in Pennsylvania's First Congressional District's_1st_congressional_district
and the Central Garden State

Saturday, October 31, 2015

“Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.”

In anticipation of the Solemnity of All Saints

On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R.1314, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015:
  • "The House of Representatives voted 266-167 Wednesday to approve a budget deal....The measure amounts to one final package crafted by House Speaker John Boehner with other legislative leaders and President Barack Obama....The deal also clears the plate for GOP speaker nominee Paul Ryan, who surprised some conservatives Wednesday when he announced he would support the measure.  The deal was approved as 79 Republicans joined with 187 Democrats to easily clear the number of votes needed to send the measure to the Senate...." (House approves two-year budget deal, CNN, 10/28/15).

On Thursday, former Republican presidential candidate Alan Keyes posed a provocative question: "Is The GOP’s Anti-Planned Parenthood Indignation Just Posturing?
  • "....Had they been serious about defunding Planned Parenthood, the GOP’s quisling leaders would have dealt with the defunding issue as part of the legislation required to fund the U.S. Government as a whole.  That way, to defend the abortion cult Obama would have had to veto the funding legislation, starting the countdown toward a government shutdown. The GOP quislings want pro-life votes, but they do not in fact share the pro-life voter’s commitment to the standard of God-endowed unalienable right...."

The State Marriage Defense Act, the First Amendment Defense Act, and the the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015

While "politically incorrect," the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops continues to support the State Marriage Defense Act and the First Amendment Defense Act.  In our current political atmosphere, however, co-sponsoring the State Marriage Defense Act (HR 824, S 435) and/or the First Amendment Defense Act  (HR 2802, S 1598) requires courageous character.  Two extremely noteworthy observations:


Materials sadly absent from most parish bulletins, websites, and bulletin boards:

  • The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference's "alerts"
  • The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' "Alerts Central
(The USCCB notes that "Action alerts for pro-life issues can also be found through our partner organization,  
The following sites also deserve your consideration:


And in the news....

  • "....the PA House of Representatives could soon vote on a proposed Constitutional Amendment which would strip away your right to vote for appellate judges.  House Bill 1336...would take away your right to vote for judges for the PA Supreme Court, the Superior Court, and the Commonwealth Court....Please contact your state representative and tell him or her you don't want your right to vote for judges taken away....." (Pa Pro Life Federation, 10/21/15)

Friday, October 30, 2015

"Is The GOP’s Anti-Planned Parenthood Indignation Just Posturing?" (The Daily Caller)

"....Had they been serious about defunding Planned Parenthood, the GOP's quisling leaders would have dealt with the defunding issue as part of the legislation required to fund the U.S. Government as a whole.  That way, to defend the abortion cult Obama would have had to veto the funding legislation, starting the countdown toward a government shutdown. The GOP quislings want pro-life votes, but they do not in fact share the pro-life voter's commitment to the standard of God-endowed unalienable right...."

Monday, October 26, 2015

Dietrich von Hildebrand

Pope Pius XII called him the "Twentieth century doctor of the church."  German philosopher "Dietrich von Hildebrand was exceptional in many ways. His extensive writings on Christian philosophy, spiritual theology, and in defense of the Church's teaching, place him among the great thinkers of the twentieth century. His steadfast and determined opposition to totalitarianism, whether in the form of National Socialism or Marxist Leninism, a conviction that would cost him greatly during his life, illustrates the profound clarity of his moral vision and his willingness to suffer for what he knew was true" (Josef Cardinal Ratzinger in the foreward to Alice von Hildebrand's The Soul of a Lion)....
  • "there is no greater mystery in the natural order of things than the fact that this closest of all unions procreates a human being with an immortal soul (although the soul, in each case, is a direct creation of God), and that this act brings a new being into existence destined to love God and to adore Him, a new being made after His image" (Dietrich von Hildebrand, Marriage, 1997 (first published in 1929), p. 26).
  • "How terrible to think of man wanting to destroy this unity which God has established so mysteriously, deeming those united in the highest earthly union of love worthy to take part in His creative power" (Ibid, p. 28).  
  • "He alone can understand the horror of the sin of promiscuity who has grasped the grandeur and sublimity of bodily union as the full realization of conjugal love, and who realizes that besides the primary end of procreation, the primary meaning of bodily union lies in the fulfillment of conjugal love" (Ibid, pp. 30, 31).
  • "Jesus has invested marriage with a dignity which represents something quite new....He raised it to the rank of a Sacrament. He made of this sacred bond a specific source of grace. He transformed marriage - already sacred in itself - into something sanctifying" (Ibid, p.53).
  •  "Although we hear that sex is overemphasized today, this is not correct. Rather, we live in a time in which sexuality is no longer understood in its true nature. People today are generally as blind to its true meaning as are persons who completely lack sensuality....Today's blatant sexuality conceals a pathetic sensual emptiness." (Dietrich von Hildebrand, Man and Woman: Love and the Meaning of Intimacy, 1992 (first published in 1966), p. 3)
  • "It was said that Christians are to be recognized by the fact that they love one another. I would add: Christians should also be recognized by the fact that they who have received the festival clothes in Baptism shun any superficial, mediocre approach to the great goods of creation, that they understand more profoundly than others `how admirable are they works, O God'" (Ibid, p. 45).
  • "As long as conception and birth are seen exclusively as mere physiological processes, we cannot understand the impact and seriousness of the making of a new human being" (Ibid, p. 61).
  • "Every active intervention on the part of the spouses, which eliminates the possibility of conception through the conjugal act, is incompatible with the holy mystery of the superabundant relation in the incredible gift offered by God.... To make use of natural family planning is not to imply the slightest irreverence or rebellion against God's institution and the wonderful link between the love union and procreation" (Ibid, pp. 68, 69).

