What’s Wrong with the World

The men signed of the cross of Christ go gaily in the dark.

About

What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

I'm Catholic, you're Catholic

Is there any limit to which the use of the word ‘Catholic’ with a capital C, used as either adjective or noun, might be put in the attempt to convey respectability upon its bearer? Can just any one person or organization haul it into service? With a little tweaking, I can fit certain disparate Catholics, like Culbreath and Liccione, into my understanding of the word. (Relax guys, just kidding. Probably.) But can Catholics for a Free Choice and Catholics United for the Faith both fairly stake a claim? ZippyCatholic and Vox Nova? (Not kidding). Is Richard McBrien really a continuation of the same theology of the same Church to which Cardinal Manning won so many converts, while both men are tagged with the same religious label? Is the Catholicism of Henry Hyde (rip) and that of John Kerry one and the same thing? If so, why did their respective consciences dictate such different actions in the political sphere regarding the defense of the unborn, such that one man's actions amounted to no defense at all?

I ask because my inbox has been polluted by unsolicited emails from an organization called Catholics for Equality. (How did they find me? Is there some kind of “He’s Catholic” list out there?) The first email urged me to “Join the Fight to Repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell!” Why? Because they’re a “newly founded Catholic group dedicated to amplifying the voices of Catholics who support fair laws for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.” (What is a transgendered person? Someone who considers him/her self to be both male and female in equal persuasion?)

COE says that “78% of all Americans are for the repeal of ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell’. The most recent survey of Catholics in 2006 showed that 66% of Catholics favored gays and lesbians serving in the military - a number we believe is significantly higher now in 2010." I don’t know how they came by the numbers. I vaguely remember reference to a CNN poll. And they are quite “open” about what “equality” means. They want homosexuals, and victims of the other aforementioned confusions, to be able to announce their proclivity, enlist in the service, and then stride the barracks and frequent the showers alongside G I Joe and Jane. And they, COE, are eager to be of personal assistance. As they wrote to Archbishop Broglio (Archbishop for Military Sevices in the United States):

We want them to have the same freedom to be themselves, and to serve their country, as should all Americans. While we understand that, as a consecrated bishop, you uphold Catholic doctrine, you also have a responsibility as a chaplain to soldiers seeking your pastoral guidance…We hope that DADT will be repealed in the next few weeks and we are concerned about how you and your fellow military chaplains will fulfill the new public policy of our country. We pray that you will care for gays and lesbians as you would any other person in the military. We are ready to help you and Catholic chaplains in the transition to full acceptance of gays and lesbians in the military and respectfully request a meeting with you to discuss up-to-date information on gay and lesbian people and to explore ways we might be of assistance in this upcoming transition. The Catholic Church has a great opportunity to be at the forefront of this change, to show our faith to be compassionate, and to be an enlightened partner in the American pluralistic military and society.

There was other encouragement from Prominent Personages, like “former State Legislator and Catholics for Equality Board Member Patsy Trujillo,” who hasn’t quite finished her ESL classes: “...we trust our Catholic Senators will vote in their conscience and the will of the pro-equality Catholics in their state, and not the misinformed dictates of Rome” – this, even as she attends the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle.

Well, the vote didn’t turn out quite as they’d hoped. The Senate’s Catholic members voted along party lines, 16 in favor of repeal, 8 against. So I guess DADT is still in place. That’s what their email says, anyway. I’m not expecting it to last, though.

I did a little clicking around. COE is interested in more than one issue – two, to be exact. Immigration reform and LGBT mainstreaming, with a lopsided emphasis on LGBT. You can find them under the Issues tab. Under the About tab you find their leadership and staff. One member of the Founding Board is named Charles Martel. (Stop it, you’re killing me.) The Hammer is proprietor of a site called Catholics for Marriage Equality. The other members are comprised of one priest, several lay people, and one ex-priest. The lay people are all matriculators at parishes with names like Sacred Heart, St. Dominic’s, and Immaculate Conception. The Founding Board Member who got my attention, though, was the ex-priest, Tony Adams, whose bio says that he “is an ordained Roman Catholic priest who left the active ministry many years ago. He resides in Manhattan where he is the editor of Queer New York and in Fort Lauderdale where he is a columnist with South Florida Gay News. He is also on the editorial board of The Bilerico Project, where he writes a weekly advice column. His personal writing about Catholicism is found on Perge Modo. He is married to his partner of 26 years.”

At Perge Modo, you can scroll down to find a Youtube trailer of a movie called Bear City, which appears to be an attempt at making the homosexual lifestyle amusing, and in which our defrocked priest makes a cameo appearance. People of tender sensibilities, like Lydia and Jeff, are advised (no, commanded) not to click on it. Father Tony, as he still calls himself on occasion, works a number of blogs, one entitled “Stuff Gay Boyz Like.” Since I already know the answer, I didn’t click on it (and if there’s something I don’t know, I don’t want to know it). On Father Tony’s blogroll is a link to Father Geoff Farrow. Father Geoff’s profile page tells us that

On October 5th of 2008, Fr. Geoff delivered a statement [for the full text, read the first post "How it all began"] at the end of the 11 AM Mass at the Newman Center at CSUF. In this statement, Fr. Geoff explained that he could not comply with a directive from his bishop to direct parishioners to vote “yes” on Proposition 8. This Proposition would remove the right of same sex couples to enter into civil marriage in the state of California. Later that week, Fr. Geoff was removed as pastor of St. Paul’s by his bishop and suspended as a priest. He worked throughout the month of October with the “No on Prop. 8” campaign. Currently Fr. Geoff is engaged in public speaking to advance the cause of LGBT rights.

Well, you get the picture. That’s all the clicking I had energy for. You can see how easily exhausting it becomes, what with one link leading to another, the next more depressing than the former, and all of it a tangled mess, a subversive chaos. It is Christian morality as it would look if Beelzebub ran Ratzinger’s old Office. I just want the word ‘Catholic’ back before it goes the way of ‘gay,’ if it hasn’t already.

Comments (100)

I suspect someone has indeed gone around to all the Catholic blogs and rounded up e-mails for their mailing lists. I got the same unsolicited e-mail, as did several other bloggers.

Watch, a future press release will cite the size of this mailing list as a sign of strength.

On the plus side, Archbishop Broglio has said Catholics for Equality is not legitimately Catholic. There is still some "quality control."

Trujillo's comments about the "dictates of Rome" leapt out at me. It's a classic Protestant English polemical phrase, so she has been taking English lessons from somewhere.

So long as they repent on their deathbed (and ideally long before), I think it's quite fine for impenitent and wayward Catholics to call themselves Catholic. It's the habit of organizing to try to appropriate the name, to confuse others and to suppress the genuine article which especially irritates.

Did you spot their website's "Report Anti-Equality" section? Perhaps they would appreciate some self-reporting. They might even pretend to absolve us!

To be fully Catholic, one must Be Baptised and maintain the Bonds of Unity in Worship, Doctrine, and Authority.

It helps to think of The Church as not only The Ark of Salvation but as a Hospital where there are many patients suffering various maladies.

Most of the individuals Mr. Luse named belong in the psych unit.

Baptism cannot be taken away from them. Those who complain that they remain Catholic are correct.

However, they are not completely accurate. They should say that they are "Catholics who are not in full communion with the Catholic Church." That might be a mouthful for them. There is a more succinct method for those whose want to insist that they remain Catholic. They are Catholic heretics. "Heretic" should make a comeback. It's perfectly good word for cafeteria Catholics who insist on picking and choosing which teaching on faith and morals they give assent to.

St Thomas has nice description of heretic which is a worthwhile read:


The word heresy as stated in the first objection denotes a choosing. Now choice as stated above (I-II, 13, 3) is about things directed to the end, the end being presupposed. Now, in matters of faith, the will assents to some truth, as to its proper good, as was shown above (Question 4, Article 3): wherefore that which is the chief truth, has the character of last end, while those which are secondary truths, have the character of being directed to the end.

[...]

Accordingly there are two ways in which a man may deviate from the rectitude of the Christian faith. First, because he is unwilling to assent to Christ: and such a man has an evil will, so to say, in respect of the very end. This belongs to the species of unbelief in pagans and Jews. Secondly, because, though he intends to assent to Christ, yet he fails in his choice of those things wherein he assents to Christ, because he chooses not what Christ really taught, but the suggestions of his own mind.

Therefore heresy is a species of unbelief, belonging to those who profess the Christian faith, but corrupt its dogmas.


I don't know if this counts as thread-jacking, so ignore it if it does:

Over the years I've occasionally noticed what seems to me to be a problem with the Catholic view that "once a Catholic, always a Catholic"--It makes people careless about marriage. I remember one situation in which friend A was planning to marry an atheist. I was concerned about this and discussed it with mutual friend B. B was also very concerned until I happened to mention that the atheist had been baptized and raised Catholic until he lost his faith at some point. (I forget when.) At which point friend B, while still concerned, seemed noticeably less concerned. Moreover, one defense given for marrying the atheist was that Catholics are permitted to marry non-Catholics so long as certain rules are followed (e.g., an agreement that any children can be raised Catholic). This seemed to me like making a highly dangerous parallel between marrying a _non-Catholic_ Christian--e.g., a Protestant--and marrying an _outright atheist_. Mind you, I can certainly imagine plenty of problems and tensions in Catholic-Protestant marriages, and I'm not saying I would recommend one, but marrying an atheist should be a much bigger problem, regardless of his background.

The question what constitutes membership in the Catholic Church vexes some people across the theological spectrum. That's understandable but unnecessary. Two equal and opposite errors should be avoided: what I call "binarism," and what is generally called "universalism."

