An Inconvenient Document…
Communion for “Divorced-and-Remarried” Possible
[UPDATE: Did Ratzinger retract his essay in 2014? Not Quite — the facts here: Benedict XVI weighs in on Communion Debate]
At a time when everyone is talking about the German apostate “Cardinal” Kasper’s address to the consistory in Rome on February 21, 2014, outlining ways in which he thinks public adulterers can be admitted again to the Novus Ordo “sacraments”, specifically that of “Holy Communion”, we thought it most appropriate to let people in on the fact that in 1972, Fr. Joseph Ratzinger (later “Pope” Benedict XVI) wrote an essay on this topic that was published in a book on holy matrimony and divorce.
The book in question is Ehe und Ehescheidung: Diskussion unter Christen [Marriage and Divorce: A Discussion among Christians], edited by Franz Henrich and Volker Eid, published in Munich in 1972 by Kösel-Verlag.
Ratzinger’s essay is entitled Zur Frage nach der Unauflöslichkeit der Ehe: Bemerkungen zum dogmengeschichtlichen Befund und zu seiner gegenwärtigen Bedeutung [On the Question of the Indissolubility of Marriage: Remarks on the Dogmatic-Historical Facts and their Present-Day Significance] and is printed on pp. 35-56. In fact, Kasper makes references to it in his discourse to the consistory.
In his article, Ratzinger argues for an admittance of public adulterers to Holy Communion and other sacraments under certain limited and restrictive conditions. An English translation of the text has been published by Mr. Joseph Bolin and can be accessed here:
Note of Caution: Catholics are not permitted to read writings by Modernists because
of the danger to the Faith they present; we are merely providing this link to prove the fact that
Fr. Ratzinger supports the idea of allowing non-repentant adulterers to be admitted to Holy Communion
In a nutshell, the Modernist Ratzinger argues that “limited exceptions” to the general prohibition against reception of sacraments by public adulterers can be granted in individual cases (though not as a general norm), under the following conditions:
- The exception cannot “call into question the fundamental form [of the sacrament of matrimony] from which the Church lives” (whatever that means – typical Modernist claptrap)
- The first (and only valid) marriage must have broken up “a long time ago and in a mutually irreparable way”
- The second (and adulterous) union “has proven itself over a longer period as a moral reality [sic] and has been filled with the spirit of the faith [sic], especially in the education of the children (so that the destruction of this second marriage [sic] would destroy a moral greatness [sic] and cause moral harm)”
- This is testified to by the “pastor and church members” but “in a non-judicial way”
Of course, Ratzinger gives specious justifications for his thesis, which he claims to find in Christian tradition. It is not the purpose of this post to provide a theological critique of Ratzinger’s essay, but a few simple observations are in order.
When it comes to the question of second “marriages” after divorce or separation, we need but look at various examples from Church history to remind us of how uncompromising our stance must be. St. John the Baptist was imprisoned for denouncing the illicit union of King Herod, and his imprisonment ultimately led to his cruel death (Mt 14:1-11). The fate of St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher is well-known too: Almost alone among the English in opposing the adultery of King Henry VIII, they were executed and died as martyrs. Practically everyone else in England decided their bodies were more important than their souls, and followed Henry into schism and heresy, which continue to this day.
Our Lord Himself addressed adulterers, quite mercifully and yet without compromise. He bluntly told the Samaritan woman at the well, “He whom thou now hast, is not thy husband” (Jn 4:18); and the woman caught in adultery He admonished: “now sin no more” (Jn 8:11), making the firm resolution to amend her life the condition of His merciful forgiveness.
What a pity that Joseph Ratzinger wasn’t around back then to offer his “pastoral solution.”
As we said in our post on “Cardinal” Walter Kasper’s proposal for admitting public adulterers to the sacraments, the idea of allowing the “divorced-and-remarried” to receive Holy Communion (not that it’s actually valid in the Novus Ordo Church) is also absurd on another level: Anyone in the state of mortal sin (not only those living in adultery) cannot benefit from Holy Communion, which would be necessarily sacrilegious. Any such reception would add the terrible sin of sacrilege to their souls and so put them at an even greater distance from Almighty God, the life of grace, and His mercy.
For those who are living in an adulterous union which they cannot abandon because they have children under their care, the traditional Catholic requirement has always been that they live in celibacy with their “spouse”, as brother and sister. While this can be a very heavy cross to bear, it is a most necessary one, if one wishes to love God and be admitted to an eternity of bliss in Heaven, rather than face the eternal fires of hell (see Lk 14:26-27; 1 Cor 6:9).
Yet it is also important not to despair, for God will surely provide the grace to keep that which He enjoins (cf. Mt 11:30; 19:26; 1 Jn 5:3); and if the sinner is willing to live in celibacy, God lovingly offers the abundant remission of sin in confession, and this makes a worthy reception of the sacraments then possible, sacraments all of us need but especially those who have to bear the heavy cross of living in celibacy, of having the duties of the married state without being allowed the enjoy its privileges. People in such situations who cooperate with God’s grace and live chastely can attain to great sanctity in their heroic observance of all God demands of them; they should not in any way feel as though they were mere “second-class” Catholics.
In his Modernist screed, by contrast, Fr. Ratzinger dismisses the traditional Catholic requirement of celibacy as unrealistic and only for “heroes.” Instead he conveniently mentions situations in which “practically speaking abstinence is not really possible”, as though the requirement to abstain from the sin of adultery were only a theoretical angelic ideal and people practically just couldn’t help but commit it. Ratzinger here sneers at the assistance of God’s grace and also at the heroically sacrificial lives of countless individuals who have lived in celibacy under the most difficult circumstances, out of love for God, their children, and their own souls.
Aside from the theological impossibility of the “solution” proposed by Fr. Ratzinger (and now also by “Cardinal” Kasper, see link below), there is another objection to be made: We all know that even were such a proposal in accord with sound Catholic teaching and right morals, in practice it would open the floodgates and essentially legitimize adultery, that is, divorce and “remarriage.” Things like this always begin with “very strict conditions” that are allowable only in “very limited situations”, etc., but then quickly degenerate into a free-for-all where all these “limited circumstances” and “strict conditions” are relegated to the state of mere theoretical ideals and ignored in practice. Just think of divorce, abortion, and birth control. In Western society, these all began to be allowed in only “very limited cases.” Or think of “Pope” Paul VI’s conditional abrogation of meatless Fridays. Who actually knows that if meat is had on a Friday, Novus Ordo law obliges one to do some other kind of penance (see “Apostolic Constitution” Paenitemini)?
For those in the Novus Ordo Sect who still cannot manage to get an annulment for their marriage, when they’re offered now for a dime a dozen, it looks like they will soon have their “sacramental” free-for-all. And one man will have been very instrumental in bringing it about: Joseph Ratzinger, a.k.a. Benedict XVI, that great “Restorer of Tradition” (wink).