Does Jesus Nod?

Although it looks like Cardinal Kasper’s proposal (to allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion) has been rejected by the Synod of Bishops, it’s hard to avoid the impression that a great revolution is taking place in the Catholic Church – a revolution that involves selective abandonment of orthodox Catholic teachings.

At the Synod, high officials of the Church – cardinals and archbishops and bishops – said in effect that Jesus was in error when he declared that a divorced man or woman who re-marries is guilty of the sin of adultery.

Now the Kaperites didn’t say this in so many words. They didn’t stand up and shout, “Jesus was wrong” or “Jesus, like Homer, sometimes nods” or “We can forgive Jesus his unfortunate and not-very-merciful error since he, poor man, didn’t have the benefit of the moral wisdom readily available to those of us who are so happy as to live in the marvelous twenty-first century.” But this is the real meaning of what they were proposing.

They were saying that a marriage following divorce is not an adulterous union provided certain “penitential” steps are taken that will have the effect of purifying the union, of erasing its adulterous character; and therefore Catholics involved in such a purified union are free to receive Communion.

Is this anything other than a perfectly clear declaration that Jesus was mistaken when he banned divorce-and-remarriage?

If this Kasper proposal had been accepted by the Synod and ratified by the pope, it’s easy to see where things would have gone from there.

First, the penance needed to de-adulterize these unions, stiff at the outset, would later be relaxed in a spirit of mercy. Sooner or later you’d be able to divorce your first wife on Thursday, marry your second wife on Friday, say three Our Fathers and three Hail Marys on Saturday, and go to Communion on Sunday.

Second, we’d find a way of blessing other sexual activities that Jesus, poor deluded gentleman that he was, considered to be sinful, e.g., fornication, unmarried cohabitation, and homosexual sodomy.

Episcopal bishop, Gene Robinson (right) marries his male partner in 2008. They divorced in 2014.
Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson (right) marries his male partner in 2008. They divorced in 2014.

Third, while we’re in the process of tossing out some inconvenient and unfashionable elements of immemorial Catholic morality, why not also toss out certain doctrines that seem quite implausible to a college-educated modern mind, e.g., the Virgin Birth, the dual nature of Jesus, the Trinity, the Resurrection?

Were Catholicism to do all this, it would simply be following the well-worn path that has been trod for the last century or two by liberal Protestantism. Unless we are complete ignoramuses with regard to the history of Protestantism, we know where this path leads. It leads to institutional suicide. Look at Protestant denominations that have embraced religious liberalism – and by liberalism I mean the tendency to discard orthodox Christian doctrines and moral rules that the modern mind finds objectionable. Consider the so-called mainline Protestant churches in the United States today. They are terrifically up-to-date. And everywhere they are shrinking, shrinking, shrinking.

Is there any reason to believe that the liberalization of Catholicism will produce anything other than similar results? Of course not. You have to be an idiot – or a “progressive” ideologue – to believe that.

“But,” somebody will remind me, “Catholicism in America is already in decline, and this without having repudiated doctrine or morality.” Not quite true. There has been a liberal repudiation of doctrine and morals. But not a “hard” repudiation, like that of the Kasperites. Rather, a “soft” repudiation – repudiation by means of silence.

In the last half-century, how common has it been for Catholic leaders, that is, priests and bishops, to remind their flocks that the Catholic faith strongly condemns contraception, fornication, unmarried cohabitation, adultery, and homosexual sodomy? Even condemnations of abortion have been rare and muted – pace Pope Francis, who seems to imagine that our leaders have been “obsessed” with these topics? Silence, according to the old proverb, gives consent. The silence of our pastors has given an implied consent to the fashionable sexual morality (or immorality, if you prefer) of the modern secular world.

“Don’t worry,” I’ll be told, “for the Kasper proposal didn’t succeed. So the faith is safe.” Maybe. But I’m not optimistic. It is one thing for liberal Catholicism – that is, heretical Catholicism – to flourish in the pages of the National Catholic Reporter, or in the theology lectures of some bright young Jesuit, or in the after-Mass coffee hour at some upper-middle-class Catholic parish. It is quite something else for it to flourish among some of the highest officials of the Church, especially when it flourishes under the eyes of the pope – and apparently with papal connivance.