Binarism holds that people are either all the way in the Church or all the way out. A surprising number of people, Catholic and non-Catholic, are binarists. Many interpret the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus (EENS) to mean that only those who are, or become, explicitly Catholic can be saved. The best-known in the Catholic Church are traditionalists who follow the ecclesiology of the Jesuit Fr. Feeney (d. 1978) of Boston, excommunicated by Cardinal Cushing and condemned by the Holy Office in 1948, though the spiritual community Feeney founded is still with us. The Feeneyite brand of binarism is not heretical in itself; materially, it's pretty much the view that had prevailed in the Latin Church between the 5th and the 18th centuries. But Vatican II asserted, after several centuries of doctrinal development on the matter, that baptized non-Catholics are, as such, in "imperfect communion" with the Church. That runs counter to binarism, for it follows that some people are partially "in" and thus not all the way "out." The Catholic hierarchy today, from the Pope on down, generally follows Vatican II in holding that people who, through no fault of their own, do not recognize the truth of distinctively Catholic doctrine can be saved without becoming explicitly Catholic--with the question of "fault" being left to God alone. I myself adhere to the Vatican II teaching.

Some binarists, however, can be found on the "progressive" end of the spectrum. Yet instead of agreeing with the Feeneyites that only the explicitly Catholic can be saved, they hold that most people are fully part of the "Catholic" Church--i.e., the "universal" People of God--just by responding positively to whatever of God can be found outside the formal, visible Catholic Church. On this view, such people are fully part of something called "the Church" in the only sense that really matters. And so binarism morphs into its opposite, universalism. All one must do to be fully part of the Church, and thus to be saved, is avoid the major politically-incorrect sins. The Church becomes indistinguishable from the world, and damnation recedes into a merely abstract possibility, mostly for the enemies of the Left. That makes a mockery of evangelization and mission. For recent magisterial responses to universalism, see this and this Vatican document.

The most controversial case within today's Catholic Church, though, concerns dissenting Catholics themselves, not non-Catholic Christians or non-Christians. Now it must be said that Catholics who voluntarily reject even one irreformable teaching of the Church are in partial but not full communion with the Church. Yet, for two reasons, there remains much confusion on this score.

First, Catholic prelates rarely discipline Catholics fitting the above description. Such people are what we might well call "materially heretical." Most material heretics are not formal heretics because they haven't been formally charged with or excommunicated for heresy. There are pastoral reasons for that, and in my opinion, those reasons are often sound. Yet in today's atmosphere, it encourages universalism because it leads many to believe that it doesn't really matter what one believes, so long as one isn't a mass murderer or child molester.

The other reason for confusion is a widespread but mistaken interpretation of the Church's teaching on conscience. The Church teaches that people are morally obligated to follow their consciences even when their consciences are objectively mistaken. Even Thomas Aquinas said as much. This is not the place to go into the reasons behind that teaching; suffice it to say that the teaching is philosophically unavoidable. But many Catholics take that as license to believe whatever they please. It isn't. For it is possible not only for consciences to be malformed [insert standard Nazi example], but for a Catholic's conscience to be culpably malformed by her voluntary refusal to accept irreformable Church doctrines that one happens to dislike. Although the question of culpability can, again, only be answered with certainty by God in any individual case, there can be little doubt that some Catholic consciences today are culpably malformed.

The upshot? Faith is a journey. Some are going forward, others backward. For some, the journey is at a stage that leaves them in partial but not full communion with the Church. Some of those are on the way to being fully "in" the Church; others, on the way to being fully "out."

I wonder about this type of thing too, Lydia. I am an Orthodox but I have many Catholic friends. Occasionally I hear something that, roughly condensed, sounds like, "It's better to be a nominal Catholic than a pious Orthodox." A caveat is generally made at this point, to the effect that while that may be true "objectively" we have no way to judge "subjectively," and that in fact, a given pious Christian of another faith tradition may be closer subjectively to the kingdom of heaven, but objectively it's not the case.

I must say the whole thing rather confuses me.

It seems to me that one can, consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church, hold that homosexual sex is immoral but still hold that homosexuals should be allowed to serve openly in the military. What am I missing?

This seemed to me like making a highly dangerous parallel between marrying a _non-Catholic_ Christian--e.g., a Protestant--and marrying an _outright atheist_. Mind you, I can certainly imagine plenty of problems and tensions in Catholic-Protestant marriages, and I'm not saying I would recommend one, but marrying an atheist should be a much bigger problem, regardless of his background.

This is actually the main attack I get most of the time from my family whenever I defend Catholicism as a legitimate branch of Christianity. To them, the fact that Catholics would rather be unequally yoked than marry a believer from another tradition is the final nail in the coffin about where the Catholic Church really stands on the centrality of Christ to its faith.

Occasionally I hear something that, roughly condensed, sounds like, "It's better to be a nominal Catholic than a pious Orthodox."

Remind you of a conversation John the Baptist had with the Jews about how effective being blood related to Abraham would be toward their salvation? Or a scene involving Jesus and a centurion?

The question what constitutes membership in the Catholic Church vexes some people across the theological spectrum. That's understandable but unnecessary. Two equal and opposite errors should be avoided: what I call "binarism," and what is generally called "universalism."

Binarism holds that people are either all the way in the Church or all the way out. A surprising number of people, Catholic and non-Catholic, are binarists. Many interpret the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus (EENS) to mean that only those who are, or become, explicitly Catholic can be saved. The best-known in the Catholic Church are traditionalists who follow the ecclesiology of the Jesuit Fr. Feeney (d. 1978) of Boston, excommunicated by Cardinal Cushing and condemned by the Holy Office in 1948, though the spiritual community Feeney founded is still with us. The Feeneyite brand of binarism is not heretical in itself; materially, it's pretty much the view that had prevailed in the Latin Church between the 5th and the 18th centuries. But Vatican II asserted, after several centuries of doctrinal development on the matter, that baptized non-Catholics are, as such, in "imperfect communion" with the Church. That runs counter to binarism, for it follows that some people are partially "in" and thus not all the way "out." The Catholic hierarchy today, from the Pope on down, generally follows Vatican II in holding that people who, through no fault of their own, do not recognize the truth of distinctively Catholic doctrine can be saved without becoming explicitly Catholic--with the question of "fault" being left to God alone. I myself adhere to the Vatican II teaching.

Some binarists, however, can be found on the "progressive" end of the spectrum. Yet instead of agreeing with the Feeneyites that only the explicitly Catholic can be saved, they hold that most people are fully part of the "Catholic" Church--i.e., the "universal" People of God--just by responding positively to whatever of God can be found outside the formal, visible Catholic Church. On this view, such people are fully part of something called "the Church" in the only sense that really matters. And so binarism morphs into its opposite, universalism. All one must do to be fully part of the Church, and thus to be saved, is avoid the major politically-incorrect sins. The Church becomes indistinguishable from the world, and damnation recedes into a merely abstract possibility, mostly for the enemies of the Left. That makes a mockery of evangelization and mission. For recent magisterial responses to universalism, see this and this Vatican document.

The most controversial case within today's Catholic Church, though, concerns dissenting Catholics themselves, not non-Catholic Christians or non-Christians. Now it must be said that Catholics who voluntarily reject even one irreformable teaching of the Church are in partial but not full communion with the Church. Yet, for two reasons, there remains much confusion on this score.

First, Catholic prelates rarely discipline Catholics fitting the above description. Such people are what we might well call "materially heretical." Thus most material heretics are not formal heretics, because they haven't been formally charged with or excommunicated for heresy. There are pastoral reasons for that, and in my opinion, those reasons are often sound. Yet in today's atmosphere, it encourages universalism because it leads many to believe that it doesn't really matter what one believes, so long as one isn't a mass murderer or child molester.

The other reason for confusion is a widespread but mistaken interpretation of the Church's teaching on conscience. The Church teaches that people are morally obligated to follow their consciences, even when their consciences are objectively mistaken. Even Thomas Aquinas said as much. This is not the place to go into the reasons behind that teaching; suffice it to say that the teaching is philosophically unavoidable. But many Catholics take that as license to believe whatever they please. It isn't. For it is possible not only for Catholic consciences to be malformed [insert standard Nazi example], but for consciences to be culpably malformed by a voluntary refusal to accept irreformable Church doctrines that one happens to dislike. Although the question of culpability can, again, only be answered with certainty by God in any individual case, there can be little doubt that some Catholic consciences today are culpably malformed.

The upshot? Faith is a journey. Some are going forward, others backward. For some, the journey is at a stage that leaves them in partial but not full communion with the Church. Some of those are on the way to being fully "in" the Church; others, on the way to being fully "out."

Catholics are hard to pin down politically because they are so diverse ethnically. My informal poll says that most would support some kind of nude negro law. This was especially true among mexicans.

the fact that Catholics would rather be unequally yoked than marry a believer from another tradition is the final nail in the coffin about where the Catholic Church really stands on the centrality of Christ to its faith.

Mike, are you saying that Catholics would rather marry agnostics or atheists than Protestants or Orthodox? That would really surprise me.

It seems to me that one can, consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church, hold that homosexual sex is immoral but still hold that homosexuals should be allowed to serve openly in the military. What am I missing?

Let’s put it this way, Bobcat: anyone who has enough sense to realize that homosexuality is immoral will probably not be blind to how insane it would be to allow them to serve in the military.


Paul, I'm afraid that there really are Catholics who think that way, especially if the agnostic or atheist was a Catholic as a child, which on the "once Catholic, always Catholic" interpretation supposedly makes him still a Catholic today, even if he is an active and loud-voiced member of some atheist society! I even had one Catholic friend defend something like this approach on the grounds of an express rejection of what he called "a belief in mere Christianity." See? If you don't believe in mere Christianity but you do believe that the atheist's infant baptism and youthful confirmation in the Catholic Church are the important thing, then the atheist is "closer" than a devout, self-consciously Protestant Christian who has never had those sacraments.

Of course, Bill's post was about people who are _still_ self-styled Catholics but are obviously heretics. If I were Catholic, I'd definitely be calling for church discipline in those cases.

As a lifelong Catholic, I don't know many Catholics who think it would be better ceteris paribus to marry an atheist--ex-Catholic or otherwise--than a devout Protestant. When I worked for the Church, in fact, I knew a lot of parishioners who were married to Protestants but only one or two who were married to atheists.

