Saturday, 5 September 2015

February 24, 303 Revisited VII


Diocletian was seen as a "saviour", a reformer of good, old fashioned Roman values. He was successful in targeting a few groups which were increasingly seen as threatening the empire. The empire and the gods were one. The emperors and the gods were one. Security and peace, low inflation and financial progress were the priorities.


The Roman household had a strong identity. They were proudly "Roman". Could one be a Catholic

and a Roman?






Sound familiar?

He decided that instead of emperor, he would be called Dominus Noster. One can see immediately that his intent was to consolidate power, even propagandist power, under his rule. Some historians claim that Galerius, one of the four emperors in the Tetrarchy, really pushed for the Great Persecution but the fact is that it started and was overseen by Diocletian.

All rulers want to make a mark on history. That Diocletian reorganize Roman life and finances, even down to creating hereditary jobs, made him popular.


The scene for persecution was set by a determined group who put the Roman Empire before the one, true God.


The Dominus Noster fought the Domino Dominorum. Today, we call this impetus narcissism.





Therefore, in the empire built on law, the Catholics became a group under watch, under suspicion for being "not quite Roman". (Not quite British, not quite American?). The Romans had a highly successful civilization. They took pride in their history and accomplishments. Would they let a growing group which included foreigners to take over their cultural norms? They saw themselves as virtuous against other barbarians. But, here was a group which refused to buy into the whole deal of complete loyalty to the state in the person of the emperor. 

Perhaps the Catholics were seen as "racists", as "anti-Roman" by their neighbors.

These attitudes have all been seen before and enshrined in law before.

To have loyalties beyond the empire and emperor at such times became a rallying cry for persecution.

How does a remnant respond? Once the clergy were imprisoned, killed or dispersed, what options would the remnant have?

Few, but some.

The first characteristic of such Catholics who persevered would be the four cardinal virtues of prudence, temperance, justice, and courage. In other words, personal holiness kept those in the remnant from compromise.

The second characteristic would have been mutual support in the face of danger. In other words, a quiet, low-key community.

The third characteristic would have been the readiness to face whatever suffering came their way.

Actions and beliefs have consequences beyond the grave, and this the early Catholics knew well.

A mind-set of readiness is essential in persecution.

Watch ye therefore, because ye know not what hour your Lord will come. Matthew 24:42. DR

This readiness would not be confined to adults. The necessity of the times meant that parents had to prepare their children for imprisonment, loss, death.

Too many Catholics want to protect their children from such thoughts. They do so at the peril of their children's lives.

The readiness is all, as Hamlet states, but rather ironically. We take the words seriously to heart.





Not a whit. We defy augury. There’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’tis not to come.


If it be not to come, it will be now. If it be not now, yet it will come—the readiness is all. Since no man of


aught he leaves knows, what is ’t to leave betimes? Let be. Act V: scene ii.







To be continued....

Friday, 4 September 2015

February 24, 303 Revisited VI


With the ruins of the churches in Rome and in all the provinces, in the cities and in the countryside, with the destruction of the Scriptures and libraries of the cathedrals and basilicas, came a loss which would have impacted the daily lives of the Christians.

No longer would they have easy access to the sacramental life of the Church. By the end of 303, the clergy would have been imprisoned or scattered. Some would have melted into the houses of the laity. Some would have left the areas for safety, like the Seminary Priests during the Protestant Revolt in England.

That the clergy went underground is obvious for one reason-the Faith survived. In some places, as the
persecution intensified (and, remember, it was empire-wide), entire congregations would disappear. Parishes and dioceses would disappear forever. Not one of the churches mentioned in the Book of Revelation survived.

Sometimes, it is easier to hide in a very large city. Sometimes, it is easier to hide in the country.

We know from the history of the liturgy, that the Mass was at first in the cities in the cathedrals and was
high mass. We know that the low mass came about because of the dispersal of the Catholics from the urban areas into the countryside.

Smaller, unknown churches with simplified rubrics became the order of the day. We also know that the catacombs, the ancient tombs of Rome, were used for mass.*

The catacombs would have been implemented for burials only until the end of the fourth century, when Catholics were free to bury their dead above ground.

But, in the time of Diocletian, the catacombs would have been places for mass. So, from the third to the end of the fourth centuries, these underground places provided safe havens for worship, not for living.

Thanks to wiki for photo of The Good 
Shepherd from S. Callisto catacomb.
Many of the new martyrs were buried in the older tomb areas.

However, in our day and age, such places of safety will be more and more rare. With the great intrusiveness of privacy, less and less communities will be isolated. But, the world is a very big planet, and the remnant will be small. To think there will be no safe havens is not realistic, but to pretend there will be many is also unrealistic.

That the remnant may consist of less numbers than what we could imagine is a strong possibility. But, as in all times of persecution, those who can get away from the worst areas of hatred will be those who have a plan.

I know two people who escaped the Nazi take over of Czechoslovakia. They managed to get out because they either obeyed a parent who told them to go, now, (the teen woman), or they skillfully planned an escape (the teen man).

They both made it to England, fell in love there, and finally traveled to Canada, where they lived most of their long lives.

The woman in this couple had a sister who did not escape. She did not obey her father's warning to "leave now".

She was never found. Years, ago, I myself tried to help the woman locate her sister, but we had to give up. We could not find a trace of her after that sad day.


The use of common sense and the use of discernment can make a difference between life and death.

Some Catholics would have left Rome and gone into country areas, away from the towns and cities where the arrest of Catholics would be easiest. They would not have gone alone. There would have been "safe houses" as in England in the 15th and 16th centuries.

The spread of Christianity partly was owing to the dispersal of the Roman citizens across Europe.

This type of movement may happen again, but with a difference. However, people would have to be willing to be displaced, to move, to leave all, for the sake of the Gospel being handed down to the next generation.

Like the forever missing sister, some who refused to flee died. Some did not have a choice, as they were arrested. But, some survived.

Therefore, one must adopt a flexible attitude of being alert. One must help establish safe houses. One must be willing to sacrifice all.

(*Thanks to Father Michael G. Nevin in a series of talks at St. Kevin's, Dublin Latin Mass Chaplaincy, for notes on the history of the liturgy in early Rome.)

To be continued....

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Notes on the Shadow Synod (Part 6)

Professor Doctor Eva-Maria Faber of Chur, Switzerland
The final paper was given by Professor Doctor Eva-Maria Faber of Chur in Switzerland. The original language was German and the title is “The gift of life itself – Reflection on a theology of biography”. I am working from the translation into French. The whole paper is pretty hard going and it is hard to elucidate what her message is.

