In face of the confusion caused by the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, and after having shown in two recent studies the lamentable incoherencies and falsities in the document (see here and here), and Denzinger-Bergoglio would like to remind its readers of the teachings that the Church has always conveyed to the ‘remarried divorced’ and to sinners in general.
Let’s not forget that the Church is a Mother and, as such, She has always looked out for her children, especially those in situations of risk to their eternal salvation. Her maternal care has never deceived them about their real situation of departure from Catholic teaching. She has always been able to indicate the path of salvation and provide the necessary means to rescue whoever accepts her help.
An efficacious medicine is often bitter; but when dosed by a mother’s hand, the child is grateful for it. Many of us have fond memories of the care our mothers gave during illnesses, and the tireless efforts they devoted to our speedy recovery.
Failure to administer an unpleasant medicine is not true love; love requires that the dose be accompanied by assuring words on the medicine’s wonderful effects. Let us be faithful to the enduring doctrine of the Magisterium of the Church and bear in mind that God doesn’t abandon his Church even when assailed by contrary winds.
Teachings of the Magisterium
I – How has the Church consistently considered the situation of the divorced who remarry? In her loving concern, the Church has never deceived nor failed to warn regarding the reality of irregular situations
The catechism clearly states that Christ condemns adultery
Adultery refers to marital infidelity. When two partners, of whom at least one is married to another party, have sexual relations – even transient ones – they commit adultery. Christ condemns even adultery of mere desire (cf. Mt 5:27–28). The sixth commandment and the New Testament forbid adultery absolutely (cf. Mt 5:32; 19:6; Mk 10:11; 1Cor 6:9–10). The prophets denounce the gravity of adultery; they see it as an image of the sin of idolatry (cf. Hos 2:7; Jer 5:7; 13:27). (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2380)
The catechism does not hide the fact that divorce is a grave offense
Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death. Divorce does injury to the covenant of salvation, of which sacramental marriage is the sign. Contracting a new union, even if it is recognized by civil law, adds to the gravity of the rupture: the remarried spouse is then in a situation of public and permanent adultery: If a husband, separated from his wife, approaches another woman, he is an adulterer because he makes that woman commit adultery, and the woman who lives with him is an adulteress, because she has drawn another’s husband to herself (St. Basil, Moralia 73, 1). Divorce is immoral also because it introduces disorder into the family and into society. This disorder brings grave harm to the deserted spouse, to children traumatized by the separation of their parents and often torn between them, and because of its contagious effect which makes it truly a plague on society. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2384–2385)
The Church declares: if the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law
If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law. Consequently, they cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists. For the same reason, they cannot exercise certain ecclesial responsibilities. Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1650)
Pastors and confessors have the serious duty to admonish the divorced for openly contradicting Church teaching
Members of the faithful who live together as husband and wife with persons other than their legitimate spouses may not receive Holy Communion. Should they judge it possible to do so, pastors and confessors, given the gravity of the matter and the spiritual good of these persons as well as the common good of the Church, have the serious duty to admonish them that such a judgment of conscience openly contradicts the Church’s teaching. Pastors in their teaching must also remind the faithful entrusted to their care of this doctrine. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church concerning the reception of Holy Communion by the divorced and remarried members of the faithful, no. 4, September 14, 1994)
Divorce is so grave that even the judge who applies it commits a mortal sin
Every divorce, among living Christians, sin ce it implies the dissolution of the conjugal bond legitimately contracted and confirmed, is nothing other than a grave attempt, if not against the natural law (which the Scholastics dispute among themselves), at least against the positive written divine law, as the Holy Council of Trent clearly teaches (sess. 24, Doctr. de Sacr. Matr.), and copiously demonstrated by Benedict XIV in De Synodo Dioec. lib. XIII, cap. 22, § 3 and the following sections. Thus, every project of law, that affirms and disposes this attempt, is by its own nature, invalid and null, it is more of a violation than a law (D. Th. 12, q. 46, a. 4), more precisely a corruption of the law, since it treats of a question that is truly sacred by divine institution and, for this reason, superior, and, as such, outside of the ambit of any earthly power: which, consequently, manifestly contradicts the divine law, before which all human power should incline and yield. Thus, before all else, they abuse an authority they do not possess, no less the legislator from which this corruption proceeds, than the judge, who serves and applies it to the particular cases, and brings it to its fulfillment. This is to sin mortally, the former does so by usurpation of power, and the later, by usurpation of judgement (Leonard. Lessius De Iust. et Iur. Duben. Lib. 2, cap. 29, p. 288). (Pius VII. Instruction Catholica nunc, from the Holy Office to the Prefects of the missions of Martinica and Guadalupe, July 6, 1817)
Pius IX recalls the admonitions of St. John Chrysostom regarding the sin of contracting prohibited marriage