Of course I've also known some atheists who are markedly less anti-Catholic than some Protestants. I'd rather marry such an atheist than marry the sort of Protestant who calls Catholics "Romanists" and regards them as pagan idolaters.


Mike, are you saying that Catholics would rather marry agnostics or atheists than Protestants or Orthodox? That would really surprise me.

I am saying that I have been told by former practicing Catholics who were highly educated in Catholic doctrine that the Catholic Church is very unwelcoming to intermarriage with Protestants, at the very least, but ok with at least intermarriage with Jews. I never said the specific claim about atheists and agnostics, just the general opposition to intermarriage with different Christian paths.

If you don't believe in mere Christianity but you do believe that the atheist's infant baptism and youthful confirmation in the Catholic Church are the important thing, then the atheist is "closer" than a devout, self-consciously Protestant Christian who has never had those sacraments.

Which is why many Protestants firmly believe that Catholicism is a works-based religion that puts Christ on the periphery. The religion practiced by quite a few Catholics places no particular importance on actual submission to Christ rather than rituals like "f#$% and drink yourself silly and then say a few Hail Marys."

Given that and the pederast and homosexual scandals rocking the RCC, it's very difficult for a conservative Protestant to not lose face while defending traditional Catholicism as a legitimate branch of the universal body of Christ.

I'd rather marry such an atheist than marry the sort of Protestant who calls Catholics "Romanists" and regards them as pagan idolaters.

Really? They sound to me like incommensurable problems, though neither of them would make for a happy, God-honoring marriage!

But I think your saying that is in itself an interesting confirmation of the point I brought up.

Of course I've also known some atheists who are markedly less anti-Catholic than some Protestants. I'd rather marry such an atheist than marry the sort of Protestant who calls Catholics "Romanists" and regards them as pagan idolaters.

Well, the RCC version of Intercession of the Saints kinda makes itself a bullseye for such people.

If it's any consolation, such Protestants tend to think the rest of the world outside their immediate church needs conversion.

For the record, Lydia and Mike T, I'd much rather marry a Catholic than a non-Catholic. As for choice of non-Catholics--if that is the choice--where a person is headed is much more important than where they are, whether we're talking atheists, Jews, or non-Catholic Christians. I'd have to know where the person is on the journey of faith. The most important thing I want to know about any woman I date--after the obvious stuff like looks, brains, and sense of humor--is how responsive she is to grace. Formal religious affiliation, or lack thereof, doesn't tell me that.

I am saying that I have been told by former practicing Catholics who were highly educated in Catholic doctrine that the Catholic Church is very unwelcoming to intermarriage with Protestants, at the very least, but ok with at least intermarriage with Jews.

That's just ridiculous. A marriage between a Catholic and an un-baptized person is not a sacramental marriage. It might be a valid marriage, and the bishop may give a dispensation for it, but it's not a sacrament and therefore is not to be preferred, all things being equal.

Mind you, I can certainly imagine plenty of problems and tensions in Catholic-Protestant marriages, and I'm not saying I would recommend one, but marrying an atheist should be a much bigger problem, regardless of his background.

This all seems very hypothetical to me. Would an atheist willingly submit to the Catholic rite of matrimony? If so, he's a very dishonest atheist and that's a problem right out of the gate. Grounds for future annulment, most likely. What priest would marry a person who's vows he knew to be insincere? (I know, plenty, unfortunately...)

Second, if the marriage took place outside of the church in order to avoid the obvious integrity problem, then it would not be a valid marriage precisely because the atheist is baptized and was raised a Catholic. All Catholics who marry are obligated to marry in the Church, no exceptions.

"it's very difficult for a conservative Protestant to not lose face while defending traditional Catholicism as a legitimate branch of the universal body of Christ."

Well, the problem there is not with Catholicism but with the 'branch theory,' but that's another discussion.

Not hypothetical, Jeff. It's a real case. The marriage took place in the Catholic church, after going through Catholic pre-marriage classes, while the atheist ex-Catholic remained an atheist ex-Catholic. Whether that's grounds for annulment by itself I don't claim to know. I assume the idea is that he meant his vows _to his wife_ and married in a church ceremony after going through those classes, etc., to please her.

This all seems very hypothetical to me. Would an atheist willingly submit to the Catholic rite of matrimony? If so, he's a very dishonest atheist and that's a problem right out of the gate. Grounds for future annulment, most likely.

Not necessarily. If an atheist promises to govern his or her behavior according to it and is told what that entails, then they can make an informed judgment about it.

The real question for the priest should be why a Catholic with honest intentions would marry a non-Catholic. I've know a Catholic or two that married a non-Catholic and then went crawling back to the RCC for an annulment after they FUBAR'd their marriage so they could have a free do-over.

That's part of the reason why some of the more conservative Protestant denominations do not believe in remarriage after divorce, period. They regard such marriages as an act of rebellion, the consequence of which is that the Christian cannot remarry even if they repent. It is not about mercy, but about responsibility.

Well, the problem there is not with Catholicism but with the 'branch theory,' but that's another discussion.

Ok, then I'll rephrase that to be more precise. It's hard to get conservative Protestants to acknowledge Catholics as Christians for those reasons.

The marriage took place in the Catholic church, after going through Catholic pre-marriage classes, while the atheist ex-Catholic remained an atheist ex-Catholic. Whether that's grounds for annulment by itself I don't claim to know. I assume the idea is that he meant his vows _to his wife_ and married in a church ceremony after going through those classes, etc., to please her.

A few things:

Canon Law defines a vow as [Can. 1191 §1]:

A vow, that is, a deliberate and free promise made to God about a possible and better good, must be fulfilled by reason of the virtue of religion.

Where there is no belief in God, there can be no vow. There may be a promise in the form of a vow, but it is not, strictly speaking, a vow. For an atheist to make a vow in a marriage ceremony while not believing in God is a form of sacrilege of the Holy Name.

That being said, two atheists can contract a natural marriage, although not in the form of a religious ceremony that makes God a witness. It is, likewise, impossible to see how a Catholic marrying an atheist could be a sacramental union, even if both parties have been baptized, because, although one gives consent to the spouse, that person does not give consent to God.

The real killer, however, is:

Can. 1071 §1. Except in a case of necessity, a person is not to assist without the permission of the local ordinary at:

4/ a marriage of a person who has notoriously rejected the Catholic faith;

Did the parties get the permission of the local Ordinary? A Catholic-turned-atheist has rejected the Catholic faith and maintaining such a rejection at a public ceremony may be enough to scandalize (if it is known) and, thus, render the rejection notorious.

Did the priest know the man was an atheist? I would be very surprised if the priest would have allowed the marriage to go forward in a Church if he knew.

In fact, I would say there was no marriage, but a sacrilege.

As for the group, Catholics for Equality, I say, excommunicate them all. Let them plead to return to the Church. We have no need for people who think the Church is a mere democracy.

I know I sound a bit rough in my suggestions, but if more people took their faith objectively and seriously, instead of merely as an extension of themselves, we would not be in the mess we are, today.

The Chicken

Did the priest know the man was an atheist? I would be very surprised if the priest would have allowed the marriage to go forward in a Church if he knew.

Yep. Quote (as near as I remember being told it) from the priest during premarital counseling, "Well you know, X, the way we look at it, _we_ still think you're one of _us_."

I'm not sure about the rules myself but I remember reading about Bernard Williams the Nietzschean moral philosopher who's first wife was a Catholic (he had an affair with another women). From an article on him it says:

After the divorce in 1974, Bernard married Patricia, but Shirley Williams had to wait for the Catholic church to annul the marriage before she could remarry. During the wait, Bernard discussed philosophical issues to do with the annulment with Catholic theologians. The issue turned on his intentions when he and Shirley got married. While Shirley was (and is) a devout Catholic and so took the marriage as a commitment for eternity, Bernard, an atheist, had not done so when he made the wedding vows. Shirley says: "The Church and Bernard had a wonderful time debating all this. The theologians were so thrilled to be discussing it with a leading philosopher."

Although this is mainly about after the marriage ended, it does suggest that the church may have knew he was an atheist and didn't take the vows seriously when they got married and that he may even have discussed it with him.

Also the Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Nick Clegg is a atheist who is married to a Catholic.

It seems to me that one can, consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church, hold that homosexual sex is immoral but still hold that homosexuals should be allowed to serve openly in the military. What am I missing?

Bobcat, George R's response to you was, on a practical level, correct. On another level, the word "openly" modestly disguises what is actually being demanded: approval of their sexual behavior. If not, there is no reason to use it. You will search COE's website in vain for any parallel demand that their serving in the military be accompanied by a pledge to be chaste during their course of service. They (COE) are connected, furthermore, to the Catholics for Equality in Marriage site, which desires of Catholics and their Church that approval be given to civil (not sacramental) marriages, which of course the Church cannot do.

I thank Kevin Jones for informing us that Archbishop Broglio has pronounced these groups non-Catholic.

And Mike Liccione for the trouble he took with that long, informative comment.

I should add that the discontent that gave rise to the post was the fairly common phenomenon of running into "Catholics" who say they're, e.g. pro-choice, or pro-gay marriage, in which light I consider the label fraudulent.

Re Lydia's threadjack:

Over the years I've occasionally noticed what seems to me to be a problem with the Catholic view that "once a Catholic, always a Catholic"--It makes people careless about marriage.

Yes it can. But as far as I know "once a Catholic, always a Catholic" is not in the Catechism. And if that priest said "Well you know, X, the way we look at it, _we_ still think you're one of _us_," well, the rest of "us" are not accountable for idiot priests. Most Catholics of my acquaintance who married non-Caths went with a Christian of some persuasion. If I were the man then that I am now, that's the way I'd go too. The problem is, you never know with whom you'll fall in love, and young people are notoriously short-sighted.

The scenario interests me because it approximates my marriage. Though baptized Anglican, I was an atheist. The Masked Chicken says, "Where there is no belief in God, there can be no vow." Does he mean this? Because I'm prepared to dispute it. I made my wife a promise, from me to her, I meant it, and I have kept it. I declared this determination to the presiding priest, he married us, and no one in officialdom has informed me that my marriage is invalid. Is that what Chicken is saying it is? Didn't St. Paul tolerate mixed marriages, in which the believing spouse sanctified the unbelieving?