She starts by quoting St Ignatius and one of his exercises which says leave the Creator to work directly with the creature and the creature with his Creator and Lord. She says that a married couple should be seen as two individuals each with their own vocation. She rejects the warning in the Lineamenta that this could lead to individualism. Overall she seems to be suggesting that the individual should deal direct with God and ignore what the Church has to say which is a bit of a contradiction if the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ Jesus.

Professor Faber claims that the modern idea of marriage concerns persons rather than society or family and there should not be a 'fixed synthetic observation of marriage' by which I think she means the teaching of the Church. She says one has to recognise that marriage is not just about family, as family life, by which I suppose she means the period of bringing up children, is very short and in this age of longer lives there is a long period where children do not feature. She claims this is a revolution. As a grand-father all I can say to that is 'baloney'.

She then says that the doctrine of the Church on marriage has changed since Vatican II but is still incoherent. She specifically mentions the ius in corpus, matrimonium ratum and matrimonium consummatum. From this one may surmise that her argument is that consent to marriage has been redefined. In the 1917 code of Canon Law consent is deemed to include perpetual and exclusive right to the body of the other – the ius in corpus. If that is initially denied i.e. the marriage is not consummated, then that is grounds for annulment of the marriage. As a result of Vatican II the idea of consent has been modified to “that human act whereby spouses mutually bestow and accept each other” (Gaudium et Spes 48).

The 1993 Canon Law took account of that by saying, 1057.2, that Matrimonial Consent is an act of the will by which a man and a woman mutually give and accept each other through an irrevocable covenant in order to establish marriage. Now what Professor Faber is saying is that failure to do that i.e. not to consent to mutually give and accept etc is grounds for annulment.

Further that it takes a lifetime for the couple to do that and therefore grounds for annulment exist on a continuing basis throughout the marriage as there is never complete giving and accepting; there is always room for more giving and accepting so a marriage is always dissolvable. Indissolubility goes out of the window. Canon Law does not mention the 'human act' in the definition of consent which is questionable but she takes no notice of that and carefully elides from giving consent to something, to actually doing that something.

Professor Faber then goes on about how difficult it is to give and accept, in this continuing relationship. It is all incredibly difficult for a couple to harmonise their relationship in her view. She makes no mention of love or divine grace helping them. It is all pretty grim. Cohabitation is a way of recognising how difficult it all is in her view. Trial marriage is therefore acceptable? Graduality is invoked!

She insists on the need for individuals to flourish and therefore couples must not, in this post-modern world, think of their marriage as a fatal straitjacket where they think they are everything to each other.

The Church's teaching does not recognise this and tends to be totalitarian! It imposes the burden of fidelity despite the individuality of their biographies, of their needs and developments. She does not actually mention 'open marriages' but gets pretty close to it.

The Professor deals at length with the breakdown of marriages. She say that the Church has put too much emphasis on the question of remarriage rather than examining the breakdown. There I would agree with her. Those who want to bless remarriages with access to communion glide over the trauma of the breakdown of the first marriage particularly for the children. But of course the reason for denying communion to the remarried is exactly there in the terrible destruction of the breakdown.

But then she goes on to say that where there is marriage breakdown there is no longer a marriage. She claims that the Church recognises that by allowing separation – that is utter nonsense.

She goes on to query whether there is such a thing as a marriage bond; predictably St Augustine comes in for a bit of a beating for having, allegedly, invented the idea. She then picks up the idea of Schokenhoff that it is too much to expect anyone to remain celibate and chaste after a breakdown of marriage.

She insists on the state of individuals – their biography, existential challenges, their dignity. “These people must not become cases for the application of principles”. So are principles never to be applied? If not why have principles? Perhaps she would prefer Groucho Marx to the Church: “Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others”. Or was that Cardinal Marx?

For Professor Faber everything about a marriage breakdown is complicated and the Church's teaching is much too simplistic to deal with it. It is rather like saying that one should abolish the crime of murder because the circumstances of every murder are different.

She finishes by saying the Church should change its doctrine on indissolubility and that it has power to do so in the same way as it changed its teaching on unbaptised children and Limbo. Well as the document that announced that change said:

"This theory, elaborated by theologians beginning in the Middle Ages, never entered into the dogmatic definitions of the Magisterium, even if that same Magisterium did at times mention the theory in its ordinary teaching up until the Second Vatican Council. It remains therefore a possible theological hypothesis. However, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992), the theory of limbo is not mentioned. Rather, the Catechism teaches that infants who die without baptism are entrusted by the Church to the mercy of God."

But then I suppose Professor Faber regards the very clear teaching of Christ as something that can be ignored and perhaps is not even the teaching of the Church! She certainly ignored it in this paper and indeed makes no mention of it or that divine grace can lead us to heroism in the most difficult of situations. She sees everything as 'existential' which I have come to believe means 'stuck in the mud'.

February 24, 303 Revisited V


Diocletian re-introduced the draft, or conscription. The Persians had attacked the empire, but were successfully defeated. However, Diocletian, being an uber-organizer, seized the anxiety of the time to build up the military.

The other thing he did was to divide the army into two parts, the limitanei, which were the legions on the borders, or the frontier troops, and the comitantenses, the inland troops, which could be moved quickly to parts of the empire. One can see this in America with the militarization of the police in some areas, and the use of drones.

Diocletian built up an army of half-a-million troops. He also changed the system of taxation, as he was faced with inflation and the burden of the military. All this information can be found in any history of the time.

His organizational skills and his strong religious ideology proved to be forces against which the
Catholics could not stand.

The steps to persecution were incremental. First, all Catholic churches and scrolls were to be destroyed. This was part of the February 24th edict. Note that the Church buildings, some obvious, large and prominent, were targeted by the state. Without gathering places of worship, the people could be weakened.

Then, shortly after this date, other edicts followed. The Catholic clergy were to be rounded up and
thrown into prison and only released if they honored the gods of Rome.

Finally, all Catholics were ordered to honor the gods of Rome or be executed.

Clergy first, laity second. This is the way it happened in England under Henry. Carthusians first...and so on...

When the shepherds are taken, the lambs and sheep are scattered.

How will this happen? Same sex marriage is a strong possibility for the line in the sand...the fining of
the priests who refuse, the imprisonment if fines are not paid, the confiscation of property as fines are
not paid, the imprisonment of the laity when fines are not paid, the taking away of Catholic lay
properties if fines are not paid and so on.

Imprisonment will be incremental.