When bishops, priests, deacons, religious, and lay people fail to appreciate the exalted vocation of marriage - with its call to cooperate in God's very work of creation - we are sadly reminded that "clericalism" is alive and well.  

Each of us must proclaim the authentic truth that
  • sexual acts are reserved for married couples, intended for uniting them and bringing forth new life;
  • sexual acts must always be open to life; and
  • marriage is indissolubile. 

Let us join our voices to those of Professor Robert George of Princeton, Matthew J. Franck of the Witherspoon Institute, Joshua W. Schulz of De Sales University, Colleen Sheehan of Villanova University, and Daniel Mark of Villanova University who are among those, who 

"call on all federal and state officeholders [i.e.,;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;]:

To refuse to accept Obergefell as binding precedent for all but the specific plaintiffs in that case.

To recognize the authority of states to define marriage, and the right of federal and state officeholders to act in accordance with those definitions.

To pledge full and mutual legal and political assistance to anyone who refuses to follow Obergefell for constitutionally protected reasons.

To open forthwith a broad and honest conversation on the means by which Americans may constitutionally resist and overturn the judicial usurpations evident in Obergefell."


Materials sadly absent from most parish bulletins, websites, and bulletin boards:

  • The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference's "alerts"
  • The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' "Alerts Central
(The USCCB notes that "Action alerts for pro-life issues can also be found through our partner organization, 
The following sites also deserve your consideration:

And in the news....

Sunday, October 25, 2015

"Don't you read the newspaper?"

It is right and just that we hold those who have foregone the inestimable great good of marriage/family - to serve God and His people - in high esteem. We rightly honor those who offer their celibacy to God, be they clergy, religious brothers, religious sisters, or nuns.

Like many young Catholic males of the 1970s and early 1980s, I was attracted by the heroism of clerical and religious life and wondered whether I might be called to serve God as a priest or religious. It that same era, I was blessed to know a young priest, who was about 10 years my senior.  Father Frank was extremely bright and a New Yorker, through and through. He liked me, because I was comfortable with his banter: The man loved to argue!

I recall Father Frank's taking exception to what I considered the line of demarcation in Manhattan between "downtown" and "uptown."  The man loved to argue!  Father Frank was not above punctuating his points with the rhetorical question, "Don't you read the newspaper?"  

While I was ill equipped in the late 1970s and early 1980s to put it in clear language, I once suggested to Father Frank that there was an undervaluing in the Church of the Sacrament of Marriage.  While the clergy and religious were regarded as heroes, married couples did not seem to be held in special regard.  Father Frank returned my volley with a not so gentle reminder of how wrong he thought me to be.  While I am glad to say that he was absolutely right theologically, he was missing an historical/sociological phenomenon, called "clericalism":
"those of us who speak of the evils of clericalism need to be careful not to undermine the dignity and sanctity of the ordained priesthood and obscure its radical, ontological difference from the baptismal priesthood of the faithful.
"Clericalism, however, is not an affirmation of these sacred realities but a caricature. It fosters an ecclesiastical caste system in which clerics comprise the dominant elite, with lay people serving as a passive, inert mass....This upstairs-downstairs way of understanding relationships and roles in the Church extends even to the spiritual life: priests are called to be saints, lay people are called to satisfy the legalistic minimum of Christian life and scrape by into purgatory....
"bad thinking about vocation...makes the great leap of supposing that the only real vocation worthy of that name is the clerical state in life. Those whom God doesn't call to be priests (or, by extension, religious) – the laity, that is – may have a vocation in some weak, analogical sense, but they don't have the vocation that's the gold standard for everything else – the vocation to be a priest....
"this clericalist way of thinking overlooks the reality and relevance of unique personal vocation – the particular, essentially unrepeatable role in the carrying-out of his redemptive plan to which God calls each baptized person....
"In 1932, Msgr. Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei, wrote:
We must reject the prejudice that ordinary faithful must limit themselves to helping the clergy in ecclesiastical apostolates. There is no reason why the apostolate of lay people should always be a simple participation in the hierarchical apostolate. They have a duty of doing apostolate, not because they receive a canonical mission, but because they are part of the Church. They carry out this mission through their professions or jobs, with their families, their colleagues, and their friends (quoted in John F. Coverdale's Uncommon Faith, Scepter 2002).
"Talk like that was radical at the time. Then the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) adopted it as its own....
"the council taught that the call to lay people to participate in the mission of the Church does not come to them from bishops and priests; it comes directly from Christ, by reason of baptism and confirmation....
"lay apostolate was seen to be something belonging to the laity as a matter of intrinsic right and duty as baptized members of the Church. And not only that – God's call to sanctity was understood as being directed to all, lay women and men just as much as bishops, priests, and religious....
"it's a bit of a shock to realize that Vatican II, while strongly encouraging lay apostolate, had next to nothing to say about 'lay ministries'....
"the lay ministry boom has been propelled by theologians and lay bureaucrats in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and diocesan chancery offices. It has the support of well-meaning bishops and pastors who apparently believe that letting lay people do some things that only clerics previously could do advances the cause of the laity in the Church" (Russell Shaw, On Clericalism, 5/6/08).
At least since the late 1970s / early 1980s, numerous Catholics (clergy, religious, and laity) have been acting as though
  • sexual acts were NOT reserved for married couples,
  • sexual acts need NOT always be open to life, and that
  • marriage itself was NOT indissolubile. 
When bishops, priests, deacons, religious, and lay people have difficulty understanding the exalted calling to marriage - the call to cooperate in God's very work of creation in bringing forth new human lives - we must sadly realize that "clericalism" is alive and well.  Each of us must proclaim that

  • sexual acts ARE reserved for married couples,
  • sexual acts must ALWAYS be open to life, and
  • marriage IS indissolubile. 

