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It’s very rarely pleasant to have to issue a self-correction, but I’m quite happy to do so today, especially since the error was to underestimate the workings of the Holy Spirit – and even of a Synod of Bishops. I’ve been a bit more optimistic than most observers here in Rome over these past weeks (as you may have noticed), and readers have chided me for everything from criminal naiveté to having drunk deep of the synodal Kool-Aid. But though I have not yet personally seen a copy of the Final Synod Report, those who have, and whom I trust, are, in two words, pretty happy. So my judgment that the best we could hope for was damage control, but no more, was actually a little too pessimistic.

We have to wait and see what will make it to the final text. And I remind gentle reader that we are only – for now – considering the very narrow question of a document that will come out of this whole synodal process. A much more worrying development is that, though what you will soon see in that text will contain nothing that flatly contradicts the truths of the faith, as was once feared, this synodal process has set in motion a narrative that the Catholic Church under Pope Francis is engaged in radically rethinking fundamental questions about marriage and family. In the short run, that may be more damaging to genuine Catholicity than any particular problem that has arisen.

Belgian Cardinal Lucas Van Looys, for example, said at the press briefing Friday that Pope Francis’s announcement of a “synodal Church” means an end to a Church that judges people, the beginning of a Church that shows tenderness towards everyone, a new Church. The problem with a synod like this one is that you can never tell when people like Van Looys – sometimes even the pope himself – are speaking informally or saying something substantial. Is “new” Church here, for example, a colloquial expression, meaning a new spirit, a body renewed, emphasizing different things – or “new” as in, a departure from the 2000 year-old tradition?

It may be that Francis and some of the Synod Fathers want this last option, and they may continue to pursue it. But it will not be on the basis of the document that he will soon be given by the Synod.

Here’s a quick summary of how that document is shaping up this morning: No Kasper Proposal, no gay outreach, some passages on Communion and on bishop’s conferences that still need strengthening or reformulation. And there are still two rounds of further comments by the bishops to come. Yesterday (Friday) morning they were making oral presentations (and submitting written suggestions) on what they would still like to add, subtract, or modify in the text they’ve been given. The Drafting Committee has received those suggestions and will present the Synod Fathers with a final draft that they will vote up or down on, paragraph by paragraph, this evening. Something might still go awry, but by the end of the day today, despite media narratives to the contrary, we may end up with a surprisingly good text.

Even more surprising, however, is that those I know who have read the report all say it’s actually beautiful in places, with copious quotation from Scripture (something badly missing in the original), and passages of evangelical fervor. Much of the ungainly sociology and anthropology has been recast. I stole a line from one of Archbishop Chaput’s interventions several days ago: “the Church deserves better,” and added that if we kept on, as some like him were laboring to do, Deo volente, we might get it. There were many doubtful moments along the way, but it seems now, that the Church will get something more like what it deserves.

Archbishop Chaput at the Synod
Archbishop Chaput at the Synod

There are still some unfortunate consequences of this whole exercise. Many Catholic faithful have been upset over what threatened to be a meltdown in Catholic doctrine and practice such as we have not seen since Vatican II. I always thought – and said – that those fears were a bit exaggerated. But fears of that magnitude have made many suspect anything said by the bishops, and even by the Holy Father himself. That loss of trust will not be easy to repair in the post-Synodal period.

And as Cardinal Reinhold Marx said in a press briefing earlier this week, the Synod’s work doesn’t end when the Synod ends. It may be that, knowing the votes and the drafting were going against the positions most forcefully advocated by the Germans, that Cardinal Marx was holding out a possibility that the Holy Father will do something “prophetic” or markedly “merciful” during the Year of Mercy. That might still happen, but it’s difficult to imagine that, after this expression of strong adherence to traditional Catholic doctrine and practice, that the Holy Father would do something divisive.

Another sign of the strength of the commitment to traditional teaching in the Synod: the votes on members of the Synod Council, who will guide futures synods, basically followed the breakdown many have suggested existed within the General Assembly of the Synod itself: about two-thirds of those elected, from all five continents, are conspicuous supporters of traditional doctrine and pastoral practice. The pope also appoints members to that Council. We’ll report on its composition here when the public announcements have been made and we’re allowed to talk about the votes.

It’s worth noting that some of the members of the progressive press were already asking yesterday whether the desire to arrive at a compromise document that everyone would find acceptable has not led to a weakening in the expression of certain positions. One such person explicitly mentioned the “internal forum,” one of the alternative ways some of the groups advocating change in pastoral practice on Communion for the divorced/remarrieds believe it might be possible without a formal change by vote of the Synod Fathers. Press Office Director Father Federico Lombardi asserted that the Final Report will only speak in more general terms of conscience and the moral law.

