PopeWatch: Tactics



Pat Archbold’s prediction at Creative Minority Report on the Synod on the family:



Actually, what I expect is that the Synod, by design, will be quite anti-climactic, if for no other reason that to disarm the myriad critics of Kasper both in and out of the Bishops conference.

See, Cardinal Kasper’s speech was a full frontal assault on the teaching of marriage and as a result there was considerable public push back by many Cardinals and others. This is not how things are done. I actually believe that his speech was a strategic assault to test defenses. When introducing doctrine undermining change into the Church, the last thing you want is to be clear that is what you are doing. That is why I don’t expect the synod itself to be a disaster. Rather, I expect it to be like that nice crisp autumn night, the perfect sleeping weather, something so comfortable you fall asleep, even though it is a clear sign that winter is approaching.

It is for this reason I believe that they have broken the synod into two parts, part this year and part next. They want anti-climactic.

So what do I expect?

Rather than a direct assault on marriage, I expect the opposite. What I expect is a nice flowery document re-stating the Catholic doctrine on the indissolubility of marriage. It will include language about the pastoral care of souls in troubled situations, but it will be generally orthodox. But at some point, whether this year or next, or in a post synodal document by the Pope, they will recommend the Bishops conferences to study and implement pastoral guidelines to help those in this situation.

No mandate, no direct assertions on what to do, but just a call for Bishop conferences to study the problem and implement pastoral practices in line with the synodal documents. That is when the horse will be permanently out of the barn.

Then certain conferences will run wild either directly allowing it or allowing the pastor to decide. You know they will. (See German Episcopal conference)

The traditionally minded will scream bloody murder while the “everything is awesome” Catholics will only refer to the document of the synod as the mostest wonderfulist re-statement of Catholic teaching ever, ignoring what his happening on the ground.

In the meantime, the Vatican will move at a glacial pace to correct any abuses. After a few years, it will issue some weak document asking the Bishops not to abuse things. This document will be completely ignored in praxis and will only serve the purpose of throwing it in traditionalist faces when they complain about the obvious.  You know the drill.

After a few more years, the obvious abuse will be so commonplace, that people will think you a sedevacantist for even bringing it up.

Go here to read the rest.  PopeWatch would not bet against this prediction because it is precisely in this manner that many innovations have wormed their way into the Church since Vatican II.  The Pope who comes after Pope Francis will be crucial in regard to this and many other unsettling questions being raised in the current pontificate.

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  1. One need only recall the way in which the Roman Prætors and the jurists who advised them professed their veneration of the Law of the XII Tables, whilst nullifying many of its provisions through new rules of evidence, practice and procedure.

    To take an ecclesiastical example, we need only consider the revolution introduced into the Church’s marriage law by the Tametsi decree of the Council of Trent. On the one hand, the Council insisted that “although it is not to be doubted, that clandestine marriages, made with the free consent of the contracting parties, are valid and true marriages, so long as the Church has not rendered them invalid; and consequently, that those persons are justly to be condemned, as the holy Synod doth condemn them with anathema, who deny that such marriages are true and valid…” On the other, it decreed that “those who shall attempt to contract marriage otherwise than in the presence of the parish priest, or of some other priest by permission of the said parish priest, or of the Ordinary, and in the presence of two or three witnesses; the holy Synod renders such wholly incapable of thus contracting and declares such contracts invalid and null, as by the present decree It invalidates and annuls them.”

    In other words, a change in the form of contracting marriages radically altered the meaning of matrimonial consent itself and relegated to history whole volumes of the Decretals. Whether one welcomes the change (as I do, having seen the effects of the Pre-Tridentine law in Scotland) or whether one believes it should be modified or abrogated, as some modern canonists, such as Dr Ed Peters, believe, it shows how a change in practice (not doctrine) can have all but incalculable consequences in the life of the Church.

  2. You never can tell. You may go to Heaven. Or, you may go to Hell.

    “We shall go before a higher tribunal – a tribunal where a Judge of infinite goodness, as well as infinite justice, will preside, and where many of the judgments of this world will be reversed.” Thomas Meagher

  3. “”…as by the present decree It invalidates and annuls them.””
    …for not observing the laws of Matrimony expressed by the church, those parties self-excommunicated themselves from the benefit of Sacramental Marriage. The Catholic Church has the power and proper authority to prescribe how the Sacraments are effected.

