The Synod: Three weeks considered, three issues critiqued

While calls for female deacons and an Amazonian rite have little to stand on, the push for viri probati is cause for serious concern.

Pope Francis accepts offertory gifts from an indigenous man as he celebrates the concluding Mass of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon at the Vatican Oct. 27, 2019. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

With the Amazonian road show concluded, what do we have as a result?  For the most part, a big “nothing-burger.”  Most of the essentially non-theological items treated were done in the predictable way: parroting the party line of the groups that paid the piper.  The three hot-button items from an ecclesial perspective could not have pleased those who inhabit the left wing of the Church (regardless of their public protestations).  I don’t want to waste any time talking about the lunacy of idols and pagan worship – all of which have been duly covered over the past three weeks.

Over two years ago (March 12, 2017), I reflected on the Amazon Synod – in advance!  To save readers’ time, let me summarize the principal points I made then:

1.  Granted, there is a serious lack of priests in the Amazon region, thus obviating regular recourse to the sacraments for many.  However, one must ask why such a dearth of priests after five centuries?

2.  Why is the priest shortage not anywhere near as critical in Asia and Africa – much more recently evangelized?

3.  The case will be made, I prognosticated, that the solution to the problem will be the ordination of the so-called viri probati, that is, elderly married men who will not be full-fledged priests, lacking faculties for confession and preaching, due to a lack of full theological training.

4.  Those pushing forward this agenda are largely octogenarian and nonagenarian hierarchs of German extraction, financed by German money.

5.  And yes, already in 2017, it was clear that the deck was being stacked with participants supporting this agenda.

So, what were the three items that should concern us?

The first was that of a female diaconate.  Paragraph 103 of the final document acknowledges that Pope Francis empaneled a commission to study this issue.  The text here seems to suggest that the commission’s conclusions were inconclusive (“a partial result”); my reading was quite different as was, apparently, that of Francis himself, who said that the deaconesses of the Early Church seem to have received the equivalent of the blessing of an abbess (in other words, this was not an ordination).  That doesn’t stop the request: “We would therefore like to share our experiences and reflections with the Commission and await its results.”  What is the English translation?  Proponents of a female diaconate could not muster sufficient support for their project and now are reduced to asking for further study.

Current Church law already allows properly deputed laity (male and female) to baptize, witness marriages, conduct funerals, and distribute Holy Communion under certain conditions.  So, what lies behind this obsession with ordaining deaconesses?  Clearly, it is seen as the camel’s nose in the tent for the ordination of priestesses – very honestly admitted by its principal protagonist, the 80-year-old Bishop Erwin Kräutler.

Although it is annoying to have this topic served up with such regularity, only the most deluded can imagine that the project has any legs.  As Francis himself once remarked – rather cynically – that in Argentina they have a saying: “Establish a commission, and everybody forgets about it.”

Secondly, paragraph 119 calls for the forging of an Amazonian Rite.  Presumably, this will reverse the hemorrhaging of Catholics into the proliferating sects?  Surely, if such a rite had been created five centuries ago, the Church in the Amazon would be the shining star of Catholic practice, with no cohabitation, infanticide, and Sunday liturgies of the Word packed to overflowing.  No, this is just more foolish polishing of the brass on a sinking ship.  What has attracted Catholics to the sects is their provision of a transcendental horizon with serious presentations of matters like sin and redemption (albeit faulty versions of those issues).

Of what use would an Amazonian Rite be to a man like Bishop Kräutler, who proudly proclaims that he has not baptized a single indigenous person in thirty years?  Furthermore, the Church permitted just such an experiment in 1988 with its approval of the Zairean Use, the two principal agents of which ended up leaving the priesthood.  The Pope has indicated that he is willing to hand over this prospect to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, whose prefect is none other than inestimable Cardinal Robert Sarah; I can’t picture him rushing to his desk to help create that liturgy.

Thirdly, the proposal most in need of reflection is that of Paragraph 111, “ordination of married men in the Amazon.”