You may recall that Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich created a stir earlier this week when he seemed to say in a private press conference that conscience somehow had to be followed even when it arrived at conclusions different from divine law. From what one hears, those important paragraphs where conscience will come up will clarify that often mistaken impression.

And Cardinal Peter Turkson argued yesterday that to look at compromise in the text as a weakening of doctrine was to misunderstand “synodality” – which allows that we won’t agree entirely, but we decide to respect one another’s differences in what we approve.

Both Lombardi’s and Turkson’s remarks reflect how great the momentum in a traditional direction really was. When’s the last time you heard a liberal objecting to dialogue because the end result was basically conservative?

So good news for now, and we will take the day off Sunday from these Synod Reports so that we can give you a final wrap-up on Monday based on the definitive final text. But perhaps one of the strongest signs of all that you may see in the next few days would be something that several Synod Fathers will be proposing today: that the Final Report begin and end with the words “Jesus Christ.” If that is inserted into the final text, we will have a very signal achievement indeed.

Robert Royal

Robert Royal

Robert Royal is editor-in-chief of The Catholic Thing, and president of the Faith & Reason Institute in Washington, D.C. His most recent book is A Deeper Vision: The Catholic Intellectual Tradition in the Twentieth Century, published by Ignatius Press. The God That Did Not Fail: How Religion Built and Sustains the West, is now available in paperback from Encounter Books.

  • Alicia

    Glory be to the Father, the Son, and the Hoy Spirit. Amen.
    Thank you Mr. Royal for the excellent reports and all the hard work. God bless you.

  • Hawaii Dave

    Whistling past the graveyard, Mr. Royal. I have been edified by your weekly reports with Raymond Arroyo, but I find your serenity at the conclusion of this alarming synodal subterfuge under Pope Francis unfounded and illogical. You are elated, in your conclusion “…that the Final Report begin and end with the words ‘Jesus Christ.'” Imagine that! In a synod on the family, one would expect that problems affecting it would be the lion’s share of discussion: contraception, abortion, and pornography. Where are they mentioned? The disproportionate incidence of clerics who now publicly espouse teachings that run contrary to Magisterial teachings indicates an unleashing that will erode unity, divide parishes, divide parishoners, empower dissenters and marginalize the faithful among our priests. A synodal church? What are you thinking, Mr. Royal?

  • Michael Dowd

    Thanks Mr. Royal. This will do nicely for the weekend but let’s not pour the champagne quite yet. Much prayer is still required especially since Pope Francis has yet to react and who knows what that might mean.

  • James

    At another site someone phrased the question at hand, now, perfectly — “Can the outcome of this synod possibly be worse than the process?”
    Yes. Francis will see to it as best he can.

  • Elizabeth O’Malley

    With all the talk of Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics and homosexuality, what was accomplished as far as strengthening the family?

  • samton909

    The most worrying thing, for me, still is the statement the Pope made last Saturday when he spoke about a “synodal church”. He made one statement that seemed to say something like “The last thing a Pope needs to do is safeguard the deposit of faith”. Yesterday in his fervorino, he said the Church must be constantly changing, that we should get used to it changing, and we must read the “signs of the times”. What he means by that is anyone’s guess.

    While the report of the synod may be reassuring, the actions of the Pope are still a cause for wonderment.

    • marianne_kat

      I agree 100%

      • Faithful Catholic

        So do I. Although it appears that the final report of the synod is better than we feared, I hope there aren’t any more unpleasant surprises on the way.

  • Manfred

    “The loss of trust will not be easy to repair in the post-Synodal period.” The ;oss of trust began in the post-Conciliar period fifty year ago. Proof: the secular media and the liberal catholic media did not send their staffs to Rome for three weeks at great expense to see the Churfch reaffirm Its constant teachings.The word “contraception” appears nowhere in Instrumentum Laboris.
    This pope(?) canonized JP II who held a Synod in 1985. The report from that Synod became the encyclical Familiaris Consortio, the teachings of which some of the present fathers are saying are already out of date! Doe anyone believe an encyclical will come from this Synod that anyone will bother reading?
    One of the tenets of Modernism is CHANGE. The Church must always accommodate Its teachings to the larger culture. That is why the bishops themselves admit they have not taught catechetics for fity years!!!
    The important fact of this two-part Synod is that the names of Satan’s children have now been exposed BY NAME and the laity will will be on guard from now on to protect themselves and their families from heresy and heterodoxy starting with the pope.

