Back to Basics: A Summary of the Teaching of the Catechism on Holy Matrimony

101414There’s an old story told about the legendary football coach, Vince Lombardi. At one point he was so concerned that the players on his team had lost any sense of the basics of the game that he summoned them all into a classroom and had them all sit down at desks. Most of them expected a detailed review of the playbook, with diagrams on the board of X’s, O’s, and arrows. But to their surprise, the blackboard was empty and no playbooks were in sight. Lombardi walked in and stood in front of the quiet room. In short order he reached behind the desk and held up a familiar object, saying, “Gentlemen, this is a football.”

Talk about back to basics! Lombardi then proceeded to talk at length about the game and its most fundamental aspects. He described the object of the game, the different stances (such as offensive and defensive), the different positions (such as fullback and right guard), and so forth. To experienced players, the lecture must have been quite embarrassing. But sometimes people get so confused that we can no longer assume that even the most obvious things are obvious anymore. 

Given the recent confusion about marriage, sexuality, and the family, and with the Synod that was called to address the confusion in some cases intensifying it (or at least the media reports have done so), it seems opportune for all of us to go back to basics. Perhaps it is time for one of  us to reach behind the desk and hold up a book or two, saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is a Bible, and this is the Catechism, and this is what they say about the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. There’s no need to reinvent, rename, or come up with new definitions. God has already taken care of all of that in what the Bible and the Catechism say.”

In the paragraphs that follow, I propose only a brief review of what these sources say. I recommend that you read the Catechism from paragraph 1601 to 1666. Can we not agree to go to sources of official Catholic Teaching? Despite what the Washington Post or the New York Times say, these teachings cannot change.

Back to basics! Here is what the Catechism and Sacred Scripture have to teach on marriage.

I. God is the Author of Matrimony – The Book of Genesis speaks to us not only of our creation but also of our very nature. In the first place, we are made for love because we are created in the image and likeness of God, who is love. A second and very important truth taught to us in the scriptural account of our creation is that man and woman were made for each other. God himself declares, It is not good for the man to be alone (Gn 2:18). So God created Eve from the very flesh, the very human nature of Adam. Note well that a woman is the suitable partner. woman, not two or several women (hence bigamy and polygamy are excluded), and not another man (hence homosexual liaisons do not supply the suitable partner that makes a marriage). When Adam beheld Eve he was delighted and declared, Here at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh (Gn 2:23). God also teaches in the Genesis account that in His creative act is the origin and understanding of marriage: For this reason a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh (Gn 2:24).

Holy Matrimony is about Children –  In Chapter One of Genesis, we are also given another important teaching about Matrimony. Adam and Eve are instructed by God, Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it (Gn 1:28). Thus, the love of Adam and Eve was to reflect the love of God, which is fruitful and life-giving. Marriage has a central goal of producing children, hence its structure is both heterosexual and lasting, since that is what is first necessary and then best for children.

Here then is God’s plan for Holy Matrimony: a man and a woman in a unity of life and fruitful love so profound that they may be said to be one flesh. Adam sees Eve as his equal, bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. He is delighted to behold her and acknowledges that it is not good that he should ever be without her and that he is completed and helped by her. Although the scriptural account does not record Eve’s reflections, we may presume that they were similar. Alone it was not possible for them to be fruitful and multiply. Alone and apart they could only find death; together as one they would experience the gifts of life and family.

To all demands that the Church recognize same-sex unions, polygamous unions, second (or third…) unions, or other irregular or unnatural unions as “marriages,” can only come the firm and clear answer, “No.” We recognize God as the author of marriage and are bound to what He has given and set forth both in Holy Scripture and Natural Law.

II. The Painful Reality of Sin – The wondrous communion of Adam and Eve intended by God and described in the book of Genesis was seriously disturbed by the consequences that flowed from the Original Sin they committed. This is dramatically illustrated by Adam’s response to God. When God noted that they had eaten from the tree of which he had forbidden them to eat, Adam blamed Eve, saying, It was that woman you put here with me, she gave me the fruit and so I ate it (Gn 3:12). See how strongly this contrasts with his former appreciation of Eve, whom he described as one with him, as bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh! Now division and hostility are experienced and expressed.

