NOT to be praised, but rather condemned. Furthermore, isn't it dangerous to mention the 'possibility' of celebrating matrimony without more specifics? Remember that a couple in an adulterous union can NOT marry because they are already married to someone else. Without a clarification, this document may give some people false hope.

We need to return to the message of the Encyclical Humanae Vitae of Blessed Pope Paul VI, which highlights the need to respect the dignity of the person in morally assessing methods of regulating birth...

There are no licit methods (plural) to regulate birth. There is only ONE single solitary licit method of 'regulating' birth - and that is abstinence. And, this method is only licit under certain conditions - which, sadly, were not specified in this paragraph.

As a refresher...

"[T]o embrace the matrimonial state, to use continually the faculty proper to such a state and lawful only therein, and, at the same time, to avoid its primary duty without a grave reason, would be a sin against the very nature of married life." (Pope Pius XII, Allocution To Midwives, 1951 A.D.)

Here I feel it urgent to state that, if the family is the sanctuary of life, the place where life is conceived and cared for, it is a horrendous contradiction when it becomes a place where life is rejected and destroyed. So great is the value of a human life, and so inalienable the right to life of an innocent child growing in the mother's womb, that no alleged right to one's own body can justify a decision to terminate that life, which is an end in itself and which can never be considered the "property" of another human being. The family protects human life in all its stages, including its last. Consequently, "those who work in healthcare facilities are reminded of the moral duty of conscientious objection. Similarly, the Church not only feels the urgency to assert the right to a natural death, without aggressive treatment and euthanasia", but likewise "firmly rejects the death penalty".

There are some nice sentiments here, but again, there is no mention of sin with regards to abortion or euthanasia. What glaring omissions!

Also, despite liberals hope to the contrary, the Church can never absolutely reject the death penalty. Punishment of the guilty, by the way - which IS allowable - should also NOT seem to be equated with killing of the innocent - which is NOT allowable.

As a reminder about the death penalty...

"Another kind of lawful slaying belongs to the civil authorities, to whom is entrusted power of life and death, by the legal and judicious exercise of which they punish the guilty and protect the innocent. The just use of this power, far from involving the crime of murder, is an act of paramount obedience to this [Fifth] Commandment which prohibits murder. The end of the [Fifth] Commandment is the preservation and security of human life. Now the punishments inflicted by the civil authority, which is the legitimate avenger of crime, naturally tend to this end, since they give security to life by repressing outrage and violence. Hence these words of David: In the morning I put to death all the wicked of the land, that I might cut off all the workers of iniquity from the city of the Lord." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

Patience takes root when I recognize that other people also have a right to live in this world, just as they are.

Well, this sounds nice, but really? Hitler had a right to live in this world 'just as he was'?

This same deeply rooted love also leads me to reject the injustice whereby some possess too much and others too little. It moves me to find ways of helping society's outcasts to find a modicum of joy. That is not envy, but the desire for equality.

It is not, per se, an 'injustice' that some possess 'too much' and others 'too little' (for example, consider a man who works hard vs. a man who refuses to work), nor is it always licit to desire equality of possessions. As we are instructed in Holy Scripture...

"Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house; neither shalt thou desire his wife, nor his servant, nor his handmaid, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is his." (Ex. 20:17)

Furthermore, to sandwich 'helping society's outcasts to find a modicum of joy' within the discussion of possessions implies that joy can be found in material goods. Shouldn't joy rather be directed at non-material things (e.g. Christ, the Faith, heaven)?

It is important for Christians to show their love by the way they treat family members who are less knowledgeable about the faith, weak or less sure in their convictions. At times the opposite occurs: the supposedly mature believers within the family become unbearably arrogant. Love, on the other hand, is marked by humility; if we are to understand, forgive and serve others from the heart, our pride has to be healed and our humility must increase.

If one was cynical, I think he/she might see this as code for not instructing the less knowledgeable. I also fear that "the supposedly mature believers within the family" who "become unbearably arrogant" actually means the (orthodox) family members who are secure in their convictions and who do not fear to tell other family members, when appropriate, that a sin is a sin. Remember that spiritual works of mercy DO include admonishing the sinner and instructing the ignorant.

"admonish one another" (Col. 3:16, Rom. 15:14)

"admonish them sharply" (Ti. 1:13)

"admonishing everyone" (Col. 1:28)

"If your brother sins, rebuke him" (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Lk. 17:3)

In family life, the logic of domination and competition about who is the most intelligent or powerful destroys love.

Hopefully the term 'domination' is not intended to disrespect the father's authority over his family. As for the rest, what about (perfectly harmless - and possibly growth-enabling) friendly competition? I don't think that would 'destroy love'.

To love is also to be gentle and thoughtful, and this is conveyed by the next word, aschemonéi. It indicates that love is not rude or impolite; it is not harsh. Its actions, words and gestures are pleasing and not abrasive or rigid.

There is truth here, but let's not forget also the examples of Jesus and Saints Peter & Paul...

"You brood of vipers!" (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Mt. 3:7, Lk. 3:7)

"You hypocrites!" (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Lk. 12:56, and also: Mt. 22:18, Mt. 23:13, Mt. 23:15, Mt. 23:23, Mt. 23:25, Mt. 23:27, Mt. 23:29, Mk. 7:6)

"You serpents, you brood of vipers, how can you flee from the judgment of Gehenna?" (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Mt. 23:33)

"you then, who are wicked" (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Mt. 7:11, Lk. 11:13)

"Jesus answered them, 'Did I not choose you twelve? Yet is not one of you a devil?'" (Jn. 6:70)

"Would that those who are upsetting you might also castrate themselves!" (St. Paul, Gal. 5:12)

"[Jesus] turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.'" (Mt. 16:23)

"Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Jn. 15:6)

"Jesus answered, 'If I glorify myself, my glory is worth nothing; but it is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, 'He is our God.' You do not know him, but I know him. And if I should say that I do not know him, I would be like you a liar.'" (Jn. 8:54-55)

"[Jesus] made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, 'Take these out of here, and stop making my Father's house a marketplace.'" (Jn. 2:15-16)

"But Peter said to him, 'May your money perish with you, because you thought that you could buy the gift of God with money. You have no share or lot in this matter, for your heart is not upright before God. Repent of this wickedness of yours and pray to the Lord that, if possible, your intention may be forgiven. For I see that you are filled with bitter gall and are in the bonds of iniquity." (Acts 8:20-23)

"But Saul, also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, 'You son of the devil, you enemy of all that is right, full of every sort of deceit and fraud. Will you not stop twisting the straight paths of the Lord? Even now the hand of the Lord is upon you. You will be blind, and unable to see the sun for a time.' Immediately a dark mist fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand." (Acts 13:9-11)

"You belong to your father the devil and you willingly carry out your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks in character, because he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I speak the truth, you do not believe me. Can any of you charge me with sin? If I am telling the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever belongs to God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not listen, because you do not belong to God." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Jn. 8:44-47)

Sometimes love HAS TO BE (or at least seem) 'harsh', 'abrasive', 'impolite' or 'rigid'!

As an essential requirement of love, "every human being is bound to live agreeably with those around him".

Sorry, wrong. Christians following God's laws may not be found 'agreeable' by those around them. That is why so many - like Christ - have been killed. As scripture says...

"In fact, all who want to live religiously in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." (2 Tm. 3:12)

"In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Jn. 16:33)

"Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Mk. 13:12-13)

"Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man 'against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one's enemies will be those of his household.'" (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Mt. 10:34-36)

"If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you, 'No slave is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Jn. 15:18-20)

"Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Lk. 12:51-53)

"Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to another. Amen, I say to you, you will not finish the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. No disciple is above his teacher, no slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, for the slave that he become like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more those of his household!" (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Mt. 10:21-25)

Indignation is only healthy when it makes us react to a grave injustice...

Sorry, but indignation ("righteous anger") is not absolutely limited to 'grave injustices'. Smaller matters may rightly be worthy of some indignation as well.

Committing oneself exclusively and definitively to another person always involves a risk and a bold gamble. Unwillingness to make such a commitment is selfish, calculating and petty.

This commitment to one's spouse, especially after a proper courtship, should NOT really be a "bold gamble". It's astonishing that the Pope sees marriage as a "bold gamble"! Does he forget that the sacrament of marriage confers upon the couple a guarantee (so to speak) of a successful marriage, if only they will cooperate with the grace? That's not a gamble, but a guarantee!

Also, unwillingness to enter marriage is not necessarily "selfish, calculating and petty". Not all persons are called to the vocation of marriage.

Every form of sexual submission must be clearly rejected. This includes all improper interpretations of the passage in the Letter to the Ephesians where Paul tells women to "be subject to your husbands" (Eph 5:22). This passage mirrors the cultural categories of the time, but our concern is not with its cultural matrix but with the revealed message that it conveys. As Saint John Paul II wisely observed: "Love excludes every kind of subjection whereby the wife might become a servant or a slave of the husband… The community or unity which they should establish through marriage is constituted by a reciprocal donation of self, which is also a mutual subjection". Hence Paul goes on to say that "husbands should love their wives as their own bodies" (Eph 5:28).

Nice of the 'humble' Pope to put aside Holy Scripture - written under the influence of the Holy Spirit [you know, the God who is the same "yesterday, today, and forever" (cf. Heb. 13:8)] - with his idea that the human author merely "mirrors the cultural categories of the time". Not true! God's plan for men and women has always been - and will always be - the same. And, like it or not, women are to be subject to their husbands. Scripture does not lie. This teaching is valid for ALL TIMES.

"The husband is the chief of the family and the head of the wife. The woman, because she is flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone, must be subject to her husband and obey him; not, indeed, as a servant, but as a companion, so that her obedience shall be wanting in neither honor nor dignity. Since the husband represents Christ, and since the wife represents the Church, let there always be, both in him who commands and in her who obeys, a heaven-born love guiding both in their respective duties. For 'the husband is the head of the wife; as Christ is the head of the Church...Therefore, as the Church is subject to Christ, so also let wives be to their husbands in all things.'" (Pope Leo XIII, "Arcanum", 1880 A.D.)

Furthermore, Eph. 5:21 ("Being subject one to another, in the fear of Christ") clearly does NOT mean that the wife is NOT subordinate to the husband. As the passage clearly sates, the husband is HEAD of the wife...

"Let women be subject to their husbands, as to the Lord: Because the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church. He is the saviour of his body. Therefore as the church is subject to Christ: so also let the wives be to their husbands in all things." (Eph. 5:22-24)

Honestly, it seems like the real concern in this document is NOT "with the revealed message that [scripture] conveys", but rather with 're-interpreting' it to mean something else that agrees with 'modern man'. Need some proof? How about the document's author read the following without cringing or trying to 're-interpret' it for modern ears?

"According to the Apostle (1 Timothy 2:11; Titus 2:5), woman is in a state of subjection (Gen. 3:16): wherefore she can have no spiritual jurisdiction, since the Philosopher also says (Ethica Nicomachea viii) that it is a corruption of public life when the government comes into the hands of a woman." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

For more on this topic, please visit here.

Saint Paul recommended virginity because he expected Jesus' imminent return and he wanted everyone to concentrate only on spreading the Gospel: "the appointed time has grown very short" (1 Cor 7:29). Nonetheless, he made it clear that this was his personal opinion and preference (cf. 1 Cor 7:6-9), not something demanded by Christ: "I have no command in the Lord" (1 Cor 7:25).

Wrong! St. Paul didn't recommend virginity simply because "he expected Jesus' imminent return and he wanted everyone to concentrate only on spreading the Gospel". Nor was it simply his "personal opinion and preference", never demanded by Christ. Rather, Christ himself said that...

"Not all can accept (this) word, but only those to whom that is granted. Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it." (Mt. 19:8-12)

And Revelation tells us that only the virgins fully follow Christ...

"Then I looked and there was the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. I heard a sound from heaven like the sound of rushing water or a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. They were singing (what seemed to be) a new hymn before the throne, before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn this hymn except the hundred and forty-four thousand who had been ransomed from the earth. These are they who were not defiled with women; they are virgins and these are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been ransomed as the firstfruits of the human race for God and the Lamb. On their lips no deceit has been found; they are unblemished." (Rv. 14:1-5)

Reflecting on this, Saint John Paul II noted that the biblical texts "give no reason to assert the 'inferiority' of marriage, nor the 'superiority' of virginity or celibacy" based on sexual abstinence. Rather than speak absolutely of the superiority of virginity, it should be enough to point out that the different states of life complement one another, and consequently that some can be more perfect in one way and others in another.

Sorry, but the Church has always considered virginity to be superior than marriage. For example, consider these quotes...

"[V]irginity should be esteemed as something more perfect than marriage" (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

"Both solid reason and the authority of Holy Writ show that neither is marriage sinful, nor is it to be equaled to the good of virginal continence or even to that of widowhood." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"If any one saith that the marriage state is to be placed above the state of virginity or of celibacy, and that it is not better and more blessed to remain in virginity or in celibacy than to be united in matrimony; let him be anathema." (Council of Trent)

"Virginity, the conduct of the angels, is the property of all incorporeal nature. We do not say this as speaking ill of marriage, perish the thought! For we know that the Lord blessed marriage by His presence, and we know the saying, 'Marriage is honorable and its bed undefiled.' But we say this by way of recognizing that however good marriage may be, virginity is better." (St. John of Damascene, Doctor of the Church, c. 8th century A.D.)

"[H]oly virginity surpasses marriage in excellence. Our Divine Redeemer had already given it to His disciples as a counsel for a more perfect life. St. Paul, after having said that the father who gives his daughter in marriage 'does well,' adds immediately 'and he that gives her not, does better.' Several times in the course of his comparison between marriage and virginity the Apostle reveals his mind, and especially in these words: 'for I would that all men were even as myself... But I say to the unmarried and to widows: it is good for them if they so continue, even as I.' Virginity is preferable to marriage then, as We have said, above all else because it has a higher aim: that is to say, it is a very efficacious means for devoting oneself wholly to the service of God, while the heart of married persons will remain more or less 'divided.'" (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

"According to Jerome (Adversus Jovinianum i) the error of Jovinian consisted in holding virginity not to be preferable to marriage. This error is refuted above all by the example of Christ Who both chose a virgin for His mother, and remained Himself a virgin, and by the teaching of the Apostle who (1 Cor. 7) counsels virginity as the greater good. It is also refuted by reason, both because a Divine good takes precedence of a human good, and because the good of the soul is preferable to the good of the body, and again because the good of the contemplative life is better than that of the active life. Now virginity is directed to the good of the soul in respect of the contemplative life, which consists in thinking 'on the things of the Lord', whereas marriage is directed to the good of the body, namely the bodily increase of the human race, and belongs to the active life, since the man and woman who embrace the married life have to think 'on the things of the world,' as the Apostle says (1 Cor. 7:34). Without doubt therefore virginity is preferable to conjugal continence." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

In heaven, all persons will be celibate as Christ tells us (cf. Mt. 22:30), so obviously that is the superior state.

And Revelation confirms that only the virgins fully follow Christ...

"Then I looked and there was the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. I heard a sound from heaven like the sound of rushing water or a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. They were singing (what seemed to be) a new hymn before the throne, before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn this hymn except the hundred and forty-four thousand who had been ransomed from the earth. These are they who were not defiled with women; they are virgins and these are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been ransomed as the firstfruits of the human race for God and the Lamb. On their lips no deceit has been found; they are unblemished." (Rv. 14:1-5)

Alexander of Hales, for example, stated that in one sense marriage may be considered superior to the other sacraments, inasmuch as it symbolizes the great reality of "Christ's union with the Church, or the union of his divine and human natures".

Sorry, but as wonderful as marriage is, in NO SENSE can marriage - an optional sacrament! - be "considered superior" to Christ - God! - in the Holy Eucharist.

"The greatest of all the Sacraments is the Eucharist, because it contains not only grace, but also Jesus Christ the Author of Grace and of the Sacraments." (Catechism of St. Pius X)

"[I]f we consider the dignity of the Sacraments, the Eucharist, for holiness and for the number and greatness of its mysteries, is far superior to all the rest." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

Many married couples remain faithful when one of them has become physically unattractive, or fails to satisfy the other's needs, despite the voices in our society that might encourage them to be unfaithful or to leave the other.

Again, isn't this an obligation of marriage? Why not present it as such instead of referring to the "many" couples who actually live up to their obligations, as if it was something special?

Furthermore, it seems offensive to suggest that married persons would experience unfaithfulness or abandonment because they have "become physically unattractive" (logic suggests that the remainder of the "many' are apparently cheated on or abandoned because of how they look).

Lastly, is he implying that unattractive people should not get married?

There is no guarantee that we will feel the same way all through life. Yet if a couple can come up with a shared and lasting life project, they can love one another and live as one until death do them part, enjoying an enriching intimacy.

He is really saying that the married couple's ability to stay together depends NOT on the sacramental grace, but rather "IF" they can "come up with a shared and lasting life project"? What married couples in your life have "come up with a shared and lasting life project"? I have never even heard of such a thing or that it would enable a couple to "love one another and live as one until death do them part". Silly me, I always thought it was the sacramental grace that kept a marriage secure!

A pregnant woman can participate in God's plan by dreaming of her child. "For nine months every mother and father dreams about their child… You can't have a family without dreams. Once a family loses the ability to dream, children do not grow, love does not grow, life shrivels up and dies".

So a woman participates in God's plan by dreaming of her child? I would have thought this occurred rather by prayer, sacrifice, and following God's laws. And really, not being able to dream makes life "shrivel up and die"? Good thing I dream a lot or I guess my life would be in danger.

If this is true though, I guess we should let 'Psychology Today' in on this, considering that their site says...

"While dreaming may be a cultural universal, it is clear that some individuals recall few or no dreams over many years. These individual suffer no ill consequences from their apparent inability to dream. Dream recall apparently is not necessary for mental, physical or cultural health." (Patrick McNamara Ph.D., 'Psychology Today' website)

Nowadays we acknowledge as legitimate and indeed desirable that women wish to study, work, develop their skills and have personal goals. At the same time, we cannot ignore the need that children have for a mother's presence, especially in the first months of life.