While paying the usual lip service to priestly celibacy, the document goes on to press its case for an exception for the Amazon due to the historic shortage of priests in that region.  Of course, there is no attempt to go to the roots of the shortage: Why is it so acute there?  The ridiculous answer given by the peripatetic Bishop Kräutler is, frankly, a racist slur on the indigenous peoples of the region, namely, that they cannot appreciate consecrated celibacy, which suggests that they are sexually unhinged unlike any other group in the history of the Church.  Again, recall that this is the one who proudly proclaimed that he has never baptized anyone in thirty years.  If that is the case, then whom would he be ordaining, to begin with?  An indigenous, unbaptized pagan?

Further, those clamoring for this exception are not among the most fervent devotees of either the priesthood or the Eucharist.  Indeed, many of them openly express deep admiration for the pagan rituals, which St. Paul taught were completely incompatible with the celebration of the Eucharist (see, for example, 1 Corinthians 9 and 10).  At least, they ought to have the honesty of the Women’s Ordination Conference in the United States, which asserts that they have no interest in the priesthood as it has been known in the Church of all time; that also goes for an understanding of the Holy Eucharist.  While we’re at it, let’s also include an understanding and acceptance of Catholic ecclesiology.  Truth be told, in every instance of genuine evangelization, an orthodox understanding of the Eucharist brings in its wake a sincere longing for the priesthood which, in turn, begets native vocations.

The document indicates that the candidates they have in mind are men “who have had a fruitful permanent diaconate.”  This is an interesting statement because Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna expressed surprise that there were so few permanent deacons in the region.  Very coyly, he said that for years he has been ordaining viri probati  – to the diaconate!  Why is that a missing link more than fifty years after the re-institution of the permanent diaconate in the Church of the West?

The text goes on to say that these men will “receive and [sic] adequate formation for the priesthood.”  What is meant by “adequate formation”?  In the past, everyone took as a given that these men would not be receiving a theological education qualifying them to be more than “Mass priests,” and thus unable to hear confessions or preach.  Where and how will this now-envisioned “adequate formation” take place?  Are they going to be uprooted from their families?  Surely, courses cannot be offered in such remote sites.  If the cultural situation is as dire as generally presented, would these men have the basic education to absorb the necessary theology?  Are they even literate?  As I asked in my earlier article, have we learned nothing from the Middle Ages and the ordination of theological illiterates?

Interestingly, the paragraph in question also hedges its bets by indicating that “some [of the Synod Fathers] were in favor of a more universal approach to the subject.”  In other words, many bishops knew that this “exception” could be claimed throughout the Universal Church.  Sure, the bishops of Germany who have done as little evangelization as the bishops of the Amazon are in desperate need of priests.  This “disclaimer” leads me to conclude that this proposal is not going to get any traction, Deo volente.  My interpretation is worthy of serious consideration because Cardinal Michael Czerny, one of the Synod’s secretaries, said exactly this in the final press conference.

The elephant in the middle of the living room, however, is what has the Church meant by viri probati historically.  Why has she insisted on “older” men?  Very simply, because the presumption was that these men (although married) would no longer be sexually active.  Remember, to put it somewhat crudely, we were dealing with a pre-Viagra phenomenon.  Why is that important?  Because there is an historic link between priesthood and continence (which is total abstention from sexual activity of any kind; and not celibacy, as such).  Let’s review that chapter of history.

When married men were admitted to the priesthood in the Early Church, they and their wives gave up their marital rights and lived as brother and sister (this is well documented in Roman Cholij’s Clerical Celibacy in East and West and in shorter form by Cardinal Alfons Stickler’s work recently reprinted by Ignatius Press).  With the passage of time, the Church of the West took a slightly different tack by calling only men who showed a capacity to live the charism of celibacy, not unlike Our Lord’s admonition in Matthew 19:12.