David Carlin

David Carlin

David Carlin is professor of sociology and philosophy at the Community College of Rhode Island, and the author of The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America.

  • Oscar Pierce

    As a 70 year old enthusiastically in RCIA, I find the mere fact of the debate painful. Theology that is silent WILL be taken as assent by some. Sadly, many of those might not go astray if there were a stronger voice from the clergy.

    But after all, we all have feet of poor clay, so what can one expect? Well I expect more! More from myself when there is doubt, AND more from the voice of the church I’m coming to know and love.

    The Holy Trinity, as I’ve come to understand, exists outside of time. Perhaps the church should emulate a sense of that by maintaining itself as the bastion of: Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, and the Magesterium…a rock we can surely cling to through all time.

    I feel quite blessed that there is no wavering, no such debate in my local clergy!

    Thank you David Carlin…well said indeed.

    • TomD

      This is a bit of an aside, but the day in my RCIA class, about 6 years ago, when an outside plant came into the session, the session dealing with homosexuality and the teachings of the Church, to advocate and argue for the homosexualist position, I was quite taken aback. Another initiate and I attempted to provide the Church’s position in a rational and structured way, while NONE of the instructors so much as said a word in support of the Church’s teaching. It was a very uncomfortable and discomforting evening. At the time, I chalked it up to an outsider simply coming into the session that was advertised in the weekly bulletin. Now I’m not so sure it was that innocent.

      Only now am I beginning to realize the extent of the active resistance WITHIN the Church to the Church’s own teaching on so many issues, to the extent that an RCIA session will be taken over by those who actively oppose the Church’s teaching.

      • Oscar Pierce

        When considering the devil and his minions’ ever increasing encroachment in the world at all levels of government and society, I’m not surprised when reading of your sad experience. How disappointing that the instructors stood mute! Yet perhaps, the learning totality of that session is that we must remain ever-vigilant against evil.

        As an aside for your consideration TomD… Two weeks ago I joined our men’s fellowship group in beginning the Marian Consecration, “33 Days To Morning Glory.” Wow, a very powerful spiritual experience. At the opening session the organizer/facilitator warned us that the devil would try to interfere. I believe that I experienced that one day while going through the contemplation/meditation questions for that day’s reading. That devil guy surely does hate our Mary!

        So, we must be ever vigilant; but then, when wasn’t that so? Sophistry, circular logic, half truths abound.

  • Vince Whirlwind

    A LEGAL (valid) marriage cannot be dissolved, is the teaching. There would never be a divorce in a valid marriage.

    These folks coming to The Church, know in their hearts the first marriage was not valid. As the annulment process starts, they want/need The Eucharist.

    I would guess 75% of marriages in the 70s and 80’s are not valid, even if the two are still married.

    • Dave

      Vince, your claim is precisely what is debated, and debatable. “There would never be a divorce in a valid marriage”? Ask the divorced Kennedy lady who had the annulment overturned after a long and arduous appeal to Rome. “Know in their hearts that the first marriage was not valid”? But it is the Church whom God has appointed to render that determination, because we judge poorly when we judge ourselves.

      How would you know if 75% of marriages in the 70s and 80s are not valid?

      • Vince Whirlwind

        One sign of an invalid marriage is a divorce. The criteria that is used by tribunals to determine validity, in most cases, turns out to be, the reason for the divorce. Seams logical huh?

        So, if the marriage is proven invalid, it never happened, sacramentally. Moving forward in time then, the “second” marriage…becomes the “first” marriage, but done outside the Catholic Church. No adultery here. Do you see the line of thinking? We know an annulment is still necessary.

        Earlier, I tried to answer your question on my basis for 75%, but the moderator must have determined it wasn’t worded properly, I don’t know. I’ve never been accused of having great style. Not liking to beat around the bush, that’s common for me.

        • Dave

          Vince — maybe yes, maybe no. There are examples of people who divorced from a Catholic marriage, remarried, and stay married in an apparently fruitful bond. This speaks to your point that prima facie something was wrong with the first attempt that was not wrong with the second –except that Catholics may not marry outside the Church without episcopal permission. There are examples of perfectly good sacramental marriages in which one or both of the parties wanted out and filed for annulments, some of which were granted, some of which were denied, and some of which were overturned upon appeal. The mere fact of civil divorce does not establish nullity prima facie. Joan Kennedy had the declaration of nullity overturned — and that was no small matter.