Lastly, St. John Chrysostom constantly teaches that matrimony is always indissoluble, when he promptly reproves, as contrary to the evangelical law, the civil laws that permit divorce. He writes: “For what would we say to He who will judge us, when He publicly reads the inspired law saying: I commanded you not to marry a repudiated woman, declaring that this is adultery. How, then, have you dared to contract a prohibited marriage?” (Pius IX. Instruction Difficile dictu, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to the Greek-Romanian Bishops, 1858)
All of the pastors should proclaim the paternal warnings of the Pope against divorce
His Most Reverend Excellency already knows of the Allocution of his Holiness, in the Consistory of the 16th of the present month; an Allocution directed to preserve Italy from the sad consequences of divorce, when it becomes permitted by law. Treating of a topic in intimate connection with the Catholic dogma and ecclesiastical discipline, my colleagues, the Most Emminent General Inquisitor Cardinals, have thought it well to call it to the attention of the sacred Pastors and to exercise their zeal so that there be no diocese in Italy where the teachings and paternal warnings of the Head of the Church have not found a worthy correspondence. And above all, it is appropriate to clearly explain to the people, how Jesus Christ, Son of God, Redeemer of the human race, abolished the costume of repudiation, and once again restored matrimony to how it was established by the Creator from the beginning: that it be one and indivisible. The divine Master alludes to this in teaching: ‘So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.’ The principle is applied by St. Paul, in writing to the Corinthians, ‘A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whomever she wishes, provided that it be in the Lord.’ (Leo XIII. Letter Alla S. V. to the Bishops of Italy regarding the proposed law of divorce, December 24, 1901)
Pastoral help implies recognizing the Church’s doctrine, just as it is clearly expressed in the Catechism
The 1980 Synod of Bishops on the family considered this painful situation and gave appropriate pastoral guidelines for these circumstances. In the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris consortio, taking the Synod Fathers’ reflections into consideration, I wrote: ‘The Church, which was set up to lead to salvation all people and especially the baptized, cannot abandon to their own devices those who have been previously bound by sacramental marriage and who have attempted a second marriage. The Church will therefore make untiring efforts to put at their disposal her means of salvation’ (n. 84). It is in this clearly pastoral setting, as you have explained in your presentation of the work of this plenary assembly, that the reflections of your meeting are framed, reflections aimed at helping families to discover the greatness of their baptismal vocation and to practise works of piety, charity and repentance. Nevertheless, pastoral help presupposes that the Church’s doctrine be recognized as it is clearly expressed in the Catechism: ‘The Church does not have the power to contravene this disposition of divine wisdom’ (n. 1640). (John Paul II. Address to the Pontifical Council for the Family, no. 2, January 24, 1997)
The Synod of Bishops confirms the Church’s practice of not admitting the divorced and remarried to the sacraments
If the Eucharist expresses the irrevocable nature of God’s love in Christ for his Church, we can then understand why it implies, with regard to the sacrament of Matrimony, that indissolubility to which all true love necessarily aspires. There was good reason for the pastoral attention that the Synod gave to the painful situations experienced by some of the faithful who, having celebrated the sacrament of Matrimony, then divorced and remarried. This represents a complex and troubling pastoral problem, a real scourge for contemporary society, and one which increasingly affects the Catholic community as well. The Church’s pastors, out of love for the truth, are obliged to discern different situations carefully, in order to be able to offer appropriate spiritual guidance to the faithful involved. The Synod of Bishops confirmed the Church’s practice, based on Sacred Scripture (cf. Mk 10:2- 12), of not admitting the divorced and remarried to the sacraments, since their state and their condition of life objectively contradict the loving union of Christ and the Church signified and made present in the Eucharist. (Benedict XVI. Apostolic exhortation Sacramentum caritatis, no. 29, February 22, 2007)
II – Considerations regarding the Church’s zeal for her children who find themselves in sinful situations with no easy way out
The Church cannot be indifferent to distressing problems which involve so many of her children
The Church cannot be indifferent to this distressing problem, which involves so many of her children. In the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris consortio I had already acknowledged that in dealing with a wound that is more widely affecting even Catholic environments, ‘the problem must be faced with resolution and without delay’ (n. 84). The Church, Mother and Teacher, seeks the welfare and happiness of the home and when it is broken for whatever reason, she suffers and seeks to provide a remedy, offering these persons pastoral guidance in complete fidelity to Christ’s teachings. (John Paul II. Address to the Pontifical Council for the Family, no. 1, January 24, 1997)
The missionaries attempted to make the natives feel that the yolk of Christ is easy and light
Because the motive through which that part of the world was granted since the beginning to your ancestors, was so that those who had not yet received the faith in Christ, in virtue of the laudable government of those who should direct them as also due to the good examples of those who should bring them to the Christian doctrine, feeling that the yolk of Christ is easy and light and not being oppressed by those who should care for them and nourish them, as though they were tender plants in the vineyard of the Lord, and even inflame and augment in them love for the Christian religion. Your Majesty may be certain that, by the propagation of religion, your kingdom shall, in these regions, through divine goodness and favor, also be consolidated and augmented, and will prepare for itself, through the merits obtained together with those peoples and before religion, a reward not only in this life as also in the other. (Pius V. Letter Cum oporteat nos to King Phillip II, August 17, 1568)