Did my wife take a risk? Sure. But today, everybody's a risk. Take a look at the divorce figures for "devout" Catholics. Lower than the general population, but still disheartening.

On Bobcat's question, there's another point: As I understand it, the Vatican has now officially encouraged some form of discrimination against those of homosexual orientation in the priesthood. It's going to be very hard to find a principle according to which discrimination is unjust in the military but legitimate in the priesthood. If anything, there's even more that can be said about the military. For example, there's the close quarters, the showering and bunking together, etc., in which people have a legitimate interest in not being in those non-private physical situations with people who desire them sexually. Some priests might live in communities with little or no physical privacy, but many don't, so that argument can't be made across the board about the priesthood, and it is clearly not the reason for the Church's position. And as Bill pointed out, there's no vow of celibacy in the military, but of course there is in the priesthood, so the new guidelines clearly concern the _orientation_ of those who present themselves for the priesthood.

Anybody who gets agitated and in turn engages in political advocacy for homosexuals in the military is just _not_ going to be upholding the Catholic Church's position on homosexuality.

I suppose that this may seem like a desperate attempt to connect my threadjack to the main post, but I think there is a common theme. To put it as starkly as possible, if even conservative Catholics can (and I can attest that they can and sometimes do) regard an ex-Catholic atheist as "Catholic" on sacramental grounds, it isn't perhaps so surprising that priests and bishops can justify giving a pass to people like the "marriage equality" folks, keep giving them communion, keep letting them use the name of "Catholic" for their own purposes. It seems like the common thread is a de-emphasis of _belief_. It's not what you _believe now_ that counts in making you Catholic or not Catholic, both groups seem to be saying. It's something else.

It's not what you _believe now_ that counts in making you Catholic or not Catholic, both groups seem to be saying. It's something else.

And that is a problem. For the sake of argument (I'm a Protestant), let's suppose the Roman Catholic Church is the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church it claims to be (sorry if I got the title wrong). What does it say to those it should be trying to bring back into the fold, such as conservative Protestants and Orthodox, when they see ex-Catholics treated more like prodigal sons by the Roman Catholic Church than fellow Christians? If a pious Baptist or Pentacostal is treated the same or worse, it is offensive in a way that will basically guarantee that they will reject Catholicism outright since no true Christian would treat a fellow Christian like a complete outsider (which is what an atheist is).

Bill,

I had a clarifying comment that seems to have been swallowed up in the great void after I pressed send.

Typing on a Kindle so I will condense. As I understand it:
1. A vow is made to God; a promise may be made to either God or a person.
2. When the atheist reverts, the promise can be repeated as a vow.
3. The man never formally defected, so, under current regs, he was still a Catholic, but in mortal sin even if he chose to call himself an atheist.

The Chicken

Of course, I am not a Canon Lawyer and my reading of the law may be wrong. Consult your local moral theologian. Of course, a wife may sanctify her husband. I was responding to the use of the word, vow, since I can't see how an atheist can make a vow. They can make a *promise* which they may faithfully keep for life. A vow is made to God, even if it includes another person as the object.

The Chicken

Yet another illustration why I should keep my nose out of other people's business.

The Chicken

There's another layer on the onion:
atheist, or agnostic?

One, there is no God; the other is unsure.

I've met very, very few atheists-- most are agnostic as soon as you talk about what they believe. Rather ironically, most I know are basically the same or more moral than the average 'Christian, I guess' person, but have an edge of honesty or something where they can't claim something they won't practice. (with varying degrees of perfection)

It's not what you _believe now_ that counts in making you Catholic or not Catholic, both groups seem to be saying. It's something else.

Well, I hope you don't think that's what I'm saying.

when they see ex-Catholics treated more like prodigal sons by the Roman Catholic Church than fellow Christians?

What is Mike T talking about? And is there some kind of widespread mistreatment of Baptists and Pentecostals going on that I should be aware of?

..it isn't perhaps so surprising that priests and bishops can justify giving a pass to people like the "marriage equality" folks, keep giving them communion...

Dear Lydia. Holy Writ warns - Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord.

Because it is the Duty of A Bishop to Teach, Rule, and Sanctify, I fear for The Bishop on his day of judgment if has never taught his Flock that if any Catholic receives Communion unworthily - as heretics surely do - they are drinking judgment unto themselves and heaping-up more punishment for themselves in the afterlife.

Bishops may think themselves kind for avoiding teaching these harsh truths - confrontation is never pleasant (although it can be spiritually edifying)- but it is a severe cruelty to let known heretics receive Communion which, ineluctably, multiplies their punishments.

I have long thought that Bishops who neglect their duty in this area are, frankly, monsters.

Here is the Canonical Expert, Bishop Burke, citing Canon Law, on the Duty to guard The Eucharist and refuse it to infamous heretics:

http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/holycom/denial.htm

What is Mike T talking about? And is there some kind of widespread mistreatment of Baptists and Pentecostals going on that I should be aware of?

I take you missed the multiple comments above about an attitude that a nominal Catholic, even an atheist who was baptised Catholic, is preferable to many Catholics to a Protestant or Orthodox who takes their religion seriously. Lydia and Rob G are hardly the only ones that have observed this. Some of my relatives are ex-Catholics (raised in and well educated in Catholic doctrine) and they saw the same things.

Well, I hope you don't think that's what I'm saying.

Not at all, Bill. I know you well enough to know better than that.

I suppose in part I brought this up to point out that some conservative Catholics (not you) have an odd sort of agreement with the super-liberals. While they no doubt think that it's scandalous that Nancy Pelosi, the "Marriage Equality" folks, etc., are not disciplined, at the same time in another area they themselves de-emphasize the importance of belief, perhaps out of a desire to tweak the noses of Protestant types like myself who put such great weight on creedal assent. But a de-emphasis on belief is, in a sense, the kissing cousin of laxity with the "dissident" Catholics.

Let’s put it this way, Bobcat: anyone who has enough sense to realize that homosexuality is immoral will probably not be blind to how insane it would be to allow them to serve in the military.

In its way, puritanical anti-discrimination is even more consistent. It refuses to see distinctions between bigots and those who are simply opposed to sexual misbehavior and bad public policy.

The attitude 'once Catholic, always Catholic' stems largely from Catholic doctrine about baptism. Of course that doctrine is just as often misunderstood by Catholics, whose knowledge of the faith is generally poor, as by Protestants. So it is for general consumption that I shall try to explicate the doctrinal basis here.

CCC §1280 states: "Baptism imprints on the soul an indelible spiritual sign, the character, which consecrates the baptized person for Christian worship. Because of the character Baptism cannot be repeated (cf. DS 1609 and DS 1624)." That holds even for "valid" baptisms performed by non-Catholics. Therefore, baptism imparts a permanent ontological character on the soul, one that makes one a member of the Mystical Body of Christ, a.k.a. the Church. Ignoring, disbelieving in, or actively forswearing one's baptism doesn't change that character or that membership. Refusal to accept and live by one's baptismal vocation entails only that one might end up in bigger trouble than one would if one had never been formally baptized. One has refused the light and chosen darkness. But the light of grace is still there, beckoning.

Now the Catholic Church also teaches (cf. CCC §870) that it's in her alone that the Mystical Body of Christ "subsists" as the perduring whole God wills it to be. So all the baptized are in some sense members of her--whether they like it or not, and even whether they know it or not. They don't know it just in case they don't recognize that being formally Catholic is being a member of "the" Church rather than just "a" church. Thus, not all are members to the same degree. Non-Catholic Christians and seriously dissident Catholics are only in "imperfect communion" with her; when a baptized non-Catholic becomes Catholic, they are not coming into the Mystical Body as though they had been outside of it; they are only coming into "full" as distinct from partial communion.

Therefore, it makes sense for Catholics to say "once Catholic, always Catholic." Once a person is validly baptized, they are a member of the Church Christ founded, which is the same as his Mystical Body, which subsists as a perduring whole only in the Catholic Church. By the same token, it does make sense to deny that "once Protestant, always Protestant." Despite Protestantism's bewildering variety, it is of the essence of Protestantism to reject the authority of the Catholic Church--which is mainly what accounts for Protestantism's bewildering variety. Therefore, from a Catholic standpoint, a baptized person's moving from Protestantism to Catholicism means their moving from partial to full communion with the Church. One can cease to be in partial communion by entering into full communion; but once one is baptized, one can never cease to be in some-or-other degree of communion with the Catholic Church.

It might be best to sum up the matter thus:

(1) Baptism is incorporation into the Mystical Body of Christ, a.k.a "the Church."

(2) Once baptized, always baptized.

Ergo (3) Once a member of the Church, always a member of the Church. (1,2)

(4) The Mystical Body of Christ subsists as a perduring whole only in the Catholic Church.

Ergo (5) The Catholic Church is the Church. (1,4)

Ergo (6) Once Catholic, always Catholic (3, 5)

Of course, all this raises a question about those baptized persons who go to hell, having died impenitent. In what sense are they "members of the Church"? I suggest that they remain members, but hate it because they are tortured by the light of Christ which their baptism makes it impossible to be rid of.

Mike T,

As a single, practicing Catholic, that while there is great concern for the spiritual well-being of both parties of a Catholic-Protestant union, I promise to you that I shall never knowingly marry an atheist.

That applies to either branch of my vocational discernment.

Lydia,

It is a great shame and a greater burden to bear witness to the Catholic Faith in these times. There is, however, light at the end of the tunnel, as the generation of renegades, Kantianists, Marxists, New Agers, and other assorted material heretics have begun to demonstrate the inevitable. As the days of their debauched bacchanalia come to an end, the words, "quia pulvis es et in pulverem reverteris" (Gen 3:19b, sorry, but their hatred of Latin makes it only more ironic) ring true.

