Fr Zuhlsdorf Assignment Discovery


The Synod on the Family- A review and looking ahead


Fr. John Zuhlsdorf blogs as “Fr. Z”.

In this compilation, we reproduce all Fr. Z’s Synod/Pope Francis-related blogs of the preceding 12 months. He interjects his blog writings and citations as well as readers’ responses with emphases and comments using bold black as well as red fonts and [parentheses]. When you come across them, you’ll know whose they are.

As with all of my more recent files, my comments are highlighted in green font. Additionally, wherever else you see green font, the emphasis is mine; I use blue colour for conservatives, brown for the “bad guys”.

A regular reader would be familiar with Fr. Z-isms. For instance, MSM stands for “main stream media”; the “Fishwrap” or “National Schismatic Reporter” refers to the leftwing National Catholic Reporter.

From each blog, I reproduce a few readers’ responses. These selected responses are mostly those which are in resonance with my traditional/orthodox/conservative (call it what you like) stand as a loyal Catholic.

You will find that the Catholic worldview of Fr. Z is shared by other conservative Catholic media ministries such as LifeSiteNews, Michael Voris’ ChurchMilitant.TV (formerly RealCatholicTV), Rorate Caeli … and ours!

Eminent Canon Lawyer Dr. Edward Peters is a frequent commenter and guest at Fr. Z’s blog. Several priests, deacons and seminarians regularly post their comments.

The readers’ responses are of great importance to us. When we read them, we know that there are other Catholics who share our concerns, anxieties, and fears about the modernist dangers confronting orthodoxy.

Since the liberals campaign openly and aggressively for their agendas while conservatives usually do not, or at least did not until this Synod, the latter group is now discovering its voice through the social media.

The responses of the readers add to the completeness of the information conveyed to us by the blogger.

Over the next few weeks, I will make available on our web site similar compilations of posts, articles and YouTube videos by LifeSiteNews, Michael Voris’ ChurchMilitant.TV, etc. on the October 5 to 19, 2014, Extraordinary Synod on the Family and the pivotal role played in it by Pope Francis — and a few other senior Church leaders on the side of the conservatives as well as the “progressives”. As well as the secular press.

I will also present a compilation of stories put out on the ultra-liberal National Catholic Reporter. Through these compilations, the reader will have an understanding of the opposing powers and forces that were at play not only in the months leading up to the Extraordinary Synod of October 2014 and during its two-week long proceedings which saw the mid-way report controversy, but will also continue to engage one another in the months till the 2015 Ordinary Synod is held and the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation
is released.

There can be no doubt that the minute by minute Catholic media coverage of the events unfolding at the Synod in Rome by traditional-minded ministries played an unprecedented role in the 2014 Synod.

We praise and thank God for the dedication of all those men and women who camped in Rome from before the Synod till after it closed, despite the media gag, in order to journal and instantly convey to the Universal Church the stories, interviews and video recordings from the Synod using the electronic media.


2 AUGUST 2014


14 OCTOBER 2014

15 OCTOBER 2014

The media quarantine/gag/ban was imposed by the head of the Synod of Bishops, Lorenzo Cardinal Baldisseri. The interventions, or speeches of the participants, weren’t made public through the Vatican website or L’Osservatore Romano. The several-times-a-day reporting from Rome by Fr. Z, Robert Royal, LifeSiteNews, ChurchMilitant.TV and the like provided Catholics with the right perspective, checkmating the slanted, anti-Catholic rhetoric of the liberal (National Catholic Reporter, Crux) as well as main-stream media
e.g. the Huffington Post, the New York Times, etc.

I went through some 2000 or so of Fr. Z’s blogs to compile this file.

The first reproduced blog is of October 22, 2013. I have given Roman numerals to the blogs: I, II, III, etc.

The second is of November 25, 2013, about the “Survey” or Questionnaire. Many conservatives, this writer included, never received it through his archdiocese/priest, but the liberals were busy circulating it and collecting responses.

Long before the third blog of November 26, 2013, six months into the pontificate of Pope Francis and more than a year before the synod, the “Francis effect” was a popular phrase in Catholic journalism. Is that a good thing? Read on.

By blog number 5, Catholics are expressing a loss of confidence in Pope Francis and wishing Benedict XVI was still in charge.

By the sixth blog, which is of December 12, 2013, one can see that traditional Catholics already foresee “certain Catholics, including some prelates, calling for the admission of divorced and remarried Catholics to holy Communion, which calls will be lionized by the secular press“.

Even way back then, many Catholics do not seem to repose much confidence in the Pope because of “Pope Francis’ governing style“.

In the sixth blog that I reproduced, take note of Fr. Z’s prophetic closing words, “Get ready for you who defend marriage to be accused of being cruel, of hating mercy“.

The Pope’s response, “Who am I to judge”, in an interview, become widely misused; see blog serial no. XII.

It was used by him again a little more than a month later, fomenting more confusion of interpretations.

There’s plenty more about the “Francis effect” and the “Who am I to judge” issue in the succeeding blogs.

