Archbishop says Italy’s civil unions bill is a defeat for democracy and family life

Italian Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieti-Vasto (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Archbishop Forte said the family was at risk of being taken over by a ‘new vision for society’

The Italian government’s approval of a bill that grants legal recognition to non-married heterosexual and homosexual couples is a defeat for democracy and family life, an Italian bishop has said.

Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieti-Vasto said that although civil unions had been debated for years, the passing of the bill through two confidence motions that circumvented a “free and open debate” was “unfair”, particularly regarding an issue that has “ethical weight and social and cultural repercussions”.

“It is certainly a defeat and also an impoverishment of democratic life on a question that can have an enormous impact on the future of society,” Archbishop Forte told the Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera.

The legislation, known in Italy as the “Cirinna” bill, was passed by the Italian Senate in February after the bill’s sponsors removed a proposed clause that would allow for a non-biological parent in a homosexual union to adopt the biological children of his or her partner. The bill received final approval from the government.

Archbishop Forte, who served as special secretary of the Synod of Bishops on the family, said the choice to reduce the recognition of non-married heterosexual and homosexual couple to a simple yes or no vote without the “sacrosanct right to express oneself” through legislative debate only hurts society.

He also said that there is the risk of a “new vision for society,” one that can take over family life which is “the fundamental cell of society.”

“In the Church, we have lived through a synod on the family [and] we have received from Pope Francis an exhortation of great depth. In the words of Vatican II – in “Gaudium et Spes” – the family is truly the great school of humanity where one becomes a person. It is the place of that educational relationship that needs the fundamental reciprocity between man and woman,” he said.

The Italian archbishop said that beyond the respect owed to every person, there “can be no equivalence between homosexual unions and the family.”

“On the Church’s part, there will always remain the proclaiming of the Gospel of the family as a fundamental institute of human, social and Christian life,” Archbishop Forte said

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Towards A Transparent Church BY Jacob Peenikaparambil

The bizarre incident of abducting and assaulting Bishop Prasad Gallela of Cuddapah diocese in Andhra Pradesh has shocked many people in the country. More shocking is the story unfolded through police investigation. The police have revealed that three priests of the diocese had masterminded the whole drama. Cuddapah town’s police superintendent Navin Gulati told that Father Raja Reddy engineered the kidnapping and attack on the bishop, motivated by “greed for money and power”.

What happened in Cuddapah could only be a symptom of a disease that is gripping many church-run institutions and points to the need for putting in place transparent and participatory financial management systems in the dioceses and religious congregations. The 32nd Plenary Assembly of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) held in Bangalore in the first half of March 2016 had identified a set of internal and external challenges. Unfortunately, the list did not include introducing professionalism in the financial management of the dioceses and the church-run institutions. Many priests who are appointed as the heads of institutions and organizations within the church do not have experience or professional training. As a result these institutions are not able to cope with the legal compliances and effective management.

Bishop Prasad Gallela of Cuddapah Diocese

The author had the opportunity to function as a consultant to CARITAS India for a few dioceses in India in view of introducing professionalism in the Diocesan Social Work organizations. The long term objective of CARITAS India’s experiment was to introduce professional management systems and processes in the administration of the dioceses through the Diocesan Social Work organizations. The project could achieve its objectives only to a limited extent. One of the achievements of the project was that many Diocesan Social Work organizations started publishing their audited statement of account along with their annual report.

At the same time it is very doubtful whether any diocese in India has started the practice of making pubic its audited statement of account. Similarly a good number of Diocesan Social Work organizations adopted

Financial Policy and Human Resource Management (HRM) policy. It is not yet known how many dioceses in India have made known to the public their Financial and HRM policies.

Financial accountability is an essential dimension of spirituality. The dioceses and religious congregations are dealing with public money. Hence they are accountable to the public and the government. They have to put in place systems and processes that make them accountable and transparent primarily to its members and to the general public. The following proposals are made to make the diocesan administration participatory, transparent and accountable.

A diocesan General Body, consisting of representatives of the laity, both women and men, Religious women and men and priests shall be formed to function as a policy-making body of the diocese. All the members of this body shall be elected by the constituents concerned. There could be a few members, not exceeding 10 %, to be appointed by the bishop. This body shall meet at least once a year to pass the annual budget, to approve annual report and the audited statement of account of the diocese and to elect 11 members of an Executive Committee (Governing Body) for a period of three years and to adopt policies needed from time to time. The external auditors shall be appointed by the General Body. The bishop shall be the exofficio President of the Executive Committee. The bishop along with the Executive Committee shall be accountable to the General Body. Special meeting of the General Body could be convened as per the requirement.

The diocese shall have various policies adopted by the General Body: 1) Finance Policy 2) Human Resource Management Policy 3) Gender Policy 4) Education Policy and 5) Environment Policy. It will be the responsibility of the Executive Committee to implement the policies and report to the General Body the status of implementation. All documents approved by the General Body like annual report, annual budget and audited statement of account shall be made available to the public on the website of the diocese. The annual report in local language and the audited statement shall be printed and copies made available to all parishes and institutions within the diocese.