The first major departure from the expectation of clerical continence [1] occurred with the eastern regional Council of Trullo.  Its most problematic canon dealt with clerical marriages and effectively turned the entire Tradition on its head (with its falsification of an earlier conciliar norm [2]) by not only permitting married men to be ordained but by allowing for their continued use of sexual activity.  The legislation, however, was rather convoluted and demanded continence before a priest could celebrate the Eucharist.[3]  In many ways, Trullo set the stage for what later became the Protestant notion of priesthood, reducing priesthood to a liturgical function.[4]  The ontology of Holy Order (namely, that a man is changed at the very core of his being, which identity is a constant aspect of his existence) had been downgraded to functionalism (that is, that a man is a priest when he is “doing” something priestly).  Doing had replaced being – the very dichotomy the Eternal High Priest had reversed.  Not surprisingly, ten centuries later, the functional concept of the priesthood among the Protestant Reformers came to allow, and even demand, the demise of mandatory celibacy.

Much more could be said about the appropriateness of clerical continence (yes, including for deacons), for which I would refer interested readers to a work I edited on this topic some years ago – Priestly Celibacy:  The Scriptural, Historical, Spiritual, and Psychological Roots (Newman House Press).

The bottom line, though, is that I seriously doubt if these would-be viri probati are going to be held to perpetual continence, especially since Pope John Paul II opened the door to former Anglican clergy being ordained to the Catholic priesthood without the requirement of foregoing conjugal rights.  John Paul’s paternal solicitude may now be coming back to haunt us.  If, on the other hand, those convert clergy had been asked to renounce their conjugal rights, what a powerful witness that would have been to their commitment to the Catholic Church in general and to the Sacred Priesthood in particular.  Once more, we see, however, that one exception breathes life and hope into even broader future exceptions.

As I indicated at the outset, I have chosen to restrict myself to these three issues, prescinding from the very thin (and, at times, seriously defective) theology of other parts of the document – along with its silly and foolish promotion of agendas which are not only secular but often inimical to a Catholic view of reality.

Given Pope Francis’ proclivity for saying and doing things to unnerve orthodox Catholics – and then doing nothing in the end (like his taunt about bringing into St. Peter’s the pachamamas for the concluding Mass of the Synod) – I foresee a similar pattern here: Keep the pot boiling.  ¡Hagan lio!  My belief is that the shallowness of these three proposals will result in their being consigned to the fate of ecclesiastical study commissions where they will die an ignominious death.  As the Irish say, “from my lips to God’s ears.”

Endnotes:

[1] I deliberately use the word “clerical,” rather than “priestly,” because the norm applied to deacons as well as to priests – a point that canonist Edward Peters has made repeatedly.

[2] This sleight-of-hand action reminds one of the same attempt on the part of the former Communications director of the Vatican, Msgr. Dario Viganò (no relation to the “whistle-blower” Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò , who willfully deleted a paragraph of Pope Benedict’s letter, so as to suggest that the Pope Emeritus supported the theology of his successor.

[3] This injunction is as old as the Old Testament itself. Even soldiers were enjoined from having relations with their wives while engaged in battle (because the act of war on behalf of Israel was regarded as a sacred act).

[4] And so, one cannot claim that a married presbyterate in the Eastern Churches (either Orthodox or Catholic) is a “venerable” tradition; it is a clear aberration of the apostolic tradition.


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About Peter M.J. Stravinskas 118 Articles
Reverend Peter M.J. Stravinskas is the editor of the The Catholic Response, and the author of over 500 articles for numerous Catholic publications, as well as several books, including The Catholic Church and the Bible and Understanding the Sacraments.

26 Comments

  1. Excellent article. Well written and very convincing. Bottom line…there are lots of priests all over the world, especially in Rome and in dioceses where lay men could do the bureaucratic tasks that many of those priests are engaged in, so that these priests could offer their priesthood to people who really need them. But would they?
    Also, religious orders are now sending many fine men from Asia and Africa to the USA, robbing their local talent to replace us, for “the sake of money” which they send home! Finally, there are so many of us old priests who do not want to be forced into retirement who still want to help build up the kingdom rather than fill up the retirement homes!!!