Sorry, but not everyone "acknowledge[s] as legitimate and indeed desirable" that so many women today wish to work outside the home and 'attend to their husband and raise their children on their time off'. Some of us indeed acknowledge the very real, tragic consequences of this on men, women, children, and society in general [e.g. contraception, abortion, divorce, children 'abandoned' for most of the day and educated in godless state schools, higher home prices (due to dual wage earning couples), etc.] Again, women are NOT more holy because they have entered the workforce, nor are their children or husbands more holy - quite the opposite. And typically nowadays, women actually feel encouraged or even forced to be 'career-women' instead of being full-time wives & mothers as they should be. This is not a boon for souls or for society. As stated earlier, when I was a 'latch key kid', my mother left the house for most of the day to work outside the home and it did not make me feel more loved or valued, nor did it assist my education/formation, nor did it make me more holy. If anything, it distances the child from the mother and makes the child tend to feel that the mother has little time (or energy or patience) left for him/her. In the long run, her job will always come first, and the child will know it. Like it or not, it's a FACT that when a woman accepts a job outside the home, the things that should be most important to her (after God, this is her husband and children) are necessarily given a lower priority. And since there are only so many hours in a day, when a woman chooses to give some of those hours over to a job, she is at the same time taking those hours away from her family. It's a simple mathematical fact.

And, honestly, what good does it do the child to have the mother there for only the 'first months of life', if not also for the later time when they are actually conscious and can appreciate her motherly care? How will those few months of their mother's presence help them get to heaven? Rather, her nearly life-long, daily (e.g. M-F) absence (during the formative years) will have both temporal and (possibly also) eternal consequences.

Even the document itself later admits that "The weakening of this maternal presence with its feminine qualities poses a grave risk to our world" and earlier lamented that "In many cases, parents come home exhausted, not wanting to talk, and many families no longer even share a common meal. Distractions abound, including an addiction to television. This makes it all the more difficult for parents to hand on the faith to their children."

And once again, it seems a good time to remind of Pope Pius XI's comments...

"The same false teachers who try to dim the luster of conjugal faith and purity do not scruple to do away with the honorable and trusting obedience which the woman owes to the man. Many of them even go further and assert that such a subjection of one party to the other is unworthy of human dignity, that the rights of husband and wife are equal; wherefore, they boldly proclaim the emancipation of women has been or ought to be effected. This emancipation in their ideas must be threefold, in the ruling of the domestic society, in the administration of family affairs and in the rearing of the children. It must be social, economic, physiological: - physiological, that is to say, the woman is to be freed at her own good pleasure from the burdensome duties properly belonging to a wife as companion and mother (We have already said that this is not an emancipation but a crime); social, inasmuch as the wife being freed from the cares of children and family, should, to the neglect of these, be able to follow her own bent and devote herself to business and even public affairs; finally economic, whereby the woman even without the knowledge and against the wish of her husband may be at liberty to conduct and administer her own affairs, giving her attention chiefly to these rather than to children, husband and family. This, however, is not the true emancipation of woman, nor that rational and exalted liberty which belongs to the noble office of a Christian woman and wife; it is rather the debasing of the womanly character and the dignity of motherhood, and indeed of the whole family, as a result of which the husband suffers the loss of his wife, the children of their mother, and the home and the whole family of an ever watchful guardian. More than this, this false liberty and unnatural equality with the husband is to the detriment of the woman herself, for if the woman descends from her truly regal throne to which she has been raised within the walls of the home by means of the Gospel, she will soon be reduced to the old state of slavery (if not in appearance, certainly in reality) and become as amongst the pagans the mere instrument of man. This equality of rights which is so much exaggerated and distorted, must indeed be recognized in those rights which belong to the dignity of the human soul and which are proper to the marriage contract and inseparably bound up with wedlock. In such things undoubtedly both parties enjoy the same rights and are bound by the same obligations; in other things there must be a certain inequality and due accommodation, which is demanded by the good of the family and the right ordering and unity and stability of home life." (Pope Pius XI, "Casti Connubii", 1930 A.D.) 

The same Pope also notes that this practice is characteristic of communism...

"Communism is particularly characterized by the rejection of any link that binds woman to the family and the home, and her emancipation is proclaimed as a basic principle. She is withdrawn from the family and the care of her children, to be thrust instead into public life and collective production under the same conditions as man. The care of home and children then devolves upon the collectivity." (Pope Pius XI, "Divini Redemptoris", 1937 A.D.)

And Our Lady of Fatima did warn that (communist) Russia would 'spread her errors throughout the world'.

Those who approach the Body and Blood of Christ may not wound that same Body by creating scandalous distinctions and divisions among its members. This is what it means to "discern" the body of the Lord, to acknowledge it with faith and charity both in the sacramental signs and in the community; those who fail to do so eat and drink judgement against themselves (cf. v. 29).

Let's clarify some things here. First, the following is the relevant scripture passage...

"For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread, And giving thanks, broke and said [to the Apostles]: Take ye and eat: This is my body, which shall be delivered for you. This do for the commemoration of me. In like manner also the chalice, after he had supped, saying: This chalice is the new testament in my blood. This do ye, as often as you shall drink, for the commemoration of me. For as often as you shall eat this bread and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come. Therefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread and drink of the chalice. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord. Therefore are there many infirm and weak among you: and many sleep [that is, die]." (St. Paul, 1 Cor. 11:23-30)

The Pope's assertion that "wound[ing] that same Body by creating scandalous distinctions and divisions among its members" is "what it means to 'discern' the body of the Lord", is false. Rather, discerning the body of the Lord refers to discerning the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. As the relevant footnote in the Douay Rheims translation of Holy Scripture states...

"Guilty of the body, etc., not discerning the body, etc... This demonstrates the real presence of the body and blood of Christ, even to the unworthy communicant; who otherwise could not be guilty of the body and blood of Christ, or justly condemned for not discerning the Lord's body."

The Catechism of the Council of Trent also confirms this focus on the Real Presence (and NOT on "discerning the body of the Lord in the community")...

"Pastors, aware of the warning of the Apostle that those who discern not the Body of the Lord are guilty of a most grave crime, should first of all impress on the minds of the faithful the necessity of detaching, as much as possible, their mind and understanding from the dominion of the senses; for if they believe that his Sacrament contains only what the senses disclose, they will of necessity fall into enormous impiety. Consulting the sight, the touch, the smell, the taste and finding nothing but the appearances of bread and wine, they will naturally judge that this Sacrament contains nothing more than bread and wine. Their minds, therefore, are as much as possible to be withdrawn from subjection to the senses and excited to the contemplation of the stupendous might and power of God." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

I find the document's equating the Real Presence with 'discerning the body of the Lord in the community' troubling. How could one possibly 'eat and drink judgement' upon himself/herself by receiving the Holy Eucharist without 'discerning the body of the Lord in the community'. Rather, when one receives Holy Communion, they must discern the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. His statement directly equating the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist with God's presence in the community seems scandalous, does it not? Especially since he has those 'dead members' of the body of Christ in so much in mind in this document. Remember that "The dead members of the Church are the faithful in mortal sin." (Catechism of Pope St. Pius X)

Lastly, it should be noted that those who create "scandalous distinctions and divisions" nowadays are more truly the ones who persist in immoral/sinful situations - NOT those who rightly acknowledge the truth that such persons are living in immoral/sinful situations. St. Paul didn't have a problem with such distinctions...

"But I now write to you not to associate with anyone named a brother, if he is immoral, greedy, an idolater, a slanderer, a drunkard, or a robber, not even to eat with such a person. For why should I be judging outsiders? Is it not your business to judge those within? God will judge those outside. 'Purge the evil person from your midst.'" (1 Cor. 5:11-13)

Would the Pope dare to say that St. Paul thereby failed to 'discern the body of the Lord in the community'?

Also, canon law REQUIRES that certain sinners be denied Holy Communion...

"Can. 915 Those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or interdict has been imposed or declared, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to Holy Communion." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

It is those who create the 'division' by continuing in grave sin that are the problem, not those who acknowledge the truth about such people's situations or those who wish to follow the Church's law. Remember that scripture warns about giving what is holy to those who are not worthy ["Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine..." (Mt. 7:6)].

Hence, "the fourth commandment asks children… to honour their father and mother (cf. Ex 20:12).

No, the commandment doesn't merely 'ask' children, it commands them. The distinction is important.

In some countries, where it has become quite common to have only one child, the experience of being a brother or sister is less and less common. When it has been possible to have only one child, ways have to be found to ensure that he or she does not grow up alone or isolated.

Really, there is no condemnation of this unfortunate (and most likely sinful) situation? Most likely, there is only one child in such situations because of the gravely sinful practices of contraception/sterilization and/or abortion. If only the Pope would speak more forcefully he might change things! For example, consider what others have said...

"[A]s often as he knows his wife without a desire for children...without a doubt he commits sin" (St. Caesar of Arles, c. 540 A.D.) 

"For since the bringing of children into the world is the principal end of marriage, to do anything in order to prevent the accomplishment of this end is always a mortal sin." (St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church)

"But no reason, however grave, may be put forward by which anything intrinsically against nature may become conformable to nature and morally good. Since, therefore, the conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the begetting of children, those who in exercising it deliberately frustrate its natural power and purpose sin against nature and commit a deed which is shameful and intrinsically vicious. Small wonder, therefore, if Holy Writ bears witness that the Divine Majesty regards with greatest detestation this horrible crime and at times has punished it with death. As St. Augustine notes, 'Intercourse even with one's legitimate wife is unlawful and wicked where the conception of the offspring is prevented. Onan, the son of Juda, did this and the Lord killed him for it.'" (Pope Pius XI, "Casti Connubii", 1930 A.D.)

"Since, therefore, openly departing from the uninterrupted Christian tradition some recently have judged it possible solemnly to declare another doctrine regarding this question, the Catholic Church, to whom God has entrusted the defense of the integrity and purity of morals, standing erect in the midst of the moral ruin which surrounds her, in order that she may preserve the chastity of the nuptial union from being defiled by this foul stain, raises her voice in token of her divine ambassadorship and through Our mouth proclaims anew: any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin." (Pope Pius XI, "Casti Connubii", 1930 A.D.)

And let's not forget that in some cases, the small number of children is (reprehensibly! abominably!) coerced by the State, even though the State (or anyone for that matter) has no such right...

"To take away from man the natural and primeval right of marriage, to circumscribe in any way the principal ends of marriage laid down in the beginning by God Himself in the words 'Increase and multiply' (Gen. 1:28), is beyond the power of any human law." (As quoted by Pope Pius XI in "Casti Connubii", 1930 A.D.)

This larger family should provide love and support to teenage mothers, children without parents, single mothers left to raise children, persons with disabilities needing particular affection and closeness, young people struggling with addiction, the unmarried, separated or widowed who are alone, and the elderly and infirm who lack the support of their children. It should also embrace "even those who have made shipwreck of their lives".

I have a hard time with the idea that a hardworking father of a family should be required to provide 'support' (e.g. financial support) for other 'teenage mothers, children without parents, single mothers left to raise children'. He is responsible for his own family and they (and their families) are responsible for theirs. He didn't have intimate relations with those other women, so he should not be responsible for their children - that is the job of their own father. Furthermore, if the good fathers were having as many children as they should be having, it seems unlikely there would be many funds left for many of them to support other unrelated persons (e.g. 'teenage mothers, children without parents, single mothers left to raise children) 'who have made a shipwreck of their lives'. Wouldn't it be refreshing for once to hear the Pope admonish sinners for placing enormous costs on other hard-working fathers due to their sins?

Wouldn't it also be nice if this 'larger family' was also instructed against situations of teenage mothers (if not married), children without parents, 'single mothers' (typically code for the divorced or those who have fornicated)? Frankly the lack of condemnation for any form of sin - not to mention calls for the good to 'support' sinners - may encourage more of the bad behavior in others. It certainly would not lead to sinners repenting!

The experience of the broad oriental tradition of a married clergy could also be drawn upon.

Here we go. Bad idea! More info here.

"The presence of lay people, families and especially the presence of women in priestly formation, promotes an appreciation of the diversity and complementarity of the different vocations in the Church".

I think this means women being present to men who are in priestly formation, but a quick reading could give the wrong idea. Women can never be priests (click here), so this would have been a good time to mention this fact. Also, I'm not sure why the presence of women would generally be helpful to men in priestly formation.

"...other Christian denominations"

No such thing. One is either a true Christian (a Catholic) or a schismatic or heretic.

"It will not be out of place to consider the ancient tradition, teaching and faith of the Catholic Church, which was revealed by the Lord, proclaimed by the Apostles, and guarded by the Fathers. For upon this faith the Church is built, and if anyone were to lapse from it he would no longer be Christian either in fact or in name." (St. Athanasius, Doctor of the Church)

"Even the heretics appear to have Christ, for none of them denies the name of Christ; yet anyone who does not confess all that pertains to Christ does in fact deny Christ." (St. Ambrose, Doctor of the Church)

Using such terminology ('OTHER Christian denominations') - besides being inaccurate! - also serves (wrongly!) to place the true Church of Christ on equal footing with false (so-called) churches.

Moreover, "the use of [pregnancy avoidance] methods based on the 'laws of nature and the incidence of fertility' (Humanae Vitae, 11) are to be promoted, since 'these methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them and favour the education of an authentic freedom' (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2370).

Again, there is a nod to (so-called) 'responsible parenthood' without mentioning that there must be a grave reason to engage in (supposedly) 'natural' methods of pregnancy avoidance. Furthermore, the licit 'methods' (plural) is misleading since there is only ONE real licit method (not plural) - that is, abstinence. Also, this one licit method that MAY be allowable should NOT be 'promoted' because it 'respect[s] the bodies of the spouses, encourage[s] tenderness between them and favour[s] the education of an authentic freedom', but rather, because it is the ONLY possible method that is not inherently sinful (even though it still IS sinful if it is used without a grave reason -- so it therefore really shouldn't be 'promoted' at all). And sorry, but some of the examples given would seem quite contrary to a 'grave reason' (e.g. 'spiritual conditions of the times', 'their state in life', 'the interests of the family group, of temporal society and of the Church herself'). Once could argue that using the criteria specified could be a license to sin. If you really want to have 'responsible parenthood', why not leave it entirely up to God?

"[T]o embrace the matrimonial state, to use continually the faculty proper to such a state and lawful only therein, and, at the same time, to avoid its primary duty without a grave reason, would be a sin against the very nature of married life." (Pope Pius XII, Allocution To Midwives, 1951 A.D.)

In some cases, one of the spouses is not baptized or does not want to practice the faith. This can make the other's desire to live and grow in the Christian life difficult and at times painful. Still, some common values can be found and these can be shared and relished.

This is seems to be quite a different outlook from previous popes! From earliest times, the Church has strongly warned against and forbidden mixed marriages (click here). The Church has always considered such marriages dangerous to Catholics and their offspring, and has even used such terms as "detestable marriages which Holy Mother Church has continually condemned and interdicted" (Pope Benedict XIV) to refer to mixed marriages.

This is congruent with scripture's admonitions...

St. Paul, Ti. 3:10-11: "After a first and second warning, break off contact with a heretic, realizing that such a person is perverted and sinful and stands self-condemned."

St. Paul, 2 Cor. 6:14-18: "Do not be yoked with those who are different, with unbelievers. For what partnership do righteousness and lawlessness have? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness? What accord has Christ with Beliar? Or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said: 'I will live with them and move among them, and I will be their God and they shall be my people. Therefore, come forth from them and be separate,' says the Lord, 'and touch nothing unclean; then I will receive you and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.'"

And it reflects the very REAL danger such marriages propose to souls and even to family life on earth...

"When two do not agree about religion, it is nearly always futile to hope for agreement in other things." (Pope Leo XIII)

"[D]isparity of worship is contrary to marriage in respect of its chief good, which is the good of the offspring." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Catholic truth and Church doctrine which forbids mixed marriages as disgraceful because of the communion in holy things and because of the serious danger of the perversion of the Catholic spouse and the perverted education of the future children." (Pope Gregory XVI, "Commissum Divinitus", 1835 A.D.)

"Such marriages, in fact, as is clear to you from wide experience, are rarely happy and usually occasion grave loss to the Catholic Church. A very efficacious means for driving out such grave evils is that individual Catholics receive a thorough training in the Divine truths and that the people be shown clearly the road which leads to salvation." (Pope Pius XII, "Sertum Laetitiae", 1939 A.D.)

"Other reasons also proving that persons should turn with dread from such marriages are chiefly these: that they give occasion to forbidden association and communion in religious matters; endanger the faith of the Catholic partner; are a hindrance to the proper education of the children; and often lead to a mixing up of truth and falsehood, and to the belief that all religions are equally good." (Pope Leo XIII, "Arcanum", 1880 A.D.)

Such marriages should only be occasionally 'tolerated' under limited conditions. Too bad this isn't mentioned!

"If, indeed, in certain places, because of difficulties of place and conditions, such marriages are tolerated, the reason is surely a sort of moderation. It is in no way to be considered approbation or approval, but merely a toleration, brought about not willingly but by necessity to avoid greater evils. ... Moreover, if this Apostolic See, mitigating to some extent the full letter of the canons, has, on occasion, allowed such mixed marriages, it has done so only in serious cases and reluctantly. Moreover, it has done so only when precautions are taken to prevent the perversion of the Catholic spouse by the non-Catholic party. Also the Catholic party realized an obligation to work for the conversion of the other party; the Catholic party also realized that all offspring from such marriages be educated only in the sanctity of the Catholic religion. Such precautions are surely founded on divine law, against which, without any doubt, one seriously sins who rashly exposes himself or herself and future offspring to the danger of perversion." (Pope Gregory XVI, "Quas Vestro", 1841 A.D.)

Nowadays, pastoral care for families has to be fundamentally missionary, going out to where people are. We can no longer be like a factory, churning out courses that for the most part are poorly attended.