    • Diane

      Those who made us lose the trust should leave the Church, that is the only way to regain the trust!

  • Tanyi Tanyi

    Let us remain steadfast in prayer, that the Holy Spirit will not abandon the Church to Francis and Kasper.

  • JJ

    I would be very wary of the statements made by Cardinal Van Looys… They certainly seem to indicate something underhanded that may still surface in the aftermath. For those of us who have been reading the prophetic messages of the times, these maneuvers of the synod seem to confirm what has been predicted for our Church’s future, if only temporary, i.e., that the laws and traditions of the Church will be changed. Perhaps not so much in written form—so that the true colors of these clerics will be kept hidden—but ultimately in practice so that the Church meshed its ordinances with the tenets of secular society. Time will tell… But, thank you, Dr. Royal,for your honesty and faithfulness. How we need intelligent and fervent voices like yours to keep the Catholic faithful on the right road.

  • Francis

    Even if the final report is as suggested above, what about the changes to canon law?

    Isn’t it the case that the Church under Francis now allows a path to “divorce” …I mean annulment… and remarriage that is basically as fast, cheap and easy as civil civil divorce?

    Regarding the easiness of these new annulments, the list of possible reasons for a declaration of nullity is not limited to matters concerning the establishment of the marriage, and ends with an “etc,” leaving considerable room for creative thinking.

    So the problem of being divorced and remarried was already solved before the synod for anyone willing to put in a bit of effort and wait a month.

    So we basically have Catholic divorce and the Pope pushing an agenda to decentralize the Church. Are these not Church shaking developments?

  • Susy

    Many thanks for your reports. Your current column strikes a hopeful note for the weekend, but I’m still deeply worried. Many of us would give our lives for the Truth, but feel the solidity of the rock beneath us quaking from attacks by the Evil One and his Children at the synod, and in the Church hierarchy itself. Many incidents that have happened in the Church since the Papacy of Pope Francis began have been disconcerting at the least and scandalous at the worst. Your witness and quiet strength at this awful time are much appreciated.

  • Diane

    What we do know now is what Cardinals and Bishops should leave the Church, now that they have shown themselves to be against the Doctrines of the Catholic Church. Cardinals Wuerl, Marx, Kasper and Archbishop Cupich and Fr. Rosica. I know I missed others, but they too should leave the Church. They cause scandal to the One, Holy, Catholic Apostolic Church.

    • Manfred

      The key person who should formally leave the Church is the POPE who clearly incited and encouraged all of this heretical discussion with his selection of Kasper in 2/2014 and his removal of Burke from the Signatora! Cdl Mueller from the CDF warned of the threat of schism from these Synods.

  • maxmarley

    Thank you Dr Royal for your contribution.
    But I suspect a new paradigm has been reached where the sixth commandment once considered clear and settled at every level of the Catholic Church over millennia, is now being disputed at the highest level.
    The zeitgeist now dictates Catholic doctrine.
    Thank God the Africans don’t do spirit of the times

  • Diane

    Jesus Christ is the same today, yesterday and tomorrow. What needs to be changed in the Church in this changing world as the Pope says, is NOTHING! What we need to go back to and that is what should not have changed, is for the Pope, Cardinals, Bishops and Priests to preach against sin every single homily, until the lukewarm Catholics and the young get it! There IS sin and we must repent of it to receive the Glory of God in Heaven for eternity. God IS merciful, but He IS also just. The Catholic Church must never change. You can’t change the truth!

    • Faithful Catholic

      Amen! Well said. I hope many others agree.

  • Bro_Ed

    Although I admire your courage in issuing such a forecast before the Pope’s final vote (and the only vote that counts) is cast, I must quote Yogi the Theologian who decreed “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”

    In my experience, that only time a deal is truly finalized is when both sides get “something” and both sides are a “little disappointed”..

    • Dave Fladlien

      You have a very good point and it creates a real problem for anyone favoring any outcome: No agreement on an important or emotionally-charged topic has any staying power unless each side gets something they value. How that gets done as a practical matter in this case, I have no idea. But you are fundamentally correct.

      If only a very small number want something, they might give up or fade away, but I think both “sides” of this debate are too numerous for that to happen, and I suspect the beliefs are too strongly held. No matter which side of this debate one is on, he/she can’t feel good for long. They avoided a crisis, at least for the moment, but the conservatives got nothing from the liberals, and the liberals got nothing like what they wanted.

      Time will tell.

      • Mr. Graves

        Not to be the fly in the ointment, but how is it a good outcome if the faithful are a “little disapponted” with a heterodox outcome? Or if heretics are a little pleased with schismatic teachings???

        • Bro_Ed

          You use “loaded language.” The words we use often portray our bias. For example,the people who favor abortion rights call themselves “Pro-Choice” and not “Anti-Life.” The people who believe abortion is a grave wrong call themselves “Pro-Life” and not “Anti Choice.” The words we choose to use show where we stand before the issue(s) are ever discussed.

          • Mr. Graves

            What on earth does that have to do with anything?

            Church teaching on the issues surrounding communion is black and white. What shade of gray are you hoping the Bride will array herself in? Be hot or cold, but don’t champion compromising the perennial teaching of the Church. A little poison in the well is OK so long as everyone walks away feeling like a winner?!?

          • Bro_Ed

            I was responding to your words like “heretics” and “schismatic”. It’s hard to discuss positions when the name calling starts up front.

          • Mr. Graves

            What are the PC terms for Catholics who publicly depart from Church teaching and encourage others to follow their errors, respectively? I’d be happy to use them instead.

          • Bro_Ed

            No “PC” terms, no “judgemental terms.” Just a spirit of mutual respect while an important issue is under discussion.I’m sure you can figure it out.

          • Mr. Graves

            Mutual respect must be based in truth. For too long our failure to call sin and heresy by their proper names has left the Church in the mess it is in.

          • Mr. Graves

            Grrrr. Reply disappeared, so I’ll try again.

            What does “loaded language” have to do with the black and white issue of who may receive communion? Is a little poison in the well OK so long as both sides walk away feeling like winners?

    • Rosemary58

      Theologian Yogi also said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it”. That seems to be the Church’s new method.

  • Janet M Perry

    My problem with this is that many of the same arguments of being in-line with tradition could have been said of the documents of Vatican II. The documents even say that Latin should be the language for the primary Mass. And we know how well that worked out.

    If there are strong tendencies within the Church to change our practice, and clearly there are, then they will change things, in spite of what the Synod’s document says.

    So while I’m glad 2/3 of the governing group supports the traditional teaching, that alone will not protect it. It especially will not protect it if the Pope is either sympathetic to change or unwilling to defend it strongly.

    We are, finally but not universally, overcoming the damage done by those who interpreted Vatican II for us, do we need to go through it all again?

    • LawProf61

      Thank you! Your observations mirror my own. I grew up after Vatican II, and even as a young child, I found the “new Mass” insipid. I fully anticipate that the “wiggle room” left in this document will be used to excuse whatever people want. “Mercy” is a godsend. But if the conduct is no longer considered wrongful, then mercy becomes unnecessary.

  • Rene

    Good news for the time being! But as you stated, Dr. Royal, trust in Pope Francis does not run deep among many, me included. The Pope may talk about synoladity, but issue “motu propios” on his own.

  • Evangeline1031

    Thank you so much for your solid coverage, Mr. Royal. Much appreciated.
    I am somewhat taken back by the reality that while we apparently have many Cardinals who still believe we should keep The Ten Commandments and the teaching of Christ, we have too many that seem to want to jettison a great deal of faithful Catholicism.
    The address of Pope Francis may be the most disturbing aspect of this Synod. He sounds barely able to control his anger and frustration, clearly with the Cardinals who actually defended Catholic doctrine. His words were very angry, bitter, and so caustic and accusing regarding the faithful Cardinals, I am appalled by it. This is not how a holy father should sound unless he is addressing heretics. I find him frightening. I’m being honest.
    The level of appeasing language, and frankly, fawning, we have heard, directed toward the pope, by Cardinals, coupled with the actions we have already seen, example, Cardinal Raymond Burke, and the level of obvious resentment in his post-Synod comments, is positively unnerving.
    What have we got in the Chair of Peter.

  • Evangeline1031

    One last thing. I have followed this Synod from start to end. I have seen virtually nothing in the Synod that relates to my life and spiritual needs, at all. None of it. Whatever this Synod was, it did not speak to my spiritual needs at all. I cannot relate in any way to what these people were talking about. What do I need? Authentic Catholicism, not watered down, not re-packaged, not altered, no, none of that. I want only the Roman Catholic faith as given to the apostles and handed down faithfully, for 2000 years, nothing more, nothing less. Does that make ME rigid/judgmental/hostile or any of the other negative terms the pope used to describe faithful Cardinals who defended the Deposit of Faith? Maybe so. If that’s the case, so be it. I can live with that.