It is also highly significant that both realize that they are naked (Gn 3:7). Whereas before, their relationship was one of complete openness and trust, now they experience embarrassment and vulnerability before each other and before God. They feel they must cover up; they feel compelled to hide significant aspects of themselves.

God himself describes the consequences that will flow from the awful reality they have chosen. His words to Eve are particularly poignant: I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you (Gn 3:16).

Adam, too, shall now have to toil for food to eat and the experience of Eve as his helpmate or co-worker seems greatly diminished (Gn. 3:17-19).

It is quite clear that sin and evil inflicted great harm on the original joy and communion between Adam and Eve. The Catechism describes these sad realities quite well:

This experience [of the evil flowing from Original Sin] makes itself felt in the relationships between man and woman. Their union has always been threatened by discord, a spirit of domination, infidelity, jealousy, and conflicts that can escalate into hatred and separation. This disorder can manifest itself more or less acutely, and can be more or less overcome according to the circumstances of cultures, eras, and individuals, but it does seem to have a universal character.According to faith the disorder we notice so painfully does not stem from the nature of man and woman, nor from the nature of their relations, but from sin. As a break with God, the first sin had for its first consequence the rupture of the original communion between man and woman. Their relations were distorted by mutual recriminations; their mutual attraction, the Creator’s own gift, changed into a relationship of domination and lust; and the beautiful vocation of man and woman to be fruitful, multiply, and subdue the earth was burdened by the pain of childbirth and the toil of work (Catechism 1606-1607).

The consequences of the divisions caused by sin continued to be felt down through the pages of the Old Testament in the polygamy of the patriarchs, which only gradually came to be forbidden, and in the permitting of divorce under Mosaic Law. Our Lord Jesus would later indicate that the fact that divorce was permitted was an indication of the “hardness of your hearts” (Mt 19:8).

III. Still a noble grace – Yet despite the distortion caused by sin, God continued to point to marriage’s lofty status by presenting it as one of the primary images of His covenant with His people. God was the faithful spouse of His bride, Israel. Through the prophets, He reminded His bride that she was espoused to Him. Sin was infidelity, but God’s love was everlasting and, though He chastised Israel, He would never forsake her. God even used romantic imagery. Consider this example from the Prophet Hosea:

“Therefore, behold, I will allure Israel, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her … And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt. “And in that day, says the LORD, you will call me, ‘My husband’ … and I will make you lie down in safety. And I will betroth you to me for ever; I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness; and you shall know the LORD (Hosea 2:14-20).

And so it was that God never cast aside the lofty ideals of marriage. He continued to proclaim them to His people.

IV. Established by Christ as a Sacrament – It is in this context that Jesus proclaimed an absolute return to God’s original plan, which the regime of sin had distorted.

In the Gospels, Jesus proclaims His intention to return to God’s original plan for marriage. Divorce had entered the scene through sin. But Jesus came to destroy the ancient power of sin and cancel its effects. He is able to empower couples, through His healing grace, to live up to the original vision of marriage given by God.

This, too, is clearly taught in the Catechism: In his preaching Jesus unequivocally taught the original meaning of the union of man and woman as the Creator willed it from the beginning. Permission given by Moses to divorce one’s wife was a concession to the hardness of hearts (Mt. 19:8). The matrimonial union of man and woman is indissoluble: God himself has determined it “what therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder”(Mt 19:6). 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 … 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 (Mt. 19:11). (Catechism 1614-1615)

It is in the context of His solemn teaching on marriage that Christ established marriage as a sacrament and St. Paul could declare it a great mystery (sacramentum) . The Catholic Church has acknowledged it as such ever since.

Note the phrase used in the Catechism, which speaks of Christ’s unequivocal insistence on the indissolubility of the marriage bond. The word “unequivocal” is a strong one, and must be insisted on, especially to those who wish to equivocate on this matter. Let this be clear: no validly conferred marital bond can be broken. What God has joined is not to be separated. To leave a valid marriage and enter another sexual union is to be in an ongoing state of adultery.