Treating marriage as less than the exalted calling it is has done none of us any good.  "Don't you read the newspaper?"

And in the news....

  • "‘It’s genocide’ - US Congress challenged over Christian victims of ISIS" (, 10/26/15)
    "Members of Congress introduced a resolution on Thursday to label the atrocities committed by the Islamic State against Christians and other religious minorities 'genocide.'  Christians in Iraq and Syria are hanging on in the face of the Islamic State’s barbarous onslaught. This is genocide,' stated Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., who helped introduce the resolution....Call it what it is, name it, and especially declare that it is genocide, says Princeton Professor Robert George, Chairman of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom....urgent appeal for citizens in the US to call on their Members of Congress, the men and women people elected to serve there, to support two pieces of urgent legislation in the House of Representatives.  H.R. 1150....[and] H.R 75."

From Arcanum to the October 2015 Synod

Pope Leo XIII's Arcanum (2/10/1880)

  • "29. Truly, it is hardly possible to describe how great are the evils that flow from divorce. Matrimonial contracts are by it made variable; mutual kindness is weakened; deplorable inducements to unfaithfulness are supplied; harm is done to the education and training of children; occasion is afforded for the breaking up of homes; the seeds of dissension are sown among families; the dignity of womanhood is lessened and brought low, and women run the risk of being deserted after having ministered to the pleasures of men. Since, then, nothing has such power to lay waste families and destroy the mainstay of kingdoms as the corruption of morals, it is easily seen that divorces are in the highest degree hostile to the prosperity of families and States....
  • "34....the supreme pontiffs have resisted the most powerful...rulers, in their threatening demands that confirmed by the Church...[they] have been contending for the safety, not only of religion, but also of the human race. For this reason all generations of men will admire the proofs of unbending courage which are to be found in the decrees of ....[e.g.,] Clement VII and Paul III against Henry VIII....all rulers and administrators of the State who are desirous of following the dictates of reason and wisdom, and anxious for the good of their people, ought to make up their minds to keep the holy laws of marriage intact....
  • " power can dissolve the bond of Christian marriage whenever this has been ratified and consummated; and that, of a consequence, those husbands and wives are guilty of a manifest crime who plan, for whatever reason, to be united in a second marriage before the first one has been ended by death. When, indeed, matters have come to such a pitch that it seems impossible for them to live together any longer, then the Church allows them to live apart, and strives at the same time to soften the evils of this separation by such remedies and helps as are suited to their condition; yet she never ceases to endeavor to bring about a reconciliation....  
  • "44....We commend, venerable brothers, to your fidelity and piety those unhappy persons who, carried away by the heat of passion, and being utterly indifferent to their salvation, live wickedly together without the bond of lawful marriage. Let your utmost care be exercised in bringing such persons back to their duty; and, both by your own efforts and by those of good men who will consent to help you, strive by every means that they may see how wrongly they have acted; that they may do penance; and that they may be induced to enter into a lawful marriage according to the Catholic rite.   
  • "45. You will at once see, venerable brothers, that the doctrine and precepts in relation to Christian marriage, which We have thought good to communicate to you in this letter, tend no less to the preservation of civil society than to the everlasting salvation of souls" (Pope Leo XIII, Arcanum, 2/10/1880).

Pope Pius XI's Casti Connubii (12/31/1930)

  • "45. For now, alas, not secretly nor under cover, but openly, with all sense of shame put aside, now by...all the inventions of modern science, the sanctity of marriage is trampled upon and derided; divorce, adultery, all the basest vices either are extolled or at least are depicted in such colors as to appear to be free of all reproach and infamy. Books are not lacking which dare to pronounce themselves as scientific but which in truth are merely coated with a veneer of science in order that they may the more easily insinuate their ideas.... 
  • "49. To begin at the very source of these evils, their basic principle lies in this, that matrimony is repeatedly declared to be not instituted by the Author of nature nor raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a true sacrament, but invented by man.... 
  • "51. Armed with these principles, some men go so far as to concoct new species of unions, suited, as they say, to the present temper of men and the times....
  • "56....the Catholic Church, to whom God has entrusted the defense of the integrity and purity of morals, standing erect in the midst of the moral ruin which surrounds her, in order that she may preserve the chastity of the nuptial union from being defiled by this foul stain, raises her voice in token of her divine ambassadorship and through Our mouth proclaims anew: any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin. 
  • "57. We admonish, therefore, priests who hear confessions and others who have the care of souls, in virtue of Our supreme authority and in Our solicitude for the salvation of souls, not to allow the faithful entrusted to them to err regarding this most grave law of God; much more, that they keep themselves immune from such false opinions, in no way conniving in them. If any confessor or pastor of souls, which may God forbid, lead the faithful entrusted to him into these errors or should at least confirm them by approval or by guilty silence, let him be mindful of the fact that he must render a strict account to God, the Supreme Judge, for the betrayal of his sacred trust, and let him take to himself the words of Christ: 'They are blind and leaders of the blind: and if the blind lead the blind, both fall into the pit [']....
  •  "67. Those who hold the reins of government should not forget that it is the duty of public authority by appropriate laws and sanctions to defend the lives of the innocent, and this all the more so since those whose lives are endangered and assailed cannot defend themselves. Among whom we must mention in the first place infants hidden in the mother's womb. And if the public magistrates not only do not defend them, but by their laws and ordinances betray them to death at the hands of doctors or of others, let them remember that God is the Judge and Avenger of innocent blood which cried from earth to Heaven.... 
  • "85. The advocates of the neo-paganism of today have learned nothing from the sad state of affairs, but instead, day by day, more and more vehemently, they continue by legislation to attack the indissolubility of the marriage bond, proclaiming that the lawfulness of divorce must be recognized, and that the antiquated laws should give place to a new and more humane legislation.... 
  • "86. Others, taking a step further, simply state that marriage, being a private contract, is, like other private contracts, to be left to the consent and good pleasure of both parties, and so can be dissolved for any reason whatsoever. 
  • "87. Opposed to all these reckless opinions, Venerable Brethren, stands the unalterable law of God, fully confirmed by Christ, a law that can never be deprived of its force by the decrees of men, the ideas of a people or the will of any legislator: 'What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder'.... 
  • "88. Let that solemn pronouncement of the Council of Trent be recalled to mind in which, under the stigma of anathema, it condemned these errors: 'If anyone should say that on account of heresy or the hardships of cohabitation or a deliberate abuse of one party by the other the marriage tie may be loosened, let him be anathema;'[66] and again: 'If anyone should say that the Church errs in having taught or in teaching that, according to the teaching of the Gospel and the Apostles, the bond of marriage cannot be loosed because of the sin of adultery of either party; or that neither party, even though he be innocent, having given no cause for the sin of adultery, can contract another marriage during the lifetime of the other; and that he commits adultery who marries another after putting away his adulterous wife, and likewise that she commits adultery who puts away her husband and marries another: let him be anathemae.'[67]
  • "89. If therefore the Church has not erred and does not err in teaching this, and consequently it is certain that the bond of marriage cannot be loosed even on account of the sin of adultery, it is evident that all the other weaker excuses that can be, and are usually brought forward, are of no value whatsoever. And the objections brought against the firmness of the marriage bond are easily answered....Now all those arguments that are brought forward to prove the indissolubility of the marriage tie, arguments which have already been touched upon, can equally be applied to excluding not only the necessity of divorce, but even the power to grant it; while for all the advantages that can be put forward for the former, there can be adduced as many disadvantages and evils which are a formidable menace to the whole of human society. 
  • "90. To revert again to the expression of Our predecessor, it is hardly necessary to point out what an amount of good is involved in the absolute indissolubility of wedlock and what a train of evils follows upon divorce.... 
  • "103.... in order that no falsification or corruption of the divine law but a true genuine knowledge of it may enlighten the minds of men and guide their conduct, it is necessary that a filial and humble obedience towards the Church should be combined with devotedness to God and the desire of submitting to Him....
  • "104. Wherefore, let the faithful also be on their guard against the overrated independence of private judgment and that false autonomy of human reason. For it is quite foreign to everyone bearing the name of a Christian to trust his own mental powers with such pride as to agree only with those things which he can examine from their inner nature, and to imagine that the Church, sent by God to teach and guide all nations, is not conversant with present affairs and circumstances; or even that they must obey only in those matters which she has decreed by solemn definition as though her other decisions might be presumed to be false or putting forward insufficient motive for truth and honesty. Quite to the contrary, a characteristic of all true followers of Christ, lettered or unlettered, is to suffer themselves to be guided and led in all things that touch upon faith or morals by the Holy Church of God through its Supreme Pastor the Roman Pontiff, who is himself guided by Jesus Christ Our Lord. 
  • "105. Consequently, since everything must be referred to the law and mind of God, in order to bring about the universal and permanent restoration of marriage, it is indeed of the utmost importance that the faithful should be well instructed concerning matrimony.... 
  • " every fitting means, oppose error by truth, vice by the excellent dignity of chastity, the slavery of covetousness by the liberty of the sons of God,[81] that disastrous ease in obtaining divorce by an enduring love in the bond of marriage and by the inviolate pledge of fidelity given even to death.... 
  • "112. All these things, however, Venerable Brethren, depend in large measure on the due preparation remote and proximate, of the parties for marriage. For it cannot be denied that the basis of a happy wedlock, and the ruin of an unhappy one, is prepared and set in the souls of boys and girls during the period of childhood and adolescence. There is danger that those who before marriage sought in all things what is theirs, who indulged even their impure desires, will be in the married state what they were before, that they will reap that which they have sown;[86] indeed, within the home there will be sadness, lamentation, mutual contempt, strifes, estrangements, weariness of common life, and, worst of all, such parties will find themselves left alone with their own unconquered passions.... 
  • "116. Now since it is no rare thing to find that the perfect observance of God's commands and conjugal integrity encounter difficulties by reason of the fact that the man and wife are in straitened circumstances, their necessities must be relieved as far as possible.    
  • " the State such economic and social methods should be adopted as will enable every head of a family to earn as much as, according to his station in life, is necessary for himself, his wife, and for the rearing of his children, for 'the laborer is worthy of his hire.'[91] To deny this, or to make light of what is equitable, is a grave injustice and is placed among the greatest sins by Holy Writ;[92] nor is it lawful to fix such a scanty wage as will be insufficient for the upkeep of the family in the circumstances in which it is placed" (Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii, 12/31/1930).

Blessed Pope Paul VI's Humanae Vitae (7/25/1968)

  • "4....No member of the faithful could possibly deny that the Church is competent in her magisterium to interpret the natural moral law. It is in fact indisputable, as Our predecessors have many times declared, (l) that Jesus Christ, when He communicated His divine power to Peter and the other Apostles and sent them to teach all nations His commandments, (2) constituted them as the authentic guardians and interpreters of the whole moral law, not only, that is, of the law of the Gospel but also of the natural law. For the natural law, too, declares the will of God, and its faithful observance is necessary for men's eternal salvation. (3)....
  • " far from being the effect of chance or the result of the blind evolution of natural forces. It is in reality the wise and provident institution of God the Creator, whose purpose was to effect in man His loving design. As a consequence, husband and wife, through that mutual gift of themselves, which is specific and exclusive to them alone, develop that union of two persons in which they perfect one another, cooperating with God in the generation and rearing of new lives.  The marriage of those who have been baptized is, in addition, invested with the dignity of a sacramental sign of grace, for it represents the union of Christ and His Church....
  • "9....The example of countless married couples proves not only that fidelity is in accord with the nature of marriage, but also that it is the source of profound and enduring happiness....
  • "14....We are obliged once more to declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children. (14) Equally to be condemned, as the magisterium of the Church has affirmed on many occasions, is direct sterilization, whether of the man or of the woman, whether permanent or temporary. (15)  Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means. (16)  Neither is it valid to argue, as a justification for sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive, that a lesser evil is to be preferred to a greater one, or that such intercourse would merge with procreative acts of past and future to form a single entity, and so be qualified by exactly the same moral goodness as is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it (18) is a serious error to think that a whole married life of otherwise normal relations can justify sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive and so intrinsically wrong....
  • "16....If...there are well-grounded reasons for spacing births, arising from the physical or psychological condition of husband or wife, or from external circumstances, the Church teaches that married people may then take advantage of the natural cycles immanent in the reproductive system and engage in marital intercourse only during those times that are infertile, thus controlling birth in a way which does not in the least offend the moral principles which We have just explained. (20)....
  • "17....Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.  Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife....there are certain limits, beyond which it is wrong to go, to the power of man over his own body and its natural functions—limits, let it be said, which no one, whether as a private individual or as a public authority, can lawfully exceed. These limits are expressly imposed because of the reverence due to the whole human organism and its natural functions, in the light of the principles We stated earlier, and in accordance with a correct understanding of the "principle of totality" enunciated by Our predecessor Pope Pius XII. (21)...
  • "18. It is to be anticipated that perhaps not everyone will easily accept this particular teaching. There is too much clamorous outcry against the voice of the Church, and this is intensified by modern means of communication. But it comes as no surprise to the Church that she, no less than her divine Founder, is destined to be a "sign of contradiction." (22) She does not, because of this, evade the duty imposed on her of proclaiming humbly but firmly the entire moral law, both natural and evangelical.  Since the Church did not make either of these laws, she cannot be their arbiter—only their guardian and interpreter. It could never be right for her to declare lawful what is in fact unlawful, since that, by its very nature, is always opposed to the true good of man.  In preserving intact the whole moral law of marriage, the Church is convinced that she is contributing to the creation of a truly human civilization. She urges man not to betray his personal responsibilities by putting all his faith in technical expedients. In this way she defends the dignity of husband and wife. This course of action shows that the Church, loyal to the example and teaching of the divine Savior, is sincere and unselfish in her regard for men whom she strives to help even now during this earthly pilgrimage "to share God's life as sons of the living God, the Father of all men." (23)....
  • "20. The teaching of the Church regarding the proper regulation of birth is a promulgation of the law of God Himself. And yet there is no doubt that to many it will appear not merely difficult but even impossible to observe. Now it is true that like all good things which are outstanding for their nobility and for the benefits which they confer on men, so this law demands from individual men and women, from families and from human society, a resolute purpose and great endurance. Indeed it cannot be observed unless God comes to their help with the grace by which the goodwill of men is sustained and strengthened. But to those who consider this matter diligently it will indeed be evident that this endurance enhances man's dignity and confers benefits on human society.
  • "21....there can be no doubt at all of the need for self-denial. Only then will the expression of love, essential to married life, conform to right order. This is especially clear in the practice of periodic continence. Self-discipline of this kind is a shining witness to the chastity of husband and wife and, far from being a hindrance to their love of one another, transforms it by giving it a more truly human character. And if this self-discipline does demand that they persevere in their purpose and efforts, it has at the same time the salutary effect of enabling husband and wife to develop to their personalities and to be enriched with spiritual blessings. For it brings to family life abundant fruits of tranquility and peace. It helps in solving difficulties of other kinds. It fosters in husband and wife thoughtfulness and loving consideration for one another. It helps them to repel inordinate self-love, which is the opposite of charity. It arouses in them a consciousness of their responsibilities. And finally, it confers upon parents a deeper and more effective influence in the education of their children. As their children grow up, they develop a right sense of values and achieve a serene and harmonious use of their mental and physical powers.
  • " the modern means of social communication which arouses men's baser passions and encourages low moral standards, as well as every obscenity in the written word and every form of indecency on the stage and screen, should be condemned publicly and unanimously by all those who have at heart the advance of civilization and the safeguarding of the outstanding values of the human spirit. It is quite absurd to defend this kind of depravity in the name of art or culture (25) or by pleading the liberty which may be allowed in this field by the public authorities....
  • "23. And now We wish to speak to rulers of nations. To you most of all is committed the responsibility of safeguarding the common good. You can contribute so much to the preservation of morals. We beg of you, never allow the morals of your peoples to be undermined. The family is the primary unit in the state; do not tolerate any legislation which would introduce into the family those practices which are opposed to the natural law of God. For there are other ways by which a government can and should solve the population problem—that is to say by enacting laws which will assist families and by educating the people wisely so that the moral law and the freedom of the citizens are both safeguarded....
  • "25....let Christian husbands and wives be mindful of their vocation to the Christian life....the Lord has entrusted to them the task of making visible to men and women the holiness and joy of the law which united inseparably their love for one another and the cooperation they give to God's love, God who is the Author of human life....If...sin still exercises its hold over them, they are not to lose heart. Rather must they, humble and persevering, have recourse to the mercy of God, abundantly bestowed in the Sacrament of Penance. In this way, for sure, they will be able to reach that perfection of married life which the Apostle sets out in these words: "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church. . . Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the Church. . . This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the Church; however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband." (37)....
  • "28. And now, beloved sons, you who are priests, you who in virtue of your sacred office act as counselors and spiritual leaders both of individual men and women and of families—We turn to you filled with great confidence. For it is your principal duty—We are speaking especially to you who teach moral theology—to spell out clearly and completely the Church's teaching on marriage. In the performance of your ministry you must be the first to give an example of that sincere obedience, inward as well as outward, which is due to the magisterium of the Church....if men's peace of soul and the unity of the Christian people are to be preserved, then it is of the utmost importance that in moral as well as in dogmatic theology all should obey the magisterium of the Church and should speak as with one voice....
  • "29.... So speak with full confidence, beloved sons, convinced that while the Holy Spirit of God is present to the magisterium proclaiming sound doctrine, He also illumines from within the hearts of the faithful and invites their assent. Teach married couples the necessary way of prayer and prepare them to approach more often with great faith the Sacraments of the Eucharist and of Penance. Let them never lose heart because of their weakness. 
  • "To Bishops 30....We invite all of you, We implore you, to give a lead to your priests who assist you in the sacred ministry, and to the faithful of your dioceses, and to devote yourselves with all zeal and without delay to safeguarding the holiness of marriage, in order to guide married life to its full human and Christian perfection. Consider this mission as one of your most urgent responsibilities at the present time. As you well know, it calls for concerted pastoral action in every field of human diligence, economic, cultural and social. If simultaneous progress is made in these various fields, then the intimate life of parents and children in the family will be rendered not only more tolerable, but easier and more joyful. And life together in human society will be enriched with fraternal charity and made more stable with true peace when God's design which He conceived for the world is faithfully followed" (Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae, 7/25/1968).