Many, many of the readers’ responses echo the exact same thoughts and concerns that I and other Catholics have; for instance response no. 4 of blog no. XX on page 26:

QUOTE I have been reading through the Encyclicals of John Paul II and continue to read the writings of the Pope Emeritus every day. I think I have almost without realizing it given up on the Pontificate of Francis. I have noticed that I now rarely seek out the translations of his addressess and homilies. It’s not that I made a conscious decision, but I am sure it is a reaction to everything since March 2013… I have never heard in my life so much criticism of a Pope from those whom I know to be orthodox and faithful Catholics.

There are the regular references as in response no. 1 of blog no. XXXII, to Pope Francis’ Jesuit background being responsible for his words and actions, “How fitting … that our Pope is a Jesuit!

A month before the Synod, Fr. Z describes the scenario, “Catholic media and blogs speculate that Pope Francis is irritated, maybe even angry, with those who are criticizing Card. Kasper’s proposals. Perhaps he is even exiling or punishing people.  Sides are polarizing.  People are having discussions.  Hands are wringing.

Among the recurring comments, three are popular:

i) The fear of an imminent schism in the Church, precipitated by the turf wars in the Synod,

ii) The wish that Benedict XVI was still Pope,

iii) The hope that Cardinal Raymond Burke will be the next Pope.

All these impressions (on this page, above as also below) are not limited to Fr. Z and the readership of his blog but are shared by loyal Catholics everywhere, as we will see in the other compilations in this series.

The Relatio Post Disceptationem or mid-point report of the Synod was right away rejected by the President of the Polish Bishop’s Conference, see blog no. LXI, and later by the bishops of Africa and Australia.

Catholic reporter Robert Royal described it as a “bizarre document” (LXII) with “utterly astonished old Vatican reporters … and journalists walking around in shock outside for hours after“.

There were suspicions voiced, LXV, as to how the Relatio “was so swiftly produced, in tolerably good translations, in several languages seemingly by magic, overnight. Is it possible that some of the sections were written in advance?” Eventually, Fr. Z names the Synod “The robber Synod“, LXVIII.

Things get so bad that (LXXVII) one commenter writes, “One of the things that disturbs me most about Pope Francis is that he’s the one who is dividing the Church into two camps” and another, the “said liberal wing is led by the Pope “. Many Catholics echo the sentiment expressed in LXXIX, “I no longer trust the Pope“.

Journalist Edward Pentin is threatened, Zenit is forced to pull a story, and Cardinal Kasper lies brazenly (LXXX, XXXIV). Michael Voris of ChurchMilitant.TV is forced to pull a video and issue an apology (LXXXII).

A commenter in LXLV prophetically says “We should understand that those who tried to manipulate the recent Synod will spend the next year working to get their kind elected as delegates to the Ordinary Synod and planning ever more cunning means of controlling information and manipulating processes. ” I concur.

This is a must read, LXLVI: Bishop Athanasius Schneider on the Synod’s mid-way Relatio and the final document or Relatio Synodi
that went to the Holy Father.

He is categorical that “During the Synod there had been moments of obvious manipulation on the part of some clerics who held key positions in the editorial and governing structure of the Synod. The interim report (Relatio post disceptationem) was clearly a prefabricated text with no reference to the actual statements of the Synod fathers. In the sections on homosexuality, sexuality and “divorced and remarried” with their admittance to the sacraments the text representsa radical neo-pagan ideology. This is the first time in Church history that such a heterodox text was actually published as a document of an official meeting of Catholic bishops under the guidance of a pope, even though the text only had a preliminary character.

LXVII: Nicole Winfield of AP reports, “Technically speaking, [Archbishop Bruno] Forte and all the members of the drafting committee had access to far more material than the bishops themselves since they had the lengthy written speeches each synod “father” submitted prior to the meeting. Those written speeches factored into the draft reporteven if the bishops didn’t utter them during the four minutes each was allowed to speak. [Or see them at any point.  This was another procedural point that some expressed concern about before the Synod.  Everyone was to submit their speeches to Card. Baldisseri ahead of time.  Who knows what happened to them then?] with Fr. Z’s emphases and comments.

Talk of possible schism has increasedin the
Catholic Church after the recent synod, said
Cardinal Raymond Burke, LXLVIII. “Warning that this battle will continue, he called on Catholics to “speak up and act“.” Cardinal Burke was “demoted” by Pope Francis for speaking prophetically (blogs LXLIX, C, CI, CIII).

Australian Cardinal George Pell’s microphone was turned off (CIV) when he was speaking to his fellow bishops. Rumours abound that he is next on “on the hit list“. Next it was wondering when Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller would be asked to go (CIX): “Müller made an apology for “attacking” Cardinal Kasper, even though that was patently false. Who could make Müller apologize, except the Pope himself?

In the CXIII blog, Fr. Z who was in Rome to cover the Synod, insists that the Relatio Post Disceptationem “the notorious interim report … which was roundly denounced by the Synod Fathers (who were not allowed even to see it before it was released) has been on the Synod webpage in five languages since the end of the Synod on 19 October… Frankly, I think it was written already in July, because it was magically translated swiftly into five languages practically overnight.  It was also bound and ready to distribute within 36 hours,” whereas, the Relatio Synodi was not available except in Italian even a full month after the close of the Synod, more than sufficient cause for suspicion about the early availability of the Relatio Post Disceptationem. Fr. Z observed that “therewas an English translation link on the Synod website, but it was removed because it was riddled with errors …  there were some 90 errors, not 4 or 5, including the elimination of phrases, in only 62 paragraphs” of the English translation of the Relatio Synodi when it was first released. He adds, “ Weeks are passing and the only English version out there is just plain wrong in a key paragraph.

The weird thing about the only extant English translation is that a controversial paragraph is not translated correctly. WERE one able easily to compare the Italian original and other languages by clicking side by side links (which we can’t – at least at the Synod of Bishops page) you would more easily spot what can only be – after this lapse of time and after numerous people have pointed it out in public – a blatant falsification of the original.

And given what was falsified and not corrected, you have to ask: Who did this and why?

…It has been a month now since the close of the Synod and the release of that document, and still the false translation of the Italian original is all that we have, on a completely different page.”

I. Archbp. Müller (CDF) on Communion for divorced/remarried. Liberals’ panic to follow.

Posted on22 October 2013byFr. John Zuhlsdorf

In tomorrow’s edition of L’Osservatore Romano there is a long essay (4000+ words) by the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbp. Müller, on the hotly-debate issue of Communion for the divorced and remarried.  (I haven’t checked it against the Italian yet.)

I mentioned that I had been hearing rumblings about a piece in L’O for a little while.  This seems to be it.

Müller opposes the various solutions that have been presented for the divorced and remarried. This is not to say that the Prefect believes it impossible for the Church ultimately to find a solution to the dilemma.  Rejecting some proposed solutions is different from rejecting any possible solution.  (Please, those of you in Columbia Heights, don’t freak out when you read that and dash about like Chicken Little.  Theologians make distinctions.  Rejection of proposed solutions could be part of a process.)

At the core of Müller’s piece there seems to be a dismantling of all the arguments that depend mostly on “mercy” without the concomitant dimension of justice, the Lord’s own teaching, etc.

This is going to be spun by the left as the Bad Guy’s attempt to stop Francis.

Müller won’t be presented as the voice of reason.  No, he will be the Bad Guy.

Fishwrap will say something nasty about him, something personal, like, “Now that Müller is secure in his appointment as Prefect, he feels free to attack ‘mercy’.”

Then they will find a picture of Müller scowling.

It is so predictable.

Here is a sample from Müller’s piece:

A further case for the admission of remarried divorcees to the sacraments is argued in terms of mercy. Given that Jesus himself showed solidarity with the suffering and poured out his merciful love upon them, mercy is said to be a distinctive quality of true discipleship. This is correct, but it misses the mark when adopted as an argument in the field of sacramental theology. The entire sacramental economy is a work of divine mercy and it cannot simply be swept aside by an appeal to the same. An objectively false appeal to mercy also runs the risk of trivializing the image of God, by implying that God cannot do other than forgive. The mystery of God includes not only his mercy but also his holiness and his justice. If one were to suppress these characteristics of God and refuse to take sin seriously, ultimately it would not even be possible to bring God’s mercy to man. Jesus encountered the adulteress with great compassion, but he said to her “Go and do not sin again” (Jn 8:11). God’s mercy does not dispense us from following his commandments or the rules of the Church. Rather it supplies us with the grace and strength needed to fulfil them, to pick ourselves up after a fall, and to live life in its fullness according to the image of our heavenly Father.

2 out of 70 responses

1. Mueller may be Prefect of CDF, but he’s just one opinion. The Synod may be influenced by him, or it may not be influenced by him. I’m sure his views carry weight with some, but I suspect the modernists really don’t care what his personal opinions are. Regardless, if Francis wants something done, I doubt the Bishops will turn him down.

2. “The entire sacramental economy is a work of divine mercy and it cannot simply be swept aside by an appeal to the same.”

Wow. Does that ever get at the heart of it, or what? –Dr. Edward Peters, Canon Lawyer

II. ACTION ITEM! Is the “Vatican survey” being hijacked? Fr. Z says, “¡Vaya lío!”

Posted on25 November 2013byFr. John Zuhlsdorf

You know that there is a survey out there, at the Vatican’s behest, in anticipation of the upcoming Synod of Bishops which will discuss the family.

While surveying people ahead of time is not new, when I heard about this the first thing that flashed through my mind was “What could possibly go wrong?”


Do you remember that the catholic Left organized to distribute the survey and then collate the results? HERE Again, “What could possibly go wrong?

This weekend I saw that the ultra-liberal, dissenting Association of Catholic Priests, in Ireland, has helpfully rewritten this survey… just to help out, don’t you know.  HERE

Now I see this tweet:

If you go to that link – HERE – you find the list of organizing groups:

This project is sponsored by the following members of Catholic Organizations for Renewal (COR):

American Catholic Council
Call To Action
Federation of Christian Ministries/Roman Catholic Faith Community Council in the Church
New Ways Ministry
Roman Catholic Womenpriests
Southeastern Pennsylvania Women’s Ordination Conference
Voice of the Faithful
Women’s Ordination Conference

Co-sponsored by:
Catholic Church Reform
Fortunate Families
WATER: Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual

Sound okay to you?

