Thursday, October 17, 2013


A few articles and issues for your consideration.
One of the big Catholic stories over the last couple of weeks was the document coming from the German diocese of Freiburg in which the Archbishop seems to have decided to allow divorced and remarried Catholics receive the Eucharist.  This was coupled with the off the cuff comments of Pope Francis that the Church will have to look at this pastoral issue and his calling of a Synod for next year to discuss marriage and family issues.  Now it seems that document was not official, but leaked.  Marie Meaney in Crisis magazine has an interesting article on the issue.  She asks: is a formal schism with German Catholics coming? 
David Quinn also an interesting piece in this week's Irish Catholic. I think we all recognise that the Church will have to tread very carefully on this issue.  Church law is one thing, but the moral law another.  At the end of the day the Church and the Pope cannot change the moral law.  As Pope Benedict XVI once said: "I'm only the Pope, there are some things I cannot change".  I'm sure Francis is aware of that too, though many in the Church are not - they think the Pope has power to change the moral law at will.  While there is reference to the position of the Orthodox Church's practice, I think it is based on a particular reading of Matthew 19 and in essence the meaning of the word porneia in 19:9.  Much controversy surrounds the meaning of this word, so the theologians will be delving into that controversy over the coming months.  That said one has to wonder why Jesus would allow for an exception when the whole thrust of his teaching is to close off the exception Moses introduced.
Further to the controversy of the pro-abortion Fine Gael TD no longer permitted to act as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, a letter to The Irish Catholic asks if politicians should be allowed serve in such roles at all - given their position as public members of a political party.  An interesting question worth discussing.
Another controversial issue was the funeral of the Nazi Erich Priebke.  The Diocese of Rome announced earlier this week that he was being refused a Catholic funeral.  As the week went on we discovered that he went to Confession and, we presume, he was reconciled with the Church before he died.  Interestingly the schismatic Society of St Pius X decided to give him a funeral, however protests prevented the body being brought to the church and so the funeral is on hold.   I offer for your consideration Fr Ray Blake's interesting blog post on the issue.  What Priebke did was horrendous, and the crimes of the Nazis deserve absolute condemnation, so I understand and accept that this man should not have a public funeral nor full public Catholic rites, though I note they have been given to mass murderers and terrorists before; such an action would be a public scandal (cf, Canon 1184).  It seems from later reports that the Diocese permitted a service in a private home, reiterating that prayers for dead can never be denied. 
And finally it seems the Church has successfully applied to gain control of the .catholic domain and she may well allow institutions and communities with canonical recognition to use it.  I wonder....??

1 comment:

  1. I was surprised, Father, to read your description of the Society of Saint Pius X as “schismatic”. With respect, the accusation is reckless, false, and unjust, and really should be corrected.

    I’m not aware of any explanation, anywhere, of how Bishops and priests who are not excommunicated, are outside the Church. An article by Christopher Ferrara, published in the Remnant Newspaper is worth reading:

    The Society has never been declared schismatic by the Church’s authorities. There are multiple statements to indicate the opposite, in fact.

    “Mere contempt of a precept or law of the Pope, no matter how grave or obstinate, is mere disobedience of a precept, and therefore not schismatic in its essence, and hence, does not separate one from the Church.” - Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II-II, q.12, a. 1 ad 3

    Other Dominican theologians such as Pruemmer and Merkelbach further confirm that mere disobedience does not constitute schism.

    Schismatics are those who “pertinaciously refuse obedience to the Roman Pontiff in so far as he is head of the Church”.- Pruemmer, Manuale Theologiae Moralis, Vol. III, p 364. In other words, schism involves rejection of the imperium or authority of the Pope, not refusal to accept novelties and reforms which one in good conscience believes a danger to the salvation of souls.

    On 30 June 1988, when he consecrated four bishops, Archbishop Lefebvre made it very clear in his sermon that there was no intention or spirit of schism involved:

    "We are not schismatics! . . .There is no question of us separating ourselves from Rome, nor of putting ourselves under a foreign government, nor of establishing a sort of parallel church as the Bishops of Palmar de Troya have done in Spain. . . . It is out of the question for us to do such things. Far from us be this miserable thought to separate ourselves from Rome!”

    The Catholic Encyclopedia makes it perfectly clear that schism involves more than disobedience: "Not every disobedience is a schism; in order to possess this character it must include besides the transgression of the commands of superiors, denial of their Divine right to command".The Society has quite clearly never denied the Pope’s authority to command. If anyone disagrees, they ought to read the Declaration of the Society’s General Chapter last year. It includes the following:

    “We reaffirm our faith in the Roman Catholic Church, the unique Church founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ, outside of which there is no salvation nor possibility to find the means leading to salvation; our faith in its monarchical constitution, desired by Our Lord Himself, by which the supreme power of government over the universal Church belongs only to the Pope, Vicar of Christ on earth…”

    Hardly the words of “schismatics”.

    How many of those modernist Bishops and priests who have endangered souls over the last five decades would put their names to that Declaration?