Of the generations that follow, there will be a divergence of paths, as those few who remain to proclaim Jesus will be abandoned by those who will seek earthly pleasures. After all, why go to church if you never cared about it? Why go weekly or daily to assimilate your being in body and spirit with the Crucified Victor if everyone goes to heaven anyways? Surely, the lukewarm are not only vomited out, their few progeny shall never seek to enter.

Also there is further hope, as the newer priests and seminarians tend to be of far better quality than we Catholics deserve.

As they say in sports, "It's a rebuilding season."

Just so as not to be misleading, Patrick, I'm a Protestant, but I do a fair bit of observing Catholic thought, etc., and now more than ever through my associations on the Internet.

No, Mike T, I didn't miss the comments. They're just so anecdotal, non-specific, and unrelated to my own experience and to actual Church teaching that I don't know what to do with them. And I can't tell you how uninterested I am in the testimony of ex-Catholics (apostates, in other words) no matter how well-educated they are or that they might be your relatives. You know as well as I that if you went to a Catholic Church asking to join up, you'd be welcomed as joyfully as any other. But I tend to doubt that's what all those "conservative Protestants and Orthodox," which you think the Church should be reaching out to, have in mind. They know good and well that the door is always open. All they have to do is walk through it.

It sounds like Lydia wants more consistency from certain conservative Catholics and perhaps efforts at public discipline from the hierarchy, with which I can hardly disagree. I just don't know what conservatives - who have an "odd sort of agreement with the super-liberals" - she has in mind.

I have in mind some people you don't know and with whom I discussed the case of the ex-Catholic atheist when it was first happening.

Lydia,

Yes, I recognize that you are a Protestant. Even so, the condition and health of the Catholic is of no small significance to the spiritual, moral, and cultural health of the Protestant. We do inhabit the same civilization, after all.

There are those Protestants who delight in poaching Catholics for their own flocks, yet even so, they do not recognize the deterioration of their own foundations. After all, one's greatness is measured by one's rivals. How many pastors, regardless of denomination, can preach with both the conviction and the depth of their predecessors, even a scant century ago? How many can match those of two centuries, or even the founders of their churches?

The rot done unto Christianity is universal, and it is in the best interest of all that it be cleansed in every quarter. It is thus good news from Lutheran to Baptist that the Catholic Church is resuscitated.

Bill

And I can't tell you how uninterested I am in the testimony of ex-Catholics (apostates, in other words) no matter how well-educated they are...

I'd like to share that sentiment, but I find that I cannot. Despite my preferences, the most arduous theological debates I have online are with educated ex-Catholics who have become conservative Protestants or Orthodox. In many cases, my sense of vocation impels me not to shirk such debates. They are among the most demanding forms of intellectual witness, even though they are no substitute for living one's faith with love. By comparison, my debates with atheists are actually a pleasure.


Best,
Mike

And I can't tell you how uninterested I am in the testimony of ex-Catholics (apostates, in other words) no matter how well-educated they are...

With an attitude like that, I'm sure you'll do great things to reunify the church.

In many cases, my sense of vocation impels me not to shirk such debates.

I would never suggest that you do otherwise. Have at it and good luck. It's just not my thing, probably because of my scepticism about the likely outcome. Ex-Catholics have either thrown away or shattered the pearl of great price; I consider Protestants like Paul and Lydia more my brother and sister in the faith, people who, I can dream, might one day piece the pearl back together.

With an attitude like that, I'm sure you'll do great things to reunify the church.

Is that what those ex-Catholics want to do, reunify the Church? Will it have a Pope at the top once they're done? And why is the burden on me rather than them? They're the ones who ran away from home, not I. And for the record, the Church I belong to doesn't need reunifying; it is already One.

My wife and I, both Catholics, each married a Protestant. Sometimes it just works out that way. :-)

William Luse-
Given the number of folks who, though born and raised "Catholic," have never been introduced to the Church... perhaps a bit less pre-judgement is in order? (The vast majority of "former Catholics" I know were HORRIBLY ill-taught, usually by folks who were more Catholic than the Pope.)

If we saw someone sliding to their death, would we complain when folks expect us to try to help that there was a burden on us to try to catch them, rather than for them to manage it on their own?

folks who, though born and raised "Catholic," have never been introduced to the Church

Excuse me, but how can you have been born and raised Catholic and never introduced to the Church? (I'll probably be sorry I asked, as we go waaay off topic.)

Good job, Frank, and we still rejoice with you, though it has been implied in this thread that the Church is fonder of its fallen away cradle Catholics than it is of you and yours. I can only hope that's not been your experience.

Excuse me, but how can you have been born and raised Catholic and never introduced to the Church?

Oh, I can imagine it quite easily having seen what passes for Catholic teaching in some parishes. Their concept of the Church is like a social club. You sometimes see these sort of poorly catechized people at baptisms and weddings. They don't understand what the Church is so they don't understand what they are leaving. I sometimes think that everyone, before they are confirmed, should be required to debate an atheist or a Protestant who is rabidly anti-Catholic. It might teach them the gift they have.

Bill, since you were baptized Anglican, you have a valid baptism, so, even though you might have called yourself an atheist when you married, you had the gift of infused faith. The marriage was a valid sacramental marriage, since sin does not prevent the effecting of a marriage (as long as it is not an impediment, such as having killed a former wife), but the sacramental graces only became available to you once you returned to God.

A person who never was baptized and is an atheist can get naturally married, but not sacramentally married and they can't really make vows, but rather promises.

Your case is very similar to what Lydia described and both marriages are valid, but the poor guy has cut himself off from the many graces he could have to help his marriage. One can only hope that he returns to the Faith. You were not a true atheist for the purposes of marriage, just a very confused Christian who had temporarily lost his faith, let's put it that way.

Again:

Not a Canon lawyer
Not a moral theologian
My own understanding
Sticking my nose in where it doesn't belong

I just had a chance to think further over the weekend.

The Chicken

"I sometimes think that everyone, before they are confirmed, should be required to debate an atheist or a Protestant who is rabidly anti-Catholic. It might teach them the gift they have."

Or the gift they missed.

2 John Whosoever revolteth, and continueth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God.

Mr. Luse is right that The Catholic Church has Unity; always has,always will; and if some Catholic decides to leap over the rail off the Barque of Peter, he only has himself to blame for losing God.

The Catholic Church, very rarely, forces heretics or apostates to walk the plank off The Barque and apostates are, rarely, interested in honestly looking at their own perfidy, sinfulness, rejection of Grace, etc and are much more interested in finding fault with The Church as a way to justify their having left it.

The best thing that can happen to an apostate is to have God honor his rejection of Grace by letting him fall into such a dismal condition that his life becomes so bleak that he thinks about suicide until he finds himself, suddenly, unexpectedly, while driving in a car, his shirt soaked with tears screaming - Save me Jesus.

Mr. Luse is right that The Catholic Church has Unity; always has,always will; and if some Catholic decides to leap over the rail off the Barque of Peter, he only has himself to blame for losing God.

Ironic since many of us in the Protestant side have primarily seen people find God by leaving the Catholic Church.

The best thing that can happen to an apostate is to have God honor his rejection of Grace by letting him fall into such a dismal condition that his life becomes so bleak that he thinks about suicide until he finds himself, suddenly, unexpectedly, while driving in a car, his shirt soaked with tears screaming - Save me Jesus.

I actually know a former Catholic who very nearly was driven to suicide by the spiritual deadness of the Catholic Churches in his community. Ironically, God saved his life and faith in Jesus by bringing him to an evangelical church.

Michael Liccione:

Therefore, baptism imparts a permanent ontological character on the soul, one that makes one a member of the Mystical Body of Christ, a.k.a. the Church. Ignoring, disbelieving in, or actively forswearing one's baptism doesn't change that character or that membership.

Pope Pius XII:

Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith. . . It follows that those are divided in faith or government cannot be living in the unity of such a Body, nor can they be living the life of its one Divine Spirit. (Mystici Corporis, 1943)

Chicken got it in one-- incredibly poor education.

Shoot, I was amazed at the things I learned about the Church's basic teachings as an adult just because some of the arguments folks were giving me didn't sound right. This is after six years of weekly youth-groups-- for crying out loud, we never even MENTIONED the CCC, let alone got into reading it. This is from a GOOD parish, too-- no liturgical banners or "Homosexuality and Abortions are OK" groups or anything. As far as I can tell, everybody just assumed someone else had done the foundation and built the house, so they worked on the windows and molding. A great number of my geek buddies use to be Catholic, and in every single case it boils down to someone trying to shove something that isn't even a NON BINDING teaching down their throats as a binding. A lot of inactive godparents, and often a parent that was actively scornful of religion, but the thing that got them pissed enough that it was on a hair-trigger years later was pure BS.
(Which I generally found because I stepped right in the middle of the dang thing in the course of a greater conversation, triggering a veruking melt-down. It's a pet peeve of mine, because I REALLY HATE GETTING SHOUTED AT by friends for no bloody good reason. I swear, I hope I never meet my husband's "very Catholic" aunt that told him that playing D&D was satanic. I'm not sure I could stay polite, especially if she launched into either one of us.)

Mr. Luse is right that The Catholic Church has Unity; always has,always will; and if some Catholic decides to leap over the rail off the Barque of Peter, he only has himself to blame for losing God.

Ironic since many of us in the Protestant side have primarily seen people find God by leaving the Catholic Church.

I suppose that I needed to leave the Catholic Church as well. I had to learn the Faith from the outside, as my catechism leading up to my lapse was an atrocity. To this day I have difficulty forgiving those who fed me poison and error amidst a thin gruel of Truth. Only later in life, to the discomfort of many of my coreligionists, do I read the Word, and pray the Psalms. To the horror of many of my coreligionists, do I reflect upon the likes of Irenaeus of Lyons, John Chrysostom, Augustine of Hippo, and Thomas Aquinas. To the absolute loathing of many of my coreligionists, I take the likes of "Humanae vitae" seriously.

I myself do not blame the multitude of Catholics who have fallen away for their actions, for they yearn for Truth, and it is Truth that the liberal and the solipsistic academic despises.

Chicken got it in one-- incredibly poor education.