  2. Fundamental agreement underlying premise “What has attracted Catholics to the sects is their provision of a transcendental horizon with serious presentations of matters like sin and redemption”. However faulty the versions the sects provide are exactly what we’ve surrendered. A critique limited to 2, “Why is the priest shortage not anywhere near as critical in Asia and Africa – much more recently evangelized”? I have benefit of responding from experience from two Africa missions as seminary lecturer and priest serving in the ‘bush’. Interconnected though each essentially different. Lecturing young Africans taught the level of native intelligence was equal to back home in Am. And of course students frequently described at home ‘bush’ conditions. As a weekend missionary the struggle for deliverance from shamanism long standing ritualistic oppressive social mores became apparent. Most hungered for what the faith brought. “Much more recently evangelized” than Amazonia is not true although true for the remainder of S America [Spain’s exclusive long history presents social anthropological issues such as ethnic biological integration and a Mestizo caste system resulting in poor evangelization of the more indigenous]. Very few priests have been willing and even able to withstand the difficulties of surviving Amazonia [the use of quinine is relatively recent was not always available] similar to Borneo and Papua some areas of the Congo where cannibalism still exists. Other reasons are multiple outstanding is loss of missionary fervor in the West during 20th century noted by Benedict XVI due to a conflated view of salvation outside the Church. The African more recently evangelized as cited by Fr Stravinskas were also evangelized by Europeans French, Irish, Dutch, Italian, Flemish, Basque and Spanish who were infinitely more committed to acceptance of suffering and death to save souls than S Am priests mainly from upper class Mestizo families content on maintaining a caste system. Liberation theology addressed that, failed although raised a collective conscientious awareness and improved mission efforts. Africans took to the Catholic priesthood with alacrity for multiple reasons the more mundane deliverance from ‘living on the edge’ but moreso because of a faith inspired by devoted European missionaries. A priest from Nigeria, Kenya is apt to discard an idol like Pachamama fully knowledgeable of the hated life it represents. While the indigenous Amazonian isolated hemmed in by the elements [at least not the majority who live in towns and are subject to Pentecostal conversion] not ever having encountered a Catholic priest with faithful missionary fervor finds no need to surrender his pagan fetishes. Insofar as transitioning from desk jobs to the missions as suggested by Fr Stravinskas only a team of horses can pull them away or much better a pontiff imbued with the fervor of Apostolic Tradition willing to inspire presbyters to sacrifice their lives for Christ [ideas however brilliant will not do, the Amazonia project engineered as noted by Fr Stravinskas not to convert but to advance an agenda] will succeed.

  3. An issue worthy of a commission study would be the effect of ecumenism and inculturation on missionary work. How do we expect to foster invigorated missionary work when there appears to be a reticence to preaching the necessity of conversion? What true missionary would want to be sent out to observe and dialogue? What exuberant Catholic would want to be a missionary under those conditions? Bring back the true missionary and God will give us the missionary spirit.

    • Inigo the Jesuits Portuguese [Brazil was conceded Portugal’s sphere of influence by the Church] and Spanish were heroic missionaries in the Amazonia region until suppressed by Portugal 1759 Spain 1767. The following is an historical account: “The Jesuits Fernão Cardim (c.1549–1625), José de Anchieta (1534–97), and Manuel de Nóbrega (1517–70) recorded the initial conceptual and practical challenges of bringing the territory of Brazil into the Christian fold. The Jesuit letters, some of which are in Monumenta Brasiliae, detail the start of the mission to ‘save souls’ in Brazil. Traditional Jesuit historiography on Brazil exalted the virtues of the Jesuits who did this arduous work. The Jesuits in Europe who compiled the first histories of the Society of Jesus often mentioned Brazil since many of their brothers died as martyrs in, or on their way to, Brazil. Nicolò Orlandini (1620), Louis Richeôme (1611), Bartolomé Guerreiro (1642), and Antonio Franco (1714), for example, glorified Brazil’s martyrs. The first large scale compilation of the Society’s activity in Brazil was Simão Vasconcellos’s (1597–1671) Crônica da Companhia de Jesus do Estado do Brasil (Chronicle of the Society of Jesus in the state of Brazil, 1663). Vasconcellos was a prolific Jesuit and wrote the life of Anchieta, among many other works, commemorating the first Jesuits’ efforts” (The Historiography of the Jesuits in Brazil Prior to the Suppression Anne B. McGinness).