  • Tom

    I didn’t realize that Jesus had said or taught anything about homosexuality.

    • Fr Kloster

      He didn’t have to since the question was closed long ago by the Patriarchs and the Prophets. God doesn’t need to repeat Himself. Unlike our society, Jesus didn’t continually bring up for discussion long decided doctrinal stances.

      • Rick

        Exactly, many doctrinal stances were considered no-brainers and thus settled. Maybe we should start all over from the beginning, the Ten Commandments.
        1. God…I have my 401k, house, boat, car, or whatever makes me happy? /s
        3. Sabbath…Do we really need to go to organized religion on Sundays? /s
        4. Honor…Why should I honor mom and dad, they didn’t pay for my college! /s
        5. Is is kill or murder? Where does it say we have to be pacifist? IMHO
        6/9. Adultery/covet…currently under discussion. /s

    • Kevin Salmon

      Even if you’re right, and our Lord said nothing about homosexuality, the presence in Scripture, Old and New Testaments, of clear condemnations of same-sex genital actions, and the unwavering teaching of Tradition, should be enough for any Catholic. Just as we do not endorse *sola Scriptura*, we do not accept arguments that begin with: “Jesus didn’t say”…

    • GaryLockhart

      Much of what Christ said and did isn’t recorded in Scripture, just as the 20th and 21st chapters of the Gospel of John tell us.

      However, Christ did unequivocally condemn adultery and fornication, along with a cornucopia of other sins and instructed all of His followers to judge that which is just – Luke 12:57.

      Is it your contention that He would not condemn intrinsically disordered homosexual – a word which, incidentally, didn’t exist until the 19th century when it was coined by German psychologist Karl-Maria Kertbeny in May of 1868 – behavior?

    • RainingAgain

      He implicitly did so when He clearly endorsed the Mosaic Law (except for the one detail of abolishing divorce). Just read Matthew 5.17.

    • To reiterate Fr Kloster’s point, Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, the Word, did condemn homosexual behavior in no uncertain terms in Leviticus 18 and 20. Yes, that was Him.

    • Mark Chance

      “Amen, amen, I say unto you, whatever I have not specifically spoken against is something you are allowed to do,” said Jesus never.

    • Diane

      He said a man must leave is mother and father and cling to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. Jesus also said that he came to fulfill the law, not abolish it. There are many places in the Old Testament and the New that speak of the horror of active homosexuality. Jesus also performed His first miracle at the wedding feast at Cana, a Marriage between one man and one woman. That was not coincidence. That was His outright approval of marriage as it was intended to be by His Father.

    • Romulus

      Or identity theft. Or kidnapping. Or racism.

      Is there some point you’re trying to make?

    • Alicia

      He didn’t have to because He was preaching to the Jews, whose religion had settled that centuries before. ( the Old Testament )

    • Howard Kainz

      Revised modernized version of Mat. 5:28: “Anyone who looks at a woman (unless it is a man) to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.’

    • Delphin

      Why would He, there’s no such thing as ‘homosexuality’- then, or now. There is normal and natural, and then there is everything else. Sex outside of marriage, which is only between one consenting male and one consenting female until natural death, is sin. He taught that fact very clearly.
      Now, go and sin no more.

    • guest

      It’s in the penumbras.

    • Greg Goremykin

      I guess you haven’t any concept of the Deposit of Faith then. The Word of God in the Catholic Church is 1) from Scripture, the written, and 2) from Tradition, the oral. About as basic as it gets when it comes to our Faith, yet we still get people like you saying, “Oh, but it wasn’t in the Bible…”. Sigh.

  • monica

    Thank you, David Carlin. But I would say, all this talk about the declining numbers in the Protestant churches seems moot to me. We need to teach the Truth. We need to believe the Truth. We should not be concerned about the numbers. Jesus is the Truth.

    • Diane

      We should not be concerned about the numbers, you are correct. What good do these numbers do us if they don’t want to be faithful to the Church. Why should be accommodate them for the two dollars they put in the basket every week. It is the faithful Catholics that are keeping the Churches alive.