Shoot, I was amazed at the things I learned about the Church's basic teachings as an adult just because some of the arguments folks were giving me didn't sound right. This is after six years of weekly youth-groups-- for crying out loud, we never even MENTIONED the CCC, let alone got into reading it. This is from a GOOD parish, too-- no liturgical banners or "Homosexuality and Abortions are OK" groups or anything. As far as I can tell, everybody just assumed someone else had done the foundation and built the house, so they worked on the windows and molding. A great number of my geek buddies use to be Catholic, and in every single case it boils down to someone trying to shove something that isn't even a NON BINDING teaching down their throats as a binding. A lot of inactive godparents, and often a parent that was actively scornful of religion, but the thing that got them pissed enough that it was on a hair-trigger years later was pure BS.
(Which I generally found because I stepped right in the middle of the dang thing in the course of a greater conversation, triggering a veruking melt-down. It's a pet peeve of mine, because I REALLY HATE GETTING SHOUTED AT by friends for no bloody good reason. I swear, I hope I never meet my husband's "very Catholic" aunt that told him that playing D&D was satanic. I'm not sure I could stay polite, especially if she launched into either one of us.)

You too? Try going to a parish where they still cherish felt banners and suggest that the Pope is wrong about wymynprysts. Oh how my heart weeps for the children who go there.

As for D&D, seriously? All I have to say is "4th Edition".

A lapse into liberalism is the tendency to assign too much blame to The Bishops and Priests for catechetical ignorance while exempting The Family from the same scrutiny and castigation for its manifest failures.

It is Catholic Doctrine that The Domestic Church (The Fam) has the primary duty to teach and pass on The Faith.

I am the same age as Israel; my Dad was a LaSalette Seminarian; my uncle was a LaSalette Priest; yet me and my five siblings were turned over to the Nuns for CYO Education (Catholic Youth Organisation)and most of the time the Sisters were trying to control the wise-ass boys (I was a primary offender)who were secluded from the girls who spent their time asking Sister how long they could make-out with their boyfriends before it was a sin.

I was born into a Church that was fat, dumb,happy, and spiritually indolent and I never took it upon myself to learn what The Catholic Church taught - which is what a maturing adolescent male ought to have been doing were he a real Christian with a real relationship with a real Lord and Saviour rather than just going through the motions with all of his other Catholic friends who were sinning with impunity and ritually going through the sacramental motions of Confession without any real firm commitment to reform our lives.

We Christian Catholic baby-boomers are a brick passing through the kidneys of The Body of Christ and "The Greatest Generation," collectively speaking, did jack to teach us the Faith (They left it to Father) and we were too arrogant and seemingly self-sufficient to fulfill our own duty to educate ourselves after our Fam had failed to teach us.

Chesterton responded, "I am," to the question; "What is wrong with the world?" and "The Family" is the right response to the question; "Who was primarily responsible for the collapse of the Catholic Faith in America?"

When to comes to The Catholic Church and the total collapse of Catechesis in America, it began at home.

Oh, I can imagine it quite easily having seen what passes for Catholic teaching in some parishes.

But, Chicken, the ex-Catholics described by Mike L. and Mike T were "highly educated."

I can see from Mike T's last comment, in which he answered none of my questions, that his interest in reunifying the "church" was an empty exhalation.

Enjoyed your last comment Vermont Crank aka I am not Spartacus. Some will say that the collapse of catechesis at home resulted from its watering down by theologians, religious and clergy, but...

We've veered well away from the original topic of truth in advertising, so I'm letting this drop and will be off the radar a few days to fulfill my heathen, work-related duties. Next up for discussion: is Barack Obama really a Christian? Is Notre Dame Catholic? What does the word 'moderate,' when used to describe Iman Rauf, really mean?

We Christian Catholic baby-boomers are a brick passing through the kidneys of The Body of Christ and "The Greatest Generation," collectively speaking, did jack to teach us the Faith (They left it to Father) and we were too arrogant and seemingly self-sufficient to fulfill our own duty to educate ourselves after our Fam had failed to teach us.

Wait a minute - the Church was in extreme flux during the 1950- 1980 period, so there was little stability ANYWHERE in terms of catechisis. This was not a just a family problem, but a problem of the sifting social climate within the Church in general. It was hard to know what to teach the Baby-boomers.

But, Chicken, the ex-Catholics described by Mike L. and Mike T were "highly educated."

I have a background in a number of fields including a doctorate and I still didn't have much knowledge of the Faith beyond a rudimentary level until the current American apologetics movement began to take shape in the later 1980's to early 1990's.

We've veered well away from the original topic of truth in advertising,

My fault, in part. Too much pride and a big mouth.

The Chicken

Bill, even the self-proclaimed "highly educated" can be poorly educated in certain specific areas, and that's kind of what it looks like here to me. The Catholic Church says that marrying a non-Catholic can set up as one of two different kinds of problems that must be dealt with. If a Catholic tries to marry a non-Catholic who has been baptized, then the problem is a "mixed marriage", and so far as I understand the matter, this is not valid without dispensation by the bishop solely because the Catholic Church decided to make it so, as a prudential rule to shout out the grave difficulty of being married and raising kids in different churches. Without this special rule, it would be valid and licit, and it is a sacramental marriage whenever it is valid.

The other problem comes up with a Catholic trying to marry a non-baptized. Here the problem is a diriment impediment: in this case, a "disparity of cult", which the Bishop can dispense with. (That's out of the Code of Canon Law.) The problem is seen (this is from my understanding) as stemming from the fact that baptism, in addition to imparting an indelible mark identifying the person as "Christian", also takes place in a more complete ceremony receiving the baptized into an ecclesial community, i.e. a church with a specific cult (technical term referring to practice of worship, not the modern term is disparagement). Being received into a church with a specific cult, the baptized is obliged to worship God under that cult - in the Christian order (i.e. under the mode of worship given to us by our high priest Jesus Christ). Even when the impediment is dispensed from by the bishop, the marriage is natural only and not sacramental. This is a much greater concern objectively in the Catholic Church's eyes.

The fact that "highly educated" Catholics failed to understand the Church's view of these objective orders of good and suitability for marriage doesn't speak very well of the Church's ability to convey her teachings. But I must say that if any of these "highly educated" Catholics are "highly educated" simply and solely because they attended the likes of Notre Dame, Fordham, or Marquette, well there you go: these institutions are leading members of the "Catholic in Name Only" club, and have been so for not less than 40 years. They have been misleading students and their parents the whole time. My parents, who were NOT self-described "well educated Catholics" recognized this to be so in 1970, and refused to pay money for any of us kids to go to such places. So, you have to take such education with a grain of salt.

Chicken and Foxfier, I have seen similar disgraces in parish catechetical efforts. It is my impression, from my own extended family and talking to others, that there are whole dioceses in which almost the entirety of the "faithful" have been bamboozled for 40 to 50 years, and the only ones who aren't in the dark are the ones who decided to seek elsewhere.

As far as I can tell, most of it goes back to the turbulence around Vatican II-- it put in enough uncertainty that we're now at a point where an RCIA teacher I know quit going to Church for several years because the only Parish in a great many miles had a priest that had walked in on her class and scolded her, in front of the class, for telling them not to have sex before marriage. It was "perfectly fine" so long as they "really loved the one they were having sex with."
(...What result do you think that will have on 15 year old boys?)

Obviously, I've removed a lot of identifying information, here-- it's possible the Father misspoke, or dozens of other things, and I don't even know the exact years this happened.

VC-
you'll notice that I specifically pointed at family and godparents as the problem, abet a problem that should have been solved by the Church. (That is the point of religious education, after all-- they SHOULD have the resources to do an outstanding job, at least a blessed CCC and a couple of encyclicals.....)

In the age of the internet, the families have a MUCH better resource to teach their children than my parents could have even imagined-- and that's before we get to EWTN and the many good podcasts!

We might be able to do SOMETHING to change this whole "cultural Catholic" thing and turn it around.

Well, I'm still doubtful that an atheist - even a baptized atheist, even a baptized Catholic atheist - is capable of entering into a sacramental Christian marriage.

He can enter into a valid natural marriage with a non-Catholic.

But if he is married in the Catholic Church, and he is an atheist, it seems to me that the inherent deception of the act, of making vows which explicitly presume the existence of God and His authority over marriage, while not believing in the same God, creates a crisis of validity. Furthermore, the atheist will either have a defective understanding of what a Christian marriage is, or else he will know perfectly well what it is while not believing that it actually exists.

If an annulment were requested, could such a marriage withstand the scrutiny of a marriage tribunal, even a highly conservative tribunal?

while not believing in the same God

Believing there is not a God.

A small distinction in words, a huge one in world-view.

Believing there is not a God. A small distinction in words, a huge one in world-view.

That's what I meant, of course. Thanks for the edit. :-)

Ah, cool. ^.^ I know I asked earlier which you meant, but my motor-fingers kinda buried it.... (I suspect a lot of "agnostics" are just lapsed or "bad" whatevers who don't want to identify as members of something they don't intend to follow, but I have zero evidence )

I can see from Mike T's last comment, in which he answered none of my questions, that his interest in reunifying the "church" was an empty exhalation.

Your request presupposed that a reunified church would look exactly like the RCC.

If an annulment were requested, could such a marriage withstand the scrutiny of a marriage tribunal, even a highly conservative tribunal?

At the very least, the consequences should hold to the Catholic. Anyone who marries someone who is upfront about their atheism is getting the spiritual equivalent of a Carfax report saying "this car was in New Orleans during Katrina." You can't get any more explicit about what you're buying.

Regarding effective teaching in the RCC (from Yahoo news)

"A new survey of Americans' knowledge of religion found that atheists, agnostics, Jews and Mormons outperformed Protestants and Roman Catholics in answering questions about major religions, while many respondents could not correctly give the most basic tenets of their own faiths.

Forty-five percent of Roman Catholics who participated in the study didn't know that, according to church teaching, the bread and wine used in Holy Communion is not just a symbol, but becomes the body and blood of Christ."