      • Thank you Father. I once perused the missionary letters of St. Francis Xavier to his brothers back in Rome and was amazed at his zeal for the faith and the fruit which came through such zeal.

    • An added interest is the reason for suppression and the amazing tolerance of non Catholic nations particularly Russia’s Catherine the Great, “The power and wealth of the Society of Jesus with its influential educational system was confronted by adversaries in this time of cultural change in Europe, leading to the revolutions that would follow. Monarchies attempting to centralize and secularize political power viewed the Jesuits as being too international, too strongly allied to the papacy, and too autonomous from the monarchs in whose territory they operated. By the brief Dominus ac Redemptor 21 July 1773 Pope Clement XIV suppressed the Society of Jesus, as a fait accompli and with no reasons given. Russia, Prussia, and the United States allowed the Jesuits to continue their work, and Catherine the Great allowed the founding of a new novitiate in Russia” (Wikipedia).

  4. There are 400,500 priests in the world. PF could just make an urgent call for 500 of them to commit to spend 5 or 10 years as full-time missionaries to the Amazon. I bet over 1,000 would respond. But that’s not the point, of course.

  5. It is interesting how Bishop Kräutler views his failure to carry out the Great Commission as something to brag about. Matthew 28:18-20:
    *
    18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”
    *
    It’s pretty hard to square the Synod with the Great Commission.

  6. All the Eastern Churches have historically had married priests and deacons as the norm, rather than the exception. All the Oriental Orthodox, as well as the Assyrian Church of the East, have a continuous tradition which well precedes the Council of Trullo–in which they did not participate, of course, having been out of communion with the Greek and Latin Churches since the 5th-century councils. The Council of Trullo, that is, is entirely irrelevant to the custom of married presbyters and deacons in the non-Byzantine traditions. I greatly respect Father Stravinskas, but this is a canard.

      • And are the Orthodox right about divorce and remarriage, too?
        And is falsification of a conciliar document the correct basis for justifying a practice?

        • I was preparing to say the same thing before I saw your rejoinder Father. I might also point out the inherent fallacy of the undistributed middle in logic or just a simple failure to note the negatives when trying to point out an imaginary positive.

        • I shouldn’t bother…

          Re: “falsification”

          Do we have the original text which the fathers of Trullo used for the drafting of their documents in order to substantiate this claim? Unlikely. How about the complete textual tradition of the canons as it was transmitted to the East? Probably not.

          Carthage was a local synod — it could be cited by Byzantines as precedent for support or contrast. The Byzantines apparently received what they thought were the canons of Carthage and adopted them as their own, but they could have declined to do so as well, if it disagreed with their own traditions, nor would they have been bound to receive the canons of Carthage in their original form.

  7. It is my genuine hope that Fr. Stravinskas did not mean to imply that the TRULY venerable practice of married priests and deacons, who rightly exercise their conjugal rights, is somehow wrong or defective. (It is disappointing that Father opted to put the word venerable in quotes; it revealed unnecessary snark.)