Don’t get me wrong.  The survey is probably fairly meaningless.

Still, maybe we need to chime in?

Whaddya say?

How ’bout some active participation?

¡Vaya lío!

4 out of 38 responses

1. The survey website says that they will forward the results to the hierarchy “after independent review.” Does that mean they’ll edit out any comments that don’t fit with their agenda(s) first?

2. I have been asking people on my blog to take the survey. If the traditional, orthodox Catholics do not take the time, we have only ourselves to blame for the results being taken over by the liberals, who are more organized

3. I have done the survey. It was very slanted and heavily pushed the “couples” of homosexual relations and never once mentioned the individuals. It also pushed the edges of “Catholic acceptance” as if to make the Church bend for those defiant.

4. Did the survey on the USCCB site. It’s easy to see how it can be hijacked. I did see an article somewhere (sorry I don’t recall where) that the majority of responses were from liberals. If this is the approach that is being taken, then it is crucial that faithful Catholics, who know the Faith, and live it, respond. –Fr. Bryan

III. A “Francis Effect” in these USA?

Posted on26 November 2013byFr. John Zuhlsdorf

There is a lot of buzz about a “Francis Effect”.  As I watch Twitter, for example, I see comments such as “I’m not Catholic anymore, but I really like this Pope!” or “I disagree with the Church on a lot of things, but Francis is great!”

There are reports that numbers of penitents making sacramental confessions are up.  GOOD!  I hope that is the case.

At the same time… is there a “Francis Effect” and, if so, will it last?  Are people who are in some way impressed with Francis going to change some aspect of their lives?

Liberals will tend to latch on only to what the MSM reports about certain of Francis’ soundbites.  This is going to be a huge problem in sorting out the meaning of the new Apostolic ExhortationEvangelii gaudium.   Conservatives will also be driven, through herd-mentality, to react to those same soundbites.  I predict that a greater polarization is ahead of us.  “Francis Effect”?  I hope not, but I am not sanguine.  People on both sides don’t seem to be able to read and weigh anymore.

Anyway, I was sent a link to a post at thePew Research Center:

No clear ‘Pope Francis effect’ among U.S. Catholics

In the first eight months of his pontificate, Pope Francis has impressed, charmed and inspired many people around the world with his outreach to non-Christians, his statements of concern for the poor and disabled, and his personal humility. At the same time, other Catholics have expressed dismay over the pope’s statements about homosexuality and his remarks that the church is “obsessed” with some social issues.

Some news accounts contend that the pope’s popularity has created a “Pope Francis effect,” producing a “significant global rise in church attendance,” based on reports by Catholic clergy in Italy, Britain and and other countries of a recent rise in Mass attendance.

In the United States, home to the world’s fourth-largest Catholic population, the pope appears to be well-liked by Catholics and non-Catholics alike, rated favorably by 79% of Catholics and 58% of the general public.

[QUAERITUR…] But has the pope’s popularity produced a Catholic resurgence in the U.S., where 10% of adults are former Catholics? Not so far, at least in terms of the share of Americans who identify as such, or the share of those who report attending Mass weekly.

A new analysis of pooled Pew Research surveys conducted between Francis’ election in March and the end of October this year finds that the percentage of Americans who identify as Catholics has remained the same – 22% — as it was during the corresponding seven-month period in 2012. In fact, our polls going back to 2007 show Catholic identification in the U.S. has held stable, fluctuating only between 22% and 23%[Is the Francis Effect just a superficial, ephemeral phenomenon?]

Though Americans may report attending church more frequently than they actually do, our surveys find that self-reported levels of Mass attendance have remained virtually unchanged since the new pope was elected. Since April of this year, 39% of U.S. Catholics report attending Mass at least weekly, similar to the 40% attendance figure last year.

Mass attendance isn’t the only thing to look at.

Can we imagine that as Pres. Obama and crew help to destroy the job-force and blast family budgets to the moon through the “AFFORDABLE” Care Act that people will gives as much?

Will homosexuals be moved to live continent lives?  Will the wymyn priest crowd give up their demands for Holy Orders?

Will the number of young men who respond to priestly vocations rise?  The numbers of men and women to religious vocations?

Will Catholic schools clean up their act and guide their institutions according to Ex corde Ecclesiae?

Will couples in invalid and immoral relationships be moved by the Francis Effect to get their lives straightened out?

What is the Francis Effect?

3 out of 16 responses

1. I have thought since the first weeks after his election and the first inklings of the ‘Francis effect’ that his papacy had the potential to be a very tragic one. He has been and is being portrayed by the MSM as ‘liberal’ ideologue when he is in fact nothing of the kind. This has the potential to alienate those who call themselves ‘liberal’ when it finally dawns on them that he is not one of them, as it has already alienated many of those who call themselves ‘conservative.’ A true devil’s brew is in the works I fear. But such is the world we live in; the unfolding of events in the geopolitical arena doesn’t provide me with a whole lot of solace for the near term future of the Church either. Veni Sancte Spiritus!

2. The only reason we hear about the so called “Francis Effect” is the media believes he’s a liberal just as they are. So if the liberal media believes the Pope is a man who shares their political values, then surely Catholics must be flocking back to the pews in huge numbers. It doesn’t even matter the facts don’t agree. The chance to push the story does.

A good example of this is a new article published at, a left leaning political new website. In the article, they write with joy the Pope doesn’t like “trickle down economics”. The use of that phrase is key because the liberal media uses it as a way to discredit conservative tax and economic policies. Now in all fairness, it doesn’t surprise me Francis dislikes conservative economic views, especially since he comes from South America where Marxism is rampant.

3. The “Francis effect” is the propensity of secular progressives and secularized “catholics,” including but not limited to those in the musical-entertainment complex, to believe that the pope isn’t a Catholic.

IV. First comment on the Pope’s new Apostolic Exhortation

Posted on26 November 2013byFr. John Zuhlsdorf

The newApostolic Exhortationis out:Evangelii gaudium.  In English it is some 51000 words.  It is a slog.

It isnot an encyclical.  It isnot an apostolic letter.  It is only an apostolic exhortation.

I caution all of you (and myself as well) not to rely only on accounts or summaries of this document in theNew York Times, orFishwrap, or … name your liberal source… or trad source for that matter.  I am for now avoiding reading about it.

See if you can avoid getting kicked by the knee-jerks.

I will have more observations later.  However, as I have begun my work on it – and when I land on something that I sense will be controversial – one of the things that I constantly remind myself of is “About whom is the Pope talking in this phrase?” and also, “What does that really mean?”   Half the time, when I review his daily sermons, I have a hard time figuring out what on earth he is talking about.  What on earth does he mean by “ideology”, anyway?  When he talks about people who do “X” (something bad), I am often hard-pressed to determine precisely to whom he is referring.  I am finding that in this document too, but I still have a lot more to read.  What does “promethean neopelagianism” mean?  Anyone?  It may be that something – a lot? – is being lost in translation.  Moreover, we are only getting snips from the fervorini.  That’s a problem.  I digress. […]

2 out of 66 responses

1. I’ve done my best, since the Pope was elected, to give him breathing room. I’m finding myself increasing unwilling to continue to do so. He might be a slum Pope, but I’m not convinced that gives him the moral right (even if it does give him the legal right) to create a slum church. Even if it isn’t his intention to strip down altars and robe Priests in little more than old drapery, this will inevitably be used – just as so many of his recent actions and words – by those who seek exactly that end.

The rebellious left the Church. It seems more and more like the Church is going to leave the faithful behind in order to chase them. I suppose I can forget about seeing the Papal Tiara back in my lifetime – I need to be more concerned about losing the organ and the incense. Since, as Catholics, we believe that Papal infallibility applies only to a very limited category of official pronouncements concerning doctrine, and specifically DOES NOT extend to the selection of the Pope himself, I have no problem joining with most of the rest of traditionalists in voicing my opinion that Francis’ election was a severe mistake that require decades, if not generations, to recover from.

2. I am troubled by the Holy Father’s desire to decentralize the papacy and embrace collegiality. This approach is nothing short of a disaster. The Lord gave the keys to Peter, not for Peter to give them to Judas. The situation with the Church in Germany will be a crucial one as to what direction Pope Francis will go vis a vis increased authority for the bishops.

V. Will German bishops defy Rome, ignore teaching on indissolubility of marriage?

Posted on26 November 2013byFr. John Zuhlsdorf

Iran, and other countries, are more than likely emboldened by the Obama-inflicted weakness of these USA. They will be flexing their muscles, sure that the President won’t do anything.

In Germany, and probably other places, some bishops, emboldened by a new Pope’s new style, will be flexing their muscles, guessing that the Pope won’t do anything to them.

Here is an interesting way to engage in the New Evangelization.

From CWN:

A German bishop has said that the country’s episcopal conference will move forward with plans to allow Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, despite clear disapproval from the Vatican.

Bishop Gebhard Fürst of Stuttgart told a lay group, the Central Committee of German Catholics, that the German bishops have already drafted new guidelines for the reception of Communion by divorced/remarried Catholics, and hope to vote their approval to those new rules in March 2014. Bishop Fürst said that the German hierarchy is responding to demands from the faithful. “Expectations are great, and impatience and anger are greater still,” he said. [I wonder if they think they will get a recognition from the Holy See.  I doubt it. The wealthy German bishops (remember the Church Tax) might threaten to cut funds to the Holy See, but I think they still will not get the recognition.]

Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has instructed officials of the Freiburg archdiocese that they should retract a proposed policy that would allow divorced/remarried Catholics to receive the Eucharist. That policy, Archbishop Müller said, “would cause confusion among the faithful about the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage.”

A number of German bishops have pressed for change in the Church’s practice that bars Catholics who have divorced and remarried from receiving the Eucharist. (The only exceptions are for Catholics whose early marriages are annulled or those who pledge to live with their new partners as “brother and sister.”) Pope Francis has suggested that the question should be addressed by the Synod of Bishops, which will meet in October 2014.

So much the Year of Faith!

There will be a big push for this during the Synod.

4 out of 66 responses

1. The Year of Faith was allowed to fizzle out. A great opportunity was lost. I miss Benedict 16.

2. We do not need priests, bishops, and the Vatican to overlook sin, pat us on the head, and fail to teach and preach the truth. Most of us are battling with our conscience already and we look to the Church as the one bastion of truth standing against sin left to us. Our politicians are fallen, other churches hold no authoritative moral ground. When we are mired in the confusion of sin and temptation, as will happen, we must have the truth, not what we want to hear. For that, I could listen to all the rest of the world.

3. Further thought, this is the test of the Holy Father’s seeming-fascination with collegiality. He wants bishops and bishops’ conferences to have more control and power over local concerns, and the Germans claim that this is their local concern.

Loose lips sink ships, and while our captain cannot sink the ship of St. Peter, he can ram it into things, cause damage, and tip vulnerable persons overboard. The Germans have been swinging along the railing for quite a while. We need a ships captain to chew them out and bring them back inside to safety, not steer the ship widely in the storm and run her aground.

God is in charge, and I trust Him. But man, He must want this to be a rough ride. God help us.

4. I wonder how this new Exhortation from Pope Francis will effect this. He is calling for a decentralized Church with Bishop’s Conferences having doctrinal authority. Given some of these wacky Bishops, I find that scary. –Fr. A.J.

VI. Communion for divorced/remarried. Ed Peters on what’s at stake.

Posted on 12 December 2013 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Sacramental marriage is either indissoluble or it not.

Over at his fine canon law blog, canonist Ed Peters has something to say about an upcoming, building controversy.

Let’s understand what’s at stake, by Dr. Edward Peters

I suspect we’ll see more of this in coming months: [Yes.] certain Catholics, including some prelates, calling for the admission of divorced and remarried Catholics to holy Communion, which calls will be lionized by the secular press[Not to mention the Fishwrap!] of course, and only occasionally countered by other Catholics, such counters being dismissed by the secular press. Pope Francis’ governing style seems unlikely to put the kibosh on pro-reception agitation or, for that matter, to discourage its occasional rebuttal. So we’ll just have to deal with it. [I am not sure about that.  I suspect that Francis puts the kibosh on whatever he doesn’t like.]

[NB:] To me, though, the whole thing is rather simple: either holy Communion is Who the Church says it is or it isn’t; either typical divorce and remarriage by Catholics constitutes objective grave sin (n. b: no one is reading souls here, rather, one is noting public conduct) or it doesn’t; and, either those manifestly remaining in objective grave sin are prohibited from reception of holy Communion, or they aren’t[Plain, clear thinking like this, rare, will be swept aside!]

Now, since time immemorial, the Church has answered all three questions affirmatively. But if she were to answer any ONE of those questions negatively, Eucharistic discipline would certainly (and immediately, and drastically) change for divorced and remarried Catholics—and inevitably for several other groups, too. [Such a thing would introduce cataclysmic doubt among the people of God through the whole Church.] Those calling for this momentous change need, therefore, to understand exactly what they are asking the Church to do; those opposed to the change need to understand exactly what’s at stake in the call[This means YOU.  Get that?  DID YOU?]

Now, frankly, no one in the Church is challenging the Church’s answer to the first question, but, if the Church decides that typical divorce and remarriage is not objectively sinful for Catholics, and/or if the Church decides that holy Communion need not be withheld from those who openly persist in objectively sinful conduct, then we are all in for, as the saying goes, interesting times.

We are in for interesting times.

In the meantime, remember that Archbishop Müller published that piece which was surely known and approved by Pope Francis.  HERE
(see number I. above)

Get ready for you who defend marriage to be accused of being cruel, of hating mercy.

2 out of 78 responses

1. “Mueller is neither pope nor Time’s Person of the Year. What does Francis say?”

-Here is what Pope Francis said in a Nov. 8 address to the Apostolic Signatura in a speech about ecclesiastical tribunals and the (mainly) marriage annulment cases that they handle:

Hint: it’s quite good. It doesn’t sound to me like he wants to junk the tribunal system -far from it. Notice how he uses the phrase “justice-which is the first form of charity” toward the end. This is Pope Francis in his own words, not Archbishop Mueller. In all I have read of this issue, it is clear to me that Pope Francis wants to see if there can be some sort of easier way to determine the validity of putative marriages and wants open discussion and, if possible, “creative solutions.” It most likely will result in some sort of reform of the tribunal system – notice that he appointed a very learned canonist, Cardinal Erdö, as relator of the synod. It is also possible that his approach may create a “mess” as people wanting to change Church teaching will see this as their opportunity to push for change. I hope not. All we can do is pray for him and the Church.