    Thank you Mr, Royal and also to Fr. Gerald Murray for your coverage of the Synod. I read TCT coverage and watched the two of you on EWTN’s The World over.

    I find it quite ironic (not sure that ironic is the word), that we are now at the point where, in relation to Our Holy Catholic Church, – the Bride of Christ -, Mr. Royal says “…several Synod Fathers will be proposing today: that the Final Report begin and end with the words “Jesus Christ.” If that is inserted into the final text, we will have a very signal achievement indeed.” Wow! “A signal achievement” to start and end a report with the words ” Jesus Christ”. Whoa!! Wotta a Catholic Synod!!!

  • Aliquantillus

    After reading this article I simply can’t understand for what reason the author feels entitled to optimism. One cardinal after another is declaring that the time of a “judging Church” is over and that the new Church under Francis is a “listening, accompanying Church”. Adultery and homosexuality are no longer treated as “taboos” and Catholicism is able to change. For “we are learning to listen to the people” and more such endless gobbledegook and community worker’s jargon in Vatican’s best imitation of Soviet style prose.

    All the nonsense in the documents — and there’s hardly anything in the documents which isn’t nonsense — convinces me that the real Synod is not found in the texts but in the revolution ignited by the Pope on Catholic sexual morality. This destructive revolution will go on, whatever the texts. There’s not the slightest chance that the Church will return to orthodox faith and practice. At the Synod, Modernism prevailed.

  • Rosemary58

    Since you are editor-in-chief, Mr. Royal, will this commentary be setting the new tone for other commentaries on this site? Just wondering.

  • sanfordandsons

    I hope that “tenderness” does not turn into tolerance which is the worse situation a religion can promulgate.

  • Sheila

    Thank you and Fr.Murray for your diligence in covering the Synod and in upholding our beautiful Catholic faith. May God bless both of you for your faithfulness. I’ve learned “again” to trust God and respect His way of allowing things to happen. I was unsure of this Pope and did not like that I was. I prayed for him every day and read your updates and watched EWTN. Throughout this process God healed my heart and gave me a gentle and respectful spirit toward Pope Francis. I am very happy about that. My faith rests in His hands through prayer.

  • Mr. Graves

    “The address of Pope Francis may be the most disturbing aspect of this Synod. He sounds barely able to control his anger and frustration, clearly with the Cardinals who actually defended Catholic doctrine. His words were very angry, bitter, and so caustic and accusing regarding the faithful Cardinals, I am appalled by it. This is not how a holy father should sound unless he is addressing heretics. I find him frightening.”

    You are not alone. Is the pope orthodox? I dunno. But I do know the only times he seems to speak concisely and unambiguously are when he criticizes the faithful, whether lay or religious. And he only seems to work up a sense of outrage for those same folks….. Very suspicious. It will be instructive to hear the pope’s recommendations after reading the synod’s final report.

  • Alicia

    I have just read the address of Pope Francis and I am very sad and worried for the Church.
    So vague ! Again, he’s implying many things without speaking clearly while, at the same time, throwing crumbs at conservative, faithful Catholics to quiet any opposition.
    Do we really need to reinterpret God’s mercy in light of today’s changing times? because of different cultures?
    It’s very clear this Pope has an agenda and means to implement it.
    Now I think he is dangerous, and all his talk of love and mercy,and helping the poor, as if this were a new teaching that needs to be learned, won’t buy me.
    Love and mercy, and helping the poor is what the Church has been teaching for 2,000 years.
    Now I will pray twice as hard for my beloved Catholic, Apostolic Church.
    Please, pray.

    • Diane

      Some of us tried to give the Pope the benefit of the doubt. He has shown who he is now and I am starting to believe the rumors that maybe he was not selected by the Holy Spirit and only by men lobbying for his election. We are in grave danger of losing our beautiful Catholic Church to those who are out to destroy Her from within. God help us in this time of need. Jesus, please return soon and help us.

    • GaryLockhart

      Be patient. It’s only a matter of time before Father Federico Lombardi holds another presser with his typically confused look on his face and attempts to clarify what it was that the Pope actually meant to say.

  • Diane

    Robert, after today’s events, It appears that you are very wrong. This Pope means to change our beautiful Catholic Church. It will no longer be the one true Catholic Church that Jesus Christ instituted. It appears that the devil has succeeded in destroying the Catholic Church from within. God help us. We can no longer say One, Holy Catholic Apostolic Church. The faithful must object to all of this and continue our Church with those faithful clergy that are left.