      • SJ Man

        AMEN to that!!

    • dave399

      We should be concerned about the truth AND about the numbers. When Jesus told the Apostles to preach the gospel to the whole world, he was obviously not unconcerned about numbers.

    • SJ Man

      Benedict XVI when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, once said the church will become smaller as a more fervent and orthodox people pick up the pieces of what the “spirit of Vatican II” has left us to clean up. He said this in 1969 as he saw what was on the horizon and was proven correct as the confusion that was sown has continued to take hold.

  • Chris R

    How many of the Kasperites are regularly violating their vow of chastity as practicing homosexuals? Does this fog their reasoning?

    Nancy Pelosi is now publicly arguing that Pope Francis has called us to be reasonable and fund Planned Parenthood’s deliberate butchering of children.

  • DeaconEdPeitler

    Sometimes even a deacon privileged to preach at a Sunday liturgy and using the grace of Holy Orders will find the words to address the topics of abortion, marriage and our spousal relationship with Jesus Christ. Google: “Everyday is Newtown in America.”

    • Diane

      Two Sunday’s ago our deacon did the homily. The Gospel was about the Ten Commandments. He preached about the poor????????

      • Greg Goremykin

        Yeah, because the Gospel *never* mentions the poor, does it. *Rolling eyes*. You conservatives that don’t want to accept the entire Gospel are as much cafeteria-Catholics as the Liberals who are Pro-Choice, etc. You can”t pick and choose.

        • Diane

          You are missing the point. The Homily SHOULD follow the readings and the Gospel for the day. They just do not want to speak against sin. Jesus said that the poor will always be with us and we have many collections to donate to the poor throughout the year, in my Church and I do so, in addition, a food drives everyday and clothing drives.

    • Alicia

      Why are deacons doing the homily ? in my experience, they have been a big disappointment. Nothing like a good sermon from an experienced, devout priest that speaks with authority. Besides, this is the chance the pastor has to speak to his parishioners.

      • SJ Man

        In my experience, many of the Deacons who have preached at Masses I’ve attended, have been much more orthodox and courageous than the reigning Pastor. When Canada was considering the question of gender-neutral “marriage” in 2003 and our parish was starving to get guidance on the matter, the Deacon gave a memorable homily on the sanctity of marriage. The Pastor never, ever mentioned it and was probably all for it in hindsight.
        Right now, our Deacon preaches eloquently and much, much better than the Pastor and the Associate. I think Deacon’s don’t worry so much about getting flak for preaching the Truth in all it’s glory because they aren’t (or shouldn’t be) worried about ruffling feathers like the Pastor who probably thinks people will leave the parish and, of course, cause the donation basket to be a little emptier. Our Deacon (God Bless him) was responsible for having the tabernacle put back into church right behind the altar which was banished by the aforementioned Pastor 10 years before.

  • GaryLockhart

    “Episcopal bishop(sic) Gene Robinson (right) marries(sic) his male partner in 2008. They divorced(sic) in 2014.”

    Correction: Episcopal “bishop” Gene Robinson (right) “marries” his male partner in 2008. They “divorced” in 2014.

  • Don’t forget the God of Surprises. The closing remarks of the Pope indicate a potential for a Pope Paul VI situation in reverse. If so, the resulting schism over the final exhortation will be worse than Humanae Vitae.

    • Chris in Maryland

      Open correction unceasing and direct would have to follow if the Pope tried a CEO maneuver.

      • More likely, the correction, like with Humanae Vitae, will be neither open nor direct- but would rather be censorship. Didn’t really work then, won’t work now.

