Category Archives: Canon Law

No stroke of a pen will change the question underlying the problem of divorce and remarriage

Dr. Peters begins his post with “Good grief.” He then, in his usual masterful manner, addresses the issue, pointing out the salient features, and deals with each systematically. BUT, he does not allow comments, and so I have to re-blog his post in order to make a comment about Dr. Cafardi’s comments about “pastoral.” I have a need to make this comment because my degree will be in Pastoral Theology, and I must defend my degree.

So, I echo, “Good grief.” Put shortly, this you cannot do: “Take what the church has made a complicated judicial process and make it into a pastoral problem with a pastoral solution,” if by pastoral is meant “pay no attention to doctrine.” Because, simply, to be pastoral is to engage doctrine in the world with real people and real issues. To be pastoral does not mean “just look the other way, it’s all good, after all what would Jesus do?” and then pretend you know what Jesus would do. There is all manner of ways that can go awry.

For example: You walk into your local grocer, try to find figs, they don’t have any. “What would Jesus do?” you think to yourself. Remembering Mark 11:12-20 you curse the store, go to your local church, chase out everyone that is selling raffle tickets and holding silent auctions, then go back and burn down the store, figuring that’s a reasonable substitution for “shriveling up.” Yeah, no.

So, anyway, I object to how the term pastoral is being used by Dr. Cafardi.

In the Light of the Law

Dr. Nicholas Cafardi writes:

Nothing, no clear theology, no gospel teaching, nothing except hidebound tradition requires that a Catholic marriage can only be annulled through a complicated judicial process. If he wanted to, Francis could reconsider this judicial function of the church, and instead delegate authority over the annulment of first marriages to the proper pastor of the people involved. Take what the church has made a complicated judicial process and make it into a pastoral problem with a pastoral solution. Again, as sole legislator, Francis could reassign this legal responsibility to the pastor with a stroke of the pen. And note, this does not require a change in our theology, only a change in jurisdiction.

Good grief. Where to begin?

Such casual talk about marriages “being annulled” is okay in chit-chat, but scholars discussing—to say nothing of lawyers attacking—the annulment process itself must, before anything else, describe that…

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The human price of theological chatter

A Reblogging

OFFERED BY Frater Bovious from In The Light of The Law


Probably the largest misunderstanding of the Catholic Church (at least in the US) is that Catholic Teaching is up for vote or at least is subject to popular opinion. That is not the case, for much the same reason we don’t periodically vote on whether or not 2 + 2 = 4. Or to put it simply, the end in mind is not the preference of this or that person’s desires or political goals. Rather the end is the salvation of one’s soul. Canon law provides for the environment in which one can cooperate with the Good News. It is worth the effort to recognize and understand that pursuing one’s salvation usually means pursuing something other than immediate gratification.

In the Light of the Law

I’m just old enough to remember when Catholic theological rumination, especially moral speculation, was restricted to scholarly journals and professional conferences. The understanding in those days was that, whatever merits the latest theological or moral theories might enjoy, it was inappropriate for experts to parade such novelties before rank-and-file faithful lest they jump to premature or erroneous conclusions thereon.

In our day, however, the internet, to a degree that dwarfs the impact of the printing press in its day, has destroyed the old physical and technological restraints on the dissemination of doctrinal or disciplinary speculation. As a result laymen (in the sense of that word implying non-experts) are at the mercy of any Catholic intellectual—and for that matter of any Catholic prelate—who thinks that swaying public opinion in this direction or that is a good way to prove the soundness of this idea or that.

Well, as a Catholic academic…

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Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Renounces Papacy, Journalists Embrace Idiocy

Scandal is as scandal does.

In the end, all one’s time and all one’s strength is spent.

(ROME – Vatican City) Meticulously following Canon 322 §2, the Pope renounced the See of Peter on February 10th, 2013, with the following words (spoken in Latin):

For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.

The above referenced code says: If it happens that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, it is required for validity that the resignation is made freely and properly manifested but not that it is accepted by anyone.

You will note that his actual statement fully meets the requirements of Can. 332 §2. This is to be expected from someone with a mind like his. And, when I say “this” is to be expected, I mean both the manner of the renunciation and the fact of it.

Anyone that has read any of Cardinal Ratzinger’s or Pope Benedict XVI’s works, is familiar with his lucid prose and depth and breadth of thought. Our Pope is an uncommonly gifted theologian with a professor’s love of study and a pastor’s concern that God be known and understood insofar as man is capable of understanding. Having said this, I noted with interest a comment in his foreword to Jesus of Nazareth:

As I do not know how much more time and strength I am still to be given, I have decided to publish the first ten chapters…

He wrote this in 2006, when he had been Pope for less than two years. Elsewhere he has stated that he can feel his “powers fading”. If we can say that one mark of genius is the ability to see what is there, to penetrate to the core of the issue, and to glean the immutable truth within, then what can we say about someone of such genius with regard to self-knowledge and understanding? I think it fair to suppose that such a mind may be more keenly aware of its own decline than most.

Consider this as well – usually the Church does not know when the See will be vacated. We may have a pretty good idea, but, we certainly in recent history have not known the exact day and hour. Pope Benedict has set up the Church for as smooth a transition of pastoral care as is humanly possible. The rest is up to the Holy Spirit.

Virtually all the sound and fury from the vultures swarming this news story signify nothing. People with agendas, people with no knowledge but with mere opinion, and those who simply live to shock or outrage are saying all manner of silly things. There is a saying, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” In the case of journalists, so-called, all they have is gossip, so everything looks like scandal. There is no scandal here, not in the sense of discredit nor in the sense of leading someone into sin. There is simply a man who believes he can best serve Jesus by devoting what time and strength remains to him to prayer.