PopeWatch: Surprise

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on delicious
Share on digg
Share on stumbleupon
Share on whatsapp
Share on email
Share on print



PopeWatch would suggest that a good rule to follow in regard to the pontificate is that the tea leaves may not be as easy to read as one would expect.  For example, it has been widely thought that Pope Francis is interested in allowing divorced and remarried Catholics whose prior marriage has not been annulled by the Church to receive Communion.  Based upon an article appearing today, that may not be the case.  Father Z gives us the details:


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.

Go here to read the rest.  I find it impossible to believe that Archbishop Muller would have written this without the approval and support of Pope Francis.  Go here to read an English translation of the article.  This is being taken as a reaffirmation of traditional Catholic teaching regarding divorce and remarriage and reception of Communion.  Those expecting revolutionary change from Pope Francis based upon his casual remarks, may, and that may is tentative, have been very mistaken.  Go here to read Sandro Magister’s take on this.

More to explorer

The Deep State Protects Its Own

Well, well, well:   According to Ingraham, she obtained a chain of State Department emails from May 2019 between New York Times

March for Life 2020

  I will be on the road today and probably unable to blog.  Use this post to give your takes on the

Saint of the Day Quote: Saint Messalina

Hic subtus iacet corpus sanctæ Messalinæ. Inscription on the sarcophagus of Saint Messalina discovered on December 13, 1599. A young woman, she


  1. Guess I am not that impressed. It is not enough to simply restate that divorce and remarriage (sans declaration of nullity) is wrong/sinful, and then compounding the issue by taking Communion. There needs to be action–those who are promoting/allowing the taking of Communion by the divorced/remarried need to be shipped off to a monastery somewhere, under vows of silence so they may study the issue from the point of view of the Church, etc.

    Failure to enforce this will only result in what is currently happening with the contraception/sterilization/abortion issue–yes, we’ve had a couple of Encyclicals. We have study groups about them. We have various groups dedicated to teaching NFP, praying in front of abortion clinics and doing sidewalk counseling, post-abortion healing, etc. We also have Nancy Pelosi, Kathleen Sebelius, and the majority of Catholics who have no moral qualms about the use of contraception and sterilization, including those working in the medical field. Many young Catholics are supportive of gay/lesbian “marriage.”

    I’m actually quite sympathetic to the divorced/remarried. Truth be told, this is the one teaching of Christ that I’d like explained away, abandoned, dumped in the trash. Alas, it is a little difficult to do so since the words of Christ were crystal clear.

  2. I may be missing something here, but this is my take on this new document. My guess is that this part of the document described by Sandro Magister will prove to be the exception that swallows the rule (there’s that ugly word “rule” again):

    “But Müller also recognizes that in a context like that of the present “invalid” marriages are very numerous.

    “Exactly as Pope Francis had noted, again on the return flight from Rio de Janeiro, when he recalled that his predecessor in Buenos Aires, Cardinal Quarracino, used to say: “For me half of marriages are null, because they get married without knowing that it is forever, because they do it for social convenience.”

    “But if null marriages are so great in number, how will the diocesan tribunals be able to examine all of them, juridically ascertaining their invalidity?

    “Müller does not pose this question explicitly in his document. However, he cites a 1998 article by Joseph Ratzinger republished in “L’Osservatore Romano” of November 30, 2011, in which the predecessor of Pope Francis explored the pros and cons of a hypothetical solution: the possible recourse to a decision in conscience to receive communion on the part of a divorced and remarried Catholic, in the event that the lack of recognition of the nullity of his previous marriage (on account of a sentence maintained to be erroneous or because of the difficulty of proving its nullity in the tribunal procedure) should contrast with his well-founded conviction that the marriage is objectively null.

    “It can be presumed that the synod of bishops of October 2014 – to which Pope Francis has entrusted the question – will examine precisely this “Ratzinger hypothesis” in order to innovate in this matter, albeit with the reaffirmation of the absolute indissolubility of marriage.”