    • kathleen

      The Devil cannot destroy the Holy Catholic Church. It is the Mystical Body of Christ. The Devil thought when Jesus was crucified that he had won. How wrong he was! Same now. The Church will be here when Gabriel blows his horn – beautiful, true, and faithful to the Bridegroom. Read your Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church – preferably the 1997 edition – green cover. If you don’t have one, purchase it through EWTN Religious Catalogue.

      • Diane

        I have the green cover Catechism and I refer to it often. There has been damage done by these two synods. I have lost trust in the leadership of the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict said that in the near future we will have a much smaller faithful Church. This is not over, those homosexual and pro-homosexual Cardinals, Bishops and priests will continue to pursue their agenda until they get it. I believe that the gates of hell will not prevail against Her. There will always be the truth of the Catholic Church, but it won’t be the way it was for a very long time. This Pope needs to eliminate all of those men who have shown that they do not want to adhere to the Doctrines of the Catholic Church. If the Pope does this, Catholics will regain their trust in the Pope.

  • edith wohldmann

    Pope Francis Saturday before the voting of the final document shows just what he expected: ” Christians must continuously change….God’s gift of freedom means people must not be afraid to use it….Times change and we Christians have to continuously change. ….God wants people to observe and evaluate what changes are unfolding in the world and to change with them without letting go of Christ.” It always seems that he is scolding the faithful and all that talk about the church must not be judgmental??
    I thank God for all those faithful Cardinals and Bishops who worked so hard through this minefield of confusion and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the intercessions of Mary and the Saints to raise above it confirming our catholic faith on marriage and family. Keep on praying the Holy Rosary.

  • Dave Fladlien

    Your remarks are very interesting, as the conscience subject is very important to me, and I have some very carefully worked out and deeply held beliefs about it. Unfortunately, I can’t go into my positions here, among other things because I’d take up too much space, but I do wish I could correspond with you off line. I’d love to hear more of your thoughts, and I’d like to think I could contribute something as well.

    In any case, Thanks for posting this.

  • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

    Dave. You can write me at Our Lady of the Valley Parish, 27 Erie Avenue, Hornell, NY 14843 and we’ll take it from there.

    • Dave Fladlien

      Well, thank you very much. I’ll do that!

    • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

      Notice your out in California I believe so the best way to contact me is by mail since I’m often not at the parish. In the meantime the following should be useful:
      Aquinas in ST Ia2ae 6 on Voluntary and Involuntary [acts] gives three kinds, concomitant, consequential, and antecedent. Examples: Concomitant ignorance is if someone assumes the salary envelope is his and takes it which is not of course a sin. Consequential is if you drink excessively and then have an accident which is a sin since you should have known the possible consequences. Antecedent ignorance is false conscience when there is no sin the example is the polygamy of the patriarchs Abraham, David who abrogated a secondary principle of the natural law polygamy due to deficient reasoning but did not abrogate a primary principle which is conjugal relations only between a man and woman. Both Augustine and Aquinas agree here. Also reason itself has an intrinsic tendency toward acquiring truth in the universal desire to know.

      • Dave Fladlien

        Thank you. Am I right that you are saying then that conscience is the ultimate norm, but conscience won’t shield from responsibility when the matter was so obvious that any responsible person should have figured that out? If that is the case, we may not be saying anything all that different, but see also my letter when it gets there, it’s much more thorough. Thanks again.

    • Dave Fladlien

      Letter is in the mail (from California). Thanks again.

  • Chris in Maryland

    Dave…It is Cdl Kasper and Pope F who are taking the Pharissee position…that is…in defense of divorce and remarriage…and contradicting Jesus.

    • Dave Fladlien

      I don’t think so. What I meant by Pharisee was being so “into” doctrine that one can’t see anything else, which I think is what Francis was asking people to avoid, while avoiding also “relativism” which is what one would normally accuse Kasper of being. I don’t think he’s *necessarily* either. I don’t know that much about him, but I do know that a person who divorces and remarries is responsible for that action, whatever God’s judgment of it ultimately turns out to be, but we are responsible for how we respond to that person, and we will be judged by that.

  • Bro_Ed

    I’ll be eager to read your final analysis. Did both sides achieve “something meaningful” or do we have “consensus by obfuscation” as some have complained. I look forward to a detailed explanation in layman’s language. As my friend the olds “Mons” used to warn his seminarians “When it’s cloudy in the pulpit, it’s foggy in the pews.”