So, how did the Catholics in 303 respond? How did they continue? How did they pass on the Faith?

How did they survive? How will we survive?

To be continued.....

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

February 24, 303 Revisited IV


Although Robin Lane Fox, who I do honor as a scholar and top gardener, has a different view, and I have yet to read the book, Constantine, by David Potter, I go with another scholar in this series on Diocletian and the persecution. Anxiety and stress, one terrorist attack of any medium size and a financial downturn could set off persecution.

The Irish classical scholar, E. R. Dodds wrote 'Pagan and Christian in an Age of Anxiety'. Among many points he makes is one which should seem realistic to Catholics today. An agnostic, this scholar notes that in the unsettled economic times of the late 240s, the Church had grown and was beginning to be accepted in some circles as a force in society. But, alongside of that fact was the hardening of ideas, which in Dodd's opinion had been more fluid among the pagan and Christian intellectuals, of the doctrines and intellectuals in the Church. In other words, the pagan intellectuals were turning more and more against the Catholic intellectuals.

For example, Porphyry wrote Against the Christians in 270. Dodd notes in his book that the growing wealth and confidence of the Christians, as well as there many scholars upset the status quo of the pagan elite and the pagan intellectuals.

Does this sound familiar in the fact that so many of our universities in the West are increasingly anti-Catholic, atheistic and on the defensive against religion?

That the establishment of intellectuals would then find support and give support to the political powers seems a natural alliance against Catholicism.

And, Dodds quotes ancient authors in the fact that Catholics were not only "upstarts", a new religion, but "multicultural", that is "an immigrant religion", if I may use that phrase. These words would upset people today, obviously. How "un-Roman" could a religion which included converted barbarians be?

That the intellectual snobbery and atheistic sophisticated pagans of the ancient world mirror our own is a comparison which is rather obvious. Ergo, the stage is further set for persecution, as the intelligentsia spurs on the state to eliminate the "undesirables" which threaten the so-called common good.

Dodd himself writes that Christianity was seen as "divisive". And, the Catholic Church IS divisive, now more than ever. The fact that the Christian God is Incarnated and not merely a spirit is also a problem, but that may be discussed later.

The stage is almost completely set up for persecution. The laws are in place, popular sentiment is growing against Catholics, and the common good will be an excuses for "unity".

The next things to be put into place are already in place in America-the militarization of the police and the use of drones as well as the entire lack of privacy. But, how do the Catholics become singled out, rather than, for example, the Tea Party members, or Evangelical pro-lifers? And, how do the Catholics react as persecution starts in earnest, causing a smaller and smaller remnant?

To be continued tomorrow.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

February 24, 303 Revisited III

Moving from the established fact that totalitarian states guard the status quo by eliminating threats, and that such resulting persecutions are legal. one can state that such times of terror are actually popular with the vast majority of people.

Moving from the established fact that totalitarian states guard the status quo by eliminating threats, and that such resulting persecutions are legal. one can state that such times of terror are actually popular with the vast majority of people.

One thinks of the crowds at Tyburn who came to watch the death of "traitors". Remember, Diocletian's laws against the Catholics were seen as necessary for the "morality" of the Roman Empire. He had an ideology and he was an authoritarian. Does this sound familiar?

He created his own popularity. He was seen as a "reformer" for the good of the people. Of course, he would make sure his ideas were popular. By definition, popularity is conformist.

Catholics, by design, are nonconformists, a sign of contradiction in the world. So, too, were those in the time of Diocletian.

Popular support of any type of persecution can be outlined.

1) Those who hate the Catholic would be relieved to join in such a persecution, and there are many who hate Catholics.

2) Catholics would be unpopular because their lifestyle makes people uncomfortable, reminding them of natural law and the Ten Commandments.

3) Popular support comes from a mind-set that "peace in our times" is more important than standing up for
minorities or religious groups.

4) People thrive on the spoils of war from persecutions. My own family lost land and houses in the Holocaust, for example. Most of the existing aristocracy in Great Britain became wealthy landowners under Henry VIII and Elizabeth I from stolen land and resources taken from the monasteries, churches, and laity.


5) The unseen powers of the air, satan and his minions, hate the Church and use their slaves to bring down the Church. This is one of the goals of demonic activity. People involved in the occult know this and cooperate with evil in popular movements.

6) Many people are just plain cowards or apathetic and will go along with the times.

And so on.....

The stage is being set for the out and out persecution of the Catholic Church in the Western World. And, those who want a false peace, to placate their stained consciences, who hate God and His Church, and who live carpe diem

To be continued....

Monday, 31 August 2015

February 24, 303 Revisited II

from  Mosiacarum et Romanarum Legum Collatio 6.4, qtd. and tr. in Clarke, 649; Barnes,Constantine and Eusebius

19–20.

"...the immortal gods themselves will favour and be at peace with the Roman name...if we have seen to it that all subject to our rule entirely lead a pious, religious, peaceable and chaste life in every respect"

The first thing to understand about the Great Persecution is that it was not only legal, but religious. The national religion of the empire was being renewed by Diocletian and co-emperors,



MaximianGalerius and Constantius, for the good of the empire. The financial and military good of the empire 
meant that the old gods of Olympus had to be appeased. In the face of difficult times, it was necessary for the citizens to worship the "true" gods of the empire. In a sense, Diocletian and his fellow emperors in the Tetrarchy 
were revitalizing the entire Roman world with a new sense of dedication to the old gods.

So, why would the Catholics be the particular subjects of persecution?  (For the record, the Manicheans were also persecuted.)

The answer is obvious today. Any group of people which shows an allegiance to something other than the 
totalitarian heads of state form a threat. And, any group of people which holds beliefs contrary to those of the totalitarian state is a threat.

The problem with too many Catholics today, is that they do not see themselves as a threat to the growing totalitarianism of both the EU and America, now both run by anti-Christian principles, and increasingly 
anti-Catholic values or ideals.

Too many Catholics honestly believe that they can "talk", or have detente, with the growing evil of the world.

This prevailing attitude can only lead to an increase in self-deceit and a false hope for change.




Small battles have been won here and there, but the battle for souls is being hindered by communism, socialism, secularism, and neo-paganism. It really does not matter, at this time, what "ism" will push through the draconian 
laws, as it only takes one.

We have all seen this before under Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, and Mao, among others.

The Catholics are the threat, always, as our kingdom is not of this world.

So, the stage is being set, quickly, very quickly for a new February 24, 303.

To be continued....