    In short, the Church will reaffirm the absolute indissolubility of marriage, but will further liberalize the availability of declarations of nullity, as well as the so-called “inner forum” thing that Magister refers to as the “Ratzinger hypothesis”.

    And I’m not convinced that, at least in the short term, this isn’t the correct solution. We know we have at least a generation of poorly catechized Catholics who have gotten married for all sorts of reasons without a proper grounding in the Church’s teachings on marriage. Cardinal Quarracino was probably correct in his assessment that “… half of marriages are null, because they get married without knowing that it is forever, because they do it for social convenience.” Perhaps, in the short term, the Church should be more, for lack of a better word, liberal in its assumptions about how many marriages are in fact sacramentally invalid.

    However, the Church’s position going forward should be this:

    “Okay, going forward, now you’re on notice. To get married in the Church, you’re going to have to go through INTENSIVE catechetical training on the indisolubility of marriage. Converts are going to have to go through that same training as part of RCIA, and once they’re in the Church have their marriages convalidated in a Catholic marriage rite. After that, then we REALLY mean business that those marriages are FOREVER. No declarations of nullity will be granted except in the cases of obvious invalidity.”

  3. It is a good essay. I’d be happier if it were linked on the Vatican website, or issued as an actual CDF Note of some kind. As a Vatican guy once said, “it’s not Denziger.”

    I’m inclined to agree with Jay, and say that the necessary medicine of mercy has to be coupled with a reinforcement of the indissoluble understanding. Marriage isn’t simply “One Man, One Woman.” It’s “One Man, One Woman, Forever.”

    Another area for fruitful examination involves cases of abandonment, and the Church needs to mandate a free annulment process.

  4. What Dale said (especially the part about agreeing with me 😉 ). And I definitely agree on mandating a free annulment process. Some dioceses already do this – I know the Diocese of Richmond, for example, has a free process.

  5. “For me half of marriages are null, because they get married without knowing that it is forever, because they do it for social convenience.” –

    But, wasn’t that pretty much true at the time of Christ? Weren’t marriages pretty much arranged by the parents whether or not the couple (especially the girl/woman) in question really wanted it that way. And would they have had any knowledge “that it is forever”? If they had, would anyone have asked Christ about divorce/remarriage, which appears to have been pretty rampant at that time as well?

  6. So just what does all this stuff about “In sickness and in health, richer or poorer .. till death us do part etc” mean ? Or was that also changed after V II ? I remember being quite terrified by the undoubted permanence of the vows when we uttered those words but it gave us such confidence and trust.

    Are Marriage Vows made to be broken ? If so they are not vows, not promises, just empty phrases.

    Marriage is for life, a very short thinking session will lead you to that conclusion, so stop looking for chinks in the Church’s armour with all this muttering about annulment. Talk about the cost of the annulment process is a distraction. If the marriage fails irrevocably, that is it. You are apart and you sleep alone. Chastity reigns for the unmarried and the separated. Equally. Plus, if you are separated, there is always the chance of a reconciliation, a truly wonderful solution.

    OTH, proper, thorough preparation before entering marriage, with emphasis on zero contraception and the thrill and beauty and privilege of children is many years overdue. For a start, it should be explained from the pulpit and shown why it is such an aid to Heaven. It’s a fair guess that this particular sin is leading more people out of the Church than any other.

  7. I want to affirm the “rule of thumb” offered by Donald at the very beginning of this article. I have stated in other posts that Pope Francis is very hard to categorize if one uses the oft used ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’ ideologies-even if liberals in the media or even within the Church attempt to claim him. I am convinced of his rooted ness in the Gospel (which is the full teaching of the Catholic Church). I am also convinced that those Catholics who desire TLM have nothing to fear. This will be continued (point of fact, the Italians Bishops asked him to pull back on TLM and he refused)

    We are in a major paradigm shift in the history of the Church. The last shift took place when we moved from the Medieval Era to the Modern Era. That shift, resisted at first within the Church-the resulting in the breaking away of the Reformation (actually a reaction to the shift) and certain elements of the Humanist-Scientific forces (who were pushing forward at a rapid pace) eventually gave us the Tridentine Church. Today, however we are moving from the Modern to Post Modern era. Romano Guardini wrote of t his shift in his small but deep The End of the Modern World in 1950. I was at first stunned to see that the ‘end’ was perceived then and not in the more familiar 60’s. Vatican II, like the Council of Trent for its era, sought to enable the Church to continue in Her identity and mission for this new era.