All decisions concerning appointments, purchase of property, starting new institutions, major expansion of existing institutions, appointment of various committees and financial decisions shall be taken by the Executive Committee which will be meeting at least once in two months. Experts shall be invited to the meetings of the Executive Committee for eliciting their opinion as per the requirement. The commissions/departments at the diocesan level shall be rationalized and each department will have norms for functioning approved by the General Body. The departments will have autonomy of functioning with the required systems of accountability. All departments/ commissions will have annual budget, report and audited statement of account. The budgets, reports andaudited statement of accounts of the commissions or departments shall be integrated with the consolidated budget, report and audited statement of the diocese which is to be approved by the General Body.

The government of India has put in place an elaborate computerized system to collect data from the NGOs and charitable organizations within the country and analyse the data for the purpose of monitoring the finances of the voluntary sector. Hence it is urgent for the dioceses and religious congregations to adopt professional and transparent systems of financial management.

The very nature of the Church as People of God demands from the persons in authority accountability and transparency. Putting in place transparent and participatory systems and processes will prevent Cuddapah type of scandals.

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Andhra Bishop abducted, tortured by own Priests Corruption unparalleled in Indian RC Church dr. james kottoor

Have you ever heard of a Roman Catholic Bishop abducted, blind folded, hands tied, stripped, locked up and tortured mercilessly by three of his own priests in “Daddy’s Home”, an institution run by one of them?

No it is not a fairy tale! It really happened to Catholic Bishop Prasad Gallela of Cuddapah, Andhra Pradesh, India. The culprits are already caught. For details about the latest developments read three reports published under one head: Indian Currents on corruption in RC Church: 1.An Alert from Cuddapah editorial, 2. The Enemy Within, Cover story 3. Towards a Transparent Church, all simultaneously in CCV

It is all about the Roman Catholic Church in India. The truth is that there is no one Catholic Church in India. There is only a conglomeration of three different Rites fighting among themselves privately without being noticed by Rome, for religious colonization, territorial expansion, socio-economic domination and prominent positions through possession of super-specialty institutions in posh cities which have top market value in rupee or dollar. They are just a carbon copy of the stinking corrupt political system. And each of these Rites are torn apart by the killer disease called the centuries old Caste system – the Bhramins occupying the top executive posts and the laity, like Sudras crawling at the very bottom doing menial jobs for the highly placed. It is to counter this diabolical attitude, tooth and nail, we took on the name: CHURCH CITIZENS VOICE, proclaiming equality of all, weather Pope or Prostitute. As for Francis, he is the first to call himself a “sinner”.

”We produce 70% of the clergy in this country but we control only about 0.04% of the territory. We are justified in wanting more territory” has been the reported long standing pliant of Syromalabar Church (SMC). They and Syromalankara are sweating it out to expand their kingdoms to all posh cities of India first and then to foreign cities like Chicago, Melborne, Europe and middle east, like in the colonial days. They forget the characteristic trait of the followers Jesus is to be the “Little Flock” (Pusillus Grex) but one that does not bend its knees to any insolent might.

Whether in politics or in religion what counts and weighs most is not merit but your position in the Class and Caste system coupled with your value in hard cash or ready cash you can

squander. Just think of 50 crore church in Ernadulam of SMC. Of course there are any number of good, sterling personnel among the bishops and the clergy, literally doing foot-washing ministry to the poorest of the poor in God forsaken places. But the rat race to prove oneself to be one of the top Brahminic class with money and muscle power is so acute that Bishoprics lie vacant in India for years because the man fit for the job happens to be a Sudra, or one lower than the class and caste status of a Brahmin and both the clergy and laity who think they are of Brahminic descend refuse to accept or take orders from one who is lower in class or caste position.

The majority of bishops are ready to silently support and promote this caste mentality and wait till such a compromise candidate is found. They never make any complaints to Rome. It is closely allied to the superiority complex that rules roost in a pure-blood marriage system or Endogamy (pure racialism) practiced in Kottayam diocese. If the Kottayam diocese is able to survive so long in India it is because the country as a whole is ruled by class and caste mentality and not by democratic values even in Communist party in India, of merit and equality of all humans. Proof? CCV wrote ever so many articles requesting all nearly 200 bishops to raise this issue of Endogamy in the two synods on Family in Rome and to discuss the issue on a national level. But not a single bishop opened his mouth in public to respond or discusss it, except one, Bishop Kuriacose Bharanikulangara of Delhi, who agreed with us and privately promised to raise the issue at the Synod but never did. No other bishop from India had the honesty to raise it at the synod because they want to hide this shameful practice from papal or global view. They do this just to project a false image of unity among all Indian bishops in three Rites before Rome just to extract more loaves of new dioceses and Bishoprics from Rome, because the strength of any Rite is based on the number of Bishops they have just like any skeleton political party trying to get more MPs or MLAs to flaunt their strength.

Another sad, harsh truth about the Indian catholic Church is that those who are in top, key controlling positions in the various Rites are not men of metal, vision, conviction and courage. None of them believe in dialogue with the lowly placed laity or in transparency. CCV wrote several letters to CBCI chairman, Cardinal Cleemis and Cardinal Alancherry, head of SMC to find out if they conducted a survey of the Laity on Christian families ordered by Pope Francis. But we were not lucky to receive a word of reply from any of them. A series of letters by prominent writers and laymen, signed up to 18 persons were sent in 2013 to SMC top brass to start a vertical dialogue in SMC with no reply whatsoever, except one reply from Bishop Puthur, now in Australia.

Therefore they — that is those who don’t believe either in transparency or in dialogue — all have only one heavenly option left: admit their moral, spiritual, physical inability and bankruptcy to do their job, as shown by the glorious example of Pope Benedict XVI who retired and got out the way for the unhindered march of the Lord. He thus opened the way for the advent of a Francis Papa, loved by the whole world and shows his love not only for Catholics but, think of it, to Muslims. He took 12 Muslim Refugees from Greece to Rome. Are our Catholic Bishops listening? “Make clear the way of the Lord,” roared a St.John the Baptist in the desert. Like him scribes like this one has been shouting this for ages. Only none of the highly placed prelates respond. They pretend they have not heard or seen emails sent to them directly. Why? Because the churches (Rites) in India do not believe in dialoguing or discussing things among themselves or with the laity publicly. Do not expect such bishops to retire on their own. They should be forced to retire.

What the Church in India urgently needs is young and energetic leaders in their youthful thirties, like Jesus bubbling over with life with vision, conviction and action. Of course our present leadership, now bend with age in their Sannyasa years, must have had all those qualities of Get-up-and-go. But they are now bereft of any of them, because all their get-up-and-go, got up and went. Understandably, what else do you expect in one in his Sannyasa years, well past retirement time? Pope Benedict saw his weaknesses, admitted them honestly and courageously and gifted a Pope Francis for the whole world. You can’t expect that from Indian Bishops.

The CBCI (Catholic Bishops Conference comprising of three Rites) go through the ritual of publicly announced biennial meetings meant to discuss burning issues, but they do it in total secrecy. There is no transparency and therefore no honesty at all in their deliberations. Where is the example set by the two family Synods conducted in Rome or by Jesus himself: “I have spoken things in public, from housetops.” Therefore the Churches (Rites ) in India do not have even an iota of honesty or similarly to whatever Jesus has envisioned and entrusted his followers to do and carry on.

This so-called sleeping church (purposely used by IC, I guess, not to offend their sensibilities) must be awakened, it is argued. Is it possible? Impossible! Why? Because, you can wake up only one who is sleeping, not one pretending to be asleep. Again it is just wishful thinking calculated to paint a rosy picture about the Indian Church that prompts one to say that “for every corrupt priest there are any number of service minded ones”. We don’t want many, but just a few, a sprinkling of Mother Theresas or Gandijes or Narayana Gurujies. Radical change or reforms are not brought about by a battalion but isolated outstanding individuals. Church in India (Rites in India) has no such person to look up to. That is the misery it

faces although Francis recently said that it is “the hour of the Laity now” and it is to the laity “thick in the battle field” that the clergy must look up to and not vice versa – laity to clergy.

The unfortunate thing about caste and class systems in Indian Church is that it is practiced, promoted and patronized by many in the so-called Hierarchical Church, just as Endogamy is openly promoted by the joined circular of Bishop Angadiath of Chicago, Archbishop Moolekat of Kottayam and Caradinal Alancherry. CCV published their letter and sent to all Indian Bishops. Only not a single bishop opened his mouth to comment on it. If Bishops and Arch bishops are caste minded what do you expect from the priestly class and the laity. “Like the pastors, so the faithful.” Similar problems reared their ugly heads in the Apostolic Church on questions of circumcision and when Peter hesitated to join the company of gentiles at meals. Then there was tough guys like Paul who was brutally firm on principles and made no bones to tell Peter in the face that he was clearly in the wrong and the problem was solved instantly. As the Church in India miserably lacks any outstanding personalities like him, Caste system will continue wreak vengeance in India for long. Even the Kuddapa incident will not give the CBCI under Cleemis the guts to act firmly.

The Indian Current’s cover story speaks of the Enemy within. That reminds one of the Gospel saying: “Your enemies are of your own household.” Church in India don’t get enimies in Africa or Europe. Like the first man landing on the Moon, Kadappa in Andhra, India has made history for intimidation, kidnapping at gun point and torturing a Bishop by his own priests who had pledged obedience to him. Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay has at least come out prompty condemning the incident. It remains to be seen how many of the other cardinals and Bishops will follow suit or find reasons to keep silent. When Bishop Alex Dias of Port blare wrote an article in IC urging all to shun pompous titles and appellations like Grace, Excellency, Lordship etc. (he wanted to be called just “Alex” only) and this scribe wrote in reply calling him: “Dear Alex” and wrote an article. But not a single bishop in India said a word of appreciation of Bp.Alex, although many lay people did. What does that say, without saying? All bishops clearly and definitely want to be addressed by pompous, honorific titles and remember Jesus was never called “Your Excellency” not even “Rev.” This scribe and Bishop Alex have never met. Faced with such incriminating deeds, what can we call these bunch of clerics and High Priests except: “You Hypocrites and white washed sepulchers?” as did Jesus. Of course there are exceptions, but no outspoken ones among them. If not ready to speak out where is the witness value?