Sunday, 30 August 2015

February 24, 303, Revisited I


I hope you all do not mind me reposting a series I wrote in February of 2013 on my old blog. I have a new blog now, but I have been drawn to some older postings as timely for us today. 

The series discusses the persecution under Diocletian, an emperor who was restoring the old conservative religion of the pagan Romans for various political and possible, religious reasons.

Great Britain is a nation which witnessed one of the most cruel and violent persecutions against Catholics in more civilized times. This series may help some who read it come to the realization that what is "orthodoxy" regarding institutionalized religion to a majority of people in a culture may be the very ideology which causes Catholics to be severely persecuted.

We see the institutionalizing in many Western countries of secularism as a religion. What happens when there is a clash between those who live within the boundaries of a nation which sees Catholicism as a threat to national identity?

Part One....


I am going to highlight in the next few days what it means to be a remnant in a totally pagan and hostile world. In the 1970s, my spiritual leaders taught me that there was nothing neutral in the world-only that which was chosen and created for good, for Christ, and that which was chosen and created only for evil.

Finally, more people are beginning to see this. I repeat, there is NO neutral territory.

This series will be called "February 24, 303."

This was the day which witnessed the largest and worst persecution of Catholics in Rome, called after Diocletian asked the Oracle of Apollo approval for such an empire-wide ruling against the Church. The Diocletianic Persecution was not the first in Rome. In fact, it was the last. From 303 until 313, in some part of the empire, Catholics were systematically rounded up and killed.

What I want to do is to help readers understand what these ten years meant for those Catholics who had to endure such an organized slaughter. I want to explore both how Catholics maintained their lives, and even helped to spread the Gospel under duress, how they passed the Faith on to their children, and how some survived without compromise. These posts may help us all be prepared both spiritually and mentally for things to come.

Compromise results in eternal death.

Such persecution will be the fate of some reading this post today.

to be continued.............

Preaching a God Who Does Not Exist

The new emphases and strange happenings within the Church will, without doubt, find their ultimate fruition at the Synod on the Family 2015 in October and in its wake. As other commentators have made very plain, the Catholic Church has entered a time of deep confusion and crisis. However, let us be clear. This is a crisis that is being concealed.

Within the Church's corridors is a confusion and a crisis that is masked by an abundance of words, speeches, reports and even a grave crisis masked by perhaps the calling of Synod on the Family itself. Through the mist of daily PR, more and more observers are able to distinguish that what at first appears to be a confident Church and a confident papacy is a Church and a Papacy marked more by doubt than by anything else.

Why should this be so? Ostensibly, the Synod on the Family was convened in order to gather Bishops and Cardinals together to face the problems affecting marriage and the family together in the 21st century, but it has turned out to be so much more than that. 'New ways' from the very outset, were proposed. As soon as these 'new ways' of presenting and offering 'pastoral care' were presented it became obvious that far from a Church confident of Herself and Her Lord, the Catholic Church is now a Church marked by a breathtaking lack of confidence in Jesus Christ.

Despite the apparent strength and vitality of its Pope, whose boldness in speaking on many matters, from the environment, to the plight of the poor and refugees, to insisting that God's tender mercy is proclaimed within the Church, even to its 'peripheries', something is certainly lacking in the new direction that the Vatican has taken since the abdication of Pope Benedict XVI. It was a something that was, of course, very apparent among Bishops who had steadfastly ignored Pope Benedict XVI's message. What is that something?

Catholic commentators, some of them priests, have put their finger on what they consider to be the reason of the shift in emphases within the Catholic Church that appears to be coming from the head down. The missing link, they assert, is the idea - or rather the immutable Catholic doctrine - of sanctifying grace. Gradualism as interpreted by Cardinal Kasper would deny to man the essential truth about God and man's relationship with God, namely that God will give to the sinner who seeks it earnestly the Grace required to overcome sin in his or her life. There is great irony in the following quote from a book by Cardinal Kasper in 1967 is doing the rounds at the moment. It is very revealing of the mindset of the author then and, most likely, now, since it is a quote never repudiated by Kasper himself...

'The God who is enthroned over the world and history as a changeless being is an offence to man. One must deny Him for man’s sake, because he claims for himself the dignity and honour that belong by right to man. We must resist this God, however, not only for man’s sake, but also for God’s sake. He is not the true God at all, but rather a wretched idol. For a God who is only alongside of history, who is not himself history, is a finite God. If we call such a being God, then for the sake of the Absolute we must become absolute atheists. Such a God springs from a rigid worldview; he is the guarantor of the status quo and the enemy of the new. [Walter Kasper, “Gott in der Geschichte”, an essay that appeared in Gott heute: 15 Beiträge zur Gottesfrage, edited by Norbert Kutschki (Mainz: Matthias-Grünewald-Verlag, 1967),]'

To traditional Catholic eyes this statement will appear absolutely and completely incompatible with Catholic teaching and for good reason, but it needs a little bit of unpacking in order to see where Cardinal Kasper is coming from and what we have left of 'God' once we have basically stripped Him of His Lordship over all Creation.

One illustration is particularly worthwhile exploring. News has recently emerged that the Catholic Church will in many places be asked to pray fervently for the environment - yes - even before the Blessed Sacrament. The 'God of Cardinal Kasper' is not - we are assured - a God Who is enthroned over the world and history as a changeless being, despite St James's words that point to the opposite:

It is all that is good, everything that is perfect, which is given us from above; it comes down from the Father of all light; with him there is no such thing as alteration, no shadow of a change. St James 1:17

So, leaving aside asking how a 'changeless' God is a an 'offense to man' and leaving aside the question as to quite why a 'changeless' God is worthy of such contempt, we would do well to ask of what use to man is a God Who is basically firstly either limited or impotent and secondly changeable - even fickle. For the God of the 21st century cannot, apparently, to modern man be the God of the Old Testament or the New for two millennia, because we have changed. God must have changed with us and if He hasn't, then He is in the wrong. That's as arrogant as Cardinal Kasper's theology is.

However, there are important contradictions going on here, for if God is really, as Cardinal Kasper suggests, changeable, then how can we know that God loves us? If God is not 'changeless' then how can we know His mercy is everlasting? If God is not Lord and Master of the Universe, enthroned above His creation, with seraphim and cherubim surrounding Him, why would we bother to ask Him to save the environment and tend to the needs of 'Mother Earth' in His almighty power? Apparently, the idea of an Almighty God Who is supreme over all things and Whose Kingship extends over the whole of Creation is an offense to man. So why pray at all? Why pray for employment, or for an end to violence, for an end to war, for peace, for the end of abortion, if God is not truly Lord of all things.