  4. I believe that we are going to witness two events in one event. The first is a profoundly distinct (newer yet more faithful to the tradition of the Church) model of synod. A synod or council is an event in the Church in which bishops gather to discuss, iron out and even confront one another over either: 1) issues concerning the identity of the Church [doctrinal in nature] or 2) issues concerning the mission of the Church [envisioning, pastoral, canonical in nature] Of course you cannot have the second without the first, however here I am speaking in terms of the emphasis or mission of the synod or council. The Council of Trent and Vatican I, to take two examples, were fundamentally doctrinal, concerned with the identity of the Church in the light of the Protestant Reformation and the Enlightenment-Modern Age. They certainly had reforms that came from them but their raison d’etre was doctrinal. The Second Vatican Council, was on the other hand mission oriented [thus the often misunderstood word “pastoral”] The Council was founded on the doctrine of the Church but had as its aim the mission of the Church as it prepared for the Second Millenium. Everything within the Church was seen through this ‘paradigm’.

    The newness of this “synod” I believe will be in its more ‘open’ discussions, disagreements etc (which I recognize might throw some people for a loop). It will not be a meeting in which bishops hear addresses, comment on them and finally ‘vote’ some proposals which were really already on paper before the synod began. This is where the difference will lie. The Catholic Faith and Church will not only survive but be strengthened in this process, not weakened. I believe that Cardinal Kasper’s address was ‘the voice of a segment of the Church’, one that has great following in Germanic speaking (and some Anglo_Saxon speaking countries). Some would label it as “progressive”. Whatever the name, this segment of the Church has been chomping at the bit for change in the Church, and yes, even in doctrine. As they see it, the only barrier for this change has been the popes [Paul VI, JP II, Benedict XVI]. Now they are going to be able to hash this out with a synod-and find just how ideosyncratic they are. These Synods will hopefully be able to reconcile these “progressives” within the fuller communion of the Church.

    The upcoming two-fold Synods plus the International Meeting of Families in Philadelphia are actually a diptych with the Meeting in Philadelphia being the center (show piece). As the very name of the Synod states, the fundamental concern and primary objective is: “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization”. Its fundamental orientation will be “mission”~evangelization. Its fundamental question will be how can the Church bring the Gospel to the ‘modern family’ (in all of its joys and struggles)? and how can the family enter into the Church’s mission of evangelization?

    Here, I believe we will see some profound change. I believe that some time will be given to the Church’s ‘Christian anthropology’ (vision of man and woman), especially with an emphasis on what we call “the theology of the body”-or something very similar. In our post-modern world, the very foundations of our teaching on marriage and family are under attack. These will be addressed and eventually spelled out in a succinct that will clarify the foundations of our teaching. The nature and identity of marriage will once again be taken up [don’t expect change in the Church’s teaching here]. Then the first {Extraordinary] Synod will call for the Church to address the pastoral challenges of married couples and families in today’s world. I believe this is where the first synod will leave off. The second Synod will then take up the pastoral challenged in light of the principles laid out in the first. The Good News of marriage and family will be the center piece for the world to see at the week long meeting in Philadelphia, buoyed by the Pope’s presence and supplemented by his address to the United Nations and US Congress-primarily on ‘the family’.

    This is what I believe will happen. Of course, we all will see soon enough. However I am enthused about what is going to take place. In a world filled with bad news, it will be great to hear some good news, the gospel of the family.

  5. I wish I could share your enthusiasm, but I am more inclined to agree with Archbold. It will most likely be much ado about nothing, a few disconcerting statements here by prelate X, a few reassuring statements there by prelate Y, with not much really accomplished one way or the other. Everyone will go home awaiting round two. In the meantime, at the local level, each will latch on to the statements of their preferred prelate to do as they see fit.

    Maybe I will be surprised.

  6. Mary De Voe wrote, “The Catholic Church has the power and proper authority to prescribe how the Sacraments are effected.”

