Rorate Caeli

(UPDATED) The Triumph of Ambiguity - The Synod Final Relatio's most controversial passages: 69-71, 75, 84-86 (English translation)

The six most controversial passages in the Final Relatio (so far) are nos. 70-71, 75, and 84-86, which also got the fewest "yes" votes and the most "no" votes in the entire document. Paragraphs 84-86 (on the divorced and remarried) got 187, 178 and 190 "yes" votes and 72, 80 and 64 "no" votes respectively. The minimum number of votes for a passage to be included in the Final Relatio was 177, which means that no. 85 squeaked by by just one vote past the minimum. 

Passage 85 (made up of two paragraphs) is special; it quotes John Paul II's Familiaris Consortio # 84 but omits the part where communion for the "divorced-and-remarried" is forbidden. It also opens a path to doctrinal devolution by speaking of the "orientations of the bishop" with regards to the "divorced and remarried". 

We have updated this post to include translations of all these six, plus no. 69 which provides necessary context for 70-71. Our thanks to blogger Vox Cantoris for his valuable help on par. 69-75. We have highlighted the potential flashpoints in the passages below.

Our initial commentary can be found at the end of this post. Extended commentary on these passages and on the Pope's slashing speech against conservatives -- an obvious sign of frustration and a terrifying glimpse into his theology (since when was it possible to oppose the "letter" and "spirit" of CATHOLIC doctrine, and to defend one but not the other?) will follow on Monday.

 Complex situations
69. The sacrament of marriage as a faithful and indissoluble union between a man and a woman called to accept one another and to welcome life, is a great grace for the human family. The Church has the joy and the duty to announce this grace to every person and in every context. She feels that today, in an even more urgent way, She has the responsibility of making the baptized rediscover how the grace of God works in their lives - even in the most difficult situations - in order to lead them to the fullness of the sacrament. The Synod, while appreciating and encouraging families who honor the beauty of Christian marriage, intends to promote the pastoral discernment of situations in which the reception of this gift has difficulty in being appreciated, or in which it is compromised in various ways. Keeping dialogue open with these faithful [people] in order to enable the maturing of a coherent openness to the Gospel of marriage and the family in its fullness, is a grave responsibility. Pastors should identify the elements that may favor evangelization and the human and spiritual growth of those entrusted to their care by the Lord.

70. The pastoral [care] must propose with clarity the Gospel message and must capture the positive elements present in those situations that do not yet or no longer correspond to it [ie to the Gospel message]. In many countries, a growing number of couples live together without marriage neither canonical not civil. In some countries there is a traditional wedding, agreed upon by the families and often celebrated in different stages. In other countries instead there is an increasing number of those who, after living together for a long time, ask for the celebration of marriage in church. Simple cohabitation is often chosen because of the general mentality contrary to institutions and contrary to firm commitments, but also because there is an expectation of financial security (job and fixed salary). In other countries, finally, de facto unions are becoming more numerous, not only for the rejection of the values ​​of family and marriage, but also due to the fact that marriage is perceived as a luxury [for people in particular] social conditions, so that material misery pushes people to live in de-facto unions. All these situations must be addressed in a constructive manner, trying to transform them into opportunities for a journey of conversion towards the fullness of marriage and the family in the light of the Gospel.

71. The choice of civil marriage or, in several cases, simple cohabitation, is often not motivated by prejudice or resistance against the sacramental union, but from cultural situations or cultural contingents. In many circumstances, the decision to live together is a sign of a relationship that actually wants to navigate towards the prospect of stability. This will, which translates into a lasting bond, reliable and open to life can be considered a commitment on which to base a path to the sacrament of marriage, discovered to be God's plan for [the couple's] lives. The path of growth, which can lead to sacramental marriage, will be encouraged by the recognition of the distinguishing characteristics of a generous and lasting love: the desire to seek the good of others before their own; the experience of forgiveness requested and given; the aspiration to build a family that is not closed in on itself but open to the good of the ecclesial community and of the entire society. Along this route those signs of love that properly correspond to the reflection of God should be valorized into an authentic conjugal project.


75. Particular difficulties are posed by the situations that affect the access to the baptism of people who are in a complex matrimonial situation. These are people who have contracted a stable matrimonial union at a time when at least one of them still did not know the Christian faith. The Bishops are called to exercise, in these cases, a pastoral discernment commensurate with their spiritual good.

