My third question to his Eminence, followed by his reply, was as follows.
Is there any pastoral or legislative authority within the Church Militant by which dispensations can be granted in these matters, or do they involve a ius Divinum which sets them beyond dispensation and legislative modification?
There is no pastoral authority of any kind within the Church who can grant a dispensation to a party, so that he may live in a marital way with someone who is not his spouse. This is a question of Ius Divinum and is articulated in can. 1141 of the Code of Canon Law: "A marriage which is ratified and consummated cannot be dissolved by any human power or by any cause other than death".
His Eminence concluded his letter thus:
I hope that these answers are of some help to you and to the clergy who have raised them to you. The clear answer to these questions is imperative for the correction of the widespread confusion in the Church which is redounding to the grave harm of souls.
Asking God to bless you and all your priestly labors, and confiding your intentions to the intercession of Our Lady of Walsingham, Saint Michael the Archangel, Saint Joseph, Saint John the Baptist, Saint John Apostle and Evangelist, and Saint John Fisher, I remain
Yours in the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke.
29 December 2016
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So anyone who pretends to grant such a dispensation is acting ultra vires, falsely arrogating divine authority to himself?
The Apostle wrote of this: "…the man of sin [shall] be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposeth, and is lifted up above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself as if he were God." (2 Thess. 2:3-4)
Hurray for Cardinal Burke!
Thank you Father and thank you Cardinal Burke for the clarity and precision. It is unfortunate that these questions - like the Dubia - even need to be posed in the Church today. But such is the confusion and doubt that has been sown by many who should know better.
There will be a price to pay for anyone who leads the sheep astray - and a great reward for those who strive to keep them straight.
Fr. Hunwicke, I would like to ask you this just to make sure I understand. When Cardinal Burke says the marriage must be ratified and consummated, he is speaking of a marriage within the Church, correct? If one were married in a Protestant church, that marriage would be considered invalid, or something of that nature, is that right? This aspect is not often mentioned, and I'm sure many people do not realize this is the case. Thank you.
A marriage between two baptised non-Catholics in a Protestant church is, given the necessary intention and consent, valid. But if one of the spouses is a Catholic, and if they have neglected to secure the necessary dispensations from the Catholic Church, then the marriage is invalid.
Pardon my off the top of the head thoughts here, but is it not a primary concern that in fact, given the poor formation, or rather, deformation, given by our modern western culture, the necessary intentions for a valid marriage are not present? Thus the assumption, perhaps shared by the Holy Father, that in fact many, if not most, marriages are objectively invalid, and there remains merely the question of who is to make such a determination.
More directly to the questions posed to Cardinal Burke, whose side I am on, has not one issue been avoided in the questions? If memory serves, Prof. Buttiglione made the point that the discussion in AL seems to follow Saint John Paul's teaching that an act may be objectively always gravely evil, but the degree of culpability of the acting person would depend on knowledge and the degree of free consent, so that factors such as habit, ignorance, necessity, and the others which are listed in moral theology treatises and maybe the Catechism, could render the act not a "human act" fully or partially, thus resulting in the sin being genial rather than mortal? A quick read, for which I apologize, of the questions here and the dubia, suggests that the focus is only on the gravity of the act, rather than the culpability issue. What am I missing here?
Thank you for that marvellously instructive letter you have had from Cardinal Burke. Crystal clear.
I am doubly grateful as Cardinal Burke didn't telephone you to give his reply.
Woody: The presumption in canon law is always in favour of validity, never the other way round. I don't need to demonstrate or prove that my marriage is valid, any one who doubts that it is, needs to do all the heavy lifting and prove their case with moral certainty.
More to the point, the capacity for marriage involves an ordinary capacity to understand language, to be able to understand time, and making promises, i.e. binding oneself for the future. It's not some arcane secret that requires special knowledge; if you say and mean the words, in public, and with the approval of the parish priest then you are married. The vows themselves are specific public promises to act in certain ways and refrain from acting in other ways; if someone genuinely cannot grasp what's involved or the language that's used, then not only should they not be getting married, they probably shouldn't be on the streets unless accompanied by an appropriate adult.
Woody: I think the answer to your query is on the following lines. For the adultery to be a mortal sin there has to be three conditions: gravity, knowledge and consent. The first condition is always fulfilled: adultery is grave matter. As to knowledge surely after discernment and accompaniment by a priest the person cannot claim that he did not know that adultery was a mortal sin. As to consent where a person has divorced and remarried civilly it seems to me to be impossible to argue that they have not consented to the adultery. So the three conditions for mortal sin have been fulfilled.
Yes, but… the current Archbishop of Sydney, an excellent and orthodox Dominican, opined that a large proportion (40%? I forget) of marriages are indeed invalid, and why? because, despite the normal view of former days that "everyone knows" what marriage is - the bond between a man and a woman, to the exclusion of all others, until death - yet nowadays, thanks to continual propaganda to the contrary, many people in our benighted times honestly think that marriage is a bond, not necessarily between a man and a woman, nor to the exclusion of all others, and consider that it lasts only so long as it remains convenient to each of them.
Most Catholics, let's be honest, are exceedingly poorly catechised, and their whole knowledge of what marriage is comes from the examples of the world around them (Princess Di, Charles and Camilla, Elton John and his catamite, etc.). They may politely nod when Father Joe Blogs tells them what marriage actually is, according to the teachings of the Church, but in their minds and hearts they don't agree, so thoroughly brainwashed are they by mass media. Hence too many are unable to marry validly, because they really don't have a clue what they're getting into.
Then, it is the obligation of the Pastor to decline being a witness to such an abomination of a wedding.
A Pastor who does not carefully supervise weddings is doing grave harm to many.
Except in case of Favor of the Faith in which the Roman Pontiff, in specific circumstances, can dissolve a good and natural marriage. So the camel has already poked its nose under the tent, so to speak, concerning the absolute indissolubility of marriage.
So if the apostolic authority of the Church already makes certain exceptions to this absolute teaching of Jesus, why can't further exceptions be made (which is the Orthodox position I believe)? Further, unless the Catholic Church does not recognize Orthodox remarriages which are the result of their process of "divorce," then isn't there already a certain recognition of the legitimacy of this practice?
These are genuine questions I have, I'm not just stirring the pot.
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