Vatican answers to Cardinals – Marriage and Sin
- Posted by Mary's Advocates
- On October 3, 2023
Pope & DDF (formerly Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith)
This past summer, Card. Dominik Duka, for the Chech Bishop’s conference submitted dubia (questions) to the Pope about divorce and civilly remarried persons receiving communion. On 25 September, Pope Francis and Cardinal Victor Fernánde, the new head of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, gave unprecedented answers. This office was formerly held by Cardinal Gerhard Müller through 2017, and Joseph Ratzinger through 2005. Find answers in Italian on the Vatican’s website and English at National Catholic Register.
The Pope and Fernáde teach “there may be difficulties in practicing it [continence] and therefore allows in certain cases, after adequate discernment, the administration of the sacrament of reconciliation even when it is not possible in being faithful to the continence proposed by the Church.” In other words, adultery is no longer a grave serious sin for which one should abstain from receiving Communion until one confesses and has the firm resolve to avoid the sin. Read National Catholic Register’s analysis of the Vatican’s response HERE.
Cardinals new 5 dubia about Synod
Five Cardinals publicized on Monday (2 Oct) their questions to the Pope wherein they seek clarification needed because of scandal caused by prominent prelates. The last question in the Cardinal’s list applies to separated-faithful who were defendants in no-fault divorce, though marriage is not specifically mentioned; “Can a penitent who, while admitting a sin, refuses to make, in any way, the intention not to commit it again, validly receive sacramental absolution?” [Source “Reformulated Dubia” no. 5]
The sequence of events could be confusing.
- 10 July 2023 – 5 dubia submitted privately to Pope (publicized by Cardinals on 2 October)
- 11 July 2023 – Pope & Fernánde’s response (publicized by Vatican in Spanish after the Cardinal’s 2 Oct. publicity. See English NCR)
- 2 October 2023 – Reformulated Dubia (publicized by Cardinals on 2 October)
Now, the National Catholic Register has published an English Translation of the Pope’s 11 July 2023 responses. Regarding the intention to avoid future sin, the Pope & Fernánde’s wrote, “Repentance is necessary for the validity of sacramental absolution, and implies the intention not to sin.” […] “There are many ways to express regret. Often, in people who have a very wounded self-esteem, pleading guilty is a cruel torture.” […] “all the conditions that are usually placed on the confession are generally not applicable when the person is in a situation of agony, or with very limited mental and psychological capacities.”
The National Catholic Register is covering the events and reported on Monday, the following: “However, a high-ranking Vatican official sharply criticized the five cardinals for not simultaneously releasing the Pope’s original responses, which he provided to them ‘despite his many occupations.’ ‘Instead of publishing those answers, they now make public new questions, as if the Pope were their slaves for errands,’ Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernandez, the new head of the Vatican’s doctrine office, told the Spanish news agency ABC” (NCR 2 Oct.)
In other news, Diane Montagna, and American journalist in Rome posted a photo of Cardinal Raymond Burke, and Fr. Gerald Murry (ETWN Papal Posse canon lawyer).
They “speak this afternoon at a conference in Rome titled “The Synodal Tower of Babylon”, one day after the release of the Dubia. Cardinal Robert Sarah is also in attendance.”
I used to be flabbergasted when I saw diocesan publications claim that all divorced persons are in good standing and can receive the sacraments – so long as they confess any part they had in the marital break-up. Absent from these publications was the fact that a proper confession requires the penitent to have the firm resolve to stop sinning. If a penitent had forced a no-fault divorce when the other spouse committed no grave offenses that morally justified separation of spouses, the penitent is obligated to cease his/her marital abandonment.
So, what are abandoned spouses supposed to do who look to the Church to be a mother who teaches and protects, or a father who admonishes and directs? If those like Cardinal Fernánde are the one to whom separated faithful are appealing, justice might never be served in this life. However the Word of God teaches, “Beloved, do not look for revenge but leave room for the wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord’” (Rom 12:19). “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, [for] the old order has passed away” (Rev. 21:4)
We live in crazy times where marital abandoners are instructed by canon lawyers to seek a civil divorce so they can apply for their annulment; thereafter, separated faithful and children experience the natural consequence of no-fault divorce (which arguably has outcomes contrary to divine law).
To those who recognized the crazy times and conclude that Francis is, in fact, not the Pope, Bishop Athanasius Schneider gives some advice:
“According to surer Catholic tradition, in the case of a heretical pope the members of the Church can avoid him, resist him, and refuse to obey him. All of this can be done without any need for a theory or opinion that a heretical pope automatically loses his office or can be deposed” […] “The pope cannot commit heresy when he speaks ex cathedra; this is a dogma of faith. In his teaching outside of ex cathedra statements, however, he can make erroneous, ambiguous, or even heretical doctrinal statements. And since the pope is not identical with the entire Church, the Church is stronger than a singular erring or heretical pope.” (Oct. 3, 2023 LifeSiteNews LINK).