V. The Outward Sign of the Sacrament –  The outward sign, that which is seen and heard, is the exchange of consent (vows) before the Church. The Church is represented by a priest or a deacon. The vows are usually worded in this or similar fashion: I take you to be my wife/husband. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.

Note here the rather all-encompassing quality of these vows! Often a reminder of these vows can help to overrule notions that a marriage should end. For, indeed, there will be some bad times, sickness, and even poverty. But marriage is for better OR worse, in health AND in sickness, for richer OR for poorer.

Too many want their marriage to be ideal, and if there is any ordeal they want a new deal. But the vows speak directly to the fact that while marriage does bring joy and many graces, no marriage is perfect. Difficult times must be endured as part of the expected picture.

VI. The Graces of the Sacrament – The three most basic qualities of Christian marriage are that it is permanent, faithful, and fruitful. The graces of the Sacrament all serve to create and preserve these realities.

Permanence: Since God himself is the author of every valid marriage, there arises a bond between the couple that can never be broken. This stable and faithful relationship is itself a great blessing since it provides the couple a sturdy foundation on which to live and experience trust, mutual support, and encouragement. It also provides the best environment in which to raise children. It can seem difficult, even impossible, to bind oneself for life to another human being. This makes it all the more important to proclaim the Good News that God loves us with a definitive and irrevocable love, that married couples share in this love, that it supports and sustains them, and that by their own faithfulness they can be witnesses to God’s faithful love. (Catechism 1649)

Faithfulness: Marital love is also of its nature always undivided and exclusive. This love is a special love, which is never to be shared by the spouses with others.  In addition to these graces, Christian couples receive all the graces they need to perfect their love for one another and strengthen their unity. By these graces they assist one another to grow in maturity and holiness. Marriage helps to overcome self-absorption, egoism, pursuit of one’s own pleasure, and to open oneself to the other, to mutual aid and to self-giving. (Catechism 1609)

Fruitfulness: Children are the supreme gift of marriage and contribute greatly to the good of the parents themselves. God’s love is fruitful and marital love is to be a reflection of that love. When God established marriage, He instructed the first spouses as to its nature, Be fruitful and multiply (Gn 1:28). So by its very nature the institution of marriage and married love is ordered to the procreation and education of children. This of course includes more than a college education. It includes every aspect of the personal development of children: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and supernatural life. God grants to parents an awesome dignity when He entrusts the care of immortal souls to them. This of itself helps us to recognize the high calling of marital life and helps us to understand how crucial and necessary the Sacrament of Matrimony is for the Church and for the world.

VII. The structure of marriage as being both heterosexual and stable (permanent) is due to its essential work of raising children.

Our modern culture speaks of marriage as being about and for the happiness of the adults. The Lord, however, sets forth marriage as being first and foremost about children and what is best for them. Our culture prattles on endlessly about the rights and feelings of the adults in the marriage, but it is what is best for children that should be the first priority in speaking of Matrimony, its proper structure, and the conduct of the spouses.

The modern world has wholly shifted the focus to adults, insisting on their absolute “right” to resist children through contraception and even to kill them through abortion. And this is all so that adults can follow their own wishes. In separating children from marriage and sex, we have separated what God has joined and are now reaping a whirlwind of confusion along with bad and destructive behaviors.

Back to basics, fellow Catholics! Read the Scriptures; study the Catechism; respect Natural Law. And above all, get on your knees and pray for an end to the confusion. It will take a miracle in this darkened and decadent world, but God is able!

33 Replies to “Back to Basics: A Summary of the Teaching of the Catechism on Holy Matrimony”

  1. There are a lot of rules in old dusty books. And people are all too content to leave them be. There are the rules, the doctrine, and then there is real life where old rules are “honored” in the breach.

    The example of Humanae Vitae is all too instructive. “Yes, yes, that is what the Church teaches. But you go ahead and follow your own conscience, which is supreme after all. Yes, there is also teaching that true conscience must be grounded in consideration of objective natural law, but on that too, go ahead and follow your conscience and if you want it to be a wholly subjective matter, that’s fine. More than fine, it may actually have some positive aspects to it — your continued use of contraception may actually be a step toward sanctity!”

