The World Meeting of Families (and its preparatory wing, “Amoris: Let’s Talk Family; Let’s Be Family”) has been completely discredited and shown to be fundamentally anti-family after the organisers of the 2018 event in Dublin invited the notorious Cardinal Christophe Schönborn of Vienna to give two conferences in Mary Immaculate Teacher Training College in Limerick on 13th July last.
Communion for the Divorced and “Re-married”.
According to Greg Daly of The Irish Catholic, Cardinal Schönborn said that he believes that a married person who is in a marital-type relationship with someone who is not his or her spouse (in other words, living in a state of sin) can in certain cases receive absolution and Holy Communion, without repentance and change of life. This opinion of Cardinal Schönborn is in line with the literal reading of Pope Francis’ Amoris Laetitia. In effect, Amoris Laetitia says (in number 305 and corresponding note 351) that a person living in an objective situation of sin can receive the Church’s help, which, “in certain cases, can include the help of the sacraments”. Cardinal Schönborn maintains that allowing such couples to receive these Sacraments does not change the Church’s teaching that marriage is indissoluble, even though it contradicts the Church’s constant practice of refusing absolution and Holy Communion in these cases. Four Cardinals (Burke, Caffara, Meisner and Brandmüller) were so concerned about this contradiction between teaching and practice that they presented five dubia (or questions) to Pope Francis in order to clarify the situation. They have still received no answer from the Pope.
Schönborn’s “pastoral discernment” an attack on the Irish family.
This double-speak by the visiting Cardinal amounts to an attack on the family. It is therefore an attack on Ireland, since the family is the basic building-block of our society. Schönborn craftily presents marriage lived according to the Law of the Church as a sort of “ideal” which cannot be reached by all in today’s world, and so the Church has to “listen to […] people in both regular and so-called irregular relationships”.
Now, imagine a couple in any Irish parish which is going through a difficult time in their marriage; will they really be inclined to stick to this “ideal” when they see around them others who have been unfaithful to their marriage vows receiving the Sacraments anyway? Since extra-marital relationships are only “so-called irregular”, will they be motivated to continue in their own “regular” relationship? Surely not! And what about those who are in “so-called irregular” situations? If their “conscience” tells them that that’s the best they can do, why should they embrace the “ideal”? Furthermore, if the Viennese Cardinal’s opinion is correct, then Christ Himself did not have “pastoral discernment” when he told the woman caught in adultery: “Go, and now sin no more”! Neither did Saint John the Baptist when he told Herod: “It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife”.
A non-Catholic notion of marriage and the family.
Catholics might wonder how a Cardinal can come to the conclusion that absolution and Holy Communion can be given to couples not living according to the Church’s Law. In this writer’s opinion, a good part of the answer lies in the fact that Cardinal Schönborn does not have a Catholic notion of marriage and the family. For Schönborn, while sacramental marriage is the “ideal”, other forms of “unions” contain elements of marriage which make them approach this ideal, to a greater or lesser extent. This is why he spoke to journalists of second unions, divorce and same-sex unions as being “part of a new narrative around the family in Ireland”. He clarified his thought in an interview with Antonio Spadaro in 2015, when he said:
“The Sacrament of Matrimony is realized fully there where justly there is a sacrament between a man and a woman living in faith etc. But, that does not prevent that, outside of this full realization of the Sacrament of Matrimony, there are elements of matrimony that are signals of expectation, positive elements”.
Therefore, Schönborn thinks that we should look at what is positive in these different types of sinful unions, rather than just looking at what is negative, and accompany these people, even to the point of giving them absolution and Holy Communion, without requiring them to change their life. But, why only apply this gradualism to marriage and family? Why not extend it to property, for example. So, people who never steal anything could be described as those who hold the moral “ideal” in relation to respect for the property of others. However, those who do steal should be seen, not as doing something wrong, but as embracing certain positive elements of this ideal! They should not be condemned, but accompanied on their journey towards full embracement of the ideal (if they ever manage to get there).
Applied across the board, this madness would lead to the breakdown of all morality and law and order. It would be like a Guard who, on the one hand upheld the principle of not breaking the speed-limit, but on the other hand treated all those who broke it as respecting the Law to a greater or lesser extent! No criminals; only more or less virtuous people!
The true root of the problem has been largely ignored.