Huh? What courses did the 'factory churn out'?

It is becoming more and more common to think that, when one or both partners no longer feel fulfilled, or things have not turned out the way they wanted, sufficient reason exists to end the marriage. Were this the case, no marriage would last. At times, all it takes to decide that everything is over is a single instance of dissatisfaction, the absence of the other when he or she was most needed, wounded pride, or a vague fear. Inevitably, situations will arise involving human weakness and these can prove emotionally overwhelming.

How about mentioning the grave sinfulness of going along with these thoughts/feelings and getting divorced?

The deficient instruction concerning the indissolubility of marriage is compounded by the misleading (false!) terminology in the document. The text says the "partners" (not husband or wife!) may think there is sufficient reason to "end the marriage", but there is NO WAY to actually end the marriage. The marriage can only end upon the death of either the husband or the wife. It is misleading - and dangerous - to use such terminology without any qualification.

It is important that the divorced who have entered a new union should be made to feel part of the Church. "They are not excommunicated" and they should not be treated as such, since they remain part of the ecclesial community. These situations "require careful discernment and respectful accompaniment. Language or conduct that might lead them to feel discriminated against should be avoided, and they should be encouraged to participate in the life of the community. The Christian community's care of such persons is not to be considered a weakening of its faith and testimony to the indissolubility of marriage; rather, such care is a particular expression of its charity".

I would disagree about several things. First, the document states that: "It is important that the divorced who have entered a new union should be made to feel part of the Church. 'They are not excommunicated' and they should not be treated as such, since they remain part of the ecclesial community." Actually, it is important that the "divorced who have entered a new union" should be called what they are - adulterers!

"Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and the one who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Lk. 16:18)

Second, if the members should be made to feel part of the Church, they should NOT be made to feel they are living members of the Church. For the good of their (and others') souls, they should be made to feel precisely what type of members they really are - dead members! Remember that "The dead members of the Church are the faithful in mortal sin." (Catechism of Pope St. Pius X) Also remember that those who 'divorce' have (wrongly!) left behind their true spouse (and possibly children), so these persons are also victimized by the person's 'new union' - a union that the Church should be working to dissolve.

These 'situations' (of sin!) do not require "careful discernment and respectful accompaniment" as much as a call to repentance!

The document says that 'language or conduct' that "might lead them (the adulterers) to feel discriminated against should be avoided", but I can't picture Jesus or St. Paul would do that. Rather, they would call the sinful couple to repent.

And the document states that "they (the adulterers) should be encouraged to participate in the life of the community". No, they should be encouraged to repent! To encourage adulterers "to participate in the life of the community" is an invitation to scandal, is it not?

The document states that "The Christian community's care of such persons is not to be considered a weakening of its faith and testimony to the indissolubility of marriage; rather, such care is a particular expression of its charity". NO! True charity would involve admonishing the sinner!

"admonish one another" (Col. 3:16, Rom. 15:14)

"admonish them sharply" (Ti. 1:13)

"admonishing everyone" (Col. 1:28)

"If your brother sins, rebuke him" (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Lk. 17:3)

And, encouraging adulterers "to participate in the life of the community" is anything but a "testimony to the indissolubility of marriage". Saying otherwise doesn't make it true. Encouraging the adulterers to return to their true spouses would be a testimony to the indissolubility of marriage.

Divorce is an evil and the increasing number of divorces is very troubling. Hence, our most important pastoral task with regard to families is to strengthen their love, helping to heal wounds and working to prevent the spread of this drama of our times.

He calls divorce 'evil'! Yay! Note that the Church's 'most important pastoral task' should also include clear instruction on the sacrament of marriage and its indissolubility.

Issues involving mixed marriages require particular attention. Marriages between Catholics and other baptized persons 'have their own particular nature, but they contain numerous elements that could well be made good use of and developed, both for their intrinsic value and for the contribution that they can make to the ecumenical movement'. For this purpose, 'an effort should be made to establish cordial cooperation between the Catholic and the non-Catholic ministers from the time that preparations begin for the marriage and the wedding ceremony'

And yet another nod to mixed marriage. Bad idea! As stated above, the Church has always considered such marriages dangerous to Catholics and their offspring, and has even used such terms as "detestable marriages which Holy Mother Church has continually condemned and interdicted" (Pope Benedict XIV) to refer to mixed marriage. And again...

"Such marriages, in fact, as is clear to you from wide experience, are rarely happy and usually occasion grave loss to the Catholic Church. A very efficacious means for driving out such grave evils is that individual Catholics receive a thorough training in the Divine truths and that the people be shown clearly the road which leads to salvation." (Pope Pius XII, "Sertum Laetitiae", 1939 A.D.)

"Other reasons also proving that persons should turn with dread from such marriages are chiefly these: that they give occasion to forbidden association and communion in religious matters; endanger the faith of the Catholic partner; are a hindrance to the proper education of the children; and often lead to a mixing up of truth and falsehood, and to the belief that all religions are equally good." (Pope Leo XIII, "Arcanum", 1880 A.D.)

It is ridiculous to consider something that's "detestable" and "endager[s] the faith" of Catholics as a possible 'contribution' to the ecumenical movement - a huge disaster in itself! (Click here for more on ecumenism)

And lastly, it really sends the wrong message to imply that (heretical!) 'non-Catholic ministers' are legitimate ministers. These 'ministers' peddle a false religion and have no authority or power from God. As scripture says...

"After a first and second warning, break off contact with a heretic, realizing that such a person is perverted and sinful and stands self-condemned." (St. Paul, Ti. 3:10-11)

"Do not be yoked with those who are different, with unbelievers. For what partnership do righteousness and lawlessness have? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness? What accord has Christ with Beliar? Or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said: 'I will live with them and move among them, and I will be their God and they shall be my people. Therefore, come forth from them and be separate,' says the Lord, 'and touch nothing unclean; then I will receive you and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.'" (St. Paul, 2 Cor. 6:14-18)

As the Baltimore Catechism states...

"Catholics who marry before a Protestant 'minister' [traditionally would] incur excommunication; that is, a censure of the Church or spiritual penalty which prevents them from receiving the Sacrament of Penance till the priest who hears their confession gets special facilities or permission from the bishop; because by such a marriage they make profession of a false religion in acknowledging as a priest one who has neither sacred power or authority." (Baltimore Catechism)

In discussing the dignity and mission of the family, the Synod Fathers observed that, "as for proposals to place unions between homosexual persons on the same level as marriage, there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family". It is unacceptable "that local Churches should be subjected to pressure in this matter and that international bodies should make financial aid to poor countries dependent on the introduction of laws to establish 'marriage' between persons of the same sex".

Again, there is no mentioning that such 'unions' are gravely sinful & perverted. Why not remind people that acting out on a homosexual inclination is sufficient to send a soul to hell for all eternity?

"Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor practicing homosexuals...will inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Cor. 6:9-10)

Lastly, it's not very effective to simply say that such 'unions' are not "similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family". Such perverse unions are quite contrary to God's plan! They are sinful and must be condemned! Let's not forget the 'Sin of Sodom' is one of ONLY four sins that 'cry out to heaven for vengeance' [refer to a traditional catechism, or even refer to the 'Catechism of the Catholic Church' on the Vatican website (par. 1867), which states that "The catechetical tradition also recalls that there are 'sins that cry to heaven': ...[including] the sin of the Sodomites..."]

Single-parent families often result from "the unwillingness of biological mothers or fathers to be part of a family; situations of violence, where one parent is forced to flee with the children; the death of one of the parents; the abandonment of the family by one parent, and other situations. Whatever the cause, single parents must receive encouragement and support from other families in the Christian community, and from the parish's pastoral outreach. Often these families endure other hardships, such as economic difficulties, uncertain employment prospects, problems with child support and lack of housing".

Again, there is no condemnation of any sin here. Rather the document states that "single parents" (a biological impossibility) "whatever the cause" must receive "encouragement and support" from other families. The document also mentions some 'hardships' they endure.

He just can't seem to understand that 1-the hardships may be a result of sinful choices (excepting cases of death), 2-there is no way to avoid these hardships when one makes sinful choices, 3-these hardships may deter others from making the same sinful choices and may also help lead to repentance, and 4-there is no real way to make up to the child - the real victim, along with society - for the sinful choices (e.g. the missing parent). Rather than discouraging sinful situations, the document focuses on providing "encouragement and support" to sinners. This is unlikely to lead to their repentance or discourage others from engaging in the same sins. Also, it has the potential for scandal. Note that scripture tells us to admonish & rebuke one another (e.g. Col. 3:16, Rom. 15:14, Ti. 1:13, Col. 1:28, Lk. 17:3) and the Church tells us that people can become an accessories others' sins in various ways (e.g. by silence, by praise or flattery, by defending the ill done).

It should also be noted that if there are limited support resources available (as is essentially ALWAYS the case), persons who cause their situation (i.e. sinners) may wrongly take resources that should have gone to innocent parties (e.g. widows), who are more deserving of (and entitled to) those resources. It is not right to say people should receive support "whatever the cause". Sometimes persons should absolutely NOT receive a particular type of support (material or otherwise) precisely BECAUSE of the cause (e.g. acceptance/kindness to a child abuser, money to a gambler). Giving support can both keep the person longer in a sinful situation and might encourage other people to commit similar sins as they expect to receive support from others.

Our [deceased] loved ones have no need of our suffering...

Actually, if they are in purgatory, they may very well have need of our suffering. Why not tell us to offer it up?

Parents rely on schools to ensure the basic instruction of their children, but can never completely delegate the moral formation of their children to others.

Unfortunately, he fails to mention that 1-godless public schools are NOT proper choices for Catholics, or that 2-even many Catholic schools may not be proper choices for Catholics, or that 3-many families rightly homeschool (thank God!) and therefore do NOT rely on schools. Given the condition of the world (and schools) today, it would seem appropriate to mention that it might be perilous for parents to rely on schools - as they can be very dangerous to both bodies & souls.

A distinction is not always adequately drawn between "voluntary" and "free" acts. A person may clearly and willingly desire something evil, but do so as the result of an irresistible passion or a poor upbringing. In such cases, while the decision is voluntary, inasmuch as it does not run counter to the inclination of their desire, it is not free, since it is practically impossible for them not to choose that evil.

And now he makes excuses for desiring something evil! As if an "irresistible passion" could excuse one from sin! In my wildest imagination, I can't fathom St. Paul saying that it was "practically impossible" for someone not to choose evil. Amazing.

And then the document fully throws in the towel a moment later for the 'compulsive drug addict': "When they want a fix, they want it completely, yet they are so conditioned that at that moment no other decision is possible."

Really? No other decision is even possible? Not even with God's grace? Wow.

I think I'll stick with St. Thomas Aquinas' statement that...

"[I]t remains in our power to sin or not to sin." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

The Second Vatican Council spoke of the need for "a positive and prudent sex education" to be imparted to children and adolescents "as they grow older", with "due weight being given to the advances in the psychological, pedogogical and didactic sciences". We may well ask ourselves if our educational institutions have taken up this challenge. It is not easy to approach the issue of sex education in an age when sexuality tends to be trivialized and impoverished. It can only be seen within the broader framework of an education for love, for mutual self-giving. In such a way, the language of sexuality would not be sadly impoverished but illuminated and enriched. The sexual urge can be directed through a process of growth in self-knowledge and self-control capable of nurturing valuable capacities for joy and for loving encounter.

And of course, the nod to 'sex education' here is completely without reference to fornication/sin or waiting exclusively until marriage to engage in the marital act (abstinence). A strong condemnation of scandalous 'sex education' programs is also noticeably absent.

Does he really think that "a process of growth in self-knowledge and self-control capable of nurturing valuable capacities for joy and for loving encounter" will be more effective in directing the "sexual urge" (another indelicate term for a papal document) than instructing the children that 1-sex is for marriage alone, and 2-that any sex outside of marriage is a sin that may cause them to go to hell for all eternity? Which do you find more motivating to avoid unlawful relations?

And, as Pope Pius XI stated...

"Another very grave danger is that naturalism which nowadays invades the field of education in that most delicate matter of purity of morals. Far too common is the error of those who with dangerous assurance and under an ugly term propagate a so-called sex-education, falsely imagining they can forearm youths against the dangers of sensuality by means purely natural, such as a foolhardy initiation and precautionary instruction for all indiscriminately, even in public; and, worse still, by exposing them at an early age to the occasions, in order to accustom them, so it is argued, and as it were to harden them against such dangers. Such persons grievously err in refusing to recognize the inborn weakness of human nature, and the law of which the Apostle speaks, fighting against the law of the mind; and also in ignoring the experience of facts, from which it is clear that, particularly in young people, evil practices are the effect not so much of ignorance of intellect as of weakness of a will exposed to dangerous occasions, and unsupported by the means of grace." (Pope Pius XI, "Divini Illius Magistri", 1929 A.D.)

Young people should not be deceived into confusing two levels of reality: "sexual attraction creates, for the moment, the illusion of union, yet, without love, this 'union' leaves strangers as far apart as they were before". The language of the body calls for a patient apprenticeship in learning to interpret and channel desires in view of authentic self-giving. When we presume to give everything all at once, it may well be that we give nothing. It is one thing to understand how fragile and bewildered young people can be, but another thing entirely to encourage them to prolong their immaturity in the way they show love.

And again, no mention of abstinence, the need to be married to lawfully engage in the act, the sin of fornication or hell. Everything is focused on shallow earthly concerns without any reference to what God demands or what the purpose of the marital act really is. Why not a clear reference to Holy Scripture...?

"Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither FORNICATORS nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor practicing homosexuals nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Cor. 6:9-10, emphasis added)

Or other proper quotes (there are many!)...

"[A]s chastity is the way that leads to God, so fornication is the way that leads to the Devil" [Pseudo Chrys (as quoted by St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church)]

"[T]he sin of fornication is grievous." (St. Cyprian of Carthage)

"...the act of fornication is always evil." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"He that is chaste before marriage, much more will he be chaste after it; and he that practiced fornication before, will practice it after marriage." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"He who believes that his body shall remain to rise again, is careful of his robe, and defiles it not with fornication; but he who disbelieves the Resurrection, gives himself to fornication, and misuses his own body, as though it were not his own." (St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Doctor of the Church)

"The fornicator is said to sin against his own body, not merely because the pleasure of fornication is consummated in the flesh, which is also the case in gluttony, but also because he acts against the good of his own body by an undue resolution and defilement thereof, and an undue association with another" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Further, nothing but mortal sin debars a man from God's kingdom. But fornication debars him, as shown by the words of the Apostle (Gal. 5:21), who after mentioning fornication and certain other vices, adds: 'They who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God.' Therefore simple fornication is a mortal sin." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"The sin of fornication is contrary to the good of the human race, in so far as it is prejudicial to the individual begetting of the one man that may be born...Moreover, fornication is a sin against God, not directly as though the fornicator intended to offend God, but consequently, in the same way as all mortal sins. And just as the members of our body are Christ's members, so too, our spirit is one with Christ, according to 1 Corinthians 6:17, 'He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"What, for instance, is more offensive than fornication? And if this is not perceived at the time of its commission, yet, after it is committed, its offensive nature, the impurity contracted in it, and the curse, and the abomination of it is perceived. So it is with all sin. Before it is committed it has something of pleasure, but after its commission, the pleasure ceases and fades away, and pain and shame succeed. But with righteousness it is the reverse. At the beginning it is attended with toil, but in the end with pleasure and repose. But even here, as in the one case the pleasure of sin is no pleasure, because of the expectation of disgrace and punishment, so in the other the toil is not felt as toil, by reason of the hope of reward." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"The single are to be admonished not to think that they can have intercourse with disengaged women without incurring the judgment of condemnation. For, when Paul inserted the vice of fornication among so many execrable crimes, he indicated the guilt of it, saying, Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall possess the kingdom of God (1 Cor. vi. 9, 10). And again, But fornicators and adulterers God will judge (Heb. xiii. 4). They are therefore to be admonished that, if they suffer from the storms of temptation with risk to their safety, they should seek the port of wedlock. For it is written, It is better to marry than to burn (1 Cor. vii. 9)." (Pope St. Gregory the Great, Doctor of the Church)

It is true that we cannot separate the masculine and the feminine from God's work of creation, which is prior to all our decisions and experiences, and where biological elements exist which are impossible to ignore. But it is also true that masculinity and femininity are not rigid categories. It is possible, for example, that a husband's way of being masculine can be flexibly adapted to the wife's work schedule. Taking on domestic chores or some aspects of raising children does not make him any less masculine or imply failure, irresponsibility or cause for shame. Children have to be helped to accept as normal such healthy "exchanges" which do not diminish the dignity of the father figure. A rigid approach turns into an overaccentuation of the masculine or feminine, and does not help children and young people to appreciate the genuine reciprocity incarnate in the real conditions of matrimony. Such rigidity, in turn, can hinder the development of an individual's abilities, to the point of leading him or her to think, for example, that it is not really masculine to cultivate art or dance, or not very feminine to exercise leadership. This, thank God, has changed, but in some places deficient notions still condition the legitimate freedom and hamper the authentic development of children's specific identity and potential.

It's hard not to see this as another attack on the traditional family. Even so, some things are just strange. For example, how exactly does the husband - the head of the household - adapt his 'way of being masculine'? And would the woman really want this? A man may change certain actions, but how EXACTLY does he adapt 'his way of being masculine'? And to do this for the wife's work schedule? Shouldn't she rightly be home taking care of the children instead of supporting the family, which is his job? (See column at right, above) The document states that the husband "Taking on domestic chores or some aspects of raising children does not make him any less masculine or imply failure, irresponsibility or cause for shame", but scripture - written under the influence of the Holy Spirit - does say that a man "is a slave, in disgrace and shame, when a wife supports her husband." (Sirach 25:21) And, like it or not, a man's body is fitted for labor outside the home, whereas a woman's body is designed precisely to accommodate her motherhood. That's Biology 101. Plus, as Pope Leo XIII said...

"Women, again, are not suited for certain occupations; a woman is by nature fitted for home-work, and it is that which is best adapted at once to preserve her modesty and to promote the good bringing up of children and the well-being of the family." (Pope Leo XIII, "Rerum Novarum", 1891 A.D.)

Scripture itself says that women are saved through motherhood (see 1 Tm. 2:15).

Further, the bible clearly indicates that the father is to be the breadwinner and head of the family, and this has always been backed up by the Church.

"The most holy law of nature is that the father of a family provide with training and livelihood all whom he has begotten" (Pope Leo XIII, "Rerum Novarum", 1891 A.D.)

"Now, just as it belongs to the woman to be subject to her husband in matters relating to the family life, so it belongs to the husband to provide the necessaries of that life." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

And there's more. The document then may be seen to criticize thousands of years of human history: "Children have to be helped to accept as normal such healthy 'exchanges' (role reversals!) which (supposedly) do not diminish the dignity of the father figure." He claims that a "rigid approach turns into an overaccentuation of the masculine or feminine, and does not help children and young people to appreciate the genuine reciprocity incarnate in the real conditions of matrimony." Wow - and that, for thousands of years, went unchecked! Can you imagine?! And this 'rigidity' has such terrible consequences too - oh, the horror! "Such rigidity, in turn, can hinder the development of an individual's abilities, to the point of leading him or her to think, for example, that it is not really masculine to cultivate art or dance, or not very feminine to exercise leadership. This, thank God, has changed, but in some places deficient notions still condition the legitimate freedom and hamper the authentic development of children's specific identity and potential."

The truth is that certain forms of art or dance are NOT very masculine and it is NOT very feminine for women to exercise leadership over men. In scripture, is this not seen as a punishment for the wicked?

"Happy the just, for it will be well with them, the fruit of their works they will eat. Woe to the wicked man! All goes ill, with the work of his hands he will be repaid. My people - a babe in arms will be their tyrant, and women will rule them! O my people, your leaders mislead, they destroy the paths you should follow." (Isa. 3:10-12)

Note that St. Paul - who was taken to the 'third heaven' (2 Cor. 12:2) and who was fully able to go against the prevailing culture when it was wrong - did NOT permit women to "teach or to have authority over a man." (1 Tm. 2:12) He said that...

"...Christ is the head of every man, and a husband the head of his wife, and God the head of Christ." (St. Paul, 1 Cor. 11:3) 

"Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything." (St. Paul, Eph. 5:22-24)

"Wives, be subordinate to your husbands, as is proper in the Lord." (St. Paul, Col. 3:18)

This is been the case since our first parents (Adam & Eve)...

"To the woman also [God] said: I will multiply thy sorrows, and thy conceptions: in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and thou shalt be under thy husband's power, and he shall have dominion over thee." (Gen. 3:16) [Note: Douay Rheims translation. Modern translation says "and he (your husband) shall be your master"]

This true order of things, thank God, can NEVER really change. People may be more or less confused about it in any given age, but the order of things established by God cannot change.

Still, those 'gnawing worms' keep attacking...

"It is a sorrow and a shame to have to mention and confess that even among Catholics, false doctrines on the dignity of woman, on marriage and the family, on conjugal fidelity and divorce, even on life and death, have stealthily infiltrated souls, and like gnawing worms have attacked the roots of the Christian family and of the Christian ideals of womanhood." (Pope Pius XII)

[Jesus] allowed his feet to be anointed by a prostitute

She was not still engaged in this sin when she anointed Jesus! Rather, she did this precisely because she was repentant of her past sins. The document also mentions Jesus eating and drinking with sinners, but fails to mention that this was to heal and convert them. If people remained obstinate in their sins, I don't see that Christ would have continued to associate with them - especially since he instructed his apostles as follows...

"Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words - go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Mt. 10:14)

"Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Mk. 6:11)

"If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector." (Jesus Christ, Mt. 18:17)

Scripture likewise instructs the following...

"After a first and second warning, break off contact with a heretic, realizing that such a person is perverted and sinful and stands self-condemned." (St. Paul, Ti. 3:10-11)

"We instruct you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to shun any brother who conducts himself in a disorderly way and not according to the tradition they received from us." (St. Paul, 2 Thes. 3:6)

"If anyone does not obey our word as expressed in this letter, take note of this person not to associate with him, that he may be put to shame. Do not regard him as an enemy but admonish him as a brother." (St. Paul, 2 Thes. 3:14-15)

These instructions are quite different than just 'continuing indefinitely to hang around unrepentant sinners'.

ACCOMPANYING, DISCERNING AND INTEGRATING WEAKNESS (Header)

An now we have arrived at the most troubling - dare I say evil? - part of the document. I will say only that I wish the chapter (the 'infamous Chapter 8') was instead called (and that it likewise expressed the desire for) "DISCERNING, CORRECTING AND REPENTING OF SIN". The existing title - "ACCOMPANYING, DISCERNING AND INTEGRATING WEAKNESS" - fails to call a sin a sin and implies that 'weakness' (really sin) should be 'integrated'.

By contrast, scripture says things like...

"If your brother sins, rebuke him" (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Lk. 17:3)

"We instruct you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to shun any brother who conducts himself in a disorderly way and not according to the tradition they received from us." (St. Paul, 2 Thes. 3:6)

"If anyone does not obey our word as expressed in this letter, take note of this person not to associate with him, that he may be put to shame. Do not regard him as an enemy but admonish him as a brother." (St. Paul, 2 Thes. 3:14-15)

"But I now write to you not to associate with anyone named a brother, if he is immoral, greedy, an idolater, a slanderer, a drunkard, or a robber, not even to eat with such a person. For why should I be judging outsiders? Is it not your business to judge those within? God will judge those outside. 'Purge the evil person from your midst.'" (St. Paul, 1 Cor. 5:11-13)

"If we sin deliberately after receiving knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains sacrifice for sins but a fearful prospect of judgment and a flaming fire that is going to consume the adversaries." (St. Paul, Heb. 10:26-27)

"Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor practicing homosexuals nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Cor. 6:9-10)

The Fathers also considered the specific situation of a merely civil marriage or, with due distinction, even simple cohabitation, noting that "when such unions attain a particular stability, legally recognized, are characterized by deep affection and responsibility for their offspring, they can provide occasions for pastoral care with a view to the eventual celebration of the sacrament of marriage". On the other hand, it is a source of concern that many young people today distrust marriage and live together, putting off indefinitely the commitment of marriage, while yet others break a commitment already made and immediately assume a new one. "As members of the Church, they too need pastoral care that is merciful and helpful". For the Church's pastors are not only responsible for promoting Christian marriage, but also the "pastoral discernment of the situations of a great many who no longer live this reality. Entering into pastoral dialogue with these persons is needed to distinguish elements in their lives that can lead to a greater openness to the Gospel of marriage in its fullness". In this pastoral discernment, there is a need "to identify elements that can foster evangelization and human and spiritual growth".

Again with the terminology and the failure to condemn sin! First of all, it is misleading to use the term 'merely civil marriage'. If a member of the faithful is in such a situation, there is NO real marriage at all, and the couple is living in a state of sin (namely fornication or adultery). For example, consider these papal quotes which emphasize that a 'mere civil marriage' is NOT a real marriage for Christians (Catholics)...

Error CONDEMNED by Pope Pius IX in the Syllabus of Errors: "In force of a merely civil contract there may exist between Christians a real marriage, and it is false to say either that the marriage contract between Christians is always a sacrament, or that there is no contract if the sacrament be excluded." (Bl. Pope Pius IX, This proposition was condemned in the Syllabus of Errors, Dec. 8, 1864 A.D.)

"[T]he leaders of the state have authority in human affairs which led to marriage and generally concern civil matters. However, in the truly Christian marriage, they have no authority, for this matter should be left to the jurisdiction of the Church, which is not established by men. If the marriage contract is properly performed - that is, as Christ established it - then they will be able to see if anything which pertains to civil law might follow. It is Catholic teaching that the dignity of the sacrament adds to the marriage of Christians; nobody can depart from this without losing faith. For that reason, these matters should be governed by the divine authority of the Church alone. No marriage can be considered firmly ratified unless it is joined according to Church law and discipline." (Pope Leo XIII, "Quam Religiosa", 1898 A.D.)

"Let special care be taken that the people be well instructed in the precepts of Christian wisdom, so that they may always remember that marriage was not instituted by the will of man, but, from the very beginning, by the authority and command of God; that it does not admit of plurality of wives or husbands; that Christ, the Author of the New Covenant, raised it from a rite of nature to be a sacrament, and gave to His Church legislative and judicial power with regard to the bond of union. On this point the very greatest care must be taken to instruct them, lest their minds should be led into error by the unsound conclusions of adversaries who desire that the Church should be deprived of that power. In like manner, all ought to understand clearly that, if there be any union of a man and a woman among the faithful of Christ which is not a sacrament, such union has not the force and nature of a proper marriage; that, although contracted in accordance with the laws of the State, it cannot be more than a rite or custom introduced by the civil law." (Pope Leo XIII, "Arcanum", 1880 A.D.)

"We say nothing about that other decree in which, after completely despising the mystery, dignity, and sanctity of the sacrament of matrimony; after utterly ignoring and distorting its institution and nature; and after completely spurning the power of the Church over the same sacrament, it was proposed, according to the already condemned errors of heretics, and against the teaching of the Catholic Church, that marriage should be considered as a civil contract only, and that divorce, strictly speaking, should be sanctioned in various cases; and that all matrimonial cases should be deferred to lay tribunals and be judged by them; because no Catholic is ignorant or cannot know that matrimony is truly and properly one of the seven sacraments of the evangelical law, instituted by Christ the Lord, and that for that reason, there can be no marriage between the faithful without there being at one and the same time a sacrament, and that, therefore, any other union of man and woman among Christians, except the sacramental union, even if contracted under the power of any civil law, is nothing else than a disgraceful and death-bringing concubinage very frequently condemned by the Church, and, hence, that the sacrament can never be separated from the conjugal agreement, and that it pertains absolutely to the power of the Church to discern those things which can pertain in any way to the same matrimony." (Pope Pius IX, 1857 A.D.)

Second, it is wrong to call a situation where people live together in sin "simple cohabitation". Rather, they are engaged in the "disgraceful and death-bringing concubinage very frequently condemned by the Church" referenced above by Pope Pius IX. Likewise, Pope Leo XIII referred to such as situation as "[living] wickedly together without the bond of lawful marriage"...

"Lastly, since We well know that none should be excluded from Our charity, We commend, venerable brothers, to your fidelity and piety those unhappy persons who, carried away by the heat of passion, and being utterly indifferent to their salvation, live wickedly together without the bond of lawful marriage. Let your utmost care be exercised in bringing such persons back to their duty; and, both by your own efforts and by those of good men who will consent to help you, strive by every means that they may see how wrongly they have acted; that they may do penance; and that they may be induced to enter into a lawful marriage according to the Catholic rite." (Pope Leo XIII, "Arcanum")

Remember that fornication - if not repented of - precludes persons from entering heaven...

"Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor practicing homosexuals...will inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Cor. 6:9-10)

Sadly, the document continues to lack condemnations of sin in the references to the "many young people today [who] distrust marriage and live together, putting off indefinitely the commitment of marriage" (translation: fornicators) and to the "others [who] break a commitment already made (presumably this means a marriage) and immediately assume a new one (e.g. an adulterous union)". Failing to condemn (or even note) the sins will not save guilty parties from hell. Rather, doesn't it seem more akin to a dereliction of duty for those charged with instructing the flock to neglect to mention the seriousness of such sins?

What a lot of the "great many who no longer live this reality" really need are dire warnings - e.g. reasons to make the difficult choices necessary to root out sin from their lives. They probably already know their situation is wrong (hopefully at least). Rather than 'dialog', they need clear instruction, strong motivation, and applicable help to right their situation.

"The choice of a civil marriage or, in many cases, of simple cohabitation, is often not motivated by prejudice or resistance to a sacramental union, but by cultural or contingent situations". In such cases, respect also can be shown for those signs of love which in some way reflect God's own love. We know that there is "a continual increase in the number of those who, after having lived together for a long period, request the celebration of marriage in Church. Simply to live together is often a choice based on a general attitude opposed to anything institutional or definitive; it can also be done while awaiting more security in life (a steady job and steady income). In some countries, de facto unions are very numerous, not only because of a rejection of values concerning the family and matrimony, but primarily because celebrating a marriage is considered too expensive in the social circumstances. As a result, material poverty drives people into de facto unions". Whatever the case, "all these situations require a constructive response seeking to transform them into opportunities that can lead to the full reality of marriage and family in conformity with the Gospel. These couples need to be welcomed and guided patiently and discreetly". That is how Jesus treated the Samaritan woman (cf. Jn 4:1-26): he addressed her desire for true love, in order to free her from the darkness in her life and to bring her to the full joy of the Gospel.

In order to avoid repetition of the quotes above, let me just remind that using the term 'civil marriage' is misleading. If a member of the faithful is in such a situation (of only having a 'civil marriage'), there is NO real marriage at all, and the couple is living in a state of sin. Also, it is wrong to call a situation where people live together in sin "simple cohabitation". In both cases above, regardless of their supposed 'cultural or contingent' motivations, the parties are engaged in the "disgraceful and death-bringing concubinage very frequently condemned by the Church" (Pope Pius IX) - a situation that Pope Leo XIII described as "[living] wickedly together without the bond of lawful marriage".

It seems ridiculous (and harmful!) for "respect" to be shown "for those signs of love which in some way (supposedly!) reflect God's own love" in situations that are inherently 'disgraceful, death-bringing and wicked'! No one praises Lucifer for his good qualities. He was an angel and does inherently still have that nature, yet who would dare praise him or claim that anything about him 'reflects' God in any way? The bad has destroyed the good. And specifically in the case of these fornicators referenced above, their 'love' clearly fails to reflect God's pure love. The couple wouldn't remain in a state of sin together if they REALLY loved each other. True love would preclude that from happening.

And then the document almost seems to excuse such gravely sinful situations by claiming that "a continual increase in the number of those who, after having lived together for a long period, request the celebration of marriage in Church" and that "Simply to live together is often a choice based on a general attitude opposed to anything institutional or definitive; it can also be done while awaiting more security in life (a steady job and steady income). In some countries, de facto unions are very numerous, not only because of a rejection of values concerning the family and matrimony, but primarily because celebrating a marriage is considered too expensive in the social circumstances. As a result, material poverty drives people into de facto unions".

I will put aside my strong doubts about the "continual increase" in the number of long-term fornicators requesting a sacramental marriage (as if that excuses things), and just state that the choice to enter a 'wicked, disgraceful and death-bringing concubinage' is ALWAYS sinful, regardless of the supposed reasons/excuses. And the Pope should say so.

The discernment of "irregular" situations (Header)

Here we go again with the terms! 'Irregular situations' is really code for sinful situations. Unfortunately such 'gentle terminology' may tend to 1-camouflage guilty persons' sins, and 2-fail to serve as a warning to others.

Might it be useful here to consider a proverb?

"He who says to the wicked man, 'You are just' - men will curse him, people will denounce him; But those who convict the evildoer will fare well, and on them will come the blessing of prosperity." (Prov. 24:24-25)

And also this passage from the Book of Ezekiel...

"Thus the word of the LORD came to me: Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel. When you hear a word from my mouth, you shall warn them for me. If I say to the wicked man, You shall surely die; and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his wicked conduct so that he may live: that wicked man shall die for his sin, but I will hold you responsible for his death. If, on the other hand, you have warned the wicked man, yet he has not turned away from his evil nor from his wicked conduct, then he shall die for his sin, but you shall save your life. If a virtuous man turns away from virtue and does wrong when I place a stumbling block before him, he shall die. He shall die for his sin, and his virtuous deeds shall not be remembered; but I will hold you responsible for his death if you did not warn him. When, on the other hand, you have warned a virtuous man not to sin, and he has in fact not sinned, he shall surely live because of the warning, and you shall save your own life." (Ezek. 3:17-21)

The Synod addressed various situations of weakness or imperfection. Here I would like to reiterate something I sought to make clear to the whole Church, lest we take the wrong path: "There are two ways of thinking which recur throughout the Church's history: casting off and reinstating. The Church's way, from the time of the Council of Jerusalem, has always always been the way of Jesus, the way of mercy and reinstatement… The way of the Church is not to condemn anyone for ever; it is to pour out the balm of God's mercy on all those who ask for it with a sincere heart… For true charity is always unmerited, unconditional and gratuitous". Consequently, there is a need "to avoid judgements which do not take into account the complexity of various situations" and "to be attentive, by necessity, to how people experience distress because of their condition".

Let's be honest, the synod didn't so much as address "various situations of weakness or imperfection", but rather various types of sin. And as for the "wrong path", I would suggest that the document look in the mirror (okay, not possible, but you get the point).

The document may unintentionally reveal a truth here by 1-stating that "The Church's way, from the time of the Council of Jerusalem, has always always been the way of Jesus", and then 2-by taking an entirely different approach after this that the Church has never taken (e.g. NOT the way of Jesus). It's telling, if you think about it.

Other parts of this passage are misleading. For example, the document claims that the "Church is not to condemn anyone for ever". Yet excommunications can exist 'for ever'. Judas' condemnation will last 'for ever'. The condemnation of notorious heretics like Martin Luther should last 'for ever'. The condemnation of those in hell must necessarily last for ever.

Further, the idea that there is a need to avoid judgements "which do not take into account the complexity of various situations" wrongly implies that some objectively grave sins may not be considered sinful. But we must remember that "No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit" (Pope John Paul II)

Lastly, people SHOULD experience distress because of their sinful choices. This may be a grace of God helping them to repent of and amend their ways. If all goes well after a sin, a person may never repent!