Discernment and Integration

84. The baptized who are divorced and civilly remarried are to be more integrated in the Christian communities in the various possible ways, avoiding every occasion of scandal.
The logic of integration is the key to their pastoral accompaniment, so that they be aware not only that they belong to the Body of Christ, that is the Church, but that they may have a joyful and fruitful experience. They are baptized, they are brothers and sisters, the Holy Spirit pours gifts and charisms in them for the good of all. Their participation can be expressed in various ecclesial services: it is therefore necessary to discern which of the different forms of exclusion currently practiced in a liturgical, educational, pastoral, and institutional role that can be overcome. They should not only not feel excommunicated, but they should live and mature as living members of the Church, feeling her as a mother that welcomes them always, takes care of them affectionately, and encourages them on the path of life and Gospel. This integration is necessary for the Christian care and education of their children, who must be considered what is most important. For the Christian community, taking care of these persons is not a weakening of their own faith and testimony regarding matrimonial indissolubility: rather, the Church expresses precisely in this care her charity.

85. Saint John Paul II offered an all-encompassing criterion, that remains the basis for valuation of these situations: "Pastors must know that, for the sake of truth, they are obliged to exercise careful discernment of situations. There is in fact a difference between those who have sincerely tried to save their first marriage and have been unjustly abandoned, and those who through their own grave fault have destroyed a canonically valid marriage. Finally, there are those who have entered into a second union for the sake of the children's upbringing, and who are sometimes subjectively certain in conscience that their previous and irreparably destroyed marriage had never been valid." (FC, 84) It is therefore a duty of the priests to accompany the interested parties on the path of discernment according to the teaching of the Church and the orientations of the Bishop. In this process, it will be useful to make an examination of conscience, by way of moments of reflection and repentance. Remarried divorcees should ask themselves how they behaved themselves when their conjugal union entered in crisis; if there were attempts at reconciliation; what is the situation of the abandoned partner ["partner" in the original Italian]; what consequences the new relationship has on the rest of the family and in the community of the faithful; what example does it offer to young people who are to prepare themselves to matrimony. A sincere reflection may reinforce trust in the mercy of God that is not denied to anyone.

Additionally, it cannot be denied that in some circumstances, "the imputability and the responsibility for an action can be diminished or annulled (CIC, 1735) due to various conditioners. Consequently, the judgment on an objective situation should lead to the judgment on a 'subjective imputability'" (Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, Declaration of June 24, 2000, 2a). In determined circumstances, the persons find great difficulty with acting in a different way. Therefore, while holding up a general rule, it is necessary to recognize that the responsibility regarding specific actions or decisions is not the same in every case. Pastoral discernment, while taking into account the rightly formed conscience of persons, should take these situations into account. Also the consequences of the accomplished acts are not necessarily the same in every case.

86. The path of accompaniment and discernment orients these faithful to becoming conscious of their situation before God. The conversation with the priest, in internal forum, concurs to the formation of a correct judgment on what prevents the possibility of fuller participation in the life of the Church and on the steps that may favor it and make it grow. Considering that in the same law there is no graduality (cf. FC, 34), this discernment must never disregard the demands of truth and charity of the Gospel proposed by the Church. In order for this to happen, the necessary conditions of humility, reserve, love for the Church and to her teaching, in the sincere search for the will of God and for the desire to reach a more perfect answer to the latter, are to be guaranteed.

[Rorate translation]

Our note

Christianity has always been about the Presence and Word of the Lord, not about finding legal exceptions and accommodations not to be holy. It is post-Second Temple Judaism, and Islam, that have always been strictly legal religions. The Pharisees (the direct ancestors of the dominant strain of post-Second Temple Judaism) who tried so much to discredit Our Lord did precisely such work -- which is why it is so ironic that Pope Francis uses so much the word "pharisee" as a criticism, when his use of mercy obviously veils the use of legal details, exceptions, as subterfuges to work around the clear words of the Lord. It happened in the sorry motu proprio on the nullity of marriage, weakening indissolubility. Now, with this ambiguous statement allowing for possibility of sacrilege, which was only approved because of his personal pressure by the lowest possible votes that came from his personal delegates -- and marriage, the most fruitful (literally) of Sacraments, from which new children of Christians come into material life in order to replenish the Church and heaven, is once again weakened. It is all a sorry state of affairs. Centuries will pass before this mess is undone. God help us.