Saint Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body (1979 - 1984)

Across a span of five years, Saint Pope John Paul II used weekly general audiences to address what had festered into  monumental resistance to Blessed Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae.  As per JP II, these Theology of the Body catechetical audiences  

  • "can be grasped under the title, ‘Human Love in the Divine Plan,” or with greater precision, ‘the Redemption of the body and the Sacramentality of Marriage’….The first part is devoted to the analysis of the words of Christ….The second part of the catechesis is devoted to the analysis of the sacrament based on Ephesians (Eph 5:22 - 23), which goes back to the biblical beginning of marriage expressed in the words of Genesis, ‘a man will leave his father and mother and unite with his wife, and the two will be one flesh’ (Gen 2:24)” (11/28/1984).
Read more....

Saint Pope John Paul II and the Roman Rota (1979 - 2005)

Saint Pope John Paul II's solicitous concern for marriage/ family/ human sexuality was also evident in Familiaris Consortio and just about any of his talks and writings.  In his quarter century of addresses to the Roman Rota (the Church's "Supreme Court", if you will) - particularly near the end of his earthly journey - Saint Pope John Paul II evidenced grave concern about possible misuse of marriage tribunals, focusing on a misguided "pastoral" perspective that would destabilize marriage and family.  He spoke, for example, of:
  • a dangerous exaggeration of psychological difficulties, wrongly leading to a conclusion that a spouse had been incapable of marital consent;
  • the danger of adding new requirements for marriage "that are foreign to tradition" (2/1/2001);
  • the need for "convalidating, where possible, marriages that are otherwise null" (1/28/2002);
  • how "professionals in the field of civil law should avoid being personally involved in anything that might imply a cooperation with divorce" (1/28/2002); and
  • the "presumption of its [marriage's] validity in case of doubt" (1/29/2004).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1993):