    Each of the popes since VaticanII have attempted to serve and lead the Church further into this era. Blessed John Paul II needed to bring the initial years of ‘experimentation’ with an ethos of almost anything goes, to an end. He also needed to begin adjusting the Church to the new world wide politics emerging at the end of the Cold War. His gifts both pastoral and theological were extraordinary. Pope Benedict brought his theological gifts, especially on the Wor of God, to bear making the Revelation of God as first, foundational and central to the Church. Now Pope Francis seems to want to bring his own gifts to the mission of the Church both in evangelization and the pastoral aspect of the Church. His approach is more radical-rooted in the Catholic Tradition than many suspect.

    As we move further into this new historical context, we are going to witness older and seemingly more traditional approaches (I am not speaking here of TLM) lose their power to assist the Church in her mission. These traditional approaches are not the same as Tradition. Many are approaches that were considered to be novel and even radical at the beginning of the age of Trent.

    The whole pastoral work of the Church is going through a seemingly drastic evaluation, assessment and adjustments in order to further the mission of the Church-not change in Teachings but change in our response to our post modern world

  8. “As we move further into this new historical context, we are going to witness older and seemingly more traditional approaches (I am not speaking here of TLM) lose their power to assist the Church in her mission. … Many are approaches that were considered to be novel and even radical at the beginning of the age of Trent.” – Botolph
    I wish I could approve of this optimism of Botolph, but a reading of a newly published pivotal book, The Second Vatican Council: An Unwritten History, by Robert De Mattei, shows starkly that Vat2 definitively and deliberately broke with Catholic tradition. The debates and subsequent “anti-schematas” that became the 1st two Constitutions, On the LIturgy (Sacro.Concilium) and Dei Verbum, specifically were formulated as a break with the past, which is why there are all the trap doors in each of them. Augustin Bea, by emphasizing bibilicism alone, intended to completely supplant the long history of Church interpretative meaning and higher authority. With regard to SC (Liturgy), Cardinal Dopfner, Lienart and Leger specifically advocated “a modern liturgy that has meaning for modern man” (an actual quote) and abandonment of the traditional Catholic liturgy entirely. Dopfner actually had the temerity to assert that “the Roman Breviary … is not suitable for priests today, but were for a past time when priests had nothing to do but fill up their day with prayers.” —which was why Breviary of S Pius V, S Pius X, and S Charles Borromeo was thrown on the ash heap. In December 1962, John XXIII inscrutably placed Dopfner, Lienart and Suenens effectively in charge of the commission for guiding all the further documents of V2, with the predictable effect and outcome: a break with the past.

    So, whether it is with regard to any church disciplinary practice (divorce and re-marriage, priestly celibacy, even traditional marriage, and sacraments), Botolph, respectfully, is mistaken. This break represented by the time-bombs of Vatican II as others have called it, this break will continue to whirl madly out of control. One must go back and correct the damage. Read De Mattei’s book: it is an incontrovertible collection of fact.

  9. For the sake of brevity as well as clarity, I am going to set aside discussion on the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy which Steve Phoenix in referring to the radical traditionnalis Robert De Mattei declares broke with the received Tradition (as distinct from traditions) of the Church. I will simply state that the Catholic Church does not accept this hermeneutic of disruption-even in the much discussed area of the Sacred Liturgy.