The CCV take this opportunity to congratulate the Editor of IC and the columnists for bringing out the shameful, stinking rot in

the Catholic Church in India. Dirty linen must be washed clean, privately if possible, or publicly. Left to them, the perpetrators of abduction and torture will never do it. So IC has done a good job. What is more, all the three priests involved should be suspended from all priestly activities and responsible positions in the Church. In the case of Pedophilia the direction given by Francis is that the Bishop who simply transfers and not suspend a pedophile priest should be punished. CCV does not believe in the capacity of existing top brass of the CBCI to steam roll the machinery of justice against the perpetrators of this dastardly crime against Cuddapah Bishop.

Church citizens or any existing lay organizations do not have any legal role, locus standi, in the administrative set up of the church. So who will bell the cat? Carthage must be destroyed. Corruption and caste domination must be wiped out. Who will do it? The despairing thought that there is none to do it, in the prevailing ecclesiastic set up, is making many to think with their “feet” – calling quits and just leaving this Church! The kingdom of God Jesus brought is within you, not in churches of brick and mortar costing 50 crores. Its essence is foot-washing ministry to the poor and homeless in our neighborhood or cherries in our cities! For that you don’t have to go to any well furnished churches or be part of over two thousand denominations, fighting and saying like the publican in the temple : “I am better than the publican at the entrance of the temple.” So just forget about these incorrigible churches. Follow Jesus! Contact at:, Mob.9446279203


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Papal Exhortation Spreading Confusion instead of clarity? Can divorced and remarried receive communion? dr.james kottoor

Papal Exhortation Spreading

Confusion instead of clarity?

Can divorced and remarried receive communion?

dr.james kottoor

“Errors like straw on the surface flow; those who want to search for pearls must dive below,” wrote Drydon long ago. It is in an effort to take this advise seriously, this rather longwinded article is published here, to help those ready to dive deep.

It was on April 8th that Francis Pappa released his long awaited Apostolic Exhortation on Family Life, “Joy of Love”. Ever since the global media has been flooded with reactions ranging from warm welcome, to graded appreciation, to frantic search for what is actually meant, to critical questions to a nearly total opposition to a document bursting all over with confusion and compromise rather than clarity and precision on controversial issues. CCV (Church Citizens’s Voice, already published thought provoking opinions from New York Times, UK Guardian, Jesuit Catholic weekly America, Tablet UK, NCR,us, CRUX, Zenith, Vatican Insider and many more with our editorial notes. The latest one published “Confusion confounded instead of Clarity?” is from Tablet UK. This opinion piece is based on it mostly.

What is the great confusion in this exhortation? It is all about the question: Can divorced and remarried receive communion? According to traditional teaching of the Church, especially of previous Popes Benedict XVI and John Paul II who wrote a great deal on it, it is a definite NO because they are in a state of mortal sin. In the Joy of Love (Amoris Laetitia) Francis tells us, not to say they are in living in sin or in irregular situation the principle being never to be judgmental like a strict judge, but to be like a merciful Prodigal Father, never to be hung up on unchangeable doctrinal principles but on demands of practical pastoral needs of one dying in the battle field.

To take an example the Church must be like a mother trying to save the honor of her son accused of stealing, say $1000/- and pleading: “Please please don’t call my son a thief, don’t say please my son stole it, say instead he took it as he was in need!” So the motherly Francis is pleading in the Exhortation to understand that the divorced and remarried fully belong to the church, and can even receive communion (which is not only a reward for the perfect but a medicine for the sick) with the help of a conscience rectified by a counseling priest who is not to substitute or replace the conscience of the remarried. Now what does that sort of winding oneself in hundred knots mean? Yes or No? What we want to know is: if he/she is a saint or sinner? “Oh please con’t call anyone a sinner”, says Francis, (Recall also Vivekananda who also said the same in another context: “Don’t call man the crown and glory of creation a sinner!) “Don’t be judgmental” says Francis following his own example: “Who am I to judge!” But that doesn’t give us the Yes or No answer we are looking for. That means no clear answer from Francis , so all this confusion.

Now, who is an adulterer independent of what the exhortation says? Let us do a little hard talk. Jesus is very clear on it: “You have learnt how it was said: You must not commit adultry. But I say this to you. If a man looks at another woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”(Mat.5, 27) Wow! Then who among us is not an adulterer? No wonder why Francis was the first to describe himself: “I am sinner”? Also why the Synod fathers described themselves as (Sncti peccatori = Holy sinners) starting with the Holy Father who confesses every other day in public view.