  •  889 In order to preserve the Church in the purity of the faith handed on by the apostles, Christ who is the Truth willed to confer on her a share in his own infallibility. By a "supernatural sense of faith" the People of God, under the guidance of the Church's living Magisterium, "unfailingly adheres to this faith."417
  • 890 The mission of the Magisterium is linked to the definitive nature of the covenant established by God with his people in Christ. It is this Magisterium's task to preserve God's people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates. To fulfill this service, Christ endowed the Church's shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals. The exercise of this charism takes several forms:
  • 891 "The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful - who confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. . . . The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter's successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium," above all in an Ecumenical Council.418 When the Church through its supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine "for belief as being divinely revealed,"419 and as the teaching of Christ, the definitions "must be adhered to with the obedience of faith."420 This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself.421
  • 1610 Moral conscience concerning the unity and indissolubility of marriage developed under the pedagogy of the old law. In the Old Testament the polygamy of patriarchs and kings is not yet explicitly rejected. Nevertheless, the law given to Moses aims at protecting the wife from arbitrary domination by the husband, even though according to the Lord's words it still carries traces of man's "hardness of heart" which was the reason Moses permitted men to divorce their wives.101
  • 1611 Seeing God's covenant with Israel in the image of exclusive and faithful married love, the prophets prepared the Chosen People's conscience for a deepened understanding of the unity and indissolubility of marriage.102 The books of Ruth and Tobit bear moving witness to an elevated sense of marriage and to the fidelity and tenderness of spouses. Tradition has always seen in the Song of Solomon a unique expression of human love, insofar as it is a reflection of God's love - a love "strong as death" that "many waters cannot quench."103
  • 1615 This unequivocal insistence on the indissolubility of the marriage bond may have left some perplexed and could seem to be a demand impossible to realize. However, Jesus has not placed on spouses a burden impossible to bear, or too heavy - heavier than the Law of Moses.108 By coming to restore the original order of creation disturbed by sin, he himself gives the strength and grace to live marriage in the new dimension of the Reign of God. It is by following Christ, renouncing themselves, and taking up their crosses that spouses will be able to "receive" the original meaning of marriage and live it with the help of Christ.109 This grace of Christian marriage is a fruit of Christ's cross, the source of all Christian life. 
  • 1643 "Conjugal love involves a totality, in which all the elements of the person enter - appeal of the body and instinct, power of feeling and affectivity, aspiration of the spirit and of will. It aims at a deeply personal unity, a unity that, beyond union in one flesh, leads to forming one heart and soul; it demands indissolubility and faithfulness in definitive mutual giving; and it is open to fertility. In a word it is a question of the normal characteristics of all natural conjugal love, but with a new significance which not only purifies and strengthens them, but raises them to the extent of making them the expression of specifically Christian values."152
  • 1644 The love of the spouses requires, of its very nature, the unity and indissolubility of the spouses' community of persons, which embraces their entire life: "so they are no longer two, but one flesh."153 They "are called to grow continually in their communion through day-to-day fidelity to their marriage promise of total mutual self-giving."154 This human communion is confirmed, purified, and completed by communion in Jesus Christ, given through the sacrament of Matrimony. It is deepened by lives of the common faith and by the Eucharist received together.
  • 1645 "The unity of marriage, distinctly recognized by our Lord, is made clear in the equal personal dignity which must be accorded to man and wife in mutual and unreserved affection."155 Polygamy is contrary to conjugal love which is undivided and exclusive.156
  • 1647 The deepest reason is found in the fidelity of God to his covenant, in that of Christ to his Church. Through the sacrament of Matrimony the spouses are enabled to represent this fidelity and witness to it. Through the sacrament, the indissolubility of marriage receives a new and deeper meaning.
  • 2035 The supreme degree of participation in the authority of Christ is ensured by the charism of infallibility. This infallibility extends as far as does the deposit of divine Revelation; it also extends to all those elements of doctrine, including morals, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, explained, or observed.77
  • 2051 The infallibility of the Magisterium of the Pastors extends to all the elements of doctrine, including moral doctrine, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, expounded, or observed. 
  •  2364 The married couple forms "the intimate partnership of life and love established by the Creator and governed by his laws; it is rooted in the conjugal covenant, that is, in their irrevocable personal consent."147 Both give themselves definitively and totally to one another. They are no longer two; from now on they form one flesh. The covenant they freely contracted imposes on the spouses the obligation to preserve it as unique and indissoluble.148 "What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder."149

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church Concerning the Reception of Holy Communion by the Divorced and Remarried Members of the Faithful (9/19/1994)

  • "4. Even if analogous pastoral solutions have been proposed by a few Fathers of the Church and in some measure were practiced, nevertheless these never attained the consensus of the Fathers and in no way came to constitute the common doctrine of the Church nor to determine her discipline. It falls to the universal Magisterium, in fidelity to Sacred Scripture and Tradition, to teach and to interpret authentically the depositum fidei....In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ(5), the Church affirms that a new union cannot be recognised as valid if the preceding marriage was valid. If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God's law. Consequently, they cannot receive Holy Communion as long as this situation persists(6).  This norm is not at all a punishment or a discrimination against the divorced and remarried, but rather expresses an objective situation that of itself renders impossible the reception of Holy Communion: 'They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and his Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church's teaching about the indissolubility of marriage' (7).  The faithful who persist in such a situation may receive Holy Communion only after obtaining sacramental absolution, which may be given only 'to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that when for serious reasons, for example, for the children's upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they "take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples"'(8). In such a case they may receive Holy Communion as long as they respect the obligation to avoid giving scandal....
  • "6. Members of the faithful who live together as husband and wife with persons other than their legitimate spouses may not receive Holy Communion. Should they judge it possible to do so, pastors and confessors, given the gravity of the matter and the spiritual good of these persons(10) as well as the common good of the Church, have the serious duty to admonish them that such a judgment of conscience openly contradicts the Church's teaching(11). Pastors in their teaching must also remind the faithful entrusted to their care of this doctrine....
  • "7. The mistaken conviction of a divorced and remarried person that he may receive Holy Communion normally presupposes that personal conscience is considered in the final analysis to be able, on the basis of one's own convictions(15), to come to a decision about the existence or absence of a previous marriage and the value of the new union. However, such a position is inadmissable(16). Marriage, in fact, because it is both the image of the spousal relationship between Christ and his Church as well as the fundamental core and an important factor in the life of civil society, is essentially a public reality....
  • "10. In keeping with what has been said above, the desire expressed by the Synod of Bishops, adopted by the Holy Father John Paul II as his own and put into practice with dedication and with praiseworthy initiatives by bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful is yet to be fully realized, namely, with solicitous charity to do everything that can be done to strengthen in the love of Christ and the Church those faithful in irregular marriage situations. Only thus will it be possible for them fully to receive the message of Christian marriage and endure in faith the distress of their situation. In pastoral action one must do everything possible to ensure that this is understood not to be a matter of discrimination but only of absolute fidelity to the will of Christ who has restored and entrusted to us anew the indissolubility of marriage as a gift of the Creator. It will be necessary for pastors and the community of the faithful to suffer and to love in solidarity with the persons concerned so that they may recognise in their burden the sweet yoke and the light burden of Jesus(19). Their burden is not sweet and light in the sense of being small or insignificant, but becomes light because the Lord - and with him the whole Church - shares it. It is the task of pastoral action, which has to be carried out with total dedication, to offer this help, founded in truth and in love together" (CDF, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church Concerning the Reception of Holy Communion by the Divorced and Remarried Members of the Faithful, 9/19/1994).