The ideas that Cardinal Kasper advances concerning God and His nature belong, if they belong to any time, to 1967, when theologians rejected much of what had been handed down the ages concerning God and His nature. Once we remove from God His Lordship over all things, including us - and let us be clear about this - once we remove from Jesus Christ His Divinity preached by the Apostles and preached by the Church down the ages, what kind of a God are we left with?

If God is not 'changeless', if with Him there really is such a thing as 'alteration' and 'shadows of change', then how can God be trustworthy at all? We would be like a wife who was told by her husband that yesterday he loved her but today he is 'not so sure'. If we cannot depend on the trustworthiness of God's Law how on earth can we depend on the trustworthiness of God's Mercy? How can we trust even that God is 'loving' if doubt is the new creed, and certainty is the new enemy, because in order for us to trust that God is merciful we have to rely on Scripture and Tradition? How can God help us if He is not the God revealed in Scripture and Tradition? We cannot in one instance make God impotent and dethrone Him and then ask God for assistance that will save the World from environmental degradation? Indeed, if God is not Lord over all things, enthroned high above the Heavens, how can He help us at all, whether that be in order to become virtuous and leave a life of sin, or whether that be to come to the aid of the environment?

Of course, what Cardinal Kasper is really saying is that we can redefine the nature of God and God Himself and God will not mind because the concept of a God Who is omnipotent is offensive to man, so He cannot be as He has revealed Himself to the Church. We can be atheists and still believe in God, apparently. If, indeed, the God of Cardinal Kasper - Who Cardinal Kasper can never claim to be the 'One True God', because such a title would be 'offensive to man', is 'changeable' then of what use, indeed, are any of the Scriptures which are read out at Mass. The Gospels and the Letters of St Paul as well as the Old Testament would, if God is changeable, be completely useless to us since there is nothing for us to learn or be taught about how we should live, perhaps other than a vague ideal that they in some way represent a good life. Ultimately, however, they are mere goals, unattainable except for a strange, nebulous 'elite' of 'heroic Christians'. More than this though, the information we receive in the Word of God is useless to us anyway because God can change His mind about any of it at any time He pleases, or rather 'the people' please.

When God is changeable...
If the God preached by the Catholic Church is to be confronted and rejected simply for being the 'enemy' of 'the new', then what is to be the Catholic Church's conception of God in four hundred years time?

If the God preached by the Catholic Church is to be rejected simply for being the guarantor of the status quo then why should we ever say, with any categorial assurance whatsoever, that God is merciful at all? Because Scripture tells us so? Because Jesus Christ conveys it in the Gospel? But the Gospel isn't trustworthy anymore. We have made His words unnecessary, irrelevant to our times. God Himself can change according to the times after all. Cardinal Kasper relies on some Catholic rhetoric to present his ideas on mercy, but he cannot call God 'Love' or 'Mercy' without some relying on some kind of 'orthodox' source, such as Scripture or Tradition, the two very elements of Catholic theology that he simultaneously undermines.

The sad truth - and it is very sad indeed - is that the God of Cardinal Kasper - if his writings are anything to go by simply does not exist. God - the Blessed and Most Holy Trinity - does exist, but this does not seem to be the same God, trustworthy, changeless, merciful, holy, just, pure, benevolent and eternal as that of Cardinal Kasper. If the Catholic Church were to adopt Cardinal Kasper's 'vision of God' nothing - absolutely nothing - that the Mass attending Catholic, or even the atheist had been told about God by a Catholic, could be trusted, including the very concept of His infinite goodness. For how can we say God is even Good without the authority of Scripture and Tradition and the timeless teaching of the Church? It is true that in Jesus Christ God became man and embraced weakness, poverty and took on Himself our lowly state, but it is equally true that Jesus Christ is truly Risen and when He returns He will return 'coming on the clouds in glory' as Judge of the World.

One could, if one chose, decide that the God of Cardinal Kasper, being so open to redefinition by His own creatures so as to agree with them that the past two hundred years of Catholic teaching had been 'one big misunderstanding' was so irrefutably confusing and changeable that maybe Lucifer was a better option in terms of worship, because at least with him you always know where you stand. Indeed, the Catholic Church, with a God so changeable as Cardinal Kaspers, who says things 2,000 years ago that of no relevance to modern man today, having abandoned all sense, all tradition and all understanding, however limited that may be of the Infinite Majesty of the Godhead, may well decide to adopt Satanism as part of its new creed for the 22nd century.

Cardinal Kasper likes to quote Scripture when it suits his theology
After all, if Scripture, the Magisterium, the Fathers of the Church, the Apostles, the Popes and even Jesus Christ Himself aren't trustworthy in their teaching, maybe we were wrong about the diabolical and incomprehensibly evil nature of God's enemy, Satan. For all we know, in the Church that has confounded 'the enemy of the new' and 'guarantor of the status quo', perhaps we'd been worshipping the wrong 'being' after all. Of course, both God and the Devil exist. God is infinitely Good and the Devil is infinitely Evil. There are no depths to which the Lord of all History will not sink in which to save us from ourselves and from our sins. Unfortunately, there are no depths to which Satan does not wish to drag those God has redeemed into everlasting punishment with him and his cohorts of fallen angels.

For 2,000 years the Catholic Church has preserved Her doctrines in fidelity to Her Lord and King, Jesus Christ, not to offend man, but to draw man into the a restored relationship with the Most Holy Trinity, even to being refashioned in the likeness of the Son of God. Jesus Christ is truly Our Saviour. God truly is God. Salvation - Eternal Salvation - truly is at stake for us and at the Synod on the Family is at stake so much more than simply marriage and the family, for if Jesus Christ cannot ultimately be trusted, if for 2,000 years, the Catholic Church was untrustworthy, if Scripture lies concerning God's nature, then we will lose sight entirely of who we are, why we were created and of our ultimate destiny. In that way, Cardinal Kasper's agenda is perfect for this age, if you wish to live in a godless, hopeless, temporal, amoral dystopia.

'The God who is enthroned over the world and history as a changeless being is an offence to man. One must deny Him for man’s sake, because he claims for himself the dignity and honour that belong by right to man. We must resist this God, however, not only for man’s sake, but also for God’s sake. He is not the true God at all, but rather a wretched idol. For a God who is only alongside of history, who is not himself history, is a finite God. If we call such a being God, then for the sake of the Absolute we must become absolute atheists. Such a God springs from a rigid worldview; he is the guarantor of the status quo and the enemy of the new.'

Without a God Who is enthroned over the world and history as a changeless being, how can we call upon Him confidently and in hope? What hope have we of Heaven if Earth and its story is all there fundamentally is? How can we have honour and dignity as sons and daughters of God if there is no King, robed in light and majesty, to confer us with honour and dignity? How can we proclaim Salvation and a 'changing' God at the same time, for He might have changed His mind about His Salvation completely? How can we proclaim the forgiveness of sins - and obtain forgiveness of sins from a God Who, despite having become Man and suffering and dying for our sake, can be so indifferent to us that He would change and be subject to alteration along with the vicissitudes of modern thought and simply by our willing Him to change? Cardinal Kasper, not God, must be resisted, not merely for God's sake, but for man who he claims has permission to take offense at his Creator's audacity in simply being Himself.

God said to Moses: I AM WHO AM. He said: Thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel: HE WHO IS, hath sent me to you. (Exodus 314)
Amen, amen I say to you, before Abraham was made, I am. (St John 8:58)

The Amorality of Atheism

Giorgio Reversi has written a book entitled 'The Amorality of Atheism', the contents of which seem as relevant today within the Catholic Church as it is in its endeavour to reach the hearts and minds of those outside of the Church. 

We must seriously ask the question why it is that laymen and women who have undergone no PhDs or Masters Degrees in theology are able to articulate the Catholic Faith in understandable ways but those who are considered moral theologians - even moral theologians who are praised by the highest authorities in the Church - can only find ways in which to undermine the credibility of that same Faith.

Please find below a taster of Giorgio's clear explanations of Catholicism and another timely - and much needed - rejection of the errors of atheism. 

And the Logos was made flesh, and dwelt among us

John 1:14

I don’t deny that Jesus Christ can be regarded as a great moral teacher. But so was Confucius, who taught - five centuries before Christ – "Do not unto another that you would not have him do unto you. Thou needest this law alone. It is the foundation of all the rest.” This is the Golden Rule on which I believe our morality should be based upon.
I don’t have a problem with Christianity per se, rather with your fundamentalist, exclusivist approach. And I admire moderate, liberal Christians who are more concerned with social justice and the protection of the environment than theological diatribes, as you seem to be.
Our atheist’s words remind me of an aphorism by Colombian philosopher Nicolas Gomez Davila: “Overstated admiration for Jesus Christ as a moral teacher immediately betrays the atheist”. It also betrays - I should add - a Christian who is indistinguishable from an atheist. But I will further comment on that in a moment.
Let me first explain why our atheist’s premise – “the Golden Rule on which I believe our morality should be based upon” – is deeply flawed. He falls into what can be defined as the “Golden Rule fallacy”, which is this. Saying that morality is based on the rule “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, or indeed any rule, is a meaningless and baseless assertion unless we are able to give a reason why we ought to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto us”. In other words, foundation to morality is not a rule - however “golden”- but is the ultimate reason why we ought to act according to that rule. Anyone can claim that a certain rule must be followed, but the claim is meaningless unless one is able to offer the ultimate reason why we ought to follow that rule.A reason that can only be found in transcendence: precisely what the atheistic world view cannot offer. This is the unique and irreplaceable role of religion: to offer the ultimate, transcendent reason for our actions, thus providing a foundation to morality.
Which brings me to the next point. Our atheist friend states that Jesus Christ can be regarded as a great moral teacher. As C.S. Lewis famously noted, this is the one thing we must not say, because a man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher, but a lunatic. Jesus made himself “equal with God" (John 5:18) and even went so far as to use the very words by which God revealed Himself to Moses from the burning bush (John 8:58). Indeed, Jesus was put to death not because he upheld a radically alternative set of moral principles - in which case he would merely have had a pleasant discussion with Scribes and High Priests on the exegesis of scriptures -, but because He identified Himself with the ultimate reason for those principles, thus affirming His divinity.
Christianity is in fact the religion that identifies in Jesus the ultimate reason for our moral principles, for our “Golden” rules. To quote John’s Gospel, He is the Logos of God, the Reason for all things made flesh. "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). A rather “fundamentalist”, “exclusivist approach”, I would say. But this is the core belief of Christianity, which our atheist friend does seem to have a problem with. Anything else is its politically correct parody.
I said that overstated admiration for Jesus Christ as a moral teacher betrays a Christian who is indistinguishable from an atheist. This is, I believe, the key to understanding the phenomenon of secularisation and de-Christianisation that has swept Western society in the last few decades. At the root of secularisation is not merely the non-belief in the existence of God, but the acceptance of the atheist dogma of a morality without God, of a set of moral values, of “Golden Rules” independent from God, from Christ, who therefore becomes irrelevant. Christians in the West have not only passively endured a process of secularisation; they’ve actively promoted it, in so far as they’ve adopted the secular notion that morality can exist without God.
The “moderate”, “progressive”, “liberal Christians”, “concerned with social justice and the protection of the environment”, who see the Gospel simply as a 'Handbook' for 'Moral Guidance’, and the divinity of Christ as a cause of embarrassment, an unnecessary occasion of disagreement with atheists and people of other faiths, have reduced the Church to a campaigning force for social justice, indistinguishable from secular organisations, de facto annulling the social, cultural and political relevance of Christianity. It’s no wonder our atheist friend admires them. They have in a way succeeded where even the most zealous militant atheists have failed.

Step forward Cardinal Marx and Cardinal Kasper. 'The Amorality of Atheism' can be purchased for £1.99 on Amazon Kindle. There are not an abundance of recommendable Catholic books which confront the atheists of our age. Good men take time and for the love of God expend a great deal of energy, often at a cost, to communicate the Catholic Faith during a time when the world - and great parts of the Church - are hostile to the supernatural Faith that is required for us to live and pray as adopted children of God.

Bravo to Giorgio Reversi for putting pen to paper and compiling a consistent and thorough rebuttal to the new atheism that has ravaged the West inside and outside Holy Mother Church. Why not purchase a copy for yourself and for atheist friends? It may be worthwhile sending a few copies to the Bishops at the Synod, because ultimately, as Nicholas Bellord has made so clear in his five part series of blogposts on the Shadow Synod, at the heart of the matter is Faith, and whether we believe in the God revealed in and taught by the Church for 2,000 years, or whether we deny His existence as revealed through Scripture and Tradition.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Notes on the Shadow Synod (Part 5)

Fr Alain Thomasset S.J
Father Professor Doctor Alain Thomasset, a Jesuit from Paris, was the next to speak. Why is it that whenever I see the initials S.J an amber light switches on in my head. In this case it is justified as he goes the full hog.