Now do you get why the confusion is confounded? Although Jesus was forthright in enunciating the principle, when it came to applying it to the woman caught in adultery, he was ruthless not against the woman but against the Pharisees who was eloquent on applying the principle saying: “Let the one who has not sinned cast the first stone.” Jesus was acting like Francis. Turning to the woman he said: “Neither do I condemn you!”, again like Francis.

There was a young and enterprising priest who used to give a 3-part sermon every Sunday after reading the Gospel: Part 1. After reading the Gospel he used to tell those in the pews: “You have heard what Gospel has to say which is very clear and needs no explanation.” 2. Now what does the Church or church men say about it? Then He used to give various interpretations by the church. 3. Now you want to know what I think of it? Answering that he used to give his personal view. Then he used to conclude

saying: You are all very intelligent and literate people, so you draw your own conclusions and follow what your conscience dictates.

This is what this scribe has been saying for long ad nauseam and writing in these columns or outside. Just follow your commanding conscience formed honestly and prayerfully. If the conscience is commanding, know for certain, it is the voice of God and so just obey. You are the sacred living temple of God, far superior to any man-made brick-and-mortar dead chapels, churches, cathedrals or temples or mosques, and the conscience speaking to you from within you is the voice of the Deity enthroned in you. That is why you are called the temple of God or Holy Spirit. Recall the conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well.

If your conscience is caught between two or three doubts or options, just consult any available better informed person’s view, who need not at all be a priest or even a religious person, enough he be an honest and better informed person and then act. Even here, if you are not able to rid yourself of all doubts, just do one of the easiest of options you have in mind, because the principle is: (In dubio libertas) In doubt, any of the options are equally valid and acceptable before God.

So finding God and his guidance is the easiest thing in life, if our belief that God exists and that he is really the Father figure of all, is an uncontested truth. All humans – wise, foolish, ignorant, illiterate, rich, poor – need not go any where searching. They have only to look within themselves and listen to their consciences. Recall the famous song composed by Fr. Abel (one of my saintly friends gone to heaven: Iswarane Thedi (in Malayalam). Its substance is this: “I wandered all over the world, across sea and deserts looking for God’s foot steps, all in vain. Finally I turned into myself, into my heart. Lo and behold there He is. My heart is His abode and Love is His name, shape and features.”

Otherwise, follow the advise given to sailors at sea totally run out of water, terribly thirsty and unaware of their actual location: “If you are dying of thirst, just drop the bucket because you are sailing in the face of Amazon full of clean,clear potable water not tainted by salt.” And for God’s help and guidance, just peep into yourself, to your conscience speaking to you. That is the Voice of God talking to you constantly.

Of course, all what is said above is the considered conviction of this scribe which no one is bound to follow, as one is bound to follow one’s own conscience. What I wish to request humbly, is that our well-meaning readers react honestly, fearlessly and boldly expressing their views, imitating the readers of Clifford Longley’s article: in the Tablet weekly, given below.

What follows is Longley’s article: “Pope created confusion where we needed Clarity” and readers’ reaction at the end:

Still they argue, argue, argue. Yes he did; no he didn’t. He can; he can’t. What exactly did Pope Francis intend to convey by chapter eight of his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia? Conservatives say Pope Francis cannot have meant that “divorced and remarried Catholics could be admitted to Holy Communion in certain circumstances”, as many have interpreted the document, because that would be plain contrary to long-standing Catholic practice sanctioned by the magisterium.

But that would have meant that he too is a conservative, and we know he is a liberal. We are free to interpret his words in the light of that. But why the uncertainty? Why couldn’t he have spelt it out with a simple statement such as the one above? Was he under pressure, for instance facing threats of resignation from senior cardinals in the Vatican, so he had to create a smoke screen so everyone could claim a victory? How does that help the rest of us, or at least those of us who aren’t conservative curial cardinals? He has created confusion precisely where there needs to be clarity.

In every other respect Amoris Laetitia is a pastoral triumph. But not this one. It is a mess. In those circumstances the only possible advice is to follow the instincts and intuitions of one’s conscience as honestly as possible, consulting whomever one likes in the process. Let liberals interpret the document liberally and conservatives conservatively. But don’t let anybody tell them they are wrong, because nobody knows that for sure.

I have to say, on a forensic examination of the text alongside other previous statements on these issues, that the Pope’s conservative critics do have a point; indeed several of them. Saying that doesn’t alter my fundamental conclusion that the liberals are right – the Pope’s intention is that divorced and remarried Catholics can receive Holy Communion in certain circumstances. But let’s face it, many of them do already.

There are several places in the text where Pope Francis could be accused of disingenuousness – I hesitate out of respect to say dishonesty – by drawing conclusions that do not follow from the

evidence he cites, by choosing selectively from some of the sources he quotes, and by ignoring related passages which go against his argument. If I had written this document and taken such liberties with the evidence, I would be very uneasy. These are the sorts of weaknesses which, had they occurred in a document at the centre of a libel action, would have been mercilessly exposed under cross examination by a well briefed counsel.