Pontifical Council for the Family's Preparation for the Sacrament of Marriage (5/13/1996)

Preparation for the Sacrament of Marriage recognizes that groundwork must begin with "remote preparation" in earliest childhood, followed later by "proximate" and "immediate" stages: 
  • "It is in the family, the domestic church, that Christian parents are the first witnesses and educators of the children both in the growth of 'faith, hope and charity', and in each child discovering his or her own vocation."  
During the "proximate" stage, Preparation for the Sacrament of Marriage speaks of instruction in natural family planning (i.e., fertility awareness):  
  • "Today the scientific basis of the natural methods for the regulation of fertility are recognized. Knowledge about these methods is useful. When there is just cause, their use must not only be a mere behavioral technique but be inserted into the pedagogy and process of the growth of love (cf. EV 97). Then the virtue of chastity will lead the spouses to practice periodic continence (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 2366-2371)" (The Pontifical Council for the Family's Preparation for the Sacrament of Marriage, 5/13/96)

Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts' Instruction to be Observed by Diocesan and Interdiocesan Tribunals in Handling Causes of the Nullity of Marriage, Dignitas Connubii (1/25/2005)

JP II's concerns apparently triggered Dignitas Connubii, which says that 
  • "The dignity of marriage, which between the baptised 'is the image of and the participation in the covenant of love between Christ and the Church', demands that the Church with the greatest pastoral solicitude promote marriage and the family founded in marriage, and protect and  defend them with all the means available."

Pope Benedict XVI's Deus Caritas Est (12/25/2005)

    “From the standpoint of creation, eros directs man towards marriage, to a bond which is unique and definitive; thus, and only thus, does it fulfil its deepest purpose. Corresponding to the image of a monotheistic God is monogamous marriage. Marriage based on exclusive and definitive love becomes the icon of the relationship between God and his people and vice versa….

    “The imagery of marriage between God and Israel is now realized in a way previously inconceivable: it had meant standing in God's presence, but now it becomes union with God through sharing in Jesus' self-gift, sharing in his body and blood….
    “Catholic social teaching...gradually developed, and has now found a comprehensive presentation in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church published in 2004....
    “The direct duty to work for a just ordering of society…is proper to the lay faithful....
    “The Church can never be exempted from practising charity as an organized activity of believers, and on the other hand, there will never be a situation where the charity of each individual Christian is unnecessary, because in addition to justice man needs, and will always need, love" (Deus Caritas Est, 12/25/05)

Pope Benedict XVI and the Roman Rota (2006 - 2013)

In Pope Benedict XVI's addresses to the Roman Rota, he noted that 
  • "pastoral sensitivity must be directed to avoiding matrimonial nullity when the couple seeks to marry and to striving to help the spouses solve their possible problems and find the path to reconciliation" (1/28/06
and warning that 
  • “the conviction that the pastoral good of the person in an irregular marital situation requires a sort of canonical regularization, independently of the validity or nullity of his/her marriage...has also spread in certain ecclesiastical milieus" (1/27/07).

Pope Francis: Lumen Fidei, Evangelii Gaudium, General Audience of 4/2/14, and Discourse to the Delegation of the International Catholic Office of Children

  • "52. In Abraham’s journey towards the future city, the Letter to the Hebrews mentions the blessing which was passed on from fathers to sons (cf. Heb 11:20-21). The first setting in which faith enlightens the human city is the family. I think first and foremost of the stable union of man and woman in marriage. This union is born of their love, as a sign and presence of God’s own love, and of the acknowledgment and acceptance of the goodness of sexual differentiation, whereby spouses can become one flesh (cf. Gen 2:24) and are enabled to give birth to a new life, a manifestation of the Creator’s goodness, wisdom and loving plan. Grounded in this love, a man and a woman can promise each other mutual love in a gesture which engages their entire lives and mirrors many features of faith. Promising love for ever is possible when we perceive a plan bigger than our own ideas and undertakings, a plan which sustains us and enables us to surrender our future entirely to the one we love. Faith also helps us to grasp in all its depth and richness the begetting of children, as a sign of the love of the Creator who entrusts us with the mystery of a new person. So it was that Sarah, by faith, became a mother, for she trusted in God’s fidelity to his promise (cf. Heb 11:11)" (Lumen Fidei, 6/29/13).
  • "the family is the fundamental cell of society...; it is also the place where parents pass on the faith to their children.  Marriage now tends to be viewed as a form of mere emotional satisfaction that can be constructed in any way or modified at will" (Evangelii Gaudium:, 11/24/13).
  • "Matrimony....leads us to the heart of God’s design, which is a plan for a Covenant with his people, with us all, a plan for communion. At the beginning of the Book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible, at the culmination of the creation account it says: 'God created man in Hs own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.... Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Gen 1:27; 2:24). The image of God is the married couple: the man and the woman; not only the man, not only the woman, but both of them together. This is the image of God: love, God’s covenant with us is represented in that covenant between man and woman. And this is very beautiful! We are created in order to love, as a reflection of God and His love. And in the marital union man and woman fulfil this vocation through their mutual reciprocity and their full and definitive communion of life" (General Audience, 4/2/14).
  • "it is necessary to reaffirm the right of children to grow up in a family, with a father and a mother capable of creating an ideal environment for their development and emotional maturity" (Discourse to the Delegation of the International Catholic Office of Children, 4/11/14).


Instrumentum Laboris (2014)

Instrumentum Laboris was the preparatory document for the "The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization."  In keeping with the tone of Pope Francis, it certainly stressed the compassionate mercy of God.  At the same time, it made clear that it stood unwaveringly with the the Church's constant teaching, citing the Bible, the Catechism, Humanae Vitae, and the Theology of the Body, among its sources (Instrumentum Laboris, 2014).

"I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingly power: proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.  For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths"(2 Timothy 4: 1-4).

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