The missionaries are men in whom concern for the weak pulsates
Lessons of humanism, spirituality and effort to raise man’s dignity, are taught to us by Antonio Montesinos, Córdoba, Bartolomé de las Casas, echoed also in other parts by Juan de Zumárraga, Motolinia, Vasco de Quiroga, José de Anchieta, Toribio de Mogrovejo, Nóbrega and so many others. They are men in whom pulsates concern for the weak, for the defenceless, for the natives; subjects worthy of all respect as persons and as bearers of the image of God, destined for a transcendent vocation. The first International Law has its origin here with Francisco de Vitoria. (John Paul II. Homily, Independence Square, Santo Domingo, January 25, 1979)
The Church so wishes to help sinners that priests and religious are bound to offer sacrifices to appease God on their behalf
But God especially requires this of priests and religious. The same Saint used to say to her nuns: ‘My sisters, God has not separated us from the world, that we should only do good for ourselves, but also that we should appease Him in behalf of sinners;’ and God one day said to her, ‘I have given to you my chosen spouses the City of Refuge [i.e., the Passion of Jesus Christ], that you may have a place where you may obtain help for My creatures. Therefore have recourse to it, and thence stretch forth a helping hand to My creatures who are perishing, and lay down your lives for them.’ For this reason the Saint, inflamed with holy zeal, used to offer God the Blood of the Redeemer fifty times a day in behalf of sinners, and was quite wasted away for the desire she had for their conversion. (Saint Alphonsus Liguori. Prayer: The great means of salvation and of perfection)
III – Two thousand years of the true ‘law of graduality’, or the pastoral care employed by the saints: one without harshness, but also without misleading concessions
Not to go forward in the way of God is to go backward
He who has a real desire of perfection fails not to advance continually towards it; and so advancing, he must finally arrive at it, On the contrary, he who has not the desire of perfection will always go backwards, and always find himself more imperfect than before. St. Augustine says, that ‘not to go forward in the way of God is to go backward.’ He that makes no efforts to advance will find himself carried backward by the current of his corrupt nature. They, then, who say ‘God does not wish us all to be Saints’ make a great mistake. Yes, for St. Paul says, This is the Will of God, your sanctification. (1 Thes 4:3). God wishes all to be Saints, and each one according to his state of life: the religious as a religious; the secular as a secular; the priest as a priest; the married as married; the man of business as a man of business; the soldier as a soldier; and so of every other state of life. (Saint Alphonsus Liguori. The Practice of the Love of Jesus Christ, Ch. II, no. 1)
To reach perfection it is necessary to not commit faults on purpose
It will also aid us much towards growth in virtue and perfection to try never to commit faults on purpose. There are two sorts of faults and venial sins : the one sort is that into which those who fear God fall through frailty, ignorance and inadvertence, albeit with some carelessness and negligence. As to such faults as these, they who serve God and walk in His sight with an upright heart, know by experience that they cause no bitterness of heart, but rather humility ; nor do they find that on that account God turns away His face from them, but rather they experience new favour from the Lord and a new spirit by the humble recourse they have to God for them. Other faults and defects there are which they fall into with advertence and on purpose, who are tepid and remiss in the service of God ; and these faults are an obstacle to the great blessings we should receive if we did not commit them. For these faults the Lord will often turn away His face from us in prayer, and withdraw many favours. Thus if we wish. to thrive and receive many favours of the Lord, we must take care not to commit faults on purpose. (Alonso Rodríguez, SJ. Practice of Perfection and Christian Virtues, Part I, treatise I, ch. XII)
To advance in the spiritual life, do not pause along the path of virtue
St. Basil lays down another means for gaining perfection, and says it is an excellent way to advance much in a short time : it is, not to call halts on the road of virtue. There are those who make temporary efforts, and then stop. Go on as you have begun, and do not call these halts. On this road of spiritual life you will find yourself more wearied by making these halts than by not making them. In this there is a great difference from bodily exercises : the more the body works and labours, the more it is worn out; but the more the spirit works, the more strength it gathers : caro operando deficit, spiritus operando proficit (St. Basil). And says the proverb : ‘The bow that is kept strung breaks, but the soul unstrung decays,’ arcum frangit intensio, anitnam remissio. (Alonso Rodriguez, SJ. Practice of Perfection and Christian Virtues, Part I, treatise I, ch. XII)
Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, OP
The interior life presupposes the state of grace and is a struggle against what makes us fall back into sin
The interior life, as we said, presupposes the state of grace, which is the seed of eternal life. Nevertheless the state of grace, which exists in every infant after baptism and in every penitent after the absolution of his sins, does not suffice to constitute what is customarily called the interior life of a Christian. In addition there are required a struggle against what would make us fall back into sin and a serious tendency of the soul toward God.
