Fighting ‘Catholic Divorce’
Here is a heartfelt and powerful appeal to Pope Francis not to allow the Synod on the Family to destroy, for practical purposes, the Church’s perennial teaching on marriage and divorce. It is by a bishop. I wonder if you can guess his name.
It is with grave concern that we see around us the gradual degradation of marriage and the family, the origin and foundation of all human society. This decay is beginning to accelerate strongly, notably through the legal promotion of the most immoral and depraved behaviour. The law of God, even the natural law, is today publicly trampled underfoot, the most serious sins multiply dramatically and cry to Heaven for vengeance.
Most Holy Father,
We cannot hide from you that the first part of the Synod dedicated to “Family pastoral challenges in the context of evangelisation” alarmed us very deeply. We have heard and read, according to some bishops – who support you without contradiction – statements so contrary to the truth, so opposed to the clear and consistent teaching of the Church regarding the sanctity of marriage, that our soul has been deeply troubled by them. What worries us even more are some of your words implying that there could be an evolution of doctrine to meet the new needs of Christian people. Our concern is that St Pius X condemned in the encyclical PascendiGregis such a development of dogma on the pretended basis of contemporary requirements. Pius X and you, Holy Father, have received the fullness of the power of teaching, sanctifying and governing in obedience to Christ who is the head and shepherd of the flock at all times and in every place, and whose Pope must be the true Vicar on this earth. The object of a dogmatic condemnation does not become, over time, an authorised pastoral practice.
God, the author of nature, has established the stable union of man and woman to perpetuate the human species. The revelation of the Old Testament teaches us, in the most obvious way, that marriage, unique and indissoluble, between a man and a woman, has been directly established by God, and that its essential characteristics have been given by Him to men of freewill to live under a very particular divine protection: “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife” (Ex 20, 17).
The Gospel teaches us that Jesus Himself, by virtue of His supreme authority, definitively restored marriage, changed by the corruption of men, to its primitive purity. “What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.” (Mt 19: 6).
It is the glory of the Catholic Church, throughout the centuries, to have defended the human and divine reality of marriage against the wind and the waves, despite demands, threats and temptations. She has always carried high – even when corrupt men abandoned her for that reason alone – the standard of faithfulness, purity and fertility that characterise true conjugal and family love.
As we approach the second part of this Synod dedicated to the family, we are conscious of our duty to express to the Holy See the deep anxieties that seize us at the thought of “conclusions” that could be proposed on this occasion, if by great misfortune they were to constitute a new attack against the sanctity of marriage and the family, further weakening the status of couples and households. We hope with all our heart, however, that the Synod will perform a true work of mercy recalling, for the good of souls, the integral saving teaching on marriage.
We are fully aware, in the current context, that people who are living in irregular marriage situations should be welcomed pastorally, with compassion, so as to show them the merciful face of the God of love made known by the Church.
But the law of God, an expression of His eternal love for men, constitutes by itself the supreme mercy for all times, people and situations. We pray therefore that the evangelical truth of marriage that the Synod should proclaim may not be circumvented in practice by multiple “pastoral exceptions” that would distort its true meaning, or by new legislation that would abolish (quasi infallibly) its true scope. On this point, we cannot conceal from you that the recent canonical provisions of the motu proprio Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus, facilitating accelerated declarations of nullity, will open the door de facto to a procedure of so-called “Catholic divorce”, despite the reminders about the indissolubility of marriage that accompany it. These provisions follow the evolution of contemporary mores, without trying to rectify them according to the divine law; since then, how can we not be upset about the fate of children born of these marriages annulled with such speed, the sad victims of the “culture of waste”?
In the sixteenth century, Pope Clement VII refused Henry VIII of England the divorce that he demanded. Faced with the threat of the Anglican schism, the pope maintained, against all pressures, the intangible teaching of Christ and His Church on the indissolubility of marriage. Will his decision now be disavowed in a “canonical repentance”?
Today, around the world, many families have mobilised themselves courageously against civil laws that undermine the natural and Christian family, and publicly encourage vile behaviour contrary to the most elementary morality. Can the Church abandon those who, sometimes to their own detriment and always mocked and jeered, lead this necessary but difficult battle? This would be a disastrous counter-witness, and would be a source of disgust and discouragement for these people. Men of the Church, on the contrary, by their very mission, must give these people clear and reasoned support.
For the honour of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the consolation of the Church and all the Catholic faithful, for the good of society and all humanity at this crucial time, we implore you to make resound throughout the world a word of truth, clarity and firmness in defence of Christian and even simply human marriage, in support of its foundation, namely the difference and complementarity of the sexes, in support of its uniqueness and its indissolubility . Filially, we beseech you to make that word ring out, accompanied by effective measures showing your support of the Catholic family by your actions.
We entrust this humble petition to the patronage of St John the Baptist, who underwent martyrdom for defending publicly, against a civil authority compromised by an outrageous “remarriage” , the sanctity and uniqueness of marriage; begging the precursor to give Your Holiness the courage to remind the whole world of the true doctrine concerning natural and Christian marriage.
+ Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X
Yes, the chief Pixie. I don’t think anyone could have put it better. Let’s hope and pray the Holy Father is listening, but I’m not holding my breath.
No, I am not growing pointy ears, but I cannot accept that Bishop Fellay is in schism.