    The Council of Trullo, to which Father referred, was a synod held in the palace of the Byzantine Empire, in 692. Its members included bishops of the Church of Constantinople and other Eastern churches in communion with it. (It is also well to remember that this was when Constantinople was in communion with Rome.) The council enacted a number of disciplinary decrees that are, to this day, observed among both the Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic Churches. This included recognition of the already long-established custom wherein married men could submit themselves for all degrees of Holy Orders, save the episcopate—and who could likewise continue to licitly exercise their conjugal rights. Like the familiar modern discipline of the “permanent” diaconate in the West, Trullo also provided that only already-married men could be ordained; if widowed, they could not remarry. Also, like the Latin Church in general, single men were prohibited to marry with ordination to the diaconate.

    While the provisions of the Trullan council were not enacted in the Latin West, their canons are regarded by Rome as absolutely normative and legitimate in the Christian East. This includes a married (non-monastic) priesthood, with all that would imply for Christian men.

    The institution of continence among married clergy, while certainly widely practiced in the early Medieval period, was by no means the only legitimate discipline among the married clergy (as Fr. Stravinskas seems to imply). It perhaps was regarded as an “ideal,” but this practice was by no means general or universal. While existing in both East and West for a time, it by no means invalidates the exercise of intimacy among married clerics. In fact, it affirms the truth that marriage may rightly be lived in all its aspects among the clergy. It is, and has been for most of the history of the Church, a righteous way of life—just as it is, in a different fashion, also a righteous observance among the clergy who have renounced their marital rights while remaining together. (In fact, some clergy and their wives have voluntarily observed such abstinence into the modern period.)

    History is instructive on this point. Between the end of the Middle Ages and the late seventeenth-century, nearly all of the current Eastern Catholic Churches reestablished ecclesial communion with Rome. In no case did the Holy See require, in any fashion, the abrogation of Trullo’s provisions among the Byzantine churches. The imposition of diaconal or priestly celibacy (as observed in the Latin Church) as a general condition before or after reunion was never required or even sought. (It was only in the twentieth century that the American Roman Catholic hierarchy tragically pressured the Holy See to impose Latin-style celibacy upon Eastern Catholic secular priests in the US. This was eventually extended worldwide, outside of Europe and Asia. Thankfully, the Holy See reversed this injustice in 2014.)

    While celibacy is a counsel of the Lord, its imposition by the Church upon clergy was and has always been a purely ecclesiastical (i.e. in this instance, man-made) requirement. It has existed in various forms—all of which are legitimate, when so recognized by the Church. While the exercise of marital continence is always meant to anticipate the coming Kingdom of God, “where men will neither marry or give-into marriage” (cf. Mt 22:30), it by no means makes clergy who are legitimately married and fully enjoy a Christian marital life any “less” than those who, for the sake of the Kingdom, do not. How could it when permitted and recognized by the Church (even if not in the Latin West) for at least two-thirds of the Christian era?

    Like the Church’s disciplines, the grace of God also comes in a variety of forms. While it may be argued by some that, in one sense, the “sign value” of a celibate clergy might be “higher” than one which is not, divine grace can be fully and richly operative in both ways of life. The lives of the saints and the general experience of the Holy Church have proven it so.

  8. What just concluded in Rome was:
    Manipulation of indigenous people by the European elite clerics,
    Ford Foundation money working very hard,
    German taxpayer money working equally as hard with a wink and nod of the German elite cardinals and, finally,
    A surprise but wonderful show of guts by those young men who removed the pagan idols from the Sanctuary of
    Almighty God.

  9. For what my simple two cents are worth concerning the virtues of celibacy, if we are going to talk about the importance of tradition and history with regard to developments (or lack thereof) in pastoral theology, I would like to point out that the first ecclesiastical authority to definitively downplay the importance of marriage in favor of virginity was Adam in Genesis 3, wherein he clearly blamed Eve, his marriage to her, and God Himself (the latter for giving him a marital nature complete with Eve) for his own fall from grace and godliness. This is the first, and I would daresay, the most definitive historical, philosophical, theological, and scriptural argument for the dignity of celibacy; all other arguments throughout history have been, and continue to be developed and interpreted through this lens and inheritance of Adam’s shame and blasphemy against the gift of marital sexuality. This includes St. Paul’s arguments in 1 Cor. 7; that is why St. Paul himself takes such great care to point out in context that there is no law of God on the matter, that it is a personal, pastoral recommendation according to historical necessity, and necessarily involves logically equivocating marriage with the vice of lust, and non-marriage with the virtue of chastity [two objective fallacies, albeit subjectively true on a very shallow level]… As well as why, several years afterward, he would seem to shift course in referring to marriage as a great sacrament in Ephesians 5.