Professor Thomasset refers to the Relatio Synodi 2014, which was the document that came out of the first session of the Synod in particular to the “divine pedagogy” in clause 13. He says this shows how by His grace “divine indulgence always accompanies the path of men”. He says that those words in quotes come from clause 14. I think the idea he wishes to convey is that God is indulgent towards ours sins rather like a parent indulging or spoiling a naughty child by not correcting him.

The problem is that clause 14 does not actually say that. The English version says: “In this way, Jesus shows how God’s humbling act of coming to earth might always accompany the human journey and might heal and transform a hardened heart with his grace, orientating it towards its principle, by way of the cross.” The French version reads “De la sorte, Jésus montre que la condescendance divine accompagne toujours le chemin de l’homme, par sa grâce elle guérit et transforme le cœur endurci en l’orientant vers son origine, à travers le chemin de la croix.”. Thomasset has substituted the word 'indulgence' for the original 'condescendance'. What the Relatio is saying is that God has humbled himself or condescended to come to Earth in order to accompany the path of men. It does not say that he has come to indulge the ways of men. Not a good start!

Thomasset goes on to say that the vocation of the Church taking the example of Jesus cannot omit to take account of the history of people and to accompany them on their path of faith in a progressive revelation. He sees the biography of a person as being essential to a personalist ethic without giving up on normative indications. That is to say that in judging the act of a person one has to look at their circumstances whilst not giving up on the teaching of the Church. He implies that this idea of progressive revelation is in clause 14. Unfortunately for him clause 14 says nothing of the sort and speaks of Christ's teaching as being the fullness of revelation and not something that changes with time.

His next heading is the question of intrinsically evil acts. Of course the most renowned use of that term is in the Catechism when it defines homosexual acts as intrinsically disordered.   Such disordered acts of the will are a moral evil (CCC1761) so the words 'disordered' and 'evil' are synonymous in this context.  What most people do not realise is that the words 'intrinsically evil' are not some hyperbole but have a very precise meaning in Catholic ethics. To-day consequentalism is popular; that is to say that no act is evil of itself and one can only judge whether an act is good or evil by looking at the consequences. It is an idea that has come in various forms from Bentham, John Stuart Mill and others to this day. The Church rejects this kind of ethics and say that certain acts are evil in themselves, intrinsically evil, regardless of the consequences. What is important though is that the moral culpability of the person committing the act is quite a different and separate matter.

Thomasset has problems with this teaching of the Church because it determines the condemnation of artificial contraception, sex between the divorced and remarried and homosexual sex even in stable relationships. “If she [the Church] insists with reason on the objective benchmarks necessary to the moral life, she precisely neglects the biographical dimension of existence, and the specific conditions of each personal path, elements to which our contemporaries are very sensitive and have a bearing on the reception of Church teaching”. Thus Thomasset abandons reason in favour of sentiment.

Of course what he is doing is confusing the evil of an act with the culpability of the actor. He goes on to look at this subjective side of any situation and the place of conscience. How predictable! He says that clause 52 of the Relation raises this difficult of distinguishing between the objective situation and the surrounding circumstances. He points to clause 52 of the Relatio to justify his argument. Clause 52 was rejected by the Synod fathers but kept in at the request of Pope Francis. However whilst clause 52 mentions the distinction between the evil of an act and the culpability of the actor it does not see it as a problem. It is purely a problem for Thomasset. Predictably he brings conscience into it.

He then talks about how people find themselves in situations where duties seem to conflict and they have to choose. In respect of Humanae Vitae he says that nine Episcopates (among them the French, Swiss and German) declared that complying with it was a matter for the individual conscience. Well we all know about that and how in the UK Cardinal Heenan said it was just a matter of choice.

Thomasset then goes on about how the biographical and narrative perspective obliges one to evaluate the morality of an act not in respect of individual acts but on human acts in a history, According to him an isolated act is not a human act. Killing someone is a material act and is only one element in appreciating the complete picture in order to judge it as a human act. This is really confusing the issue. Is killing someone okay so long as there is no moral culpability? He says that most people would agree with him and offers as evidence a book he wrote himself.

Having dealt with what he sees as the subjective side he turns to the objective side and the development of moral norms and their limitations. He says the nature of an act depends upon its object which is “the proximate end of a deliberate decision” - a phrase he picks up from St John Paul II's Veritatis Splendor at clause 78 and with the authority of St Thomas Aquinas. He says therefore the morality of an act includes in part the intention and circumstances of the actor. So he goes on to say although a contraceptive act includes the intention to render procreation impossible that is not enough to judge the act. You have to look at the intentions and circumstances.

The intention may be good in that intercourse reinforces the union of the spouses. He applies the same idea to the divorced and remarried having intercourse. He then refers to Familiaris consortio and clause 84 (incidentally misquoted in Instrumentum Laboris 2015) saying that St John Paul II said that one has to take into account the “diversity of situations”. Actually that phrase does not appear in clause 84 which says “Pastors must know that, for the sake of truth, they are obliged to exercise careful discernment of situations.” The French text has “l'obligation de bien discerner les diverses situations”. JPII is not talking about the couple looking at their situation but pastors doing so after the event. Thomasset though is suggesting that the couple weigh up the pros and cons of their situation and decide accordingly. This is proportionalism.

He continues by referring to clause 9 of Familiaris Consortio which is entitled Gradualness and conversion and deals with the gradual movement away from evil towards the gifts of God. However, according to Thomasset, Pope John Paul did not develop this idea. Thomasset is presumably saying that the couple can therefore continue with their sin until they decide to move away from it. Having said that in his proportionalist view there is no sin anyway why should anyone move away from the act?

Of course this is all very selective quoting from Veritatis Splendor which contains a very clear condemnation of consequentalism and proportionalism. It is worth reading clause 71 to 78 to see all this in context. In particular in clause 78 after the sentence quoted by Thomasset above about “the proximate end of a deliberate decision” it goes on to read:

'Consequently, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, "there are certain specific kinds of behaviour that are always wrong to choose, because choosing them involves a disorder of the will, that is, a moral evil". And Saint Thomas observes that "it often happens that man acts with a good intention, but without spiritual gain, because he lacks a good will. Let us say that someone robs in order to feed the poor: in this case, even though the intention is good, the uprightness of the will is lacking. Consequently, no evil done with a good intention can be excused. 'There are those who say: And why not do evil that good may come? Their condemnation is just' (Rom 3:8)”.'