It is a matter of reaching out to everyone, of needing to help each person find his or her proper way of participating in the ecclesial community and thus to experience being touched by an "unmerited, unconditional and gratuitous" mercy. No one can be condemned for ever, because that is not the logic of the Gospel! Here I am not speaking only of the divorced and remarried, but of everyone, in whatever situation they find themselves. Naturally, if someone flaunts an objective sin as if it were part of the Christian ideal, or wants to impose something other than what the Church teaches, he or she can in no way presume to teach or preach to others; this is a case of something which separates from the community (cf. Mt 18:17). Such a person needs to listen once more to the Gospel message and its call to conversion. Yet even for that person there can be some way of taking part in the life of community, whether in social service, prayer meetings or another way that his or her own initiative, together with the discernment of the parish priest, may suggest. As for the way of dealing with different "irregular" situations, the Synod Fathers reached a general consensus, which I support: "In considering a pastoral approach towards people who have contracted a civil marriage, who are divorced and remarried, or simply living together, the Church has the responsibility of helping them understand the divine pedagogy of grace in their lives and offering them assistance so they can reach the fullness of God's plan for them", something which is always possible by the power of the Holy Spirit.

And here - in a papal document - we actually have the assertion that "No one can be condemned for ever, because that is not the logic of the Gospel!" Wishful thinking that is as DANGEROUS as it is UNTRUE! Note that New Testament scripture tells a quite different story...

"His winnowing fan is in his hand. He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire." (Mt 3:12, and also Lk. 3:17)

"Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees. Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire." (Mt. 3:10, and also: Lk. 3:9, Mt. 7:19)

"Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned." (Jesus Christ, Jn. 15:6)

"I shall show you whom to fear. Be afraid of the one who after killing has the power to cast into Gehenna; yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one." (Jesus Christ, Lk. 12:5)

"It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna." (Jesus Christ, Mt. 5:29, and also Mt. 5:30)

"It is better for you to enter into life maimed or crippled than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into eternal fire." (Jesus Christ, Mt. 18:8)

"It is better for you to enter into life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into fiery Gehenna." (Jesus Christ, Mt. 18:9)

"The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth." (Jesus Christ, Mt. 13:41-42)

"Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth." (Jesus Christ, Mt. 13:49-50)

"But as for cowards, the unfaithful, the depraved, murderers, the unchaste, sorcerers, idol-worshipers, and deceivers of every sort, their lot is in the burning pool of fire and sulfur, which is the second death." (Rv. 21:8)

"Likewise, Sodom, Gomorrah, and the surrounding towns, which, in the same manner as they, indulged in sexual promiscuity and practiced unnatural vice, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire." (Jude 1:7)

"For it is surely just on God's part to repay with afflictions those who are afflicting you, and to grant rest along with us to you who are undergoing afflictions, at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his mighty angels, in blazing fire, inflicting punishment on those who do not acknowledge God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal ruin, separated from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power" (2 Thes. 1:6-9)

"A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice, 'Anyone who worships the beast or its image, or accepts its mark on forehead or hand, will also drink the wine of God's fury, poured full strength into the cup of his wrath, and will be tormented in burning sulfur before the holy angels and before the Lamb. The smoke of the fire that torments them will rise forever and ever, and there will be no relief day or night for those who worship the beast or its image or accept the mark of its name.'" (Rv. 14:9-11)

"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe (in me) to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where 'their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'" (Jesus Christ, Mk. 9:42-48)

"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.' Then they will answer and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?' He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.' And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." (Jesus Christ, Mt. 25:41-46)

"Next I saw a large white throne and the one who was sitting on it. The earth and the sky fled from his presence and there was no place for them. I saw the dead, the great and the lowly, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. Then another scroll was opened, the book of life. The dead were judged according to their deeds, by what was written in the scrolls. The sea gave up its dead; then Death and Hades gave up their dead. All the dead were judged according to their deeds. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the pool of fire. (This pool of fire is the second death.) Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the pool of fire." (Rv. 20:11-15)

"When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he cried out, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.' Abraham replied, 'My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented. Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.' He said, 'Then I beg you, father, send him to my father's house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.' But Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.' He said, 'Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.' Then Abraham said, 'If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.'" (Jesus Christ, Lk. 16:22-31)

The ETERNAL condemnation of unrepentant (grave) sinners is a doctrine that the Pope does NOT have the power to change! Ever.

And now if we are really looking to "help each person find his or her proper way of participating in the ecclesial community", the proper way is to help the dead members ["The dead members of the Church are the faithful in mortal sin." (Catechism of Pope St. Pius X)] actually change their situation and become living members again. It does them no good to pretend they are not dead members only to find out at their judgment that they are eternally condemned. It is actually quite uncharitable to do so.

It seems uncharitable also to refer to adulterers as "the divorced and remarried", especially since they are not 'remarried', but STILL MARRIED to their real spouse and living in adultery. Likewise, it seems uncharitable to use the term "irregular situation" to refer to an adulterous union. Call it what it is! It is not "irregular", it is sinful! And again with the terms "civil marriage" (there is no such thing - see column at right, above) and 'simply living together". What we really have are "disgraceful and death-bringing concubinage[s] very frequently condemned by the Church" (Pope Pius IX) where people are "[living] wickedly together without the bond of lawful marriage" (Pope Leo XIII) Tell it like it is!

And, as far as the assertion that "...if someone...wants to impose something other than what the Church teaches, he or she can in no way presume to teach or preach to others", could this PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE apply to the author of this document who has arguably tried "to impose something other than what the Church teaches"? Please?

And there's still more! The document says that "someone [who] flaunts an objective sin as if it were part of the Christian ideal, or wants to impose something other than what the Church teaches" still should have "some way of taking part in the life of community" even though the document states that such actions of that person "separates [them] from the community (cf. Mt 18:17)". My head hurts. How can someone be separated from the community yet still taking part in the life of the community? Especially in "another way that his or her own initiative"? And why on earth would we want them to?

The divorced who have entered a new union, for example, can find themselves in a variety of situations, which should not be pigeonholed or fit into overly rigid classifications leaving no room for a suitable personal and pastoral discernment. One thing is a second union consolidated over time, with new children, proven fidelity, generous self giving, Christian commitment, a consciousness of its irregularity and of the great difficulty of going back without feeling in conscience that one would fall into new sins. The Church acknowledges situations "where, for serious reasons, such as the children's upbringing, a man and woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate". There are also the cases of those who made every effort to save their first marriage and were unjustly abandoned, or of "those who have entered into a second union for the sake of the children's upbringing, and are sometimes subjectively certain in conscience that their previous and irreparably broken marriage had never been valid". Another thing is a new union arising from a recent divorce, with all the suffering and confusion which this entails for children and entire families, or the case of someone who has consistently failed in his obligations to the family. It must remain clear that this is not the ideal which the Gospel proposes for marriage and the family. The Synod Fathers stated that the discernment of pastors must always take place "by adequately distinguishing", with an approach which "carefully discerns situations". We know that no "easy recipes" exist.

Actually one "easy recipe" does exist. Proclaim and follow the Church's - Jesus' - teachings! Don't allow any exceptions or excuse any sins.

As far as the rest, there is so much here it is hard to deal with. Maybe let's try some re-wording to clarify things...

"The divorced who have entered a new (adulterous) union, for example, can find themselves in a variety of (sinful) situations, which should not be pigeonholed or fit into overly rigid (meaning: accurate) classifications leaving no room for a suitable personal and pastoral discernment (as it might hurt their feelings to hear that they are sinning). One thing is a second union (adultery) consolidated over time (lasting long enough to even further endanger their salvation), with new children (bastards), proven fidelity (not to their real spouse, but to an adulterer), generous self giving (how is it possible to have 'generous self giving' when what you are really doing is ensuring that you and the other person you supposedly love are set up for an eternity of hellfire?), Christian commitment (hardly!), a consciousness of its irregularity (meaning: sinfulness) and of the great difficulty of going back without feeling in (their obviously poorly-formed) conscience that one would fall into new sins (ending a gravely sinful situation would mean new sins? seriously? and these 'new sins' are somehow worse than their current grave sins?). The Church acknowledges situations 'where, for serious reasons, such as the (bastard) children's upbringing (of course, there is no mention of the upbringing of the non-bastard children), a man and woman cannot (will not) satisfy the obligation to separate' (continuing the scandalous situation helps the children? seriously?). There are also the cases of those who made every effort to save their first (and only) marriage and were unjustly abandoned (unfortunate for them, but they ARE still married), or of 'those who have entered into a second union (adulterous union) for the sake of the children's upbringing (sinning for the children?), and are sometimes subjectively certain in (their poorly formed?) conscience that their previous (meaning: real) and irreparably(!) broken(!) marriage had never been valid' (then why call it a marriage? and why do people become 'certain' of this only AFTER it is 'irreparably broken'). Another thing is a new union (adulterous union) arising from a recent divorce (arising really from their choice to disregard God's laws and abandon their marital vows), with all the suffering and confusion which this entails for children and entire families (such a terrible thing should entail suffering and confusion!), or the case of someone who has consistently failed in his obligations to the family (but is nevertheless still married). It must remain clear that this is not the ideal (meaning: clearly stated truth) which the Gospel proposes (there is no 'proposal', but rather an instruction that must be followed) for marriage and the family (these sinful situations are not only not the ideal, but they are positively against the Gospel!). The Synod Fathers stated that the discernment of pastors must always take place 'by adequately distinguishing', with an approach which 'carefully discerns situations' (meaning: let us put the rules aside). We know that no 'easy recipes' exist (yet one 'easy recipe' DOES exist: Proclaim and follow the Church's - Jesus' - teachings. Don't allow any exceptions or excuse any sins)."

Footnote: 329 John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio (22 November 1981), 84: AAS 74 (1982), 186. In such situations, many people, knowing and accepting the possibility of living "as brothers and sisters" which the Church offers them, point out that if certain expressions of intimacy are lacking, "it often happens that faithfulness is endangered and the good of the children suffers" (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 51).

Really? They must commit adultery for the children?

I'm thinking of a certain millstone...

I am in agreement with the many Synod Fathers who observed that "the baptized who are divorced and civilly remarried need to be more fully integrated into Christian communities in the variety of ways possible, while avoiding any occasion of scandal. The logic of integration is the key to their pastoral care, a care which would allow them not only to realize that they belong to the Church as the body of Christ, but also to know that they can have a joyful and fruitful experience in it. They are baptized; they are brothers and sisters; the Holy Spirit pours into their hearts gifts and talents for the good of all. Their participation can be expressed in different ecclesial services, which necessarily requires discerning which of the various forms of exclusion currently practised in the liturgical, pastoral, educational and institutional framework, can be surmounted. Such persons need to feel not as excommunicated members of the Church, but instead as living members, able to live and grow in the Church and experience her as a mother who welcomes them always, who takes care of them with affection and encourages them along the path of life and the Gospel. This integration is also needed in the care and Christian upbringing of their children, who ought to be considered most important".

I feel like a broken record, but must once again point out issues with the terminology "divorced and civilly remarried". Such a person is actually NOT married all, but is rather living in adultery (see column at right, above)

"Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and the one who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Lk. 16:18)

While that document claims that adulterers "need to be more fully integrated into Christian communities in the variety of ways possible, while avoiding any occasion of scandal", I would argue that...

1. They should NOT be more fully intergraded into the community as an adulterer, but should rather be helped to return to the community with their true spouse.

And...

2. It is impossible to integrate adulterous members "more fully" into the community without causing scandal. The fact of being in an adulterer is inherently scandalous.

And next we have the (very untrue) 'I'm okay, you're okay' portion of the document...

"The logic of integration is the key to their pastoral care, a care which would allow them not only to realize that they belong to the Church as the body of Christ, but also to know that they can have a joyful and fruitful experience in it. They are baptized; they are brothers and sisters; the Holy Spirit pours into their hearts gifts and talents for the good of all. Their participation can be expressed in different ecclesial services, which necessarily requires discerning which of the various forms of exclusion currently practised in the liturgical, pastoral, educational and institutional framework, can be surmounted. Such persons need to feel not as excommunicated members of the Church, but instead as living members, able to live and grow in the Church and experience her as a mother who welcomes them always, who takes care of them with affection and encourages them along the path of life and the Gospel. This integration is also needed in the care and Christian upbringing of their children, who ought to be considered most important".

The real truths are that...

1. They are not excommunicated members, but they ARE dead members of the Church, NOT living members ["The dead members of the Church are the faithful in mortal sin." (Catechism of Pope St. Pius X)]. It is good for their souls (which are in a perilous condition) to realize that they are in grave danger in order that they might change and have a chance at salvation.

2. It is good for other members of the community to see that such grave sins are not acceptable and can separate a person for all eternity from God. Remember that scripture says: "Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters NOR ADULTERERS nor boy prostitutes nor practicing homosexuals...will inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Cor. 6:9-10, emphasis added)

3. The Church should not try to 'surmount' the 'various forms of exclusion' in order to make the adulterers feel more comfortable. Rather, the Church should focus on ways to help the sinner convert. AFTER repenting & amending their ways, these persons can participate in the various activities. This is the best option for their souls, the best option for encouraging others not to sin, and the best means of preventing scandal.

If we consider the immense variety of concrete situations such as those I have mentioned, it is understandable that neither the Synod nor this Exhortation could be expected to provide a new set of general rules, canonical in nature and applicable to all cases. What is possible is simply a renewed encouragement to undertake a responsible personal and pastoral discernment of particular cases, one which would recognize that, since "the degree of responsibility is not equal in all cases", the consequences or effects of a rule need not necessarily always be the same. Priests have the duty to "accompany [the divorced and remarried] in helping them to understand their situation according to the teaching of the Church and the guidelines of the bishop. Useful in this process is an examination of conscience through moments of reflection and repentance. The divorced and remarried should ask themselves: how did they act towards their children when the conjugal union entered into crisis; whether or not they made attempts at re-conciliation; what has become of the abandoned party; what consequences the new relationship has on the rest of the family and the community of the faithful; and what example is being set for young people who are preparing for marriage. A sincere reflection can strengthen trust in the mercy of God which is not denied anyone". What we are speaking of is a process of accompaniment and discernment which "guides the faithful to an awareness of their situation before God. Conversation with the priest, in the internal forum, contributes to the formation of a correct judgment on what hinders the possibility of a fuller participation in the life of the Church and on what steps can foster it and make it grow. Given that gradualness is not in the law itself (cf. Familiaris Consortio, 34), this discernment can never prescind from the Gospel demands of truth and charity, as proposed by the Church. For this discernment to happen, the following conditions must necessarily be present: humility, discretion and love for the Church and her teaching, in a sincere search for God's will and a desire to make a more perfect response to it". These attitudes are essential for avoiding the grave danger of misunderstandings, such as the notion that any priest can quickly grant "exceptions", or that some people can obtain sacramental privileges in exchange for favours. When a responsible and tactful person, who does not presume to put his or her own desires ahead of the common good of the Church, meets with a pastor capable of acknowledging the seriousness of the matter before him, there can be no risk that a specific discernment may lead people to think that the Church maintains a double standard.

Again, there is much here, so let's have a go at things one by one...

* "If we consider the immense variety of concrete situations such as those I have mentioned, it is understandable that neither the Synod nor this Exhortation could be expected to provide a new set of general rules, canonical in nature and applicable to all cases." In truth, we do NOT need a 'new set of general rules'. What we need is for the Church to insist on Christ's teachings, which are applicable to every situation.

* Cop-out alert: "What is possible is simply a renewed encouragement to undertake a responsible personal and pastoral discernment of particular cases, one which would recognize that, since 'the degree of responsibility is not equal in all cases', the consequences or effects of a rule need not necessarily always be the same." First, it seems disingenuous to simply claim that "the degree of responsibility is not equal in all cases". A bank robber is NOT less responsible for with crime because he really, really needed the money. Second, the claim that "the consequences or effects of a rule need not necessarily always be the same" is also problematic. The consequences or effects of a rule should ideally be the same since the Church is CATHOLIC (i.e. universal). Otherwise, the unfairness will create division & rivalries (not to mention confusion) in the Church. Keep in mind here that we are dealing with situations of CURRENT SIN that the guilty (e.g. adulterous) party is STILL choosing to engage in. It is not something that is in the past, but something they are refusing to give up now - and there is NO gun to their heads. It is their free choice.

* "Priests have the duty to 'accompany [the divorced and remarried (Note: Original document text, NOT ours)] in helping them to understand their situation according to the teaching of the Church and the guidelines of the bishop. Useful in this process is an examination of conscience through moments of reflection and repentance. The divorced and remarried should ask themselves: how did they act towards their children when the conjugal union entered into crisis; whether or not they made attempts at re-conciliation; what has become of the abandoned party; what consequences the new relationship has on the rest of the family and the community of the faithful; and what example is being set for young people who are preparing for marriage. A sincere reflection can strengthen trust in the mercy of God which is not denied anyone'."

Again with the terminology! The couple is NOT 'remarried', but living in the state of adultery! A grave sin! They are still married to their original (and ONLY) spouse. Using false/misleading terminology only serves to cloud the issue - it certainly does not help them correctly 'understand their situation'. It's nice to encourage the adulterers to examine their failures with respect to their true spouse and children (and the community). Well and good. However, what good does it do for these people if the guilty party does not change their life and repair the damage (i.e. end their adultery and return to their real family) - but instead chooses to remain in it? How does it help to encourage them to consider "what has become of the abandoned party" if not calling also for them to return to the abandoned party? And, the consequences to their family & society are bad enough, but even more importantly, their actions are a sin against Almighty God! The same God that compares His relationship to the Church with holy matrimony (cf. Eph. 5:23). And lastly, it is not accurate to say that "the mercy of God...is not denied anyone" if this is to mean that the person can remain in unrepentant in grave sin and still expect to receive mercy that will avail for their salvation. Scripture tells quite a different story. For example...

"If we sin deliberately after receiving knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains sacrifice for sins but a fearful prospect of judgment and a flaming fire that is going to consume the adversaries." (St. Paul, Heb. 10:26-27)

Scripture also tells us...

"Of forgiveness be not overconfident, adding sin upon sin. Say not: 'Great is his mercy; my many sins he will forgive.' For mercy and anger alike are with him; upon the wicked alights his wrath. Delay not your conversion to the Lord, put it not off from day to day; For suddenly his wrath flames forth; at the time of vengeance, you will be destroyed." (Sirach 5:5-9)

We are also told that...

