PopeWatch: Christ on Divorce



Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa keeps us updated on the behind the scenes efforts to turn the words of Christ on their head in regard to divorce, and the push back from theologians who have not take leave of their senses:

by Gonzalo Ruiz Freites

(From: “Let man not separate what God has united.” The final chapter: “Conclusions”)

The teaching of Jesus on divorce and remarriage, present both in the synoptic Gospels and in the writings of Paul, is unanimous and definitive and forms part of the revelation of the New Testament, received and faithfully guarded by the Church. This is a teaching of divine-apostolic origin, absolute and universal, that prohibits divorce and, in the case of the remarriage of one who has divorced, considers the second union as adultery.

The hypothesis of Father Guido Innocenzo Gargano has no support in a serious exegesis of the texts he has studied – in their literal sense, in the immediate context, and in the entirety of the revelation of the New Testament. His is a failed attempt, moreover, because he has selected the texts that he wanted to consider on the basis of his preconceptions and not of the precomprehension of the faith of the whole of the New Testament. He has also studied them in an exceedingly partial manner, without the slightest exegetical analysis of the texts or their context. Finally, he has forced them in order to draw conclusions that are in accord with the preconceptions with which he began.

We are reminded of the words of St. Jerome, when he teaches that the one who studies the sacred text must adhere above all “to the exact interpretation,” and that “the duty of the commentator is not that of presenting personal ideas but rather those of the author who is being commented upon.” Otherwise, he adds, “the sacred orator is exposed to a grave danger, one day or another, on account of a mistaken interpretation, of making the Gospel of God the Gospel of man.”

For Gargano, Jesus approved the certificate of repudiation as a merciful concession. He approved, therefore, the adultery that resulted from this. The consequences of such reasoning are disastrous, even if Gargano does not explicitly deduce them. Jesus is supposed to have come not to abolish anything, but to take into account the concrete situation of the sinner. He is therefore supposed to have come not to call all sinners to leave their situation of sin by calling them to conversion (cf. Lk 5:32). For some there would be another way, that of the Mosaic law. In this manner Jesus would not heal the nature wounded by sin. He would instead let the sick continue being sick. He himself would have to be contented with being unable to attain the “skopòs” desired.

Gargano’s confusion is great, and his conception of salvation seems more Protestant than Catholic: it lacks an adequate theology of grace. In such a position there is no room for the grace infused into the heart of man, which makes him a new creature by healing his wounds from the inside and elevating him to the supernatural order through formal participation in the divine life. It is in this way that the “skopòs” of the salvific work of Christ is attained!

Moreover, to affirm once again the validity of Mosaic law for salvation, even if entering as “the least” in the kingdom of heaven, is gravely contrary to the revelation of the New Testament, and as a result to the Christian faith. If the Mosaic law is still a way of salvation, Christ would have died in vain.

It is also very grave to seek to impose the validity of the precepts of the ancient law on Christians. Many times while writing these lines I have thought of Paul’s cry in the letter to the Galatians, against those who were seeking to “Judaize” in this sense the Christians who had come from the Gentile world. After saying “I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification were through the law, then Christ died to no purpose” (Gal 2:21), the apostle continues: “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh?” (Gal 3:1-3).

It is clear that the teaching of the Lord is new in the Hebrew world, where divorce and remarriage were permitted on the condition of issuing a certificate of repudiation. It is in this context that Jesus prohibits the possibility of divorce and remarriage with his absolute precept: let man not separate what God has joined (Mk 10:9; Mt 19:6).

The primitive Church, therefore, had to face this problem both for the Jews who embraced the faith and for the pagans who were accustomed to the legal validity of the practice of divorce. From the beginning, however, the Church was faithful to its Lord. The Pauline text of 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 attests to how the authority of the Lord’s commandment prevailed in the face of all the permissiveness of the ancient world, both Jewish and pagan. This firmness is due to faith in the commandment given by Jesus himself: “Let man not separate what God has joined.” This conviction upheld throughout the centuries the Church’s teachings on this matter.

The mission of Jesus is entirely characterized by mercy for sinners. It is however a mercy that leads to conversion and change of heart, as He himself defines it: “I have not come to call the just, but sinners to repentance” (Lk 5:32). Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery, but neither did he say to her, “Go and get a certificate of repudiation, then you can continue to live just as before.” Instead, clearly, he commanded her: “Go and sin no more” (Jn 8:11).