    No one disputes that, but changing the formalities did have important consequences. Thus, under the old law, an originally invalid consent could be validated by homologation or rei interventus. An example of the first would be where a party did not fully and freely consent at the time of the initial ceremony, but did so later. An example of the second would be the removal of an impediment, for example non-age or impuberty, where cohabitation continued after its removal. Tametsi meant that a marriage initially defective can only be cured by a fresh ceremony.

    Personally, I think Tametsi was productive of more harm than good, but canonists of name do argue that it should be revisited.

    Tametsi and its subsequent replacements do not apply to Non-Catholics, so tribunals have to apply the old law to converts and to Non-Catholics wishing to marry a Catholic, for whom clandestine marriages remain valid.

  7. Pat Archbold is right … There will not be a bold Reformation or Revolution in church teaching. … It will be a creeping thing.

  8. Michael Paterson-Seymour: “Tametsi meant that a marriage initially defective can only be cured by a fresh ceremony.”
    A marriage initially defective is not a Sacrament, a fresh ceremony would effect a Sacrament. Cohabitating and continuing in a marriage that is not a Sacrament is called “common law marriage” and is recognized by the state as marriage after a seven year duration.

  9. Mary De Voe

    That is the law after Tametsi. Before Tametsi, the law was as set out in the letter of Pope St Nicholas I (858–67) to the Bulgarian prince Boris I in 866. After setting out the rituals customary in Rome, including the bestowal of a ring, the giving of dowry and dower by father and husband, and priestly blessing, he explained that he was not saying that it was sinful (peccatum esse) to omit any of these customs, especially since some people could not afford them. ‘On this account,” Nicholas concluded, “according to the laws (leges), the consent of those whose union is arranged should be sufficient. If that alone is absent, all the other solemnities, even including coition, are in vain.” That remained the law of the Church until 1563.

    Of course, even Pope St Nicholas recognised that consent had to be established by some evidence. That is the origin of “common law marriage,” which was, in fact, derived from the Pre-Tridentine canon law. As Lord Curriehill put it in a Scottish case (Scotland followed the old canon law), “A woman cannot grow insensibly from a concubine into a married wife by any natural process of accretion or of accession. Such a metamorphosis cannot be legally effected by such means. Marriage is a consensual contract; and although there are different ways of proving that such a contract is entered into, yet the thing to be proved, whatever be the nature of the evidence, is that the parties entered into a mutual contract accepting of each other as spouses.” [Breadalbane Case, 1867, L.R., 1 Sc. App. 182] So too, Lord Glenlee, “marriage is founded on consent, and there may be single facts so strong as to supersede everything else. But a man’s allowing a woman to take the station, and be called his wife, is a constant and continued declaration of consent, and after this has gone on for a considerable time is sufficient proof that they are married” [Elder v McLean 1829] In other words, cohabitation with habit and repute was simply one way of proving consent and there were others.

  10. Yes, Pat is right on target. We have seen it before many many times. Each change is not written as law, but first on the local level there will be an implementation that is unlawful by nature but never discontinued. At some point the Pope ‘allows’ this practice because of how wide spread it is (See altar girls, EMHCs, communion in hand, communion standing, etc). It will be specifies as an allowance but not to be recommended. Then the left leaning Bishops will implement the changes. Then the Church will be weakened even further as more Catholics question more Catholic teaching and are not feed spiritually. This is all because many believe that the Catholic Church is a democracy and if you wait long enough, the teachings of the Church will be changed.

    Of course in reality, the teachings of the Church can’t be changed, just ignored. That is what has been happening for the last 50 years. Ancient Israel went through many of these kinds of ‘changes’ that resulted in Gods punishment. We will be punished and like Israel both the guilty and the innocent will be punished. The guilty for their guilt, the innocent for their lack of action to curb the wrong doers.

    Just look at the example of the teaching ‘Outside the Church there is no Salvation’. Now they just say that everyone in the world is within the Church. Like Father Barron said, ‘there is a reasonable hope that no one goes to hell’.

    Pray for the Church ever harder.

