NEWS: April 30, 2010
Bird’s Eye View of the News
Atila Sinke Guimarães
THE CHANGEABLE MORAL CRITERIA OF THE HOLY SEE -
The scandal of having Mr. Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian Premier, receive Communion at a Mass in Milan last April 17 and the de facto absolution given by Vatican officials make me wonder what kind of moral law the present day Holy See is following.
TIA recently posted a comment giving the reader some details on the moral background of Mr. Berlusconi. Here I present only its general lines:
He married Carla Dall-Oglio in the Catholic Church in 1965; in 1980 he divorced her in the civil court without an annulment by the Church. In 1990 he married his mistress Miriam Bartolini, a stripper, who changed her name to Veronica Lario. Nineteen years later, in May 2009 Lario announced to the press that she would divorce Berlusconi, alleging she could no longer bear his constant immoral behavior and, particularly, an affair he was having with a minor, Noemi Letizia, who just had her 18th birthday. After this announcement, it is generally supposed that the couple stopped living together.
Nothing indicates that the Prime Minister changed his dissolute life. On the contrary, the press is filled with alleged new “affairs” he would be having with this or that woman.
Berlusconi at his mistress Noemi Letizia's 18th birthday
So, it is not difficult to conclude that, according to Catholic Morals, Mr. Berlusconi falls under the category of a public and scandalous sinner.
The divorce that Lario is initiating has been a friendly one. She has not filed a legal process against him in an Italian court. The lawyers of both sides are discussing the amount of money Lario will receive. No agreement has been reached so far. Therefore, the status of the couple before the Italian State is that of a married couple.
In brief, Mr. Berlusconi is a man married in the Catholic Church, divorced by the Italian State and remarried in the latter. In addition, he leads an open scandalous life.
On Communion for divorce and remarried persons
The recent Vatican doctrine on administering Communion to divorced and remarried persons – such as the Prime Minister – confirms the traditional teaching and was duly expressed in the Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum caritatis.
As it is known, in these post-conciliar times an Apostolic Exhortation is a document elaborated by a Synod of Bishops, reviewed and adjusted by a commission in the Vatican and, then, signed by the Pope. This document is the result of the Synod of Bishops gathered in Rome in October 2005. Benedict XVI signed its final version on February 22, 2007.
On Communion for divorced and remarried persons Sacramentum caritatis reads:
“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” (n. 29). (Read it in English or in Italian)
Since the Catholic Church admits neither divorce nor remarriage, these terms as used in Sacramentum caritatis obviously refer to divorce and remarriage made in the civil courts of a country.
When does a remarriage of a couple end according to Civil Law? When the parties reach a divorce agreement that is duly approved by a Judge, or when, without such agreement, the Judge on his own authority decides that that couple can live no longer together and pronounces a divorce. Without this official act of a State judicial authority, the remarriage has not ended.
So, according to the Church and the State, the legal situation of Mr. Berlusconi is clearly that of a man who was divorced and remarried. Therefore, he should not be permitted to receive Holy Communion.
The Vatican’s double language
This sanction, however, was not applied to the Prime Minister, nor was the priest who gave him Communion punished. Instead, officials of the Holy See introduced a new concept of what constitutes the end of a remarriage. According to them, the remarriage would end when the couple would stop living together.
Here is what Archbishop Rino Fisichella, head of the Pontifical Council for Life, said to the Italian daily Il Messagero:
Then, Veronica Lario was acknowledged by Church officials as Berlusconi's wife. Now, they deny any civil link.
“Since Berlusconi is separated from his second spouse, to whom he was civilly married, he has returned, so to speak, to his previous situation. The first marriage was a religious one; it was the second marriage that was problematic canonically. It is only to the faithful who are separated and remarried that Communion is forbidden, since such persons would remain in the state of sin. But if the obstacle is removed, nothing prevents it [Communion].”
Archbishop Giancarlo Girotti, head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, the organ that deals with sacrileges, declared to the Times: “Formally speaking Mr. Berlusconi could take Communion because he is no longer with Mrs. Lario. However, he has to be fully absolved of his sins in the confessional” (Times, April 22, 2010, online).
In both statements, we see that the Vatican Prelates deny the existence of a union de jure before the Italian State, and consider only a situation de facto, whether they are cohabitating or not. That is, they ignore the Civil Law of the Italian State.
This position clearly contradicts the text Sacramentum caritatis, which acknowledges the Law of the State. Further it ignores the entire juridical-political-social Italian reality, since Veronica Lario is still considered the “wife of the Italian Premier.”
We see, therefore, that the theologians of the Holy See rushed to tailor a new doctrine to justify the forbidden Communion of Mr. Berlusconi.
To protect the Italian Prime Minister, they simply denied the existence of the Civil Law of Italy, with the certainty that no complaint would come from the Italian Premier. They denied that giving Communion to Mr. Berlusconi was a sacrilege in order to subserviently humor that powerful man.
The Mafia agreement
Is that all? No, there is still more. Given that Benedict XVI is under fire by the media for his alleged cover-up of pedophile priests, the Vatican wanted to keep Mr. Berlusconi – who owns televisions, radios, newspapers and magazines – happy. Indeed, what they did made him very happy.
On April 19, two days after the sacrilegious Communion, Mr. Berlusconi went to a ceremony at the Vatican's Italian Embassy to commemorate the fifth anniversary of Benedict’s election. There he met Card. Tarcisio Bertone, and the two of them cheered the victory of the center-right candidate in the election held at Lazio – the Church told Catholics to vote for Berlusconi’s candidate.
A good 'deal' for both sides...
At the end of the event, the Prime Minister sent the message that Benedict XVI would receive his strong support in the cover-up accusations.
With this, we have the deal: The Holy See silenced the sacrilege of the Prime Minister and offered false excuses for it. Berlusconi’s payback was to give his media support for Pope Ratzinger in the cover-up scandal. "We ended your scandal; now, please end ours." A cordial Mafia agreement.
The only person forgotten in this case was Our Lord Jesus Christ, present in the Eucharist. Here, let me stress the great indignation the case raised among the little people in Italy. I am with Him and them.
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