    There is doctrine and there is practice. Once upon a time, quite possibly now passé, when doctrine and practice went hand in hand. Today for many they are set against each other. You can speak and write until you are blue in the face and fingers about what doctrine is and how it is unchangeable, but it is also very likely beside the point — practice is all too changeable and now practice is supreme.

    We are in very dangerous times. It isn’t enough that the report is not a final statement of doctrine. That any significant number of bishops think this way is very troubling. And this entire experience is enough to severely undermine people’s confindence in their bishops. It is a problem — a serious problem — that people now DO NOT TRUST their shepherds. It is troubling that instead of taking this occasion to strengthen marriage and family, the Synod is undermining both, as well as themselves.

    Next week, we beatify Paul VI. And then celebrate the first feast day for Saint John Paul II. Meanwhile, their magistrium is being repudiated.

    1. Matt, you said: The example of Humanae Vitae is all too instructive…

      More importantly, the example of Pius XI’s Casti Connubii is even more instructive. Since contraception was thoroughly condemned in this document, written a mere year after the Seventh Lambeth Conference approved Resolution 15…that allowed the tiniest crack in Christian solidarity…one that has been wedged open into the rampant immorality we see today.

      By the way, for those interested, the condemnation of artificial means of birth control is contained in articles 53-62 of the above encyclical. A small extract:

      …no reason, however grave, may be put forward by which anything intrinsically against nature may become conformable to nature and morally good. Since, therefore, the conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the begetting of children, those who in exercising it deliberately frustrate its natural power and purpose sin against nature and commit a deed which is shameful and intrinsically vicious. (From Art. 54)

      1. I wish one of the Cardinals would just read Casti Connubii at the Synod. Marriage is the union of male and female. It is the sharing of life and the communication of divine and human rights. The unity of spirit in worship is the essence of conjugal faith. It isn’t just Christopher West that connects marriage and the Eucharist. Casti Cannubii quotes St. Robert Bellarmine connecting the sacramental dots. The fact that I have not met one other Catholic in 10 years opposed to mixed marriages demonstrates the tragic loss of perspective. Why in our day would anyone who believes the Eucharist is the source and summit of their faith freely unite themselves with someone who rejects that reality?

        “Everywhere and with the greatest strictness the Church forbids marriages between baptized persons, one of whom is a Catholic and the other a member of a schismatical or heretical sect; and if there is, add to this, the danger of the falling away of the Catholic party and the perversion of the children, such a marriage is forbidden also by the divine law.” ( Casit Cannubii #83) Try reading that in your Sunday homily, Msgr. You might get burned at the stake as a ‘fundamentalist’. Actually, if you just call sodomy a sin today you might get fried as a fundamentalist, let alone quote the Bible as if it had authority.

  2. Having been fond of dancing in his younger laity days, Pope Francis said he still enjoys a good tango. I think it’s time he led and stop the synod’s dancing around. There is an old saying, “You dance with the one who brought you to the party.”

      1. Who’s to say he is not leading the synod? Didn’t he appoint the cardinals that wrote this relatio? There’s a common tendency to distance the head of an organization from the actions of his subordinates. Maybe that’s appropriate in some cases but Pope Francis does not strike me as a “hands off” leader. In any case, by next year we will we know what the Pope thinks.

    1. An American Cardinal who was elected by his peers to be a leader in this week’s work of the synod condemned the Relatio Document stating:

      “The document lacks a solid foundation in the Sacred Scriptures and the Magisterium. In a matter on which the Church has very rich and clear teaching, it INVOKES REPEATEDLY AND IN A CONFUSED MANNER principles which are not defined, for example, the law of graduality.”

      So I see that the agents of Satan is USING an Apostolic Exhortation of JP II and twisting it to achieve a destructive end.

      Folks, this is why we need to learn scripture verses, so that the agents of Satan don’t have any ammunition:

      “If we say that we have fellowship [communion] with him, AND WALK IN DARKNESS, WE LIE, and do not [practice] the truth.” – 1 John 1:6

      So how did the “gradual” approach by giving communion to Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden work out?

      “Gradually” destroying the faith and “gradually” becoming a Protestant!

      1. Boy, this Synod is becoming a joke, truly unprofessional!
        From what I have heard, The Relatio was released before the prelates even saw it!