    Granting that, Pius XII in his 1954 Encyclical “Sacra Virginitas” does clearly state that the non-marriage of Jesus and Mary is the quintessential reason for the dignity of celibacy, without which truly all other arguments simply fail. Like the Old Adam and Eve though, Jesus and Mary as the new ones were a miraculously virginal parent and biological child; and even as God placed His formal stamp of approval on the beginning of human history with the marriage of the first Adam and Eve, it would seem profoundly fitting and morally certain that the Bride and Groom referred to in the final chapters of Revelation are literally Jesus and Mary themselves, a fact which seems to give the lie to the man-made tradition of clerical celibacy, being essentially based as it is on the proposition that Jesus and Mary are perpetually non-married. Such a premise validly admits to a dimensionally greater dignity and efficacy to sacramental matrimony by means of a husband and wife’s participation in, and imitation of, the eternal unity between Jesus and Mary.

    For what it is worth, I personally don’t know a way to disprove such an interpretation without at least implicitly agreeing with Adam’s blasphemy against God’s intent in creating them male and female unto His Own image and likeness. I would like to mention as well that theologians have always distinguished between the temporal aspects of marriage and the eternal aspects of marriage with regard to what will remain in the after life, and rightly so. It is against the omniscience, omnipotence, and inherent goodness of God’s creative power for Him to annihilate in eternity a fundamental aspect of human nature’s integrity which symbolizes in itself an eternal reality; and, as the sexual integrity of a man and woman united in marriage properly symbolizes on the natural level the mystical life of the Blessed Trinity, we may be morally certain that Christ was only speaking of the temporal, procreative property of marriage in negatively answering a question asked in bad faith by the heretical Sadducees concerning the existence of marriage in the Eternal Marriage Feast of Heaven.

    Even granting everything that Holy Mother Church has ever officially or unofficially proclaimed on the matter (including Session 24, Canon 10 of the Council of Trent), I do not know of a way to disprove such a premise without siding with Adam’s blasphemy against his own God-given marital perfection; and, as far as I can tell, I am not contradicting the “sensus fidei” with which Holy Mother Church has always, everywhere, and by all people taught on the matter by my pointing out how it is all quintessentially based on the hardness of heart and darkness of mind against marriage and sexuality which we have inherited from Adam’s condemnation of his own God-given marital nature with Eve.

    By all means, please correct me if I am wrong, because as a practicing Catholic, this is not stuff I can afford to be wrong about (that is part of the reason I am throwing these premises out there)… At the same time, in all charity, if you are going to quote the works of other theologians, etc., against my interpretation, please be ready to substantially explain why they taught what they taught, and how they clearly were not influenced by the shame of Adam against sexual integrity in promulgating the same. God bless!

    • “I would like to point out that the first ecclesiastical authority to definitively downplay the importance of marriage in favor of virginity was Adam in Genesis 3, wherein he clearly blamed Eve, his marriage to her, and God Himself (the latter for giving him a marital nature complete with Eve) for his own fall from grace and godliness.”

      I see nothing in Genesis 3 that “downplays the importance of marriage in favor of virginity,” nor do I see any place that Adam blames his marriage to Eve, or God for giving him a marital nature; he blames Eve for tempting him to eat of the fruit that was forbidden, and then expands the blame to include God who made Eve, but that’s a different thing.