  11. Michael Paterson-Seymour:

    An impediment to marriage is an impediment to the Sacrament of Matrimony. Immaturity, force, close relationship of the parties all invalidate the marriage and the Sacrament of Matrimony.
    An invalid Sacrament of Matrimony is no Sacrament of Matrimony and must be cured by a fresh ceremony. It might be added, that if either party wanted to be released from a bond that did not exist, this would cause no problem. It is called annulment; that a Sacrament of Matrimony never did exist. An impediment once removed, the ceremony for a valid Sacramental marriage could go forward, with a priest or deacon receiving the couple’s vows, who make a covenant with God.
    “In other words, cohabitation with habit and repute was simply one way of proving consent and there were others.”
    This is called common law marriage and is recognized by the state after seven years.
    In a civil marriage, an imperfect consent may be remedied by the couple desiring to be married and living as married, but the couple is not in a Sacramental marriage, in a covenant with God. Their vows are witnessed by state authority to fulfill a contract, but the contract the couple makes is not a covenant with God. The couple’s vows are to each other and to the state, but not to God.
    As you know, in some countries, the couple weds in the civil ceremony, as a contract, and then proceeds to Church to wed in a covenant with God.
    You are saying that a sacramental marriage does not need a fresh ceremony and I am saying that, if and when the sacramental marriage ceremony is invalid for whatever reason, only a valid sacramental ceremony can remedy it.
    God brought the woman to Adam and Adam gave consent. “She is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” Literally. And Adam called the woman: “Eve”, because she is the mother of all mankind. God created a covenant with man and his wife. God witnessed their vows.

  12. Gary Adrian: “‘Outside the Church there is no Salvation’.”
    God does not put people outside of the church. People put themselves outside of the church using their own God-given free will. Sometimes people put themselves, body and soul, into hell by their own free will.
    Our Lady told the children at Fatima to pray for souls on their way to hell, because nobody prays for them.

  13. Mary De Voe wrote, “You are saying that a sacramental marriage does not need a fresh ceremony…”

    No, I am not (except in the case of baptised Non-Catholics, whose marriages require no ceremony at all, but are nevertheless sacramental)

    I am saying that before 1563, a sacramental marriage did not require any ceremony at all.

    Besides the quotation from Pope St Nicholas I that I set out above, there are decisions to that effect in the Decretals from Pope Alexander III and Pope Gregory IX.

    Pope Alexander III in answering a case propounded to him by the Archbishop of Salerno, declared that if consent de præsenti was expressed by such words as these Ego te accipio in meam et ego accipio te in meum whether an oath was interponed or not it was unlawful for the woman to marry another and if she should contract a second engagement by promise even although followed by sexual intercourse she should be separated from the second and should return to the first husband [Corpus Juris Canonici Decretales Gregory IX lib iv tit iv cap iii]

    Pope Gregory IX in reply to a question from the Bishop of Le Mans, —” If a man promise to marry a woman, and subsequently have intercourse with her, what is the legal position of the parties?” responded, “He who has pledged his faith to marry a woman, and afterwards has intercourse with her, although he marry another in face of the church and cohabit with her, is bound to return to the former woman. For although the first marriage appear merely presumable, yet against a presumption of this kind no evidence can be admitted. From which it follows that the marriage, which in fact came after, is not regarded as a genuine one, or indeed as any marriage at all.” [Decretales Gregorii IX c 30 X. IV. 1 usually cited as IV. 1. c XXX]

    The Council of Trent changed the law and the Pope could change it back tomorrow (although I don’t think he should)

  14. The essence of the Sacrament of Matrimony, a covenant with God, is to emulate the Creator through the gift of procreation. A man’s word is clothed in flesh by his helpmate.

  15. Reasonable hope that no one is in hell? I might agree that the hope that no one will go to hell is not completely and totally extinguished.

  16. totally agree with M Archbold’s article. One only has to look back at Vaticxn II. Altar rails were torn out ; statues taken down; tabernacles moved out of sight; nuns removed their habits. Mass liturgy was made up “as you go along”; priestly vestments were abandoned; music was fun and easy to sing along (like in kindergarten) replete with guitars Need I go on? It was all so Protestant and “happy” This was to bring more people back to Church (it didn’t) Now we are told Vatican II NEVER gave such instruction. My question is “why didn’t they stop it?” They left it to the Bishops! Mr Archbold is so right.

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