The four “Dubia” Cardinals and many others have reacted courageously to this undermining of marriage, the family and the Sacraments. However, they have mostly failed to see the root of the problem and attack it there. Because, yes, Cardinal Schonborn admits that it goes much deeper! His false ideas in this matter are rooted in other, more fundamental false ideas on Catholic doctrine.
In his 2015 interview with Antonio Spadaro, he said that his non-Catholic theory of marriage and the family is based on the doctrine of Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium. Schönborn explains that the Council answered the question, “Where is the Church?”, by saying that the Church of Christ, although fully realised in the Catholic Church, is also present in the other “churches” in the “elements of sanctification” which are found in them, and which “are forces impelling towards Catholic unity”. He underscores that “the Vatican excludes an ecclesiology of all or nothing”.
Of course, this teaching of Lumen Gentium is false because the Church has always taught that the Church of Christ is absolutely identical to the Catholic Church, and that the other “churches” are not in any way in communion with the True Church. Furthermore, the Church never called those elements which belong by right to the Catholic Church, but which are still found in other confessions (e.g. the Bible, certain or even all sacraments), “elements of sanctification”. The Church called them “vestiges” or “ruins” of the True Church. They can only sanctify those who do not adhere formally to the schism or heresy of the “church” to which they belong. Sanctification in these cases is in spite of, and not because of the false religion. Finally, the Church does have an ecclesiology of “all or nothing”, since She teaches that outside of Her there is no salvation.
Schönborn: marriage extends beyond the Sacrament!
But, what has this got to do with marriage? For Schönborn, everything! After having outlined Lumen Gentium‘s doctrine on the Church, he concludes:
“I have simply proposed to apply this ecclesiological reading key to the reality of the Sacrament of Matrimony. Because marriage is the Church in the small, the ecclesiola, the family as the small Church, but it seems legitimate to me to establish an analogy and to say that the Sacrament of Matrimony is realized fully there where justly there is a sacrament between a man and a woman living in faith etc. But, that does not prevent that, outside of this full realization of the Sacrament of Matrimony, there are elements of matrimony that are signals of expectation, positive elements”.
In other words, just as (in Vatican II’s teaching) the Church of Christ extends beyond the Catholic Church through the so-called elements of sanctification, so marriage extends beyond the Sacrament through the so-called “signals of expectation, positive elements”.
However, the Catholic teaching is that, just as non-Catholic confessions do not save save because they are outside of the True Church, so all other “unions” are sinful precisely because they are lacking certain or all of the elements which make up true marriage. A poisonous cake is poisonous, no matter how much sugar, flour and chocolate is in it!
So, we see that the root of this false notion of marriage and family lies in the false notions concerning the Church which were formulated in Vatican II. Since you don’t knock down a tree simply by cutting off the branches, but by attacking its root, this is where defenders of Catholic marriage and family must ultimately strike!
Conclusion: Boycott the World Meeting of Families!
Irish Catholics must, therefore, have nothing to do with the World Meeting of Families and the “Amoris: Let’s Talk Family; Let’s Be Family” programme! It appears to be pro-family, but in reality it subverts the family. Instead, we should try to better understand the root of the current errors on marriage and the family. We should also arm ourselves with the constant teaching of the Church on marriage, which can be found, for example, in Pope Pius XI’s Encyclical, Casti Conubii. We should affirm the simple, constant teaching of the Church to whoever we can. Marriage is between one man and one woman for life. The family is exclusively based on marriage. Those living in a state in which they are unfaithful to the Laws of the Church must confess their sin and promise to leave their irregular state before they receive absolution. Otherwise, they must not present themselves for Holy Communion, and must not be given Holy Communion if they do present themselves. This simple teaching will be the basis of the salvation of the Irish family. Cardinal Schönborn’s “alternative” will be its destruction.
True “pastoral discernment”.
Finally, as the Cardinal of Vienna was speaking in Limerick, the Church was celebrating the 100th anniversary (to the day) of Our Lady showing Hell to the three shepherd children in Fatima. “This is Hell”, she told them, “where the souls of poor sinners go”, thus giving an example of Heaven’s version of “pastoral discernment”. Little Jacinta of Fatima said: “The sins which cause most souls to go to Hell are sins of the flesh”. She added that (already in the early twentieth century!) “many marriages are not good; they do not please Our Lord and are not of God”.