Take footnote 345 in paragraph 302, which refers to a 2000 statement by the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts called Declaration Concerning the Admission to Holy Communion of Faithful Who are Divorced and Remarried. The passage in Amoris Laetitia to which the footnote is attached states “…a negative judgment about an objective situation does not imply a judgement about the imputability or culpability of the person.” It can be deduced that this refers specifically to the issue of the admission of divorced and remarried Catholics to Communion from an earlier sentence in the previous paragraph – “Hence it can no longer simply be said that all those in any ‘irregular’ situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace.”

Yet the entire argument of the 2000 document points emphatically and unambiguously the other way. The issue here is the correct interpretation of Canon 915 – “Those … who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” It refers to unnamed authors who “offer various interpretations of the above-cited canon that exclude from its application the situation of those who are divorced and remarried”. It then lists those interpretations and dismisses each one. The degree of subjective culpability – the good faith of the remarried Catholic – is not relevant, it says; the test is objective, and applies to all those who are in this situation regardless of how they got there, whether it was their fault, and what their conscience had to say about it. Whatever, they are “obstinately persisting in manifest sin.”

There is no pussy-footing here with the oft-quoted provision that to avoid scandal a priest should not publicly refuse Communion even to someone he or she knows is not entitled to it under this rubric. “The minister of Communion must refuse to distribute it to those who are publicly unworthy,” it bluntly declares. Indeed it goes further, and says the priest must instruct deacons and lay Eucharistic ministers that they too must also refuse to distribute Communion to divorced and remarried Catholics. In other words they have to be told which members of the parish this applies to. This is an almost impossibly onerous responsibility to put upon a lay person, not to mention a probable breach of confidence by the priest. And it could lead to severe scandal in the parish. That does not seem to have occurred to the drafters.

I have never heard of a parish applying it. But why then does the Pope cite this appalling document, in support of his case that degree of subjective culpability must be taken into account, the exact opposite of what it plainly says? Why not just let this particularly nasty sleeping dog lie? It is mystifying.

Something similar happens when Pope Francis deals with the way this issue is treated in Pope John Paul II’s 1981 exhortation, Familiaris Consortio. It too followed a synod on the family, the year before. He quotes it as saying “Pastors must know that, for the sake of truth, they are obliged to exercise careful discernment of situations’.

He goes on to quote from the final report of the 2015 synod – “Therefore, while clearly stating the Church’s teaching, pastors are to avoid judgements that do not take into account the complexity of various situations, and they are to be attentive, by necessity, to how people experience and endure distress because of their condition”.

But Pope John Paul II did not stop there. “There is in fact a difference,” he insisted in 1981, “between those who have sincerely tried to save their first marriage and have been unjustly abandoned, and those who through their own grave fault have destroyed a canonically valid marriage. Finally, there are those who have entered into a second union for the sake of the children’s upbringing, and who are sometimes subjectively certain in conscience that their previous and irreparably destroyed marriage had never been valid.” All well and good so far…

But then, disregarding all that talk about discernment of various degrees of guilt, Pope John Paul II slams on the brakes and gives this unambiguously negative ruling: “However, the Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage.”

But Pope Francis does not quote this definitive declaration, surely central to this whole debate, and unless one knows quite a lot of recent church history, one might not even be aware of it. The impression he gives is that Pope John Paul II wants priests to discern culpability and proceed accordingly. Instead, at this point in the text, Familiaris Consortio changes direction. It is inconsistent, even incoherent. Did Pope Francis not know this?

It goes on in similar hardline vein by spelling out that the only divorced and remarried Catholics permitted to receive Holy Communion

are those who “take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples.” This is the so-called “brother and sister” solution. Forget all about “careful discernment of situations” – abstinence from sexual relations is the only option.

In these passages Pope Francis is totally ignoring his predecessor’s negative ruling, but is quoting Familiaris Consortio as if it meant the opposite. The fact is I think Francis is right and John Paul II was wrong on the point of principle, but the fly in the ointment is the way quotations to back up his argument are taken from the earlier Pope selectively, and I would have to say, highly tendentiously.

The same thing happens with the brother and sister solution itself. It is mentioned both in Familiaris Consortio and in the 2000 Declaration regarding legislative texts. But it is not mentioned in connection with divorce in any document of the Second Vatican Council. Yet Pope Francis invokes a passage from Gaudium et Spes (Church in the Modern World) of 1965, to eliminate the brother and sister solution as a feasible option. Footnote 329 states that “many people, knowing and accepting the possibility of living ‘as brothers and sisters’ which the Church offers them, point out that if certain expressions of intimacy are lacking, ‘it often happens that faithfulness is endangered and the good of the children suffers’.” And gives the reference to the appropriate Gaudium et Spes paragraph. I am sure this is sound advice, but is it strictly honest to quote in support of it a remark from a Vatican II document that was discussing something else entirely?