      “all other arguments throughout history have been, and continue to be developed and interpreted through this lens and inheritance of Adam’s shame and blasphemy against the gift of marital sexuality. This includes St. Paul’s arguments in 1 Cor. 7; that is why St. Paul himself takes such great care to point out in context that there is no law of God on the matter, that it is a personal, pastoral recommendation according to historical necessity, and necessarily involves logically equivocating marriage with the vice of lust, and non-marriage with the virtue of chastity [two objective fallacies, albeit subjectively true on a very shallow level]…”

      Given a choice between thinking that St. Paul’s reasoning is somehow flawed, and thinking that yours is, I’m going with the thought that you’re the one who’s wrong.

      “As well as why, several years afterward, he would seem to shift course in referring to marriage as a great sacrament in Ephesians 5. ”

      So much for the inspiration of the Bible, huh? “Whooopsies, got that wrong, let me shift course.”

      Hmmm, let’s see, St. Paul got it wrong (though he corrected coure), Pius XII got it wrong, the Church has gotten it wrong for a couple of millennia… but here come you to enlighten us all, and to demand that anybody who disagrees with you must “if you are going to quote the works of other theologians, etc., against my interpretation, please be ready to substantially explain why they taught what they taught, and how they clearly were not influenced by the shame of Adam against sexual integrity in promulgating the same.” In other words write a book for you, and also prove a negative.

      Yeah, right.

    • Your exegesis of the Fall of Man is off target. I have done an exegesis where sex plays no role in the Fall. I have it posted on another article on this website. The article is titled: “Seeing sacramentally in a pornified culture”
      *
      https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2019/07/09/seeing-sacramentally-in-a-pornified-culture/
      *
      There was lust, lust for the things that are God’s. Adam and Eve acted like gold diggers, valuing the gift more than the gift Giver.

    • This relevancy from St. John Paul II:

      “Speaking of the body glorified through the resurrection to the future life, we have in mind man, male-female, in all the truth of his humanity…This will be a completely new experience. At the same time it will not be alienated in any way from that man took part in from the beginning, nor from what, in the historical dimension of his existence, constituted in him the source of the tension between spirit and body, concerning mainly the procreative meaning of the body and sex. The man of the future world will find again in this new experience of his own body precisely the completion of what he bore within himself perennially and historically [….]

      “In the risen man, male and female, will be revealed, I would say, the absolute and eternal nuptial meaning of the glorified body in union with God himself through the “face to face’ vision of him, and glorified also through the union of perfect inter-subjectivity. This will unite all who participate in the other world, men and women, in the mystery of the communion of saints” (The Theology of the Body, Pauline Books, 1997; 248, 267).

      This quote is included as a footnote—-and as pearl of great price—-on page 396 of my book: Kristi:So Thin is the Veil (Crossroads Publishing, 2006)—-where I arrive at the calming insight that my late wife’s sanctified passing, after twelve years of horrendous cancer episodes, is “more of a parting than a separation, and that the ‘parting’ is only temporary…” Other parted spouses who also have grieved may take heart.

  10. Mark:
    “What just concluded in Rome was:
    Manipulation of indigenous people by the European elite clerics,
    Ford Foundation money working very hard,
    German taxpayer money working equally as hard with a wink and nod of the German elite cardinals…”
    ********
    Don’t leave out George Soros’ money at work. I’d be surprised if some credit wasn’t due there as well.
    🙁

  11. Bishops, presbyters (elders), and deacons are all to be husbands of one wife. See Titus 1:5-6 for presbyters, 1Timothy 3:2 for bishops, and 3:12 for deacons. This is reason enough to allow a married clergy without needing any further explanations or rationalizations to the contrary; and this is also the reason to exclude women from being deacons. Allowing women deacons would open the door to women bishops and presbyters.

    • “This is reason enough to allow a married clergy without needing any further explanations or rationalizations to the contrary;”

      Do you imagine that for the centuries and centuries and centuries and centuries that the Church has had a celibate priesthood they somehow overlooked that passage? Of course not. Why not read some of the books and articles defending celibacy and see why your argument doesn’t hold water?

3 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

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