  • Diane

    If someone would have told me 20 years ago that the Catholic Church would become this liberal I would have told them they were absolutely crazy. Why are faithful Catholics, Cardinals, Bishops, priests and laity allowing this to happen. We know who the deceivers are, now it is time to cast them out of the Catholic Church. Do we sit back like sheep and let the shepherds slaughter us, or do we fight back for the only One True, Catholic and Apostolic Church that was instituted by Jesus Christ. Where is the courage? Should we not demand that our beautiful Church remain unchanged and rid it of all of the evil. Should we let evil take it, and , yes it is evil. Is everyone to blind to see what is going on. Doesn’t anyone believe what the Blessed Virgin told us to do when this happened. We must save our Church and we must get together and determine how we will go about doing this. Prayer is essential, but we must also do things in reality. First by demanding that those who showed themselves to be against the Doctrines must leave. There is no trust in them as far as Faithful Catholics are concerned. We especially need to get rid of Archbishop Cupich. We had Bernadine, we do not need another man like him in charge of one of the largest Dioceses in the United States. Wake up everyone, especially those who can do something about it, especially the Catholic Media. Just talking about it doesn’t get it done! Stop making excuses for Pope Francis.

    • Bill

      Let us hope and pray that the Holy Spirit continues to guide and protect the Church from error. “The gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.”

    • Barbara

      This can only be done parish by parish. Start with yours. If they want to smell the sheep make sure your parish smells the sweet smell of Faithfulness.

  • Diane

    I just wonder how many divorced and remarried Catholics really care about how they are accepted in the Church. If they married in adultery, the chances are slim that they would live as brother and sister, unless they are very old and don’t care about sex anymore. Why should they be accommodated, when, at one time they chose sex over their Church. Seek an annulment and if they can’t be granted, then maybe is should never have been granted.

  • Diane

    We will become just like every other Church out there and that is not what Catholicism should be. If these people don’t like the Church, there are others that they can belong to. If they do not believe in the Real Presence, what, then, is the point of being Catholic. This Church of Jesus Christ demands full reverence for Him. Those who don’t want to acknowledge that, need to leave, permanently, including and especially all of the unfaithful clergy.

  • Dave

    I fear this final Relatio is a victory for the progressives. Never lose sight of the fact that they work incrementally. Now the crack is made, now it is widened a little here, a little there; now the teaching is disregarded; now it is denied as “time-bound” (archaic). That’s the way they work. After the Ball is the book that needs to be read, that and Robert Reilly’s fine Making Gay OK — which is so true and so fair that all discussion of it has been banned from “polite society.”

  • givelifeachance2

    The word “remarried” is a toxic lie for someone whose first union was in the Catholic Church – it could only really apply to the widowed. If annulled, the second union would be simply “married” (assuming it was a valid annulment). The true term for these second unions without annulment should be “adultering while playing house and deadbeating one’s true family”.

  • Manfred

    Jesus never nodded at sodomy. In fact, He never mentioned it.The Church is continually renewing Its practice of never allowing men with same sex attraction into the seminary or the priesthood.
    I insist that if there were no sodomites in the hierarchy or the priesthood in Rome this month, the Synod would have had a different tone and result.

    • ThirstforTruth

      Men with same sex attraction are not formally excluded at all from seminaries. Just ask those heterosexual seminarians who have had the worst of experiences
      where large numbers of homosexual candidates are thriving in seminaries. In fact,
      in northern New York State, there was a seminary in Ogdensburg, NY where you could not be accepted UNLESS you were homosexually inclined or worse. A fact
      of the many seminaries in this country in the USA in the late past century. That place was closed down eventually, praise God!

  • Yes, what Professor Carlin identifies as “heretical Catholicism” is as dangerous as ever.

  • Alicia

    Catholic beliefs? What makes these people think they are Catholics?
    The Church needs to give a public definition of what a Catholic is.
    If these people are Catholics, then I’m Marilyn Monroe!

  • Alicia

    The topics of communion for the remarried, cohabitating, and gay couples shouldn’t even have been up for discussion at the Synod. It’s very disturbing that they we’re even considered.
    Those who proposed them should have been told – ” Go read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and if you don’t accept and respect it, then hand in your resignation and leave. “

    • Greg Goremykin

      It’s actually a great thing that Pope Francis encouraged everyone in attendance to speak their minds. There are always heretical Cardinals and Archbishops through the history of the Church, and the Pope has always gotten them to expose themselves in ways just such as this. There is no doubt as to Kasper and his cohorts heresy, and Pope Francis has deftly gotten them to out themselves.

      • ThirstforTruth

        Good and valuable point! One has to know the enemy in order to defeat them. Those who present a clear and present danger have now come out in the open and let the wise heed this warning to the faithful.

      • newportson

        This is the charitable view of the HF’s actions. God bless Pope Francis.

  • Patti Day

    A couple of years ago I was driving my husband, and my sister and her husband, both Lutherans, to a restaurant after the four of us had attended the 5:15 pm Mass. It was the first Mass my sister had attended in forty years, and her husband’s first time ever. The conversation turned to changes that had occurred in the Church since Vatican II. I was listening, but paying more attention to traffic and looking out for the road we needed to take to get to our destination. I heard my Brother-in-Law say, “The Catholic Church is getting closer to protestant churches. Pretty soon they’ll have to allow women priests.” Out of the pitch black a booming voice shouted, “NEVER!”. I was shocked. Who said that? I was surprised to find that it was me. There was complete silence in the car. I wondered whether I should explain or say I was sorry for the outburst, but my mouth seemed like it was sealed shut. When we got to the restaurant we had a wonderful time and there was no awkwardness. Later I was glad I hadn’t said anything more. It felt like the Holy Spirit had put that word in my mouth, and it was enough. Today I wish I could shout that word out with that same conviction about any changes to the doctrines of our Church, but I’m no longer sure I can.

    • Delphin

      The SYNOD should be changed to SIN NOD.
      Assuming I didn’t think that one up all by myself…[snark]

    • ThirstforTruth

      Times are dark indeed, but remember that it is often darkest before the dawn..AND that we have the promise of Jesus Christ, our Founder, that the gates of hell shall NOT prevail.
      The victory is ours! Have faith and believe the Truth!

  • guest

    Great point.

  • Vince Whirlwind

    I am unaware of the Pope, the synod participants, or anyone actually saying that a Declaration of Nullity (annulment) is not still necessary. And this effects a large number of people.
    Nor have I heard any overt approval, in any way, of recognizing same gender unions.(a minuscule percent of the population)

    What am I missing?

    • kathleen

      Well then you haven’t been listening or paying attention. Read Voice of the Family and all the articles on the Synod, and the Synod Fathers on the Catholic Thing website. Jesus the is Way the Truth and the Life – all faithful Catholics and Christians of other religions believe in the Bible and the words of Jesus and His appointed Apostles. Read the Gospels, Acts of the Apostles and the Letters of St. Paul. And then read the Catechism of the Catholic Church. That’s it. Pray for the Church and our Pope. That’s what God wants. We strive to do His Will. Worry is useless, what is needed is trust.

      • Bob

        I agree with Vince. There has been NO change to Catholic doctrine regarding divorce. Perhaps you are the one who should be listening.

        • ThirstforTruth

          Overtly, from what we have learned about the final report given to the Pope, no changes have occurred but what is to be feared is what Pope Francis will do with those conclusions…the Pope fond of “surprises”. The Synod has formally ended but the
          voices of the dissidents will go on, activating for their cause which IS to change the centuries old teachings of our Church founded upon Truth, to bring us all into the error of Modernism. There is good reason to believe that the “Spirit of the Synod” will continue to foment and destroy.

          • newportson

            “Spirit of the Synod” can be likened to the “Smoke of Satan.”

        • newportson

          I’m listening very hard to what the HF says, and for the life of me, i have significant difficulty figuring out what he is saying, why he is saying it, whether he is actually saying it, and whether he should be saying it at all. It used to be, and i’m not one of those old timers who wants things all to be like before, but, it used to be that when the HF made a pronouncement, or spoke to the press and the public, it was meaningful, educational, and precise. Now, it is as if the HF forgets who he is and doesn’t really want the responsibility for whom he represents. Just saying.

    • newportson

      Right. a declaration of divorce is necessary under the civil law in order to allow one to join in another union. but, those declarations have become “no fault,” and the Kasperites would prefer that there be “no fault” or rather “whoopsies” declarations of nullity, so everyone who wants to can sup with the Lord, because not being able to is just so, well, embarrassing, and unmerciful.

  • Bill Brady

    In the late 1890s Pope Leo XIII had a locution where Satan told God he could destroy the Church if given enough time. God gave him 100 years. Pope Leo was horribly shaken and wrote the Saint Michael’s prayer which was prayed at the end of Mass. This prayer was stopped with the Novus Or do. Our church is under attack and our priests and bishops are the first casualties. Pray for them to be holy and faithfulservants.