What is irritating is that a good sub-editor, willing to shorten this overlong text by a few hundred words, could easily have left out these contentious misrepresentations and not weakened the argument one bit. Indeed, without them it would have less assailable and therefore stronger. Were they kept in deliberately, as a kind of sabotage by curial officials who did not like the way things were going? The one thing this demonstrates to me is that the claim that Pope Francis has not “changed” church doctrine is more spin than truth.

True, he hasn’t actually announced any changes. His text just ignores previous teachings that he does not agree with, and quotes the bits he does. He is the Pope after all – he is entitled to say about Familiaris Consortio what Cardinal Raymond Burke has said about Amoris Laetitia, that if anyone disagrees with it, it can safely be dismissed as one man’s personal opinion.

In fact it is far better than the 1981 document. Pope John Paul II was laying down rules and imposing them on people’s consciences – precisely what Pope Francis says church teaching should not do. Amoris Laetitia speaks to the truth of intimate human relationships like no other Catholic document I have ever come across.

It hands back to people the right to exercise their own moral judgements, asking their pastors for help when appropriate. It does not leave those pastors in the seat of judgement: they are no longer gatekeepers of the Sacraments, checking the passports of those who apply.

While congratulating him on it, I sincerely wish Pope Francis had been more careful with the evidence he cited. He has handed his critics more ammunition than he needed to. And so the arguments will go on and on – and on.

Given below are six reactions to the article above

which appeared in the UK Tablet weekly

1.Comment by: Louise,Posted: 19/04/2016

In response to Lepanto:’ This text is at a minimum, enormously dangerous. Confusion leads to variation in practice. Variation in practice leads to discord. Discord leads to scandal. Scandal destroys.’ The assumption appears to be that there was no confusion or discord or scandal in the minds of the faithful and clergy prior to the issuing of Amoris Laetitia. Clearly this assumption holds no water bearing in mind the deluge of scandals over the past few years, which Pope Francis is having to deal with. I fail to see how entrusting clergy to form consciences rather than replace them will automatically give rise to scandal. It is striking how little faith there is in some quarters in the ability of the servants of the Church to form mature Catholics. Amoris Laetitia is inspiring and humane. It is a joy.

2.Comment by: Terence Weldon, osted: 19/04/2016

Let’s be clear: It’s not Amoris Laetitia that is “sowing confusion” – it’s the doctrine itself. For example, the primacy of conscience is abundantly clear from accepted teaching, and it’s not appropriate for others to attempt to judge the state of another’s conscience. So, what then is “manifest grave sin?” Longley’s text itself notes the problems of the 2000 text of the Council for legislative texts, and also contradictory elements in the writing of John Paul II.

The further back we go in church teaching, the more contradictions emerge. Go back far enough in history, and we come to the celebrated Thomas Aquinas. But, as Francis notes in Amoris Laetitiae, much of modern perceptions of Thomistic moral theology are far removed from the main thrust of his theology.

That the confusion is evident in Amoris Laetitiae is no surprise. It has been widely noted that the draft was prepared by some of Francis’ closest confidantes – but was then subjected to additional revisions at the instigation of the CDF, anxious to retain their doctrinal supremacy (while Francis himself went out if his way in this document, to downplay the importance of doctrine as a set of rigid rules).

This confusion over Church teaching is especially obvious for the question of divorce and communion and remarriage, but it is also evident elsewhere – for example, concerning gay and lesbian people, who are barely mentioned in the document.

3. Comment by: Frank Callus, Posted: 19/04/2016

I think that the answer to Lepanto is to be found early in the Exhortation. Pope Francis reminds priests and bishops that they are to form consciences not replace them. In so doing he recognises the complexities of personal relationships and the need for people to find their place on the journey of salvation. There is a world of difference between a serial adulterer and a person, abandoned by his/her partner, trying to re-establish a new life. Jesus was clear about the issue when he spoke to the woman caught in adultery, but not before he had challenged her accusers with their own sinfulness. The Catholic Church is

being summoned to a new relationship with its sinful flock in the Year of Mercy, but within a perception that all of us are in need of this mercy and to believe otherwise is to delude ourselves.

4.Comment by: Lepanto,Posted: 19/04/2016

The CCC is very clear, as well as many historical teachings and council documents, on the nature of mortal sin. If a person is in a valid Catholic marriage by virtue of that, they know what adultery consists of. If they choose to leave their spouse and engage in sexual relations with another, that is adultery. Jesus was precise on this. “If a man looks at another woman with lust, he has committed adultery.” Wow, I wonder how that clear teaching is now viewed in light of this exhortation. How do we think Jesus reacted to those who heard this teaching of His, and later on persisted in lusting after women, under the guise of conscience? I would think He would look at them compassionately as always, but ask them: “Which word of my teaching did you not understand?” He really could not have been more precise on adultery, because adultery presupposes monogamous fidelity, even in the heart if not in the outward act. We are treading on thin ice at best when we attempt to reframe this teaching as if we know better than He did on this subject.