"Do not plot to repeat a sin; not even for one will you go unpunished" (Sirach 7:8)

"And had there been but one stiffnecked man, it were a wonder had he gone unpunished. For mercy and anger alike are with him who remits and forgives, though on the wicked alights his wrath." (Sirach 16:11)

"Great as his mercy is his punishment; he judges men, each according to his deeds." (Sirach 16:12)

"The Lord is slow to anger, yet great in power, and the Lord never leaves the guilty unpunished." (Nahum 1:3)

"Soon now I will pour out my fury upon you and spend my anger upon you; I will judge you according to your conduct and lay upon you the consequences of all your abominations. I will not look upon you with pity nor have mercy; I will deal with you according to your conduct, and the consequences of your abominations shall be in your midst; then shall you know that it is I, the Lord, who strike." (Ezek. 7:8-9)

"But if you do evil, be afraid, for it does not bear the sword without purpose; it is the servant of God to inflict wrath on the evildoer." (Rom.13:4)

As the Blessed Virgin Mary tells us, "His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him" (Lk. 1:50). On those who fear Him - NOT on those who choose to continue violating His laws while still expecting to receive His mercy. To say otherwise will not encourage sinners to repent, as it gives the them (and others) false hope. Regardless of the document's claim, some people will NOT receive mercy (at least mercy that will avail for their salvation). Don't forget that it was Jesus himself who told us that few will be saved...

"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Mt. 7:13-14)

* "What we are speaking of is a process of accompaniment and discernment which 'guides the faithful to an awareness of their situation before God. Conversation with the priest, in the internal forum, contributes to the formation of a correct judgment on what hinders the possibility of a fuller participation in the life of the Church and on what steps can foster it and make it grow.'" Sorry, but no real "process of accompaniment and discernment" is actually needed in the case of adultery. Rather, clear instruction to end the adulterous situation and return to one's true spouse is what is needed. Easy peasy.

* "Given that gradualness is not in the law itself (cf. Familiaris Consortio, 34), this discernment can never prescind from the Gospel demands of truth and charity, as proposed by the Church. For this discernment to happen, the following conditions must necessarily be present: humility, discretion and love for the Church and her teaching, in a sincere search for God's will and a desire to make a more perfect response to it'. These attitudes are essential for avoiding the grave danger of misunderstandings, such as the notion that any priest can quickly grant 'exceptions', or that some people can obtain sacramental privileges in exchange for favours. When a responsible and tactful person, who does not presume to put his or her own desires ahead of the common good of the Church, meets with a pastor capable of acknowledging the seriousness of the matter before him, there can be no risk that a specific discernment may lead people to think that the Church maintains a double standard."

Okay, first, we are NOT dealing with an imperfect response to, but rather a rejection of, the Gospel demands. Second, the document then goes on to express concern about "avoiding the grave danger of misunderstandings, such as the notion that any priest can quickly grant 'exceptions'", yet the document may been seen to create this very situation with no real way to 'avoid' it. Sound like lip service? Third, the hypothetical adulterer is then referred to as "a responsible and tactful person, who does not presume to put his or her own desires ahead of the common good of the Church". Really? Then how did they get in this situation? And lastly, it is hard to contain my nervous laughter ["...laughter evoked from an audience's expression of...alarm, discomfort or confusion, rather than amusement" (Wiki)] when I read that some adulterer's meeting with a pastor will somehow mean that there will be "no risk that a specific discernment may lead people to think that the Church maintains a double standard." Ever heard of 'pizza dreams' ('Urban dictionary' definition: "A very real, very freaky dream that you believe actually happened despite its outrageous improbability, for a few seconds at least. Usually brought about due to eating way too much pizza.") Makes me wonder what the pope might have eating before writing this document. Sorry, is that bad?

Even if it is not a good idea to consider here the pope's pre-penning meal, it is so much worse what the document actually contains, especially considering the easily foreseeable results. This document may encourage many problems/sins/hurt feelings/rivalries, etc. People will be treated differently. Confusion will reign. SACRILEGE may occur as adulterers and others (objectively) in a state of grave sin are (wrongly) allowed to receive Holy Communion, despite the Church's LAW to the contrary...

"Can. 915 Those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or interdict has been imposed or declared, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to Holy Communion." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

And let's be clear, although the document does NOT directly instruct those in mortal sin (e.g. adulterers) to partake of Holy Communion, it also does NOT directly/clearly say they cannot receive the Sacred Species either. Furthermore, if the document wasn't, in fact, calling for Holy Communion to be given to those remaining in mortal sin, it would NOT make sense to say any of the following...

* A "personal and pastoral discernment of particular cases" that recognizes that "the consequences or effects of a rule need not necessarily always be the same" - Since the only possible consequence or effect of the Church's rules in this regard are either that the person CAN or CAN NOT receive Holy Communion (there is NO third option), we must be talking about those who could not previously receive Holy Communion now being allowed to receive It. Besides there really is no 'discernment' necessary as things currently stand, because rules in such cases are so clear (i.e. NO Holy Communion for those in grave sin)

* "The grave danger of misunderstandings, such as the notion that any priest can quickly grant 'exceptions', or that some people can obtain sacramental privileges in exchange for favours" - The only way I can see that there could be such a 'misunderstanding' is that some grave sinners will be able to receive Holy Communion after receiving permission from a priest and some would not be allowed to do so (otherwise what 'sacramental privileges' or 'exceptions' are we talking about?)

* The claim that "there can be no risk that a specific discernment may lead people to think that the Church maintains a double standard" - How could people think there was a double standard unless some grave sinners will be able to receive Holy Communion and others would not be allowed to receive It?

Also, in the document's full context of the supposed 'mitigating factors'/denial of responsibility for mortal sins, claming that pastors can't "simply apply moral laws" to those in mortal sin, stating that the Sacrament is "not a prize", etc., the document - in a roundabout way - DOES seem to be saying that some in grave sin will be able to receive Holy Communion - even though they are not repenting of/giving up their sins!

Clearly, the text will NOT encourage holiness or repentance! Rather, it appears that the document will essentially disregard Jesus' teachings - objective truth - for one's subjective preferences. It seems like this 'humble' rule-hating pope thinks that with enough 'gloss', we will be convinced that pastoral discernment of particular cases will surely provide "no risk". Hardly! If one didn't know this document came from the Vatican (meaning Pope), would it not be seen as an attack against Catholicity itself? Wouldn't every single pope & saint before Vatican II condemn this document?

Hence it is can no longer simply be said that all those in any "irregular" situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace. More is involved here than mere ignorance of the rule. A subject may know full well the rule, yet have great difficulty in understanding "its inherent values", or be in a concrete situation which does not allow him or her to act differently and decide otherwise without further sin.

Let's be clear: IT ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY *CAN* (AND MUST BE) STILL SAID - NOW AND ALWAYS! - THAT DIVORCED AND 'REMARRIED' PERSONS, COHABITATING COUPLES/FORNICATORS *ARE* (OBJECTIVELY SPEAKING) LIVING IN A STATE OF MORTAL SIN AND ARE THEREFORE DEPRIVED OF SANCTIFYING GRACE. This is Catholicism 101. The Pope simply cannot change this. It was JESUS who said...

"Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery." (Mk. 10:11-12)

The Pope has no power whatsoever to change this! As the First Vatican Council stated...

"The Holy Spirit was not promised to the successor of Peter that by the revelation of the Holy Spirit they might disclose new doctrine, but that by His help they might guard sacredly the revelation transmitted through the Apostles and the deposit of faith, and might faithfully set it forth." (First Vatican Council) 

And the Pope even makes things worse by admitting that "a subject may know full well the rule" he is violating, but claiming that the guilty person may "yet have great difficulty in understanding 'its inherent values'". This is a ridiculous excuse! Even a child may not understand 'inherent values' in a rule, but he is still expected to follow the rule and is NOT excused if he does not follow it on the grounds that he didn't understand the 'inherent values' in it. You ARE obliged to follow God's (and the Church's) rules, you are NOT obliged to necessarily understand the 'inherent values' in them.

And there's more... The document claims that someone is supposedly "in a concrete situation which does not allow him or her to act differently and decide otherwise without further sin." False! Is there a gun to his/her head? So he claims we have 'no choice' but to continue sinning-as-we-are so that we don't add further sin? What convoluted logic! Can you imagine if the people of Christ's time made this claim when they were instructed to repent? "Sorry, we can't repent and change our lives because 'we are in a concrete situation which does not allow us to act differently (that is, stop sinning) and decide otherwise without further sin'. I sense such persons would not receive a favorable reaction from St. John the Baptist. As he stated...

"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!... Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance... Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees. Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire." (St. John the Baptist, Mt. 3:2, 8, 10)

I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that the Pope is suggesting someone is 'not allowed' to put aside his current sins in order to 'avoid further sin'. How is ending an inherently sinful situation going to result in future sin? I guess the poor adulterer has no choice but to continue in adultery! For the good of the children! - NO! NOT true! Keep in mind what Scripture tells us...

"Do not plot to repeat a sin; not even for one will you go unpunished" (Sirach 7:8)

"...the Lord never leaves the guilty unpunished." (Nahum 1:3)

It seems a good idea to remind of Pope Pius XI's advice (as he quotes the Council of Trent)...

"Let no one be so rash as to assert that which the Fathers of the Council have placed under anathema, namely, that there are precepts of God impossible for the just to observe. God does not ask the impossible, but by His commands, instructs you to do what you are able, to pray for what you are not able that He may help you.'" (Pope Pius XI, "Casti Connubii", 1930 A.D.)

You can rest assured that God is NOT going to agree that you must remain in a state of sin for the sake of avoiding future sin! Rather, that seems like something Satan would say, does it not?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly mentions these factors: "imputability and responsibility for an action can be diminished or even nullified by ignorance, inadvertence, duress, fear, habit, inordinate attachments, and other psychological or social factors". In another paragraph, the Catechism refers once again to circumstances which mitigate moral responsibility, and mentions at length "affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety or other psychological or social factors that lessen or even extenuate moral culpability". For this reason, a negative judgment about an objective situation does not imply a judgment about the imputability or culpability of the person involved. On the basis of these convictions, I consider very fitting what many Synod Fathers wanted to affirm: "Under certain circum-stances people find it very difficult to act differently. Therefore, while upholding a general rule, it is necessary to recognize that responsibility with respect to certain actions or decisions is not the same in all cases. Pastoral discernment, while taking into account a person's properly formed conscience, must take responsibility for these situations. Even the consequences of actions taken are not necessarily the same in all cases".

And here we have another attempt to excuse away sin. The truth is that these people are objectively in a state of grave sin. The idea that things like "inordinate attachments", "habit", "inadvertence" (wow!), "social factors", etc. may excuse a couple for adultery is ridiculous! To better serve souls, the Church, and society, one should stop tying to make excuses for (or 'mitigate/extenuate moral responsibility' for) adulterers (and others in grave sin). Jesus didn't put all these 'extenuating' conditions on things when he said clearly that...

"Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery." (Mk. 10:11-12)

And does it really matter that "a negative judgment about an objective situation does not imply a judgment about the imputability or culpability of the person involved", as there still IS that objective situation? That is precisely the problem! Their situation is objectively sinful and the parties involved need to repent of it. And, keep in mind, they can't receive absolution if they are not sufficiently sorry for their sins and intend to sin no longer. It is NOT something that can simply be excused away.

And now we come to the point in which I find myself glad that I have not yet eaten so that I may not expel my lunch. We here find the irresponsible (shocking?) excuse that under "certain circumstances" people "find it very difficult to act differently" so that "responsibility with respect to certain actions or decisions is not the same in all cases". Imagine that! Bank Robber A is less responsible than Bank Robber B because Bank Robber A found it "very difficult" to "act differently"! ('Act differently' being code for 'not sinning'.) Wow! I think I might be excused here for every sin I have ever committed in my life! It was just too haaaaard for me not to 'act differently'!

Yet, alas, I don't think this will fly at my judgment, considering that we are judged on our deeds (Jn. 5:28-29, Rv. 20:12-13, Rv. 22:12) and that NOT EVEN ONE sin will unpunished (Sirach 7:8).

And, amidst all the (scandalous?) papal excuses, please do keep in mind that we are dealing here NOT with past sins or actions, but with a lifestyle CHOICE that is inherently sinful and must be put aside and can NEVER be condoned. No excuses will justify such sins, even if the Pope is the one making the excuses.

[Note: This document is obviously NOT infallible. For more on infallibility, please click here.]

Recognizing the influence of such concrete factors, we can add that individual conscience needs to be better incorporated into the Church's praxis in certain situations which do not objectively embody our understanding of marriage. Naturally, every effort should be made to encourage the development of an enlightened conscience, formed and guided by the responsible and serious discernment of one's pastor, and to encourage an ever greater trust in God's grace. Yet conscience can do more than recognize that a given situation does not correspond objectively to the overall demands of the Gospel. It can also recognize with sincerity and honesty what for now is the most generous response which can be given to God, and come to see with a certain moral security that it is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one's limits, while yet not fully the objective ideal. In any event, let us recall that this discernment is dynamic; it must remain ever open to new stages of growth and to new decisions which can enable the ideal to be more fully realized.

Huh? Individual conscience (well formed or not?) now "needs to be better incorporated into the Church's praxis in certain situations which do not objectively embody our understanding of marriage"? NO! The Church does NOT need to incorporate consciences in its "understanding" (another misleading word choice!) of marriage. The Church needs to proclaim the TRUTH about marriage and help people form their consciences appropriately by those teachings.

And then we have this disturbing text...

"Yet conscience can do more than recognize that a given situation does not correspond objectively(!) to the overall demands of the Gospel. It can also recognize with sincerity and honesty what for now is the most generous(!) response which can be given to God, and come to see with a certain moral security(!) that it is what God himself is asking(!) amid the concrete complexity of one's limits, while yet not fully the objective ideal(!). In any event, let us recall that this discernment is dynamic; it must remain ever open to new stages of growth(!) and to new decisions which can enable the (so called!) ideal to be more fully realized(!)."

I am not going to touch that with a 10 foot pole, except to say that God is NOT going to tell people they can go ahead and sin for now because of their "limits". That sounds more like something Satan would say.

It is reductive simply to consider whether or not an individual's actions correspond to a general law or rule, because that is not enough to discern and ensure full fidelity to God in the concrete life of a human being. I earnestly ask that we always recall a teaching of Saint Thomas Aquinas and learn to incorporate it in our pastoral discernment: "Although there is necessity in the general principles, the more we descend to matters of detail, the more frequently we encounter defects… In matters of action, truth or practical rectitude is not the same for all, as to matters of detail, but only as to the general principles; and where there is the same rectitude in matters of detail, it is not equally known to all… The principle will be found to fail, according as we descend further into detail". It is true that general rules set forth a good which can never be disregarded or neglected, but in their formulation they cannot provide absolutely for all particular situations. At the same time, it must be said that, precisely for that reason, what is part of a practical discernment in particular circumstances cannot be elevated to the level of a rule. That would not only lead to an intolerable casuistry, but would endanger the very values which must be preserved with special care.

One could argue that considering "whether or not an individual's actions correspond to [all of the Church's] general law[s] or rule[s]" is a very good indicator that one is living "in full fidelity to God". Actually, I can think of no better way of discerning that.

And then there is a quote from St. Thomas Aquinas. Noticeably absent, however, from the quote was this portion of the text...

"Accordingly then in speculative matters truth is the same in all men, both as to principles and as to conclusions: although the truth is not known to all as regards the conclusions, but only as regards the principles which are called common notions."

Anyone else find it disturbing that this great saint was invoked in a document that promotes the idea that some grave sins can essentially be 'excused' and some grave sinners can be 'let off the hook'? Remember that this is the same saint who said that...

"[A]ll whosoever die in mortal sin, neither faith nor works of mercy will free them from eternal punishment, not even after any length of time" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"He that falls into mortal sin, deadens all the good he has done before, and what he does, while in mortal sin, is dead: since by offending God he deserves to lose all the good he has from God. Wherefore no reward after this life awaits him who dies in mortal sin" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"For since sin is an offense against God, excluding us from eternal life, as is clear from what has been said above (Q71,A6; Q113,A2), no one existing in a state of mortal sin can merit eternal life unless first he be reconciled to God, through his sin being forgiven, which is brought about by grace. For the sinner deserves not life, but death, according to Romans 6:23: 'The wages of sin is death.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"For he who falls into mortal sin of his own will puts himself in a state whence he cannot be rescued, except God help him: wherefore from the very fact that he is willing to sin, he is willing to remain in sin for ever. For man is 'a wind that goeth,' namely to sin, 'and returneth not by his own power' (Psalm 78:39). Thus if a man were to throw himself into a pit whence he could not get out without help, one might say that he wished to remain there for ever, whatever else he may have thought himself." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Consequently, just as the light would cease at once in the air, were an obstacle placed to its being lit up by the sun, even so charity ceases at once to be in the soul through the placing of an obstacle to the outpouring of charity by God into the soul. Now it is evident that through every mortal sin which is contrary to God's commandments, an obstacle is placed to the outpouring of charity, since from the very fact that a man chooses to prefer sin to God's friendship, which requires that we should obey His will, it follows that the habit of charity is lost at once through one mortal sin. Hence Augustine says (De Genesi ad literam viii,12) that 'man is enlightened by God's presence, but he is darkened at once by God's absence, because distance from Him is effected not by change of place but by aversion of the will.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

And then we have the claim that some rules "cannot provide absolutely for all particular situations" and that "practical discernment in particular circumstances cannot be elevated to the level of a rule". Even IF the first part were true, it is likewise also true that some rules CAN provide "absolutely for all particular situations" (e.g. don't commit adultery, don't commit sacrilege, etc.). And with regard to the second part, I would simply disagree. Discernment which uses the same rules for all persons actually aids people in knowing what is expected of them. It certainly does not inherently "lead to an intolerable casuistry" that "endanger[s] the very values which must be preserved with special care." I find this assertion to be ludicrous.