    More specifically I want to direct our attention to the radical critique of thevDogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation. Notice the actual title of the document. It is considered and named to be Dogmatic. This means that as authoritative as the Constitution on the Liturgy and the Constitution on the Church in the Modern World are, the Constitutions on.Divine Revelation and.on the Church have been elevated further as Dogmatic

    For a second, let us look at this radical critique. It says that this dogmatic constitution on Divine Revellation has contradicted dogmatic teaching of the Church in her Sacred Tradition handed down by the College of Bishops in union with the Succesmsor Peter,, the Pope.. An Ecumenical Council is an extraordinary act of this College of Bishops in union with the pope, and authoritatively promulgated by the success mor of Peter at the time. Trent, Vatican I and Vaticam II all are Exumenical Counsils of the Church ( the latest examples of such precious gifts)

    The question remains can an Ecumenical Council in reality, substantially (rather than simply perceived or misunderstood) break with and/or contradict the received Tradition of the Church ? The answer is a resounding “NO”! If it could happen that means that Christ’s promise of the Spirit Paraclete and that gates of hell shall not prevail against thevChurch busily on Peter are empty. Does anyone really want to say that?

    Protestantism believes that the Spirit andonded the ‘institutional Church’ with the end of the New Testament era, or with the Constantinian era, Orthodoxy believes the last authoritative Council was Nicaeav II in 784 and it holds to the Tradition of the Church up until 1054 zealously. The Old Catholics would not accept Vatican I and broke away stating VaticanI was not guided bt the Spirit. Are we sadly seeing another breek in the Church caused bt those who see Vatican II as a radical break? The difference.here is that both the so called Progressives in. The Church and radical Traditionalists hold to this same hermeneutic of discontinuity pulling at the Church from the two extreme spectrums found in today’s Church

  10. I guess persons like Botolph have a programmed function key for the word “radical” and perhaps also “radical traditionalist”: it permits them to negate facts more easily. But, Botolph, it would be best for you to read the monumental fact-gathering of Roberto de Mattei with an open-mind first—or at least just read it, you clearly havent—and you would learn something.

    You would learn that discontinuity is inherent in Vat2’s documents, such as in Sacro.Conc. (On the Liturgy), when the voting members by imposing a new liturgy contradicted both the Council of Constantinople and the Council of Trent, as well as the Code of Canon Law (1918 version, no. 1257), all 3 of which state only the Holy Father can change the Mass of the Catholic church—not even a dogmatic constitution. This is what is meant by a break in continuity. It would be good for you to know that the diaries of Congar, Schillebeeckx, and Rahner, and others, which are now available to us, show there was a deliberate and concerted effort to undermine the Holy See and the Magisterium and tradition, and to replace them all with a purely “biblical” and modern basis of “church”. It would be good for you to know the mind-sets of cardinals like Dopfner, who felt the Roman Breviary should be “discarded” (a quote), disregarded the destruction of Catholic unity that a shared prayer, just as the pre-1962 Mass, provided to the Catholic Church. When Max Thurian, a Protestant observer, asked if now he could “say” the Novus Ordo Mass, one of the periti emphatically affirmed, “Yes,”, a protestant minister can celebrate the same service. That was their goal, a rejection of the Mass of Trent and the ages, for a “modern liturgy for modern man”, according to Julius Dopfner.

    Nor would it be safe to take refuge in the validity of ecumenical councils — just for example, the 2nd Council of Ephesus, and an “ecumenical” council in its day, obviously we now call the “Robber Council” since it affirmed Monophysitism as “catholic” doctrine, in its time. We now know that councils have to be judged by history and St Vincent of Lerins’ rule, “what the Catholic Church has always taught in all places at all times.”

    Or, Botolph, I would be careful: because the argument of people like Kung and Rahner and Congar and their ilk was essentially that “ecumenical councils invalidate the need for a papacy completely.” That is part of the problem we are dealing with — the crippling non-intervention of John XXIII and Paul VI, even when they themselves observed the process of “auto-destruction” (Paul Vi’s own words).

    Finally, if you compare what deMattei’s research corroborates with Romano Amerio’s similar work (Amerio was reputedly the highest non-ordained Catholic peritus present @ Vat2), you see them both document a brazenly deliberate effort to break with the past.