Michael, is this supposed to surprise anyone? Consider:

For over thirty years, the practice of Adoration was utterly discarded. The practice of double genuflection is to this day stricken for being "theologically problematic". Catholics, as a majority in the US, need neither to kneel nor even so much as bow before they receive the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ Jesus. Furthermore, reception of the Sacrament upon the tongue is taught to our First Communicants is only for the sick or crippled. I am at least happy that the practice of in-tincturing is dying out. This, however, was just the tip of the iceberg.

In the supposed "Spirit of Vatican II", the great "luminaries" adored by the clergy, particularly the once proud vanguard of the Faith, the Jesuits, were the likes of Hans Kung, Fr McBrien, etc. The homilies, RCIA, CCD, and all other avenues of Church teaching was blasphemous in declaring that the Eucharist is only "a shared meal with the poor." This was yet further reinforced by either tossing out the Real Presence into the dustbin or tossing the Body of Christ into a closet cupboard. Then there is the horrors forced upon the Faithful, forced to eat and drink invalid matter because sugared grape drink and honey nut bread are close enough for Fr. Even further, for any seminarian that dared actually believe in the Real Presence was summarily rejected throughout the States, for daring to believe in "medieval cracker worship". And yet we are to wonder why we we suffer from the scandals of the day?

Blasphemy of blasphemies! Scandal upon Scandal! Horror! Sacrilege! Assault! Outrage! Anathema sit!

That even forty-five percent still manage to believe in the Real Presence is phenomenal. I do believe that the Catholic Church in America has hit bottom, and may even begin to reverse her course. Even so, the problem with hitting rock bottom is that you are at rock bottom. It will be a slow, painful, and grueling climb upwards. Yet climb we must and climb we shall.

P.S. Matters were also not helped by the permissiveness of grave sin entering the family. I am, of course, referring to the rejection of Humanae Vitae by the laity in thought, word, and practice.

Forty-five percent of Roman Catholics who participated in the study didn't know that, according to church teaching, the bread and wine used in Holy Communion is not just a symbol, but becomes the body and blood of Christ.

Actually, that's quite an improvement over 10 years ago, when the number was closer to 70%.

http://pewforum.org/Other-Beliefs-and-Practices/U-S-Religious-Knowledge-Survey.aspx

The survey summary, for those who want to dig into the details.

That even forty-five percent still manage to believe in the Real Presence is phenomenal.

Even better - the report said 45% didn't know - that means 55% did!

Even better - the report said 45% didn't know - that means 55% did!

I hate to be the one to burst your celebratory bubble, but that is a test of knowledge, not belief...

I was a bit surprised that the Mormons did so well on the survey. I had two of their missionaries show up on my doorstep a few months ago. When they asked me to describe my own religious beliefs, I told them I would probably best be described as a deist, which produced quizzical looks of incomprehension. I actually felt sorry for them for being so enthusiastic and unprepared.

"Michael, is this supposed to surprise anyone?"

Who said anything about surprise? Some folks were talking above about the effectiveness of catechetical training, and I read a statistic today that was pertinent to the issue.

Mike T,

Even so, it is rather difficult to believe in that which you are not aware.

Well, I'm still doubtful that an atheist - even a baptized atheist, even a baptized Catholic atheist - is capable of entering into a sacramental Christian marriage.

He can enter into a valid natural marriage with a non-Catholic.

Jeff, according to Canon Law, a baptized Catholic, even after turning apostate and becoming atheist, cannot enter into a simply natural marriage with a non-baptized person, without seeking and getting a dispensation from the Bishop. Having fallen away from the faith and repudiating God does not release from the canonical form obligation, only the bishop can do that.

In my opinion, this represents a very, very grave prudential mistake by the Church (which can and has changed some aspects of this rule), and ought to be totally taken out of Canon Law. But nobody in the hierarchy asked me.

Hans Kung and Charles Curran might have been stripped of their rights to teach theology but they remain priests in good standing.

that is a test of knowledge, not belief

True, but 55% vs 45% know about it - that is a 22% increase in knowledge.

Jeff, according to Canon Law, a baptized Catholic, even after turning apostate and becoming atheist, cannot enter into a simply natural marriage with a non-baptized person, without seeking and getting a dispensation from the Bishop.

Right. But the fact that a bishop can dispense with the obligation means that there is not an ontological impediment to a valid, natural marriage.

By contrast, no bishop can release an atheist from his obligation to be entirely truthful when participating in the rites of the Church. Which is why I have doubts that a baptized atheist - even if once a practicing Catholic - is capable of validly entering into a sacramental Christian marriage. An annulment would seem to be a slam-dunk in this case.

Hans Kung and Charles Curran might have been stripped of their rights to teach theology but they remain priests in good standing.


Hans Kung - 82
Charles Curran - 76
Richard McBrien - 78

The dirt takes us all, all in due time. While it is certainly true that Pope Benedict XVI is contemporaneous with these, are there any dissident theologians to replace them? What about orthodox theologians to replace Joseph Ratzinger?

The future is bleak for those who sell off their future for passing glory.

Jeff, that's an interesting point. The vows of the marriage rite, when made, are made in the form of promises to each other. Here is one of the accepted forms:

Priest: "___, will you take ___ here present, for your lawful wedded wife/husband according to the rite of our Holy Mother, the Catholic Church?" ("I will")
Bride/Groom Repeat: "I, ___ take you, ___ for my wife/husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part." Bride/Groom: "With this ring I thee wed, and pledge thee my troth?"

The promises are not explicitly made to God, they are are explicitly made to each other. If a baptized atheist goes into the ceremony with another baptized person and says the words of the vows, the and the words convey fully the required intention, a promise that is not of its own form invoking God, then the atheist can really and truly mean exactly the promises which the words express. The fact that the atheist does not intend to make the promises before God does not destroy the promises in their explicit expression and therefore neither does that intention constitute a destroying defect in the promise. Seems to me that a baptized atheist's having his intention match the words of the vows provides all that is necessary for a real, valid contract be made, and (since the Church says no such contract with another baptized person exists unless it is sacramental) then ipso facto he appears to make a sacramental marriage.

But I don't insist on this. If the rest of the ceremony (which does invoke God) is intrinsic to the promise (and intention), then I might be off base. But the Church does say that a non-Christian can validly baptize a person, as long as he "intends what the Church intends". I have always been puzzled about whether that "what he intends" is meant materially or formally, and my conclusion is that it cannot be meant materially (that he actually intends all the specific component things about baptism that the Church says is true about baptism), because then he probably wouldn't be a non-Christian. I think then that it is meant formally: if a baby of Catholic parents is dying, and a non-Christian friend is the only one present, he can validly baptize the baby as long as what he intends is that "this ritual does whatever that old Catholic Church says about it," even if his primary reason is merely to comfort the parents, for example.

Similarly, if a baptized atheist intends to contract a permanent, faithful bond of marriage for the purpose of raising children as naturally come to them, these intentions are sufficient for a baptized theist to validly contract marriage, then they are sufficient for a baptized atheist also. (Also, there are a couple of circumstances - no ability to have recourse to the Church, for example - where the canonical form is waived. The form of the giving of vows is not constrained to a ceremony in the book of rites, and need not explicitly invoke God.)

Tony, I see your point, but the fact is that anyone married in the Church has to submit to the entire rite of holy matrimony, not just the vows (or promises, if you like). If the atheist doesn't assent to this rite in its entirety, but casually goes through the motions for the sake of the vows, who's to say he isn't also "going through the motions" with respect to the vows themselves? It is impossible not to conclude that there is either deception, frivolity, or misunderstanding involved on the part of the atheist with respect to the entire rite.

The vows are acknowledged by both parties to be made in the presence of God. As someone mentioned earlier, it is God who makes the vow more than a human promise, it is God who makes the marriage a sacrament, it is God who sanctifies and instructs the married couple in their duties and obligations. An atheist isn't going to get that. He has no reason to heed what the Church teaches about marriage. He isn't going to know what a Christian marriage really is (or else he is not going to believe in it). That would seem to be a major impediment. And if the atheist breaks his promise, well, it is only a promise to a sinful mortal, and the consequences of changing one's mind aren't really so bad.

The atheist may not think he's taking a vow before God, but I'll bet God holds him to it.

The vows are acknowledged by both parties to be made in the presence of God.

But that's just the point I was raising an issue with: there are situations where this is not necessarily the case. Canon Law # 1116 says that
If a person competent to assist according to the norm of law cannot be present or approached without grave inconvenience, those who intend to enter into a true marriage can contract it validly and licitly before witnesses only:
1/ in danger of death;
2/ outside the danger of death provided that it is prudently foreseen that the situation will continue for a month.

The normal form of the marriage ceremony is not required, not essential, and it certainly need not take place "before God" i.e. in Church. Therefore, it is not intrinsic to the matrimonial consent that the consent be explicitly understood as "under God's eyes with His special approval". It is enough that the consent be the sort of consent that is sufficient for a natural marriage.

Since Bill chimed in on this matter, I hope he won't mind my participating, for a moment, in the thread-jacking.

Nobody reads what I write, it seems, sigh. I answered this question a few days ago. To begin with, baptism creates an ontological change in the individual. When two baptized individuals come together for marriage, even if one is in mortal sin, which is what a baptized atheist would be in (even if he has lost his personal faith, he cannot lose the gift of Infused Faith, so he cannot really be a technical atheist, although he might be a functional atheist), if they intend to do what the Church intends by the sacrament, the sacrament is valid, although the person in mortal sin does not receive any graces of the sacrament until the sin is forgiven. A person in mortal sin, for instance, can be validly confirmed for the same reason.

So, a marriage between two baptized individuals would create a sacramental union unless there were an impediment, which is a block placed on the execution or realization of the sacrament by the Church. The Church does not recognize a loss of faith as being an impediment to a sacramental marriage. Even if the atheism is notorious, an Ordinary can still permit the marriage.