For this reason, a pastor cannot feel that it is enough simply to apply moral laws to those living in "irregular" situations, as if they were stones to throw at people's lives. This would bespeak the closed heart of one used to hiding behind the Church's teachings, "sitting on the chair of Moses and judging at times with superiority and superficiality difficult cases and wounded families". Along these same lines, the International Theological Commission has noted that "natural law could not be presented as an already established set of rules that impose themselves a priori on the moral subject; rather, it is a source of objective inspiration for the deeply personal process of making decisions". Because of forms of conditioning and mitigating factors, it is possible that in an objective situation of sin – which may not be subjectively culpable, or fully such – a person can be living in God's grace, can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity, while receiving the Church's help to this end. Discernment must help to find possible ways of responding to God and growing in the midst of limits. By thinking that everything is black and white, we sometimes close off the way of grace and of growth, and discourage paths of sanctification which give glory to God. Let us remember that "a small step, in the midst of great human limitations, can be more pleasing to God than a life which appears outwardly in order, but moves through the day without confronting great difficulties". The practical pastoral care of ministers and of communities must not fail to embrace this reality.

What pastor ever applied moral laws to those living in mortal sin (NOT merely "irregular" situations) as if those laws "were stones to throw at people's lives"? But, telling the truth - just as Jesus did...

"Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery." (Mk. 10:11-12)

...is NOT "throwing stones", but rather helping the couple to get out of a sinful situation that (if not repented of and corrected) may hurl them to hell for all eternity. Remember that...

"If we sin deliberately after receiving knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains sacrifice for sins but a fearful prospect of judgment and a flaming fire that is going to consume the adversaries." (St. Paul, Heb. 10:26-27)

It is not a "closed heart" to present (or, as belittled by the document: "hiding behind") the Church's teachings, but rather the proper practice of a good shepherd. To do otherwise is to allow the sheep to remain - dangerously - amidst the wolves - and even to invite more sheep there into the danger.

And yet there is still another insult! The GOOD pastors who rightly do their duty are here unfairly labeled as persons "judging at times with superiority and superficiality". And not only that, but the 'victims' they are 'unfairly judging' are not referred to as grave sinners, fornicators or adulterers (which they are), but rather as "difficult cases and wounded families". Not calling them sinners doesn't change the fact that they are, indeed, sinners. Pointing out this fact isn't closed hearted, nor are those who do so "hiding behind" the Church's teachings - rather they are upholding those teachings. Most likely this is done in charity, not as one "judging...with superiority and superficiality." Speaking of superficiality, it seems to me that this document is what is superficial (defined as: "shallowness in terms of affecting only surface layers of something"), but I digress...

Furthermore, the idea that "natural law could not be presented as an already established set of rules that impose themselves a priori on the moral subject", is simply NOT true. The commandments do just that. Jesus did precisely that - and he charged the Church with carrying on this mission.

Even IF it could be possible - which I am NOT conceding - that fornicating couples and adultery partners could be in an objective situation of sin that they are "not...subjectively culpable [for], or fully such", I think there is VIRTUALLY NO CHANCE that this supposed occurrence is very widespread or worthy of being included in a papal document addressed to the entire Church. Let's more realistically limit the imagination to some hypothetical cases where persons did not have right use of reason or where they were coerced. In reality, the sinful situations encountered today are commonly seen even among people who 1-have been baptized (and even instructed in the faith), and 2-are FREELY choosing to sin. That being said, these people ARE depriving themselves of God's grace.

The document also claims that by "thinking that everything is black and white, we sometimes close off the way of grace and of growth, and discourage paths of sanctification which give glory to God". One might argue, however, that the teachings of Jesus and St. Paul were very 'black & white', and obviously did NOT "close off the way of grace and of growth, and discourage paths of sanctification which give glory to God". Far from it!

And lastly we have the seemingly disingenuous claim that "a small step, in the midst of great human limitations, can be more pleasing to God than a life which appears outwardly in order, but moves through the day without confronting great difficulties." This might be true if all things were equal, but a person living out their marital obligations "without confronting great difficulties" and an adulterer "in the midst of great human limitations" are certainly not equally pleasing. For one, the person living out their marital obligations may NOT be experiencing "great difficulties" precisely because they are doing what they are supposed to do (and thus receive a reward), whereas the adulterers may be experiencing "great human limitations" precisely because they have caved into what they want to do instead of what they are obliged to do [and, perhaps, are suffering punishments - remember that no sin goes unpunished (Sirach 7:8)]. I cannot possibly imagine that God is actually MORE pleased with the adulterer who takes 'a small step', but who still remains in serious sin, than a married person properly living out their marital obligations. If this is a reference to the rejoicing in heaven mentioned in holy scripture...

"I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Lk. 15:7)

...remember that this rejoicing occurred only AFTER the sinner repented (which, to be sincere, would also require that they amend their ways), and NOT after some 'small step' that was not equivalent to repentance. And this latter is obviously what the document is talking about because if the sinner actually repented (and not just took some 'small step' - which may, obviously, be better than nothing), then there would be no need for any of this because they would no longer be in a state of grave sin. THIS is the 'real reality'. If only the Pope would stop trying to cover over and excuse peoples' grievous sins, but rather insist that they repent! This would best serve their souls, their true families, society, the Church, and even God!

Footnote: 351 In certain cases, this can include the help of the sacraments. Hence, "I want to remind priests that the confessional must not be a torture chamber, but rather an encounter with the Lord's mercy" (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium [24 November 2013], 44: AAS 105 [2013], 1038). I would also point out that the Eucharist "is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak" (ibid., 47: 1039)

First, it seems rather dramatic to reference the confessional as a "torture chamber", especially nowadays with the typical over-emphasis on mercy that is so prevalent in the Church.

Second, it is true that "the Eucharist 'is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak'", but it is also true that the Holy Eucharist is NOT to be received unworthily (e.g. by those in a state of mortal sin). To do so is sinful.

Consider these points...

"Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord." (1 Cor. 11:27)

"Augustine says (Tractatus 62 in Joannis): 'Many receive Christ's body unworthily; whence we are taught what need there is to beware of receiving a good thing evilly ... For behold, of a good thing, received evilly, evil is wrought'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Just as Judas to whom the Lord handed a morsel, furnished in himself a place for the devil, not by receiving something wicked but by receiving it wickedly, so too anyone who receives the Sacrament of the Lord unworthily does not, because he himself is wicked, cause the Sacrament to be wicked, or bring it about that he receives nothing because he does not receive it unto salvation. For it was the Body of the Lord and the Blood of the Lord even in those to whom the Apostle said: 'Whoever eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks judgment to himself.'" (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, c. 400 A.D.)

"[T]he believer who receives the sacrament with consciousness of sin, by receiving it unworthily despises the sacrament, not in itself, but in its use. Hence the Apostle (1 Corinthians 11:29) in assigning the cause of this sin, says, 'not discerning the body of the Lord,' that is, not distinguishing it from other food: and this is what he does who disbelieves Christ's presence in this sacrament." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"The consequence to be drawn from this teaching is evident; it is contained in these words of the apostle: 'Let a man prove himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of the chalice'. What could be more just, than that, having to be initiated in so intimate a manner to the mystery of the redemption and to contract so close a union with the divine Victim [Christ], we should banish from our hearts sin and affection to sin? 'He that eateth My Flesh and drinketh My Blood, abideth in Me, and I in Him,' says our Lord (Jn. v. 57). Could there be a closer union? God and man abiding in each other? Oh! How carefully ought we to purify our soul, and render our will comfortable with the will of Jesus, before approaching this divine banquet, to which He invites us!" (Dom Gueranger)

Church law itself REQUIRES that persons persisting in manifest grave sin be denied Holy Communion...

"Can. 915 Those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or interdict has been imposed or declared, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to Holy Communion." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

And, as the Council of Trent has declared (for "forever")...

"No one who has a mortal sin on his conscience shall dare receive the Holy Eucharist before making a sacramental confession, regardless of how contrite he may think he is. This holy council declares that this custom is to be kept forever by all Christians." (Council of Trent)

Note that this is NOT really intended as a punishment, but rather it is intended to 1-protect the Holy Eucharist from being profaned, and 2-to prevent the person from committing even more sin. Consider the following...

"He who goes to Communion in mortal sin receives Jesus Christ but not His grace; moreover, he commits a sacrilege and renders himself deserving of sentence of damnation." (Catechism of St. Pius X)

"He who receives Communion in mortal sin receives the Body and Blood of Christ, but does not receive His grace, and he commits a great sacrilege." (Baltimore Catechism)

"I too raise my voice, I beseech, beg and implore that no one draw near to this sacred table with a sullied and corrupt conscience. Such an act, in fact, can never be called 'communion', not even were we to touch the Lord's body a thousand times over, but 'condemnation', 'torment' and 'increase of punishment'." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"The Apostle says (1 Corinthians 11:29): 'He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself.' Now the gloss says on this passage: 'He eats and drinks unworthily who is in sin, or who handles it irreverently.' Therefore, if anyone, while in mortal sin, receives this sacrament, he purchases damnation, by sinning mortally." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Can. 11. If anyone says that faith alone is sufficient preparation for receiving the sacrament of the most Holy Eucharist: let him be anathema. And that so great a Sacrament may not be unworthily received, and therefore unto death and condemnation, this holy Council ordains and declares that sacramental confession must necessarily be made beforehand by those whose conscience is burdened by mortal sin, however contrite they may consider themselves. If anyone moreover teaches the contrary or preaches or obstinately asserts, or even publicly by disputation shall presume to defend the contrary, by that fact itself he is excommunicated." (Council of Trent, 1551 A.D.)

"When it is said that the Eucharist imparts grace, pastors must admonish that this does not mean that the state of grace is not required for profitable reception of this Sacrament. For as natural food can be of no use to the dead, so in like manner the sacred mysteries can evidently be of no avail to a soul which lives not by the spirit. Hence this Sacrament has been instituted under the forms of bread and wine to signify that the object of its institution is not to recall the soul to life, but to preserve its life. The reason, then, for saying that this Sacrament imparts grace, is that even the first grace, with which all should be clothed before they presume to approach the Holy Eucharist, lest they eat and drink judgment to themselves (1 Cor. xi. 30), is given to none unless they receive in wish and desire this very Sacrament. For the Eucharist is the end of all the Sacraments, and the symbol of unity and brotherhood in the Church, outside which none can attain grace." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"If it is unbeseeming for any one to approach to any of the sacred functions, unless he approach holily; assuredly, the more the holiness and divinity of this heavenly sacrament are understood by a Christian, the more diligently ought he to give heed that he approach not to receive it but with great reverence and holiness, especially as we read in the Apostle those words full of terror; He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself. Wherefore, he who would communicate, ought to recall to mind the precept of the Apostle; Let a man prove himself. Now ecclesiastical usage declares that necessary proof to be, that no one, conscious to himself of mortal sin, how contrite soever he may seem to himself, ought to approach to the sacred Eucharist without previous sacramental confession. This the holy Synod hath decreed is to be invariably observed by all Christians, even by those priests on whom it may be incumbent by their office to celebrate, provided the opportunity of a confessor do not fail them; but if, in an urgent necessity, a priest should celebrate without previous confession, let him confess as soon as possible." (Council of Trent, 1551 A.D.)

"Our Savior's washing the feet of His disciples before permitting them to partake of His divine mystery, conveys an instruction to us. The apostle has just been telling us, that we should prove ourselves: and here we have Jesus saying to His disciples: you are clean. It is true, He adds: but not all: just as the apostle assures us, that there are some who render themselves guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord. God forbid we should ever be of this number! Let us prove ourselves; let us sound the depths of our conscience, before approaching the holy Table. Mortal sin, and the affection to mortal sin, would change the Bread of Life into a deadly poison for our souls. But if respect for the holiness of God, who is about to enter within us by holy Communion, should make us shudder at the thought of receiving Him in the state of mortal sin which robs the soul of the image of God and gives her that of Satan, ought not that same respect to urge us to purify our souls from venial sins, which dim the beauty of grace? He, says our Savior, that is washed needed not but the wash his feet. The feet are those earthly attachments, which so often lead us to the brink of sin. Let us watch over our senses, and the affections of our hearts. Let us wash away these stains by a sincere confession, by penance, by sorrow, and by humility; that thus we may worthily receive the adorable Sacrament, and derive from it the fullness of its power and grace." (Dom Gueranger)

And, in case you missed it, take special note that the Council of Trent EXCOMMUNICATES "anyone [who] teaches the contrary or preaches or obstinately asserts, or even publicly by disputation shall presume[s] to defend the contrary"...

"Can. 11. If anyone says that faith alone is sufficient preparation for receiving the sacrament of the most Holy Eucharist: let him be anathema. And that so great a Sacrament may not be unworthily received, and therefore unto death and condemnation, this holy Council ordains and declares that sacramental confession must necessarily be made beforehand by those whose conscience is burdened by mortal sin, however contrite they may consider themselves. If anyone moreover teaches the contrary or preaches or obstinately asserts, or even publicly by disputation shall presume to defend the contrary, by that fact itself he is excommunicated." (Council of Trent, 1551 A.D.)

Please, Pope Francis, take note of this, as it remains valid and NO exceptions are indicated.

In order to avoid all misunderstanding, I would point out that in no way must the Church desist from proposing the full ideal of marriage, God's plan in all its grandeur: "Young people who are baptized should be encouraged to understand that the sacrament of marriage can enrich their prospects of love and that they can be sustained by the grace of Christ in the sacrament and by the possibility of participating fully in the life of the Church". A lukewarm attitude, any kind of relativism, or an undue reticence in proposing that ideal, would be a lack of fidelity to the Gospel and also of love on the part of the Church for young people themselves. To show understanding in the face of exceptional situations never implies dimming the light of the fuller ideal, or proposing less than what Jesus offers to the human being. Today, more important than the pastoral care of failures is the pastoral effort to strengthen marriages and thus to prevent their breakdown.

In order to avoid all misunderstanding, I would point out that in no way must the Church desist from preaching (not proposing) the full TRUTH regarding marriage, not just some supposed ideal. Also, those who break their marital vows (or who live in other gravely sinful situations) are not in "exceptional situations" that are 'less than the fuller ideal', but rather they are in mortally sinful situations that could result in their eternal ruin.

At the same time, from our awareness of the weight of mitigating circumstances – psychological, historical and even biological – it follows that "without detracting from the evangelical ideal, there is a need to accompany with mercy and patience the eventual stages of personal growth as these progressively appear", making room for "the Lord's mercy, which spurs us on to do our best". I understand those who prefer a more rigorous pastoral care which leaves no room for confusion. But I sincerely believe that Jesus wants a Church attentive to the goodness which the Holy Spirit sows in the midst of human weakness, a Mother who, while clearly expressing her objective teaching, "always does what good she can, even if in the process, her shoes get soiled by the mud of the street". The Church's pastors, in proposing to the faithful the full ideal of the Gospel and the Church's teaching, must also help them to treat the weak with compassion, avoiding aggravation or unduly harsh or hasty judgements. The Gospel itself tells us not to judge or condemn (cf. Mt 7:1; Lk 6:37). Jesus "expects us to stop looking for those personal or communal niches which shelter us from the maelstrom of human misfortune, and instead to enter into the reality of other people's lives and to know the power of tenderness. Whenever we do so, our lives become wonderfully complicated".

Again, we have the basic requirements expressed as an "ideal" and talk of circumstances (supposedly) mitigating sins. It is followed with an "understanding" concerning "those (like me) who prefer a more rigorous pastoral care which leaves no room for confusion". Shouldn't that be what everyone wants? Or do some actually prefer confusion?

And by saying as he did that "Jesus wants a Church attentive to the goodness which the Holy Spirit sows in the midst of human weakness", he seems to be saying that the Church wasn't previously so attentive. Not true.

As to the idea that he wants a Church to "get her shoes...soiled by the mud of the street", I would respond that it would be better for those shoes and for others' shoes if he instead called the people to come in out of the mud. What's wrong with that? Why do we need two pairs of ruined shoes?

Further, we are again told that the Gospel wants us "not to judge or condemn". Yet the context is false. Again, New Testament scripture makes it clear that some judgments are called for (e.g. see Cor. 5:11-13). We MUST judge! It is our duty to judge whether or not something is sinful. We are just not to judge the hidden intentions of others or the interior state of other's souls, which we cannot know. We are also clearly instructed in holy scripture to admonish & rebuke one another (e.g. Col. 3:16, Rom. 15:14, Ti. 1:13, Col. 1:28, Lk. 17:3). It is disingenuous to just say we are not to "judge or condemn"!

And the rest seems like code for allowing people to follow different sets of rules (or really no rules!). However, none of that will change the truth that...

"If we sin deliberately after receiving knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains sacrifice for sins but a fearful prospect of judgment and a flaming fire that is going to consume the adversaries." (St. Paul, Heb. 10:26-27)

"Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor practicing homosexuals nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Cor. 6:9-10)

The Bride of Christ must pattern her behaviour after the Son of God ...

YES! TRUE! The Church has been doing this for 2,000 years before the 'humble' Pope Francis came along trying to impose his revolutionary ideas on the Church, ideas which seem to directly contradict Christ's teachings.

We cannot forget that "mercy is not only the working of the Father; it becomes a criterion for knowing who his true children are. In a word, we are called to show mercy because mercy was first shown to us". This is not sheer romanticism or a lukewarm response to God's love, which always seeks what is best for us, for "mercy is the very foundation of the Church's life. All of her pastoral activity should be caught up in the tenderness which she shows to believers; nothing in her preaching and her witness to the world can be lacking in mercy". It is true that at times "we act as arbiters of grace rather than its facilitators. But the Church is not a tollhouse; it is the house of the Father, where there is a place for everyone, with all their problems".

A few points...