5.Comment by: Richard Brooke,Posted: 18/04/2016

In response to Lepanto, it never could, under traditional moral doctrine, simply be said of anyone else that they were in a state of mortal sin. Observable behaviour may be described as grievous matter, but traditional doctrine insists that full knowledge and full consent are also required for an act to constitute a mortal sin. Whether such a sin has occurred can be known in the first instance only to God, and to an individual penitent, who is the only person on earth who can judge the fullness of their knowledge and consent (albeit that they may draw on the wisdom of a confessor in reaching this judgement) . We do well to emulate Pope Francis’ “Who am I to judge?”, which both exemplifies the spirit of Christian mercy and is based on thoroughly traditional moral theology.

6.Comment by: Lepanto, Posted: 18/04/2016

The text: “it can no longer simply be said that those living in any irregular situation are in a state of mortal sin,” constitutes a clear change in discipline, and it also contradicts Church teaching. How can anyone argue this is not the case? “It can no longer be…” Where does license to discern stop? Are there any objectively immoral “irregular” situations anymore? This text is at a minimum, enormously dangerous. Confusion leads to variation in practice. Variation in practice leads to discord. Discord leads to scandal. Scandal destroys. We need the Church to pick up the torch of chastity and inspire the faithful to this forgotten virtue, versus giving us a way through our conscience, to rationalize culpability of grave matter. Is that not the same temptation that Adam and Eve fell into, to decide on their own what was good and evil, to be like gods, versus abiding by the clear boundary which God has established in His mercy, as represented by the tree of knowledge? May God help us all. Contact at:, Mob .9446219203

Posted in Church Worldwide news | 3 Comments




The Editor
The Examiner
Mumbai 400001
April 18, 2016

Subject: Amoris Laetitiae  –  for favour of publication

Respected Italian journalist Antonio Socci wrote: “The Apostolic Exhortation is an open act challenging two thousand years of Catholic teaching. And in Catholic circles people are shocked and struck dumb in bewilderment.”
John Vennari, Catholic lawyer of international repute and editor of Catholic Family News, USA, now writes: “Amidst great drifts of verbiage – some not bad, some remarkably tedious – Francis effectively canonizes situation ethics. He furtively opens the door for Communion to the divorced and remarried on a ‘case-by-case’ basis, which destroys key elements of Catholic Moral Theology. In particular, his approach undermines recognition of intrinsically disordered acts, and once this is undermined in one area, it is undermined in all areas.
Was the exercise of two Synods on the Family and the expenditure of several million Euros on them by  a “to-be poor Church”  engineered to dispense mercy in the Novus Ordo “communion” particularly to Pope Francis’s sister, Maria Elena, who has divorced her husband and to the pope’s nephew, Jose Ignacio Bergoglio, and his live-in lover, Marina Muro?
John Menezes
7 Esperanca, S. Bhagatsingh Road, Mumbai 400001
Posted in Silenced Voice | 3 Comments

Vatican suspends external audit

Vatican suspends outside audit while reviewing contract…/vaticansuspends-outside-audit-while-reviewin…

12 hours ago – VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Four months after announcing it had hired the firm PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct an external audit of its finances …

Catholic World News

Vatican suspends external audit

April 20, 2016
A thorough audit of all Vatican offices has been suspended, in a major blow to plans for reform of Vatican financial affairs.
The Secretariat of State has informed Vatican offices that the outside audit, being conducted by the accounting firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers, was being discontinued. The audit was begun in December 2015, after Cardinal George Pell, the prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, reported that a preliminary inqury into Vatican financial affairs had uncovered the serious undervaluation of assets, as well as unsupervised spending that created opportunities for mismanagement and corruption.
Cardinal Pell had pressed energetically for the imposition of regular audits and uniform financial controls, to bring accountability to Vatican financial affairs. His efforts have faced resistance from other offices of the Roman Curia, and the suspension of the PricewaterhouseCoopers audit appears to reflect a setback for the Australian cardinal.
The Italian newspaper Italia Oggi, which broke the news that the audit was being suspended also reported that Antonino D’Anna, who had been considered a candidate to become the new president of the Institute for Religious Works, had removed his name from consideration because of what he described as the “complex situation” at the Vatican bank. Italia Oggi interpreted D’Anna’s statement as a further indication that Cardinal Pell’s position has been weakened, and the financial reforms that he has sought to institute may be in jeopardy.
Cardinal Pell was appointed by Pope Francis in 2014 to head the newly formed Secretariat for the Economy, and given a broad mandate to bring order to Vatican financial affairs. He was appointed to serve a five-year term in that office.
Posted in Church Worldwide news | Leave a comment

Syncretized “Catholic” is voice of the Indian church at Vatican event


Syncretized “Catholic” is voice of the Indian church at Vatican event


Posted in Church News in Mumbai/Thane/Navi Mumbai | 1 Comment

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