It is not likely the Synod will settle the situation. There will be bishops pushing to extend the German policy to the Church, but there will also be bishops (including Abp Mueller) who understand the problem with it. The Apostolic Exhortation will then probably say something like every bishop should decide after much prayer what diocesan policy should be.

Thus it will be a return to the Hermeneutic of Ambiguity. And that raises another issue. There has been in the Church a tendency to think it more prayerful to avoid controversy (cf. ambiguity) than to defend Truth. That might be a good missionary strategy, but it does little for the Catholic in the pew.

VII. Pope Francis baptized baby of couple with civil marriage only

Posted on12 January 2014byFr. John Zuhlsdorf

This is interesting.

Today Pope Francis followed the custom of other Popes and baptized babies in the Sistine Chapel.

But wait!  There’s more!

I read in La Stampa that the parents of one of the babies aren’t married.

That is to say, the couple is civilly married but not married in the Church.  My translation:

Among the baptized – according to the report in the daily “Il Tirreno” – there is also Giulia, caught of a couple married civilly but not in church.  And this is certainly a novelty.  Not for Bergoglio, who as a priest, bishop and cardinal baptized babies of teen mothers or unmarried couples many times.  Giulia’s parents, last 25 September, had made their request to the Pope directly at the end of the Wednesday general audience.  “We were on the ‘sagrato’ (the ‘porch’ in front of the Basilica)”, Ivan Scardia recounted, the father of the baby, “when he passed by and we asked him if he could baptize our second child.  He told us to get in touch with his collaborators and then they contacted us.” When the time came to send in the documents there was a glitch: “We were married at city hall.  But this problem was also overcome,” Giulia’s father said.

In other news, during the baptism rite itself, there was a point when the Pope stopped saying the black and went off the cuff (big surprise there).  He turned to the congregation and gave them a little talking-to.

Having listened to the Pope for a while, we are starting to hear his different voices, his moods, as it were.  Frankly, he got a bit intense and serious, verging on stern.

He told them:

Don’t forget, the greatest inheritance that you can give to your children is this, the light of the faith.  Hand on the faith, a strong faith that it be their salvation.

6 out of 97 responses

Keywords Not for Bergoglio.

He’s made it pretty where he stands on this issue, so it’s not a shock. I do prefer that there not be a big public to-do for baptisms when the parents are openly ignoring Church teaching, however. It sends completely the wrong message.

2. Yes, but it doesn’t have to be done publicly.

3. […]
while the pope isn’t doing anything “wrong,” I’m wondering where in the world this is a problem his example is needed to counter?
–Fr. Martin Fox

4. Father, this is disturbing me a little. I feel like the Holy Father is becoming a bit more brazen here and starting to “buck the rules” again, like the Holy Thursday last foot washing year. How can he have the authority to give baptism to the baby of parents not married in the Church? [?!? Really?]

Can you further clarify this matter by expanding and using canon law and any relevant Church documents on this matter? Has the Pope committed any infractions of canon law or doctrine/dogma/Church documents in what he has done? [No, I don’t believe he has. Moreover, he is the Legislator.]

At least if he hasn’t broken the law so to speak, I’ll be like “That Bergoglio being Bergoglio” but at least the authority of Holy Mother Church is being respected. In other words, imprudent, but not violating Christ and his Church, so lets move on and get back to work. 

Me, who am I to judge? Call me when he baptizes the adopted baby of a homosexual couple living in a contrary to nature union.

VIII. “immensely complex… huge ramifications… major reverberations…”

Posted on12 January 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

The Holy Father baptized the baby of a couple who are only civilly married.

¡Vaya lío!

From the excellent Canon Law blog of Ed Peters… who is probably smart not to have an open combox.  Or … maybe he just enjoys watching me moderate the discussion over here.   I dunno.

My emphases andcomments.

How popes, baptism, marriage, and form, all come together


First, unlike the foot-washing episode last Holy Week (here and here), the pope’s actions today occasion no reason to think that canon or liturgical law has been—what’s the right word?—disregarded, for no canon or liturgical law forbids baptizing the babies of unmarried couples, etc. Indeed, Church law generally favors the administration of sacraments and, in the case of baptism, it requires only that there be “a founded hope” that the child will be raised Catholic (1983 CIC 868 § 1, 2º). A minister could certainly discern ‘founded hope’ for a Catholic upbringing under these circumstances and outsiders should not second-guess his decision[And I guess that still applies when the minister is THE POPE.]

But here’s the rub: a minister could also arrive at precisely the opposite conclusion on these facts and, equally in accord with the very same Church law, he could delay the baptism. I know of many pastors who have reached this conclusion and who used the occasion of a request for a baby’s baptism to assist the parents toward undertaking their duties in a more responsible manner, including helping them to regularize their marriage status in the Church, resume attendance at Sunday Mass, participate fully in the sacraments, and so on[All of which, I think, we will stipulate are good things.]

Now, if the pope’s action today was as reported (again, we don’t know that yet), [then… (here we go!)] pastors who delay a baby’s baptism in order to help reactivate the Faith in the baby’s parents are going to have a harder time doing that as word gets out about the pope’s (apparently) different approach to the rite.