1. It is most definitely NOT merciful to confuse the flock, scandalize the faithful, and keep people from converting.

2. It is not always possible, or helpful, to show tenderness. Some people respond better to other methods, and other methods are necessary under certain circumstances (think about how 'tender' you would be if you wanted to save a person from immediate danger of being hit by a bus). Love doesn't always manifest itself in 'tenderness', as much as we might like for that to be the case.

3. The idea that "nothing in [the Church's] preaching and her witness to the world can be lacking in mercy" is false if this is taken to mean that the Church is not to issue condemnations or speak truths clearly - just as Jesus and the Apostles did.

4. It seems disingenuous to say simply say that "there is a place for everyone [in the Church], with all their problems". Some members' problems [sins] place them outside the Church, other problems [sins] cause persons to become dead members of the Church - NOT living members. St. Paul did not say that "there is a place for everyone, with all their problems". Rather he says...

"But I now write to you not to associate with anyone named a brother, if he is immoral, greedy, an idolater, a slanderer, a drunkard, or a robber, not even to eat with such a person. For why should I be judging outsiders? Is it not your business to judge those within? God will judge those outside. 'Purge the evil person from your midst.'" (St. Paul, 1 Cor. 5:11-13)

"If anyone does not obey our word as expressed in this letter, take note of this person not to associate with him, that he may be put to shame. Do not regard him as an enemy but admonish him as a brother." (St. Paul, 2 Thes. 3:14-15)

"We instruct you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to shun any brother who conducts himself in a disorderly way and not according to the tradition they received from us." (St. Paul, 2 Thes. 3:6)

Purging those people 1-may have helped them to repent, and 2-helped others to avoid sin. It would not have been charitable to let them continue and pretend that everything was okay.

The teaching of moral theology should not fail to incorporate these considerations, for although it is quite true that concern must be shown for the integrity of the Church's moral teaching, special care should always be shown to emphasize and encourage the highest and most central values of the Gospel, particularly the primacy of charity as a response to the completely gratuitous offer of God's love. At times we find it hard to make room for God's unconditional love in our pastoral activity. We put so many conditions on mercy that we empty it of its concrete meaning and real significance. That is the worst way of watering down the Gospel. It is true, for example, that mercy does not exclude justice and truth, but first and foremost we have to say that mercy is the fullness of justice and the most radiant manifestation of God's truth. For this reason, we should always consider "inadequate any theological conception which in the end puts in doubt the omnipotence of God and, especially, his mercy".

First, I'm glad to read that "concern must be shown for the integrity of the Church's moral teaching". I'm not so convinced that this document actually does that, however.

Next, we have the muurcy, muurcy, muurcy references (you HAD to know they were coming!)...

"We put so many conditions on mercy that we empty it of its concrete meaning and real significance. That is the worst way of watering down the Gospel. It is true, for example, that mercy does not exclude justice and truth, but first and foremost we have to say that mercy is the fullness of justice and the most radiant manifestation of God's truth. For this reason, we should always consider 'inadequate any theological conception which in the end puts in doubt the omnipotence of God and, especially, his mercy'."

Forgive me, but I feel like someone drank the 'mercy punch' (beverage). I would only respond as follows...

* I am not sure who he thinks puts "so many conditions on mercy that we empty it of its concrete meaning and real significance". I can't even imagine what this refers to.

* I honestly don't think putting conditions on mercy (which actually DOES have conditions - e.g. that the person repent) is "the worst way of watering down the Gospel". I think things in this document, however, might qualify.

* The Pope may say that "mercy is the fullness of justice and the most radiant manifestation of God's truth", but scripture says...

"Great as his mercy is his punishment; he judges men, each according to his deeds." (Sirach 16:12)

"...For mercy and anger alike are with him who remits and forgives, though on the wicked alights his wrath." (Sirach 16:11)

"Of forgiveness be not overconfident, adding sin upon sin. Say not: 'Great is his mercy; my many sins he will forgive.' For mercy and anger alike are with him; upon the wicked alights his wrath. Delay not your conversion to the Lord, put it not off from day to day; For suddenly his wrath flames forth; at the time of vengeance, you will be destroyed." (Sirach 5:5-9)

"And you have done worse than your fathers. Here you are, every one of you, walking in the hardness of his evil heart instead of listening to me. I will cast you out of this land into a land that neither you nor your fathers have known; there you can serve strange gods day and night, because I will not grant you my mercy." (Jer. 16:12-13)

"Therefore, as I live, says the Lord God, because you have defiled my sanctuary with all your detestable abominations, I swear to cut you down. I will not look upon you with pity nor have mercy." (Ezek. 5:11)

"Now the end is upon you; I will unleash my anger against you and judge you according to your conduct and lay upon you the consequences of all your abominations. I will not look upon you with pity nor have mercy; I will bring your conduct down upon you, and the consequences of your abominations shall be in your midst; then shall you know that I am the Lord." (Ezek. 7:3-4)

"Consequently, he has mercy upon whom he wills, and he hardens whom he wills. You will say to me then, "Why (then) does he still find fault? For who can oppose his will?" But who indeed are you, a human being, to talk back to God? Will what is made say to its maker, "Why have you created me so?" Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for a noble purpose and another for an ignoble one? What if God, wishing to show his wrath and make known his power, has endured with much patience the vessels of wrath made for destruction? This was to make known the riches of his glory to the vessels of mercy, which he has prepared previously for glory, namely, us whom he has called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles." (Rom. 9:18-24)

* The idea that there is some "theological conception which in the end puts in doubt the omnipotence of God" would be heresy, would it not be? It's outright error - not simply "inadequate"! Still, the ending part seems kind of ridiculous. If you are calling into question the omnipotence of God, what is the deal with "especially, his mercy"?

This offers us a framework and a setting which help us avoid a cold bureaucratic morality in dealing with more sensitive issues. Instead, it sets us in the context of a pastoral discernment filled with merciful love, which is ever ready to understand, forgive, accompany, hope, and above all integrate. That is the mindset which should prevail in the Church and lead us to "open our hearts to those living on the outermost fringes of society". I encourage the faithful who find themselves in complicated situations to speak confidently with their pastors or with other lay people whose lives are committed to the Lord. They may not always encounter in them a confirmation of their own ideas or desires, but they will surely receive some light to help them better understand their situation and discover a path to personal growth. I also encourage the Church's pastors to listen to them with sensitivity and serenity, with a sincere desire to understand their plight and their point of view, in order to help them live better lives and to recognize their proper place in the Church.

Really, the Church has had a "cold bureaucratic morality" until the 'humble' Pope Francis came along 2,000+ years later to set things right? Hardly! Rather, the Church has acted in the manner passed down from Christ and the Apostles. It is not a "cold bureaucratic morality", but rather a soul-saving morality that the Church has!

Next, I must confess, the idea that we are set "in the context of a pastoral discernment filled with merciful love, which is ever ready to understand, forgive, accompany, hope, and above all integrate" made me giggle. Again, we are to "above all integrate". Funny.

And again with the language. Add this to the code-book: "complicated situations" equals "sinful situations".

So we really want these people in "complicated situations" to speak with lay people instead of priests? Really? Because Catholics of today are typically so holy and so orthodox. Yep, that should help. Speak with other lay people about your 'complicated situation' and you will "surely" receive "some light to help [you] better understand [your] situation and discover a path to personal growth." Yeah, right. Go to the bank on that. [Wanna bet that some people following that advice will actually be waaaay worse off?]

Footnote: 364 Perhaps out of a certain scrupulosity, concealed beneath a zeal for fidelity to the truth, some priests demand of penitents a purpose of amendment so lacking in nuance that it causes mercy to be obscured by the pursuit of a supposedly pure justice. For this reason, it is helpful to recall the teaching of Saint John Paul II, who stated that the possibility of a new fall "should not prejudice the authenticity of the resolution" (Letter to Cardinal William W. Baum on the occasion of the Course on the Internal Forum organized by the Apostolic Penitentiary [22 March 1996], 5: Insegnamenti XIX/1 [1996], 589).

The Pope who cannot judge (objectively sinful) homosexual clergy somehow manages here to make sweeping judgments about the internal workings of faithful priests. According to the document, these priests supposedly may 'perhaps' act out of "a certain scrupulosity, concealed beneath a zeal for fidelity to the truth [and who] demand of penitents a purpose of amendment so lacking in nuance that it causes mercy to be obscured by the pursuit of a supposedly pure justice". How about considering that these good priests just want to faithfully follow the Church's true teachings and encourage the penitents to actually amend their ways?

... as Dietrich Bonhoeffer nicely put it ...

Please don't quote heretics!

As this Exhortation has often noted, no family drops down from heaven perfectly formed; families need constantly to grow and mature in the ability to love. This is a never-ending vocation born of the full communion of the Trinity, the profound unity between Christ and his Church, the loving community which is the Holy Family of Nazareth, and the pure fraternity existing among the saints of heaven. Our contemplation of the fulfilment which we have yet to attain also allows us to see in proper perspective the historical journey which we make as families, and in this way to stop demanding of our interpersonal relationships a perfection, a purity of intentions and a consistency which we will only encounter in the Kingdom to come. It also keeps us from judging harshly those who live in situations of frailty.

But these are NOT real, lawful families! They are sinful unions! The Pope really should encourage the adulterers to get back to their real families and instruct the others to also put an end to their sinful situations.

And, no one is demanding perfection - just that the people not live continually in mortal sin.

And lastly, about "judging harshly those who live in situations of frailty", the truth is 1-judging in accordance with reality (e.g. calling a fornicator a fornicator and an adulterer an adulterer) is NOT judging harshly but rather truthfully, and 2-such persons are not in "situations of frailty", but rather situations of sin!

"Do not plot to repeat a sin; not even for one will you go unpunished" (Sirach 7:8)

"Great as his mercy is his punishment; he judges men, each according to his deeds." (Sirach 16:12)

"The Lord is slow to anger, yet great in power, and the Lord never leaves the guilty unpunished." (Nahum 1:3)

"If we sin deliberately after receiving knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains sacrifice for sins but a fearful prospect of judgment and a flaming fire that is going to consume the adversaries." (St. Paul, Heb. 10:26-27)

"Of forgiveness be not overconfident, adding sin upon sin. Say not: 'Great is his mercy; my many sins he will forgive.' For mercy and anger alike are with him; upon the wicked alights his wrath. Delay not your conversion to the Lord, put it not off from day to day; For suddenly his wrath flames forth; at the time of vengeance, you will be destroyed." (Sirach 5:5-9)

In conclusion, this document fails to call a sin a sin. It seems more concerned about 'earthly happiness' than holiness. It seems very dangerous for the salvation of souls, tending to excuse sinners and leave persons in a state of grave sin. It seems to be motivated by the desire to give people what they want instead of what is right & what is truly good for them. It fails to forcefully condemn sin and neglects to emphasize certain truths [e.g. that "The primary end of marriage is the procreation and education of children" ((1917 Can. 1013 § 1)] and that sexual relations outside of a legitimate marriage are gravely sinful. It doesn't seem to appreciate the gravity & danger of mortal sin [grave sin seems to be treated like venial sin - e.g. you can 'progress' in stages with venial sin, but NOT with mortal sin - with mortal sin, you MUST stop (or, more properly, not get into it in the first place!)]. In fact, it doesn't seem very concerned about the eternity of punishment in store for those who are non-repentant of and remain in a state of grave sin (understatement OF THE YEAR?). In fact, it seems to even reject the notion of eternal condemnation. It likewise doesn't seem very concerned about one's offending God (quite the opposite is implied at one point - e.g. that an adulterer could be more pleasing to God than one who is living out their vows faithfully!). This 'rule-hating' Pope's document contains elements that seem like (at least to me) an outright reject of Catholic doctrine (e.g. adulterers/mortal sin; 'no eternal condemnation'; etc.). It also promotes various liberal ideas (that are, truthfully, anti-family), viewing certain evils as goods (e.g. the emancipation of women, to the detriment of their husbands & children, which Pope Pius XI called "not an emancipation but a crime"). It seemingly (or actually) excuses away gospel obligations (e.g. with reference to one's true spouse, a wife's subjection). It essentially seeks to implement different rules for different persons. It fails to forcefully reject divorce [a practice which "tends to the certain destruction of society." (Pope Leo XIII, "Arcanum", 1880 A.D.)] or issue strong calls for sinners to reunite with their true spouse. It seems to side with the adulterer rather than with the true spouse and legitimate children. I fear it will (expect it will) promote sacrilege.* It pretends some sinners aren't really responsible for their sins and wrongly implies that some persons may have 'almost no choice' but to remain in grave sin. [If only Pope Francis would be so understanding of my (non-sinful) use of air conditioning (remember his earlier document 'Laudato Si'?) as he is of those committing grave sins! But again, I digress...] And, in typical Pope Francis fashion, he seems to reserve his harshest criticism NOT for those sinning gravely, but rather for those who want to follow Church doctrine (that is my impression anyways). Lastly, the document utterly fails to reflect the truth that people who divorce and 'remarry' are not really married at all, but live in the gravely sinful state of adultery. The document is lacking in clear & orthodox guidance such as...

"Opposed to all these reckless opinions, Venerable Brethren, stands the unalterable law of God, fully confirmed by Christ, a law that can never be deprived of its force by the decrees of men, the ideas of a people or the will of any legislator: 'What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.' And if any man, acting contrary to this law, shall have put asunder, his action is null and void, and the consequence remains, as Christ Himself has explicitly confirmed: '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.' Moreover, these words refer to every kind of marriage, even that which is natural and legitimate only; for, as has already been observed, that indissolubility by which the loosening of the bond is once and for all removed from the whim of the parties and from every secular power, is a property of every true marriage." (Pope Pius XI, "Casti Connubii", 1930 A.D.)

All in all, as others have likewise said, the document seems to be an assault on the Catholic Faith. I see it as possibly the second worst document in the history of the Church (the 'Ecumenical Directory' remains the worst, IMHO, for reasons that I think should be rather obvious to faithful Catholics who have managed to get through that horrible document). Lastly, I believe that this document - which seems to please the people (sinners) at God's expense (not to mention the pleasure I suspect it gives to Satan) - will tend to lead persons to eternal death rather than to eternal life.

Yet, regardless of what the Pope has said in this document, and what scandal has been caused by it, it remains true that God's laws can NEVER be changed. Thankfully also, this document does not officially change Church laws (which, regrettably, could be changed in the future). It should be noted that the document is obviously NOT infallible. However, although the Pope does NOT have the power to change Church teaching, it is unfortunately true that he can 'appear' to do so with confusing/scandalous documents like this. It would seem prudent, therefore, for the faithful to be on guard against doctrinal error, as St. Paul & St. John have stated...

"But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach (to you) a gospel other than the one that we preached to you, let that one be accursed! As we have said before, and now I say again, if anyone preaches to you a gospel other than the one that you received, let that one be accursed! Am I now currying favor with human beings or God? Or am I seeking to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ." (St. Paul, Gal. 1:8-10)

"Anyone who is so 'progressive' as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God; whoever remains in the teaching has the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him in your house or even greet him; for whoever greets him shares in his evil works." (St. John, 2 Jn. 1:9-11)

[* Particularly with reference to adulterers receiving Holy Communion. From my reading, the document does NOT definitely affirm the truth that 'remarried' (adulterous) persons must NEVER receive Holy Communion, but - sadly! scandalously! - may give the impression that maybe they could in some certain cases receive the Holy Eucharist because the adulterer - who is (purportedly) 'not condemned forever' is (preposterously!) not held culpable or that his/her mortal sin is (ridiculously!) not regarded as a mortal sin, and because the Eucharist "is not a prize". Even if this is not officially what the document intends to convey, I would argue that 1-it is nonetheless the message given, and 2-we will see this in practice, at least in some areas. Further, I would argue that this document is DELIBERATELY vague on this crucial point. [How could it be otherwise but deliberate? Plus there is the admission that the document WILL leave "room for confusion"! (A more cynically minded person might - and has - opined that the document may be intentionally vague in order to blunt opposition to it, yet no third party can say with absolute certainty what the author's intention may have been.)] Clearly though, vagueness is NOT a worthy characteristic of a papal document. Those who are charged with teaching on Christ's behalf MUST be clear and leave no room for doubt. To do otherwise seems unworthy of the papal office. It strikes me as more appropriate for Satan's representative rather than God's representative to make use of a vague, roundabout document to implement a serious (scandalous & never before allowed, always to be rejected) change in the Church - a change that not only endangers souls (1 Cor. 11:27), but also directly profanes the Holy Eucharist. If we take Galatians 1:8 seriously, shouldn't this novel idea be flatly rejected?]

Also See...

Catholic Marriage (Topic Page)

Sacraments (Topic Page)

Divorce (Topic Page)

Contraception / 'NFP' (Topic Page)

Pro-Life (Topic Page)

Catholic Men (Topic Page)

Catholic Women (Topic Page)

Homosexuality (Topic Page)

Sin (Topic Page)

Also Consider: "The Worst Sin in the Entire World" (User-Submitted Article)

"Finally, I declare that I am completely opposed to the error of the modernists who hold that there is nothing divine in sacred tradition; or what is far worse, say that there is, but in a pantheistic sense, with the result that there would remain nothing but this plain simple fact - one to be put on a par with the ordinary facts of history - the fact, namely, that a group of men by their own labor, skill, and talent have continued through subsequent ages a school begun by Christ and his apostles. I firmly hold, then, and shall hold to my dying breath the belief of the Fathers in the charism of truth, which certainly is, was, and always will be in the succession of the episcopacy from the apostles. The purpose of this is, then, not that dogma may be tailored according to what seems better and more suited to the culture of each age; rather, that the absolute and immutable truth preached by the apostles from the beginning may never be believed to be different, may never be understood in any other way." (Pope St. Pius X, Oath Against Modernism, 1910 A.D.)


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Also See...

* Catholic Marriage (Topic Page)

* Sacraments (Topic Page)

* Divorce (Topic Page)

* Contraception / 'NFP' (Topic Page)

* Pro-Life (Topic Page)

* Catholic Men (Topic Page)

* Catholic Women (Topic Page)

* Homosexuality (Topic Page)

* Sin (Topic Page)

 

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