        No, clue? Real professional!

  3. This is great, but many (like the Samaritan woman with whom Jesus talked at the well), many are without instruction and help – they are cut off because of social rules of discipline (e.g., the Apostles were very surprised that Jesus talked to a Samaritan AND a woman at the well – taboo). When the Samaritan woman realized that Jesus Christ knew about all of her sins (her 5 marriages), she converted and evangelized and brought more Samaritans to believe in Jesus Christ, the Messiah.

    So, how does the Church move people to conversion and belief in the Sacrament of Matrimony and obedience to God’s will in this regard?

    1. Out of all the commentary included here your comments are the most vital to understand what Pope Francis and many other Church leaders are trying to do. Allow those that have sinned by a failed marriage but repent and lead a moral life that only lacks the ability to receive the sacraments to be welcomed back into the church. It seems that refusing forgiveness of sincere repentance is a sin in itself.

  4. Msgr Pope,

    You said:

    Given the recent confusion about marriage, sexuality, and the family, and with the Synod that was called to address the confusion in some cases intensifying it (or at least the media reports have done so), it seems opportune for all of us to go back to basics. Perhaps it is time for one of us to reach behind the desk and hold up a book or two, saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is a Bible, and this is the Catechism, and this is what they say about the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. There’s no need to reinvent, rename, or come up with new definitions. God has already taken care of all of that in what the Bible and the Catechism say.”

    It appears that Raymond Cardinal Burke is in full agreement with you, having made the following statement to Catholic World Report:

    CWR: How important is it, do you think, that Pope Francis make a statement soon in order to address the growing sense—among many in the media and in the pews—that the Church is on the cusp of changing her teaching on various essential points regarding marriage, “remarriage,” reception of Communion, and even the place of “unions” among homosexuals?

    Cardinal Burke: In my judgment, such a statement is long overdue. The debate on these questions has been going forward now for almost nine months, especially in the secular media but also through the speeches and interviews of Cardinal Walter Kasper and others who support his position.

    The faithful and their good shepherds are looking to the Vicar of Christ for the confirmation of the Catholic faith and practice regarding marriage which is the first cell of the life of the Church.

    It appears, sir, that you are keeping very good company…

    1. Yes, the “mid-term” thing is a rough draft and I repeat my grave concern that the media was allowed to see such a thing. Glad to see some of the bishops stepping up to clarify things. But it may be too late because you know the the Post and Times are going to put any disclaimers on A-1 above the fold.

      1. In regards to your statement, But it may be too late because you know the the Post and Times are going to put any disclaimers on A-1 above the fold.

        Pope Benedict XVI discussed this very thing in regard to the Second Vatican Council in an address given to the Clergy of Rome in 2013, shortly before the effective date of his resignation:

        I would now like to add yet a third point: there was the Council of the Fathers – the real Council – but there was also the Council of the media. It was almost a Council apart, and the world perceived the Council through the latter, through the media. Thus, the Council that reached the people with immediate effect was that of the media, not that of the Fathers. And while the Council of the Fathers was conducted within the faith – it was a Council of faith seeking intellectus, seeking to understand itself and seeking to understand the signs of God at that time, seeking to respond to the challenge of God at that time and to find in the word of God a word for today and tomorrow – while all the Council, as I said, moved within the faith, as fides quaerens intellectum, the Council of the journalists, naturally, was not conducted within the faith, but within the categories of today’s media, namely apart from faith, with a different hermeneutic. It was a political hermeneutic: for the media, the Council was a political struggle, a power struggle between different trends in the Church. It was obvious that the media would take the side of those who seemed to them more closely allied with their world…

        We know that this Council of the media was accessible to everyone. Therefore, this was the dominant one, the more effective one, and it created so many disasters, so many problems, so much suffering: seminaries closed, convents closed, banal liturgy … and the real Council had difficulty establishing itself and taking shape; the virtual Council was stronger than the real Council…

        It seems that events tend to repeat themselves.

        1. What is not easy to examine and absorb is that our pope is a well-trained, intelligent Jesuit, savvy in the ways of the world, and the ways of the MSM. Repeatedly he has waded into the MSM and let it get messy, surely fully aware of the ramifications (and if he wasn’t aware of media consequences when he commenced the papacy, it would have been clearly evident to this intelligent man after the first misstep).