  • Becky Chandler

    so the SSPX is so evil that one can not even reference something one of them said. I could just as legitimately have said the Dali Lama said something which sounds like what a Catholic bishop should sound like. Not to mention what I referenced sounded quite a bit like what Mr. Carlin said–which is what brought it to mind.

  • Chris in Maryland

    I assume the sample allows anyone baptized Catholic, whether practicing or not… So why pay attention to that?

  • Dave

    ThoughtorTwo: thanks for your response. You’re right that there is an implicit denial of divine revelation when one culturally conditions the Lord’s own words. But nothing in my comments would lead one to believe that I don’t think the Catholic Church is in demographic decline. In fact, I know that it is; and I believe that it is because the shepherds have not shepherded: this is one of the major themes of my commentary at TCT. When the Faith is not presented in its fullness, it becomes a cultural exercise only and that gets old. Put another way, we go to Mass to meet Christ (and his love and his demands and helps as we worship Almighty God), or we stop going.

    As to the evangelicals, yes, you’re right, many are defected Catholics. The largest number of spiritual but not religious millennials are the children of fundamentalists and evangelicals. What they learn is that their parents’ (antinomian) formulation of the Faith has no staying power (for reasons they may or may not understand), and they jettison it, for the same reason that the children of cafeteria Catholics also abandon the (their parents’ antinomian formulation of the) Faith. Those Catholics and those Catholic institutions that present the Faith in its fullness and teach the faithful how to assimilate and live the truths of the Faith will flourish; and the rest are falling leaves, drying up and rotting from the acid rains of the spirit of the age.

    • Barbara

      We don’t go to Mass “to meet Christ.” We go to Mass to worship the Trinity by offering the only worthy sacrifice.

  • edith wohldmann

    Jesus answered to marriage in his culture concerning man/woman only. He also mentioned, if a man does not marry he either is born this way, or was made this way by influence of others, or he stays single for the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:11). He also preached without words like the true role model and invited us to follow and IMITATE him.John the Baptist called Jesus the Bridegroom. Know the teachings of the Catholic Church, the truth will set you free and reward you with joy and peace. Heresies and Schisms may come and go. We trust in Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

    • Barbara

      Jesus preached without words?

  • Dave

    Vince, I think that the criteria should be publicized loudly and clearly. I think that the Church should go back to announcing the banns of marriage, too. And I think that priests should take much greater care — and be held to a much higher standard — in preparing couples for marriage, now counseling them to wait, now refusing to marry them at all, now telling them that they are set to go. If a couple seeks an annulment, that means the priest did not properly discern their readiness.

    My marriage is truly valid. I truly understood everything that I was getting into, as did my wife, and we both freely accepted the privileges and responsibilities of the marriage. Plus, the priest who officiated our wedding is a canon lawyer. He made sure we understood. And I am blessed to be very happily married to an extraordinary lady.

    I think you are wise not to hold your breath. I also think it is the case that a lot more marriages are valid than people like to presume when they are in massive difficulties or even inconveniences. Good marriage counseling, and good individual pastoral and other counseling, can do a lot to help people build effective marriages, when they are in trouble.

    I write all of this without judgement as to anyone’s particular circumstances.

    • Vince Whirlwind

      Couples do not seek annulments. Individuals seek annulments. And I presume, that some sort of conversion experience is prompting that desire. Thousands of people are approaching priests in these situations. They want to come home. It is my hope that none of them stumble into these message boards. Quite a many would turn around and walk away again.

  • Steve

    We are experiencing a period of ambiguity that is reflected in the comments to this article. While one can argue accurately that the Synod made no changes to doctrine, the published statements of both participants and observers left little doubt that a significant number of both were in favor of such change. I wish I could argue against Mr. Carlin’s article, but unfortunately I cannot. All I can do is to pray for clarity, if not from Rome, then from Heaven.

  • Walter Ray

    How do you account for the fact that the Eastern churches, long before the split, have allowed for divorce and remarriage, with penitential liturgies, with nothing comparable to annulment?

    • Barbara

      Could it be that they were wrong to do it then, and are wrong to do it now?