God is present in the marriage ceremony, whether it is in a Church or not, because Christ guaranteed that, "Wherever two or three are gather in my Name, there am I in the midst of them." Even if the person no longer believes in God, by virtue of the ontology of baptism, God is present. Jesus did not say: two or three holy people or two or three people not in mortal sin, or two or three people who believe in me, but, rather, two or three, by which he meant two or three people not separated from the Church by his command, as in excommunication. A baptized "atheist" if he intends to do what the Church requires for marriage, has an implicit relationship with God during the ceremony, even if he is incapable of recognizing it.

A non-baptized atheist, on the other hand, has merely natural ontological status and may contract a merely natural marriage. His binding is in the nature of a promise, not a vow.

Thus, the union in a marriage occurs along the lines of the weakest ontology. Dual baptism gives rise (where possible) to a supernatural sacramental union; even one non-baptism among the parties makes the union natural.

Hope that helps. Usual caveats apply.

The Chicken

Chicken, I agree with pretty much everything you pointed out, except that I have questions about this:

if they intend to do what the Church intends by the sacrament, the sacrament is valid,

It is not in the least bit clear how we are to understand "intend to do what the Church intends by the sacrament". It certainly is not clear that in the ordinary case, the atheist can clearly be said to intend to do what the Church intends by the sacrament.

Unlike the sacrament of baptism or confirmation, the sacrament of matrimony involves essentially a contract - without a valid contract, no marriage exists. The contract takes place by the expression OUT LOUD of something that each person consents to interiorly: an exchange of rights and duties and so on. Over the millenia many different forms of verbal exchange have been good for valid marriages. The verbal expression cannot constitute a marriage contract if it does not contain at least some of the minimal requirements of what marriage consists in, but it does not need to express verbally every single aspect of what the Church understands by a valid marriage contract, much less must it express every single aspect of what the Church understands by the sacrament of matrimony. But in order for it to be a valid contract, the verbal expression cannot harbor something that fundamentally vitiates marriage as such: e.g. an unwillingness to remain permanently married, so a contract that is explicitly for x term of years cannot be a marriage contract. And in order for a valid contract, the interior consent must be real consent to everything that the express verbal exchange includes.

If one of the parties accepts parts of the marriage vow exchange, but interiorly rejects another part (such as "I take this ring as a sign of my love and faithfulness in the name of the father, the son and the holy spirit") this mismatch between his outward statement and his interior rejection should invalidate the marriage of itself - he is expressing something contrary to his intention. If one of the parties consents to everything that is included in the express verbal exchange, but interiorly rejects something that is implied and essential to marriage as such, this would seem to invalidate the marriage, and this is a common reason for annulments. If the party consents to everything that is verbally said, and to everything that is essential to a marriage contract as such, but rejects interiorly something that implied, or something that is made explicit in the form of the ceremony but not in the marriage exchange, it is not perfectly clear that this interior state is rightly to be called "intends everything that the Church intends by the sacrament."

There are 3 normal forms of the marriage rite that are approved in the English churches. Two of these expressly invoke God and the Church within the vows themselves. The third does not. But surrounding the vows, there are other parts of the process in which the priest does expressly invoke God to join the two and so on. However, since (at least, in the Latin Rite) the two spouses confer the sacrament, it is at least putatively the case that the other parts of the ceremony are essentially peripheral and cannot color the validity or invalidity of the vows and the consent thus given. But this is not, so far as I know, certain and definitively the Church's understanding. So, there remains the possibility that if an atheist rejects some other part of the ceremonial form, he invalidates the marriage.

But it could still be the case, in the situation (as I mentioned above) where canonical form is waived, that both the verbal promises made and the other ceremonial expressions (if any happen to be used) do not include any invocation of God explicitly. And in this case if the atheist BOTH consents to everything stated explicitly, AND consents to everything that is necessary to a marriage as such but is left implicit, his rejection of God does not vitiate the marital consent and a valid marriage would exist.

Oh, by the way, I don't agree with this:

When two baptized individuals come together for marriage, even if one is in mortal sin, which is what a baptized atheist would be in (even if he has lost his personal faith, he cannot lose the gift of Infused Faith, so he cannot really be a technical atheist, although he might be a functional atheist),

A person cannot be only a "functional" atheist if his conscious awareness includes a definite mental adherence to the proposition "there is no God." Atheism refers to the intellect's adherence to the proposition, and so his conscious act of such adherence is real atheism, regardless of whether such adherence comes comes contrary to a prior gift of infused faith.

Tony, you have succeeded in rattling my confidence, and so I was forced to do a little research. Here are the relevant canons, with explanations by EWTN's canon lawyer, pertaining to grounds for nullity:

Error about Marriage

Canon 1099. Error concerning the unity, indissolubility or sacramental dignity of matrimony does not vitiate matrimonial consent so long as it does not determine the will.

As in the case of error about the qualities of the person error about the properties of marriage does not invalidate consent unless the error conditions the will. The knowledge of marriage that is needed to marry is truly minimal, and as noted earlier is presumed in individuals who have reached puberty. However, there can nonetheless be error on some point which is primary to the consent. For example, a man from a polygamous society marries a Christian without realizing that he may not marry again, as he intends to do. He has a factual error regarding the true nature of marriage, one which is at the heart of his consent.

Simulation

Canon 1101
1. The internal consent of the mind is presumed to be in agreement with the words or signs employed in celebrating matrimony.
2. But if either or both parties through a positive act of the will should exclude marriage itself, some essential element or an essential property of marriage, it is invalidly contracted.

When two people stand up before God, the Church and society and exchange vows their words and actions are presumed to be truthful. Truth is the conformity of what the person says or does with what they know and will interiorly. When consent is given falsely and touches on one of the essential elements or properties of marriage that consent is invalid. The person is said to simulate consent.

Marriage itself. Total simulation occurs when one or both of the parties positively intends to not marry. This could be done in order to obtain the sexual rights of marriage, or even to obtain the civil effects of marriage (tax advantages, immigration visa, etc.).

An essential element.

Canon 1055
1. The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.
2. For this reason a matrimonial contract cannot validly exist between baptized persons unless it is also a sacrament by that fact.

Partial simulation occurs when the will of one of the parties positively excludes some essential element of marriage, such as the sexual rights and duties, life in common, or the procreation and education of children.

An essential property.

Canon 1056. The essential properties of marriage are unity and indissolubility, which in Christian marriage obtain a special firmness in virtue of the sacrament.

Partial simulation also occurs when an essential property of marriage is positively excluded. Someone who intends to have other spouses or other sexual relations excludes unity. Those who intend to take advantage of divorce and remarriage if they so choose exclude indissolubility.

Well. Unfortunately the examples given are just softballs.

It is not clear whether the requirement of truthfulness (in bold, above) applies to the entire rite or merely the vows. I would argue that a lack of integrity on the part of the atheist, with respect to the entire rite, calls into question the integrity of the vows.

It is also unclear as to whether understanding (and hence believing) that marriage between baptized persons "has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament" constitutes an "essential element" of Christian marriage. The answer to this question is crucial. An atheist, of course, has no such belief.

Judging from the tone of these explanations, my guess is that their author would say that a baptized atheist may indeed contract a valid and sacramental Christian marriage provided he is not giving his consent on account of errors concerning the sexual exclusivity, indissolubility, and sacramental dignity of marriage; that he understands that marriage is ordered towards the procreation and education of children and the good of the spouses; that he understands the sexual rights and duties of marriage; and that he is not deceiving his Catholic spouse as to his true understanding and belief. That's a fairly tall order for an atheist, but I suppose it's possible in rare cases.

If that is indeed the correct interpretation, then I most humbly cede the argument to you, sir, with gratitude for the enlightenment.

That's a fairly tall order for an atheist, but I suppose it's possible in rare cases.

If that is indeed the correct interpretation, then I most humbly cede the argument to you, sir

Aren't you going to cede the argument to me, too, since I was the first to point out that an atheist can make a promise and mean it? I mean, after 37 years...

No time to comment (have a class), but intent resides in the will, while faith in the intellect. This makes a different as one may have apoorly formed intellect, but a proper will. More, later.

The Chicken

Bill, you are quite right, I was only following up on your lead.

Chicken, when you get back: faith resides in the will, on account of an act of the will, namely, a command of the will to the intellect to assent to propositions of faith. Baptism gives the virtue of infused faith, in which the will inclines the intellect toward adherence to the Truth revealed to us. But by sin, the person may realign the will in a contrary direction, and reject the Truth instead of adhering to it. Nothing about the infused virtue makes the will to remain permanently inclined toward adhering to the Truth, the will is left with the capacity to sin by moving in a contrary way.

Oops, I meant: Faith resides in the intellect on account of an act of the will. Duh.

Aren't you going to cede the argument to me, too, since I was the first to point out that an atheist can make a promise and mean it? I mean, after 37 years...

Of course, Bill. I never doubted that you meant to keep your promise (and 37 years is sterling evidence). Besides, my ceding the argument to anyone still hinges on a couple of unanswered questions ...

This is the first argument that has been ceded to me in 37 years.

Pope Benedict XVI addresses the marriage question here:

http://tinyurl.com/5w7cd29

Getting married in church is a right only if you believe in "true marriage” that is, an act for the realization of the “integral good, human and Christian, of the spouses and of their future children, ultimately projected towards the holiness of their lives."
Therefore, the "right" to marriage in church, "presupposes that the individuals can and intend to really celebrate it, in the truth of its essence as taught by the Church. No one has the right to a wedding ceremony", because the right to marry "refers to the right to celebrate an authentic marriage". The "right to marry, then, would be denied "where it was obvious that the basis for its exercise are absent, where the required capacity to marry is obviously lacking, or where the will poses an objective that is in contrast to the natural reality of marriage."

Post a comment


Bold Italic Underline Quote

Note: In order to limit duplicate comments, please submit a comment only once. A comment may take a few minutes to appear beneath the article.

Although this site does not actively hold comments for moderation, some comments are automatically held by the blog system. For best results, limit the number of links (including links in your signature line to your own website) to under 3 per comment as all comments with a large number of links will be automatically held. If your comment is held for any reason, please be patient and an author or administrator will approve it. Do not resubmit the same comment as subsequent submissions of the same comment will be held as well.