Whether that was the message Francis intended to send is irrelevant to whether that is the message that he seems to have sent.

[NB] But, I suggest, the whole question of whether to baptize the baby of these parents surfaces a yet deeper question.

The only reason we describe this civilly-married Catholic couple as “unmarried” is because they apparently did not observe “canonical form” in marrying, that is, they did not marry ‘in the Church’ as required by 1983 CIC 1108, 1117. Now think about this: had two Protestants, two Jews, two Muslims, two Hindus, two Animists, two You-Name-Its, otherwise able to marry, expressed their matrimonial consent before a civil official, we Catholics would have regarded them as presumptively married. But, when two Catholics (actually, even if only one were Catholic, per 1983 CIC 1059) attempt marriage outside of canonical form, the Church regards them as not married at all[Get that?] That’s a dramatic conclusion to reach based only on one’s (non)observance of an ecclesiastical law that is itself only a few hundred years old.

For more than 50 years, a quiet undercurrent of (if I may put it this way) solidly Catholic canonists and theologians has been questioning whether canonical form—a remedy that nearly all would agree has outlived the disease it was designed to cure (clandestine marriage)—should be still be required for Catholics or [Quaeritur…] whether the price of demanding the observance of canonical form has become too high for the pastoral good it might serve.

Canonical form is an immensely complex topic. It has huge ramifications in the Church and it has major reverberations in the world. I am not going to discuss those here. But if the upcoming Synod on the Family and Evangelization is looking for a topic that needs, in my opinion, some very, very careful reconsideration, that topic would be the future of canonical form for marriage among Catholics. There is still time to prep the question for Synodal discussion.

All of this, you might wonder, from the baptism of a baby? Yes, because everything in the Church is connected to everything else. Eventually, if we get it right, it all comes together to form a magnificent tapestry of saving truth.

And he is eloquent, too.

2 out of 166 responses

This almost seems like a non-sequitur. Does one who breaks the law deserve rights afforded UNDER the law? If one chooses to ignore Church law regarding canonical form, does one deserve the benefits that the law? If canonical form can be dispensed without permission, then what message does it send to those who do follow canonical form?

With all of the redefinition of marriage that is happening in the “Civil Marriage” realm, it would seem logical to no longer recognize civil marriage at all. What about divorced peoples? Does the Church recognize the first, 2nd, third marriage?

Redefining marriage or “loosening the rules” on canonical form almost seems like submitting to the abuse, just like “female altar boys”. I fear it will also further split the identity of Catholics. Those that follow canonical form could see those that don’t as having a 2nd class marriage or as less devout. All of this revolves around CATHOLICS who the law SHOULD apply to, but CHOOSE to ignore it.

I think it safe to say that this situation with Pope Francis offering the baptism for this child…this is one of those things that REALLY make me dislike his papacy.
I gather that many view this as something wonderful, something where Pope Francis is “reaching out” how he’s showing unconditional love, etc. I must point out that there are precisely the same ideas that I’ve been hearing for most of my life, all too many of which…ultimately fail to address the real concerns we should be handling. Canon law has various stipulations for various reasons, usually aimed at addressing some pretty particular concerns.

IX. Does Pope Francis appoint bishops without collegial consultation?

Posted on14 January 2014byFr. John Zuhlsdorf

This is interesting.

Do you remember my post and comments about Pope Francis and collegiality?  Collegiality: an inquiry

This is from Sandro Magister:The pope gives, the pope takes away

VATICAN CITY, January 14, 2014 – In addition to the appointment of cardinals, Pope Francis is also taking liberties with the selection of bishops.[He is free to do so.  However, if a Pope wants to be taken serious over time, he will observe the laws that he imposes on others.  For example: let him do a, b, or c in complete disregard for the rites on, say, Holy Thursday… yes, he can do that and nobody can say that he can’t.  Father Z, however, on Thursday is obliged to follow the rites.]

Above allwhen it comes to his native Argentina, Jorge Mario Bergoglio often (if not always)neglects to submit the appointment to the judgment of the cardinals and bishops who make up the Vatican congregation set up for this purpose, even though he radically overhauled it before Christmas.  [So, does it really matter if Card. Burke isn’t a member of the Congregation?]

In Argentina, during the first ten months of his pontificate, Francis has madefifteen episcopal appointments: eight “ex novo” and seven with transfers from other positions.

But in one of these Argentine appointments, something must not have gone quite right.

It is that concerningone of the two auxiliaries of Lomas de Zamora appointed by the pope last December 3, the Capuchin Carlos Alberto Novoa de Agustini, 47, who – as stated in the official biography published in the bulletin of the Holy See on that date – in May of 1996 had “received priestly ordination from the then-auxiliary of Buenos Aires, Bishop Bergoglio, now Pope Francis.”

It happened, in fact, that on the subsequent December 14 a statement from the diocese said that Novoa de Agustini wouldnot be consecrated bishop because “after mature discernment” he had “requested from the Holy Father Francis a dispensation from his appointment, which he had granted to him.


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