From this point of view, to give a clear idea of what the interior life should be, we shall do well to compare it with the intimate conversation that each of us has with himself. If one is faithful, this intimate conversation tends, under the influence of grace, to become elevated, to be transformed, and to become a conversation with God. This remark is elementary; but the most vital and profound truths are elementary truths about which we have thought for a long time, by which we have lived, and which finally become the object of almost continual contemplation.
We shall consider successively these two forms of intimate conversation: the one human, the other more and more divine or supernatural. (Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange. The Three ages of the Interior Life, Vol. 1)
The true ‘law of graduality’ of the interior life: man gradually frees himself from egoism, self-love, sensuality, and pride
We can define the interior life as follows: It is a supernatural life which, by a true spirit of abnegation and prayer, makes us tend to union with God and leads us to it.
It implies one phase in which purification dominates, another of progressive illumination in view of union with God, as all tradition teaches, thus making a distinction between the purgative way of beginners, the illuminative way of proficients, and the unitive way of the perfect. The interior life thus becomes more and more a conversation with God, in which man gradually frees himself from egoism, self-love, sensuality, and pride, and in which, by frequent prayer, he asks the Lord for the ever new graces that he needs. (Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange. The Three ages of the Interior Life)
The universal way for delivering the soul, the royal way which alone leads to the kingdom
This is the religion which possesses the universal way for delivering the soul; for except by this way, none can be delivered. This is a kind of royal way, which alone leads to a kingdom which does not totter like all temporal dignities, but stands firm on eternal foundations. […] For what else is the universal way of the soul’s deliverance than that by which all souls universally are delivered, and without which, therefore, no soul is delivered? […] What is this universal way of which he acknowledges his ignorance, if not a way which does not belong to one nation as its special property, but is common to all, and divinely bestowed? Porphyry, a man of no mediocre abilities, does not question that such a way exists; for he believes that Divine Providence could not have left men destitute of this universal way of delivering the soul. […] this universal way of the soul’s deliverance […] the grace of God […] This way purifies the whole man, and prepares the mortal in all his parts for immortality. […] Except by this way, which has been present among men both during the period of the promises and of the proclamation of their fulfillment, no man has been delivered, no man is delivered, no man shall be delivered. (Saint Augustine of Hippo. The City of God, Book X, Ch. 32)
Due to their impenitent heart some treasure up wrath against the day of wrath
Will someone say, Why, then, was this divine compassion extended even to the ungodly and ungrateful? Why, but because it was the mercy of Him who daily ‘makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust’ (Mt 5:45). For though some of these men, taking thought of this, repent of their wickedness and reform, some, as the apostle says, ‘despising the riches of His goodness and long-suffering, after their hardness and impenitent heart, treasure up unto themselves wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to every man according to his deeds’ (Rom 2:4). (Saint Augustine of Hippo. The City of God, Book I, ch. VIII, no. 1)
One who submits to Christ’s sacraments obtains grace unless they enslaved themselves to sin through their own fault
But one who submits to Christ’s sacraments obtains grace from his power, so as not to be under the Law but under grace, unless they enslaved themselves to sin through their own fault. (Saint Thomas Aquinas. Commentary on the Letter to the Romans, Rom 6:11 – 18)
‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble’
But he bestows a greater grace; therefore, it says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ So submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. (Jas 4:6-8)
Discover another innovation: