NEWS:  September 29, 2014
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Bird’s Eye View of the News

Atila Sinke Guimarães
FRANCIS’ GUIDELINES FOR THE SYNOD  -  This September we saw Pope Francis carry out two major actions regarding marriage that were clearly meant to set precedents to influence the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops, which will be gathering at the Vatican soon in October. This coming Synod is planned to be the first of two.

The 2014 Synod is meant to generate the information necessary for Bishops to be aware of the modern moral problems of family life; the 2015 Synod is intended to have the Bishops decide a new approach of the Catholic Church on family morals.

A 20-couple-marriage

Multiple wedding at the Vatican 3

20 couples living in sin and giving public scandal surround the Altar of the Confession at St. Peter's Basilica

The first bombastic initiative of Francis was to invite 20 couples from the Diocese of Rome to celebrate a solemn multiple wedding presided over by himself at St. Peter’s Basilica on Sunday, September 14, 2014.

Let me stress that this ceremony was not requested by the couples, who had little relationship among themselves, but directly by the Pope. He commanded his Vatican officials to invite those persons and select each particular case. By setting this out clearly, I am avoiding beforehand the eternal excuse of countless conservatives for anything you say about Bergoglio – “But, poor Pope Francis did not know about it…”

Among these couples selected by Francis were persons in three different types of irregular situations:
  • Couples in which one of the two had a civil divorce;

  • Couples cohabitating for a long period of time;

  • Couples with children out of the wedlock.
All of those persons were married simultaneously by Francis in a solemn Mass at the Vatican. The last such multiple marriage ceremony was in 2000 when John Paul II married eight couples from different parts of the world as part of the Jubilee for Families in the millennium.

Many couples received Communion, but no penance was announced for their public scandals

Many, if not all, of those couples married by Francis received Communion during the ceremony, although no news reports are available on whether they had previously gone to Confession or if any penance was given. It would seem only just to report those penances to the Catholic public, since those couples were giving public scandal by their lifestyles. But nothing was said about whether any repentance or penance was required by Francis to allow these persons to marry and receive Communion.

Bergoglio’s message could not be clearer: He wants Catholic Morals to change in order to no longer consider the three reported situations as sinful. Consequently, persons in these situations should not be removed from the Church’s life or barred from receiving Communion.

In his homily he did not address directly the anomalous situations of those couples. He included them under the generic topic of those “who ‘have become impatient on the way’ and who succumb to the dangerous temptation of discouragement, infidelity, weakness, abandonment... To them too, God the Father gives his Son Jesus, not to condemn them, but to save them. If they entrust themselves to Him, He will bring them healing by the merciful love which pours forth from the Cross, with the strength of His grace that renews and sets married couples and families once again on the right path.” (English original here)

Not a word of condemnation of any of these situations, but only a de facto acceptance for the sake of “merciful love”…

Considered in the context of the approval of free love that characterized the joint weddings, Francis’ words brought to my mind those of Luther: “Be a sinner and sin boldly. But believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly.”

What Francis substantially said to all Catholics was: “Be a sinner and sin boldly. But love and rejoice in Christ even more boldly.”

Another phrase near the end of the homily also caught my attention as an indirect message sent by Francis: “Marriage is a symbol of life, real life: It is not ‘fiction’!”

The immediate context of his words was that a husband and a wife should be willing to forgive one another. So the direct interpretation of the “fiction” is: “Marriage is a symbol of life, real life: it is not a romantic dream.”

However, in its broader context – considering that Bergoglio is setting an unheard-of precedent in more than 2,000 years of marriage tradition in the Church – the real meaning of “fiction” is, I believe, this: “Marriage is a symbol of life, real life: it is not what an abstract Catholic Morals affirms it to be.

morally condemned marriages are now blessed

All types of morally condemned marital situations were accepted and blessed by Francis

Multiple wedding at the Vatican 1
The brides of two of those couples gave statements to the press. By transcribing their words I may help my reader recompose the atmosphere of free love that surrounds Francis’ notion of “real life.”
  • Alessandra Pucci has an eight-year-old son from a previous relationship. She said that she and her husband-to-be considered it “incredible” that they were chosen for the Vatican wedding. Her son Filippo was invited by the organizers to be the ring-bearer and given a seat of honor near his mother.

  • Gabriela Improta, first bride at the top right, has a grown daughter out of the wedlock, and her groom, Guido Tassara, was previously married but had his marriage annulled. The bride said: “We hope that our story gives hope to those who are cohabitating and have given up on marrying before God.” (The Tablet, September 20, 2014, p. 29)
Speeding up annulments

The second papal action took place on September 13, 2014, one day before the multiple marriage ceremony: The Holy See Press Office, according to the Vatican Radio, informed us that Pope Francis had established a new commission to speed up the annulments of marriages. The goal is both to simplify the annulment process and, as the report hypocritically affirms, “to preserve the principle of the indissolubility of marriage.”

Therefore, at the same time Bergoglio opens marriage and Communion for men and women involved in every type of immoral behavior, he also loosens the bonds of marriage as much as he can.

How can one not interpret these two actions as a promotion of free love? How does one not see that it completely destroys the already greatly weakened stability of present day marriage?

Reeling under the shock of these two moral blows by the Pope, the Bishops will start their Extraordinary Synod of October to deal with family issues.