          And now the Synod is the uber-mess, and millions have received the message that sexual morality is up for grabs. Our national newspapers have devoted large chunks of their front pages to huge headlines that read something like: “Bishops signal ‘seismic’ shift on family issues.” An editorial cartoon today in one of our conservative national newspapers depicts a man in the confessional stating he may have homosexual tendencies. The priest is exclaiming, “AWESOME!!!” The average pewdweller not well schooled in faith has absorbed these messages.

          It is enormously painful to think that this Synod mess of half-information and misinformation has occurred under the careful watch of our pope. Let it get “messy” may work with the smartsy denizens of Jesuit provinces, but not with the souls of untold millions who may have already turned away before clean-ups are attempted. This is not a gamble, game, or experiment. Souls are at stake.

      2. The spectacle surrounding this synod, along with the many informal statements and non-authoritative interviews of the Pope over the last year, is a repeat of what happened 50 years ago in the prelude to Humanae Vitae. 50 years ago, the spin and the buzz did not match the doctrinal realities, but it most definitely shaped the beliefs of laymen, priests, and bishops. Consider today, that 70% or more Catholic couples take the pill; consider also that Humanae Vitae is a dead letter. Expect as much from this synod on the family.

        1. Yes, some pretty frightening memories here. Majority report…minority report….scary times they were and now are again. That’s part of the reason too that such a rebellion set in among the faithful and many clergy in 1968 , because they had been led to believe a big change was coming. When it didn’t they just shouted Viva la revolución! and the rest is the terrible history of that revolution.

  5. Stop! What Msgr. Pope has laid out for us is God’s plan through the ages including the present age as well as in the ages to come. God does not change. Marriage is a sacrament meaning he has sanctioned and sanctified it in principle and in practice with his Body and Blood. He is the author, the benefactor and the example of matrimonial fidelity to the end. He is the Bridegroom and the Church is his Bride forever. There are no “buts”. Whatever this synod is and whatever it’s hidden agenda may be, is irrelevant because it is not based on Christ, his Church, its true beliefs or principles. It is a gross misrepresentation of the truth and in all likelihood is taken from the Modernist playbook of Freemasonry ( I suggest you inform yourselves in this regard) and it should, and must not continue.

  6. In the Scriptures we are told to “test the spirits”. Why?…because not all spirits are of God. Testing the spirits means we must first of all pray for the discernment of spirits. This is a gift of the Holy Spirit who is our Advocate and Guide. In addition we must hold these spirits up to the light of Scripture in the context of our Holy Tradition which is found in the Magisterium. Clearly, this must be done otherwise we will fall prey to erroneous thoughts, comments, etc. from places and from people whose only desire is to deceive. Deception is from the evil one and we are repeatedly told by the Apostles to avoid, like the plague, any and all false teachers and teachings. Being naive and uninformed is not an acceptable position. It is not in any way a form of humility. What was true is still true today. Let no one bring you a different gospel. Let no one tempt you to believe that Christ is doing something “new”. This is what is called novelty and has no place whatsoever in our Catholic faith.

  7. Rorate Caeli has just published an article which every Catholic should read. At the end of the article it cites St. Paul’s letter to the Romans. The Apostle’s words are clear, concise, powerful and extremely compelling in light of what is being done in plain sight by the present vicar, some bishops and cardinals in this synod. Homosexuality is an abomination. Read the Scriptures not the newspapers or headlines.

  8. “….or other irregular or unnatural unions as …”
    Irregular? Can we say… um… er…. immoral?

  9. Thank you Msgr. for trying to help us stay sane in a world gone mad.

    I just wonder how many souls have been betrayed by the Church now teaching in such a pathetic manner.

    No one, no one, at all is speaking the truth to the world anymore.

  10. I read somewhere yesterday (here perhaps?) about a similar situation with the 1980 Synod of Bishops. They really stepped in the proverbial “it” and were formally rebuked (smacked down) in an Apolostic Exhortation by then Pope John Paul II, in Familiaris Consortio, I believe.