Jesus does not command things that are impossible. For the necessary change of heart He brought with him the new law, the grace of the Holy Spirit poured into hearts (cf. Rm 5:5). With his grace it is possible to fulfill all of his commandments, including the precept of not uniting “more uxorio” with a person who is not one’s spouse, even if this means having to bear one’s cross every day (cf. Lk 9:23). To think that living chastity is not possible for one who has failed in his marriage means not believing, in point of fact, in the interior grace of God, which makes the old man into a new creature (cf. 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15). It also means thinking that the Lord commands us to fulfill that which is impossible, de facto nullifying the grace of God with which everything is possible, in spite of our weaknesses.

One key for understanding the thought of Father Gargano is found in his letter to Sandro Magister, when he distinguishes between “objective truth” and “subjective truth” in the moral-existential field. The distinction is unacceptable in the sense proposed by the author and opens the door to every sort of moral relativism, where one’s own conscience becomes the supreme norm of action even when it does not correspond to the objective truth or to the law of God. The truth is objective by definition. Subjective reality can correspond to the truth or not correspond to it. In the latter case this is not a matter of “subjective truth,” but of error, and it is a work of mercy to correct the one who errs. To love the sinner also means this, according to the teaching of the Lord (Mt 18:15-17; cf. Eph 6:4; Heb 12:5-11).

Vatican Council II, in “Dignitatis Humanae,” indicated that man must govern himself with his conscience, but it also taught that “all men are bound to seek the truth, especially in what concerns God and His Church, and to embrace the truth they come to know, and to hold fast to it.” And this because of the dignity of the human person, according to which men are “impelled by nature and also bound by a moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth. They are also bound to adhere to the truth, once it is known, and to order their whole lives in accord with the demands of truth.” And later: “Further light is shed on the subject if one considers that the highest norm of human life is the divine law-eternal, objective and universal-whereby God orders, directs and governs the entire universe and all the ways of the human community by a plan conceived in wisdom and love. Man has been made by God to participate in this law, with the result that, under the gentle disposition of divine Providence, he can come to perceive ever more fully the truth that is unchanging. Wherefore every man has the duty, and therefore the right, to seek the truth in matters religious in order that he may with prudence form for himself right and true judgments of conscience, under use of all suitable means.”

In the formation of their conscience, Christians must however also consider the doctrine of the Church, oriented to the salvation of all according to the plan of God the savior, “who wants all men to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth” (1 Tm 2:4). It is by the will of Christ that the Catholic Church is the teacher of truth. Its mission is to proclaim and to teach authentically the truth that is Christ, and at the same time to declare and confirm authoritatively the principles of the moral order that arise from human nature itself. In teaching all the truth contained in the Gospels, therefore, the Church does nothing other than obey the commandment of the risen Lord: “Go therefore and make disciples of all peoples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19-20). In this “all” is included the teaching on divorce and remarriage.

The Church, following the model and teaching of its Lord, has always taught that exquisite mercy must be shown to persons who find themselves in irregular situations concerning marriage. A mercy, however, that did not take into account all the teachings of the Lord in this matter would be a false mercy, being wholly or partly deprived of the truth. It would even be a cause and source of many evils, as Saint Thomas teaches in his commentary on the beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount: “Justice without mercy is cruelty; mercy without justice is the mother of dissolution.”

Only the truth makes man completely free. That truth which is the person of Jesus, the “Verbum abbreviatum” that encapsulates all of the Scriptures, old and new. He is the truth that is expressed in all his words, without cutbacks or discounts. He is the truth that is at the same time the way to life, to eternal salvation, the only goal of our Christian existence (Jn 14:6). This is what Saint Peter, the first pope, confessed when many were abandoning the Lord because they found his words “hard”: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You alone have words of eternal life” (Jn 6:68).

Go here to read the rest.  Absurd interpretations of scripture are all the rage apparently these days among the powers that be in the Vatican in order to transform living in adultery into something else, in the name of mercy.  Trying to place God’s Mercy in opposition to His Justice is the very essence of blasphemy.  Catholics who point this out are not the problem in this pontificate.

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  1. The Jesuits, it seems, since de Chardin have ‘inculcated’ a collective view of salvation as an evolutionary spiritual development en masse which will culminate in a second coming. This is inherently unChristian in that it denies the Divinity of Christ and displaces Him with the ‘people of God’. So they persistently attempt to amend the words of Christ with great gobs of theo-babble and without admitting their own divorce from Him. The Jesuit order has gone far off the rails and this Pope is one of them.

  2. Christ knew of our imperfections. Divorce of itself, blames one party and exonerates the other party, often the plaintiff, in a court of law and in the public square. “”Oh, You got yourself divorced? Must be something wrong with you because the other guy is “perfect””. MY foot. (EQUAL JUSTICE from a God of PERFECT JUSTICE)

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