The Thinking 

The Cold Call “Pope” Throws Marriage Under the Bus

April 24, 2014


ACCORDING to CNN, the Vatican has confirmed reports of a phone call to an Argentine woman by “Pope” Francis:

Julio Sabetta, from San Lorenzo in the Pope’s home country, said his wife, Jacqueline Sabetta Lisbona, spoke with Francis on Monday.

Jacqueline Sabetta Lisbona wrote to the pontiff in September to ask for clarification on the Communion issue, according to her husband, who said his divorced status had prevented her from receiving the sacrament.

“She spoke with the Pope, and he said she was absolved of all sins and she could go and get the Holy Communion because she was not doing anything wrong,” Sabetta told Channel 3 Rosario, a CNN affiliate.

A Vatican spokesman confirmed the telephone call but would not comment on the conversation’s content.

“It’s between the Pope and the woman,” said the Rev. Thomas Rosica, a consultant for the Vatican press office.

But it isn’t between the woman and the “Pope.” The world has now heard about it. So the Vatican would presumably correct any errors if it was concerned that something misleading had been conveyed. Rosica said that Church doctrine has not changed. That’s right. Church doctrine has not changed. But we have very good reason to believe that Francis is teaching that Church doctrine is false. The informal phone call is a great way of selling out the Church without having to take the flak involved in formal, explicit repudiation of doctrine. It’s a brilliant strategy. What is said on the phone will never be verified, but it leaves its mark and sends the signal to those ready for change. At the very least, Jorge Bergoglio has committed a grave sin of omission by not correcting the story. As the Rev. Benedict Hughes, CMRI, has written:

While there are various sins of omission, one of the most grievous is that committed by persons in authority who fail to teach, correct, or guide those in their charge. Parents who do not correct their children and allow them to develop sinful habits will be held accountable before God for this neglect. Teachers who fail to teach the truth will answer to God as well. But unquestionably the most serious omission is that of shepherds who fail to adequately instruct and admonish the souls committed to their care.

God spoke about this grave sin in words that ought to strike fear in the hearts of all who wield authority: “If when I say to the wicked: Thou shalt surely die, thou declare it not to him, nor speak to him, that he may be converted from his wicked way, and live, the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but I will require his blood at thy hand” (Ezechiel, 3:18). Thus, we see the gravity of the obligation binding the consciences of those to whom has been entrusted the welfare of immortal souls.

— Comments —

James N. writes:

The granting of tens of thousands of annulments under false pretenses has created a novel situation, which some bishops and clergy are struggling to deal with.

Divorce, in almost all cases, is the fruit of (one or another) sin. In Eastern Orthodoxy, the particular sin(s) is confessable and absolvable and a second marriage is, in some circumstances, allowed (it is not automatic, and third marriages are not permitted). The Roman Catholic position, while it is internally consistent, has given rise in fact to a position that is more liberal than the EO practice.

All you have to do is lie to the Tribunal. There is a whole industry – books, videos, canon lawyers, priests and religious, to help you do this.

It is possible (it can be imagined) that the Church could annul all the annulments and return to a pre-1965 state, but it is not probable.

What the clergy and the bishops desire (I think) is a confessional and absolutional model where confessors and pastors could (publicly) exercise discretion, which they do now privately, all the time.

 Laura writes:

If you are saying that a further change in doctrine is reasonable becaus of the whole system of illicit annulments, I don’t understand that reasoning. Nevertheless, it is not annulled marriages that are at issue here, but cases of divorce. Reception of the Eucharist is permissible after remarriage when an annulment has been obtained.

But since you raise the issue of annulments, it is part of the same phenomenon of the Conciliar Church abandoning Catholic teaching. An annulment technically means that the marriage was never contracted in the first place and, up until as recently as 50 years ago, was only issued in grave circumstances, such as clinical insanity, child marriage or cases where one spouse was previously married. Go here for a fuller explanation.

You write:

The Roman Catholic position, while it is internally consistent, has given rise in fact to a position that is more liberal than the EO practice.

No, the Roman Catholic position never gave rise to the system of illicit annulments. The abandonment of the Roman Catholic position, established by Christ himself and rejected by schismatics, gave rise to it.

According to this article, in 1968, 338 annulments were granted in the United States. “From 1984 to 1994, the Vatican II Church in the U.S. granted just under 59,000 annually, even though the number of Catholic marriages has fallen one third since 1965. In 2002 alone, the Vatican II sect granted 50,000 annulments in the United States! An astounding 97% of all annulments requested are granted in the United States! This means that almost everyone who wants an “annulment” of his or her marriage gets one!”

No one, not even a pope, has the authority to impose this revolutionary change on Catholics or to regularize divorce and remarriage. Christian marriage cannot be redefined by any human authority. As Pope Pius XI wrote in Casti Connubi:

… [L]et it be repeated as an immutable and inviolable fundamental doctrine that matrimony was not instituted or restored by man but by God; not by man were the laws made to strengthen and confirm and elevate it but by God, the Author of nature, and by Christ Our Lord by Whom nature was redeemed, and hence these laws cannot be subject to any human decrees or to any contrary pact even of the spouses themselves. This is the doctrine of Holy Scripture;[2] this is the constant tradition of the Universal Church; this the solemn definition of the sacred Council of Trent, which declares and establishes from the words of Holy Writ itself that God is the Author of the perpetual stability of the marriage bond, its unity and its firmness.[3]

And there is no need to impose it because the Church teaching on marital separation in the case of serious division is sufficient to deal with those cases that fall outside the traditional limits of annulments.

Many people have had their marriages taken away from them through involuntary divorce. But to accept divorce and remarriage, even in limited circumstances, would only create more victims. Besides the Church cannot accept them (though it may accept divorced or remarried persons in other circumstances outside the Sacrament of Communion.) To return to Pius XI:

Wherefore, Our predecessor Pius VI of happy memory, writing to the Bishop of Agria, most wisely said: “Hence it is clear that marriage even in the state of nature, and certainly long before it was raised to the dignity of a sacrament, was divinely instituted in such a way that it should carry with it a perpetual and indissoluble bond which cannot therefore be dissolved by any civil law. Therefore although the sacramental element may be absent from a marriage as is the case among unbelievers, still in such a marriage, inasmuch as it is a true marriage there must remain and indeed there does remain that perpetual bond which by divine right is so bound up with matrimony from its first institution that it is not subject to any civil power. And so, whatever marriage is said to be contracted, either it is so contracted that it is really a true marriage, in which case it carries with it that enduring bond which by divine right is inherent in every true marriage; or it is thought to be contracted without that perpetual bond, and in that case there is no marriage, but an illicit union opposed of its very nature to the divine law, which therefore cannot be entered into or maintained.”[34]

35. And if this stability seems to be open to exception, however rare the exception may be, as in the case of certain natural marriages between unbelievers, or amongst Christians in the case of those marriages which though valid have not been consummated, that exception does not depend on the will of men nor on that of any merely human power, but on divine law, of which the only guardian and interpreter is the Church of Christ. However, not even this power can ever affect for any cause whatsoever a Christian marriage which is valid and has been consummated, for as it is plain that here the marriage contract has its full completion, so, by the will of God, there is also the greatest firmness and indissolubility which may not be destroyed by any human authority.

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