Which rather sinks Thomasset's argument.

His next section is about how 'moral norms are always to be understood in the context of an historical process which implies the experience of the believers'. That is to say we are not stuck with Jesus's commandments for all time. The sensus fidei argument is trotted out. Bishop Egan has given useful guidance on this in his talk, about a year ago, to the Society for the Protection of the Unborn. He said:

“As Newman himself discovered, in a dispute about doctrine such as the fracas of Arianism in the Early Church over the nature of Christ, the orthodox position that the Church eventually upheld was not a via media or middle-ground between two extremes. It was in fact one of the extremes, held by a minority. This is often the case. Many people think that truth lies somewhere in the middle, yet it may not be. To take the example of contraception: some accept the teaching; others reject it. Yet this does not mean that an intermediate common-ground position – ‘Accept it if you can’ or ‘It’s up to your conscience’ - is the doctrine Christ wills for His Church. The truth of a doctrine is not necessarily the balanced view: it is the true view.”

Next Thomasset seems to be suggesting that doctrine should flow from the pastoral rather than the other way round. So he concludes that the divorced and remarried should not have their sexual acts condemned as the couple are not morally culpable. This would open the way to the sacraments of reconciliation and the Eucharist. Always the two are conflated as if the sacrament of penance was not always available. Further for married couples artificial contraception is okay provided it is non-abortive and the couple remain open to the gift of life. (Not quite sure how you do that!). Curiously he does not mention the position of the unmarried where I would have thought his proportionalism would make the use of contraceptives even more acceptable. Lastly the homosexuals living as a stable and faithful couple should not have their sexual acts condemned. It is interesting to note that in the UK at the insistence of the LGBT lobby infidelity is not a ground for divorce in gay marriages which suggests that fidelity is not going to be high on their agenda. For Thomasset such a relationship can be a way to sainthood. The mind boggles as to what the future might hold if he got his way!

He rambles on about pastoral accompaniment according to the criteria he has set out with a final call to virtue including chastity! Dear me what the Jesuits have come to. In all these talks what seems to be overlooked is that we are promised eternal life if we keep the commandments. As St John Paul II says in Veritatis Splendor:

The morality of acts is defined by the relationship of man's freedom with the authentic good. This good is established, as the eternal law, by Divine Wisdom which orders every being towards its end: this eternal law is known both by man's natural reason (hence it is "natural law"), and — in an integral and perfect way — by God's supernatural Revelation (hence it is called "divine law"). Acting is morally good when the choices of freedom are in conformity with man's true good and thus express the voluntary ordering of the person towards his ultimate end: God himself, the supreme good in whom man finds his full and perfect happiness. The first question in the young man's conversation with Jesus: "What good must I do to have eternal life? " (Mt 19:6) immediately brings out the essential connection between the moral value of an act and man's final end. Jesus, in his reply, confirms the young man's conviction: the performance of good acts, commanded by the One who "alone is good", constitutes the indispensable condition of and path to eternal blessedness: "If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments" (Mt 19:17). Jesus' answer and his reference to the commandments also make it clear that the path to that end is marked by respect for the divine laws which safeguard human good. Only the act in conformity with the good can be a path that leads to life.

What he is saying is that essentially sin is bad for you whatever your intentions. Thomasset on the other hand is saying something like “If you drink bleach it is quite alright if you mistakenly thought that it was a gin and tonic”. Try it.


Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Notes on the Shadow Synod (Part 4)

Professor Dr Eberhard Schokenhoff from Freiburn
After Professor Doctor Eberhard Schokenhoff from Freiburg im Breisgau, who incidentally is a Catholic Priest, came Abbé Prof. Dr. François-Xavier Amherdt from Fribourg in Switzerland (which was my Alma Mater and used to be known as the Rome of the North with its hundreds of seminarians – sadly rather different these days I have been told). The title was the same as Father Schokenhoff's: "Sexuality as expression of love. Reflections on the the theology of Love".

I found it difficult to find much theology. Indeed he starts by saying that we need to look at Love, Sexuality and Marriage in the light of a personalist sexuality, marking the dimensions of the person (!??), and looking at anthropology, sociology, psychology of the depths and human sciences. That will be the first part of his talk. In the second part having defined the first part as 'theology' he will ask how such can be differentiated from those in a sexual relationship which is not sacramental marriage in the perspective of a law of graduality referring the reader to Evangelium Gaudium Note 44. I think that must be a reference to paragraph 44 of Evangelii Gaudium which itself has a note referring to John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio (22 November 1981), 34. This then takes us back to Saint John Paul II's careful distinction between the law of graduality and the graduality of the law – a distinction overlooked both here and in the Synod documents.

His first part gives a christian view on sexuality as an expression of love i.e. marriage. What he says is all good stuff mentioning such matters as chastity (hardly mentioned in the Synod documents). But then in the second part he deals with 'values in relationships and unions outside of marriage'. He talks of "logoi spermatikoi" or seeds of the spirit which can be found in these.

This is an idea which has got imported into the Instrumentum Laboris 2015 and has been obviously lifted from this talk. He then goes on to say in certain cases it is merely 'that these couples [in concubinage as for instance trial marriages] have only done over a period of many months or years what preceding generations did in a day'.

What he means is that in a sacramental marriage the marriage service and consummation normally happen on the same day whilst in irregular arrangements these two things can be separated by months or years. So that's okay. This really must take the biscuit for the daftest statement I have yet come across as it completely overlooks the point that the marriage service preceded consummation on the same day in previous generations; i.e you do not put the cart before the horse as in an irregular situation supposing the horse actually exists or ever arrives! For Abbe Amherdt though this is an example of graduation.

He then points to what he calls the values of a civil marriage which can indicate permanence and openness to procreation. He lists the values which he says can exist in cohabitation of which one is that a long length of time indicates a greater indication of permanence! He seems to have a very rosy idea of the values such couples might have and I suspect the reality is very different. One of the principal 'values' I would have thought is sex without commitment coupled with frequent deception of one party by another.

However he thinks they have the intention to marry in the end and to be open to procreation so a pastor can gradually persuade them along that path. He says how a pastor could show the couple the advantages of being married sacramentally including a wedding feast. He finishes by emphasisng the importance of the Eucharist in all this but it is a thoroughly ambiguous final paragraph as it does not explain under what conditions communion can be received.

The problem with all this is that if you say there are values in cohabitating etc then people will regard such as not sinful and merely a second best in the eyes of the Church with which they will be quite happy in order to eschew the commitment of marriage.
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