  11. Steve,

    It is indeed interesting that you state that my response is “programmed”. You have taken only those who see things with and after Vatican II as a discontinuity, as a disruption. Who is the programmed? You mention the Robber Council as an ecumenical council (at least for a time). At no time was that synod recognized by the pope this is the authority needed for a synod to be considered ecumenical and Catholic

    Where is the Catholic Church today? It is where the people gather with and under the authority of the bishops in full communion with the Pope, the Successor of Saint Peter

  12. Botolph is in fact programmed in his auto-replies (and may have a programmed function key for the following: “radical traditionalist”, 2x’s; “radical critique,” 2x’s; use of “radical” 5x’s in about 200 words) because he demonizes information sources that trouble him (such as Roberto deMattei’s exhaustive history on Vat2, which he clearly has not bothered to read) and thinks he effectively dismisses them.

    To others who may want to know the truth, namely that Vat2 is discontinuous with Catholic tradition, let us just look at the argument that “dogma” was defined @ Vat2 (something Botolph believes). Yet Paul VI affirmed the opposite, “Differing from other Councils, this one was not directly dogmatic, but disciplinary and pastoral.” (Paul VI, General Audience, August 6, 1975)

    Benedict XVI affirmed the same: :”The truth is that this particular Council (Vat2) defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council.” (Address to the Chilean Episcopal Conference, according to Il Sabato, 1988) JP2 repeated this same position (Angelus address, Oct. 27, 1985):
    “Pope John conceived this council as an eminently pastoral event,” i.e. not dogmatic.

    Let’s just look at Sacro. Conc (On the Liturgy): no where was the Traditional Latin Mass abolished in the text of SC—yet it was forbidden by Vat2! Even by its own document, SC contradicts Vatican II: the liturgy is to remain normatively Latin (no. 36), Gregorian chant is the proper musical form (no. 116), and the pipe organ is the normative liturgical instrument (no. 120). Is that the way the liturgy is celebrated in your parish each Sunday? If so, they must be “radical traditionalists?”

    The theological “experts” who advised the bishops and cardinals —Congar, Rahner, Kung, Chenu, others—quickly formed their own clandestine operations with deliberate efforts, well-documented now in their own personal diaries, to break with “ultramontanism” and in fact to contest the authority of the pope and place all authority in “a council of bishops” (see deMattei, The 2nd Vatican Council, an Unwritten Story).

    Card. Suenens exulted that Vat2 had become “1789 in the Church”, a new French Revolution and specifically a break with the past. Even then-Cardinal Ratzinger commented in 1988: “The Second Vatican Council has not been treated as part of the entire living tradition of the Church, but as an end of Tradition, a new start from zero. The truth is that this particular Council defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council; and yet many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of super dogma which takes away the importance of all the rest. (1988 address, Chilean Episcopal Conference).

    Yves Congar, one of the Vat2 periti, remarked with quiet satisfaction that “The Church has had, peacefully, its October revolution.” Schillebeeckx admitted, “We have used ambiguous phrases during the Council and we know how we will interpret them afterwards.” Congar also affirmed that Vatican II’s Declaration on Religious Liberty is contrary to the Syllabus of Pope Pius IX, saying: “It cannot be denied that the affirmation of religious liberty by Vatican II says materially something other than what the Syllabus if 1864 said…”

    Just look at the deliberate change (apparently by Weakland and Bugnini: see Weakland’s memoirs, “A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church”) of the words of institution of the Eucharist, “This is the cup of My blood…which will be shed for you and for all.” Again, Ratzinger had to change this back to its original wording (“for the many”) after nearly five decades of error in the Novus Ordo Mass. Why? Because Hans Urs Von Baltasar had influenced the conciliar members with his concept of universal salvation.

    So it is not my “radical” imagination, since even emeritus Pope Benedict agrees with me, that there was in fact a rupture with the past having occurred at Vat2 and there was a deliberate break with the continuous teaching and tradition of the Catholic Church.

Comments are closed.