    Don’t count Pope Francis out. I’m sure he has more to say on the matter in due time.

    Msgr, great post on marriage. I think it would be safe to say, where marriage goes, society follows. We are playing with the very power of God when we try to “redefine” it. Since we are just children, it is the equivalent of putting a loaded gun in the hands of a 4 year old. Sad and frightening, if you think about it.

  11. Msgr Pope – Keep up the good work. Thank you!

    However, I must say that I am very discouraged. We just aren’t going to be able to turn this thing around. No amount of nicey-nice, feel good talk is going to re-evangelize the West. As you can see from the secular press reaction to the Synod relatio, no amount of accomodation with the world will ever be enough. They will not stop until the doctrine is either changed or ignored in practice. And, we are already halfway there within the Church. Pope Francis is trying to impose the view that while doctrine remains untouched, mercy trumps doctrine every time. I think that may actually be heresy, and I think from the point of view of wise strategy it will be an utter disaster. The Church won’t be able to maintain its teachings or its integrity in the long run if we follow this path. Unfortunately, it seems She is infested with this heresy to some degree from top to bottom (laity, priests, bishops, Pope).

  12. Hi Msgr. Pope and thanks again for pointing out what the Church teaches and reminding all of us why this can’t be decided by popular vote. I’m not too shook up about what is coming out about the synod as of now because I understand that this is the beginning of process. I wish it was behind closed doors a little more because I think this is confusing a lot of Catholics. I am disappointed that some in the hierarchy think of marriage as some sort of gray area. That’s hard to understand. I also wish more of these guys (the bishops and cardinals) would just keep their mouth shut and do their job. To me it boils down to the question: Does the Holy Spirit still lead this herd of cats or not? If the answer to that question is no or yeah but, then we’ve got bigger problems than this synod. Pray for the Church, and especially for those taking part in the synod, and also our priests and deacons who are on the front lines in this culture war.

  13. This is a great (re-)education on God’s view of marriage. It is quite beautiful. Surely this view of marriage has accommodation for the many – many, many, many – people in abusive marriages. Not all abusers can be called to repent; and not all victims are safe in the home while they try. How does the Church reconcile the permanent nature of marriage with people’s right to be protected from violent abusers? I am not saying that divorce is the answer – but there has to be some options available to people.

    1. Jamier, canon 1153 is your answer. It has been avoided like the plague because true marriage makes a lot of clergy and laity uncomfortable and if 1153 can be downplayed, it makes life temporarily easier, unless you are an innocent spouse or one of the kids – or if you are trying to uphold the dignity and sanctity of marriage. Canon 1692 is for divorce. ​

  14. Dear Terence,
    I am a Catholic single woman who found a wonderful man who shares my faith in God. He is not a Catholic, but from a Protestant denomination. He was married (civilly) and consequently divorced. We are now going through an annulment process of his previous marriage. It is a long and arduous process, but we are both patiently waiting. We love each other dearly, but decided to be both celibate until we are married in the Catholic church. I consider our friendship even deeper because of this. We enjoy being together: visiting our favorite places, reading and discussing books, sharing ideas and agreeing to disagree (!), etc, and basically sharing each other’s joys and sadness – everyday. We also decided that if it is the will of God, then the annulment process will go in our favour. Will we be able to accept the other possibility? Yes, we are – as we both know that we will be friends forever.

    Short version, sharing your life with someone does not have to be in conflict with your faith – just believe and trust in God and put Him ahead of everything. For where does our true joy and comfort come from? Is it not from Him?

    I will pray for you and your family.

  15. You should be st the synod if, for nothing else but to kick some shins under the table! 😉

  16. Frankly, as a Catholic I am embarrassed by the intellectual dishonest and feminized wording coming out of Rome.

    After Muller and Burke I don’t think their is a real man among them.

  17. For what it’s worth, the current flurry of (mis)information renewed my impetus to study the faith. I was pleasantly surprised to find Msgr Pope doing exactly what a pastor of souls should be doing (i.e., catechizing the flock), and suddenly reading through this blog the lines I had just read a day ago in the catechism and in the Bible. Stay on this course, Msgr Pope! We need pastors like you.

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