Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Sanctity of Marriage

I’m certainly no canon lawyer; I don’t even play one on TV! However, I have read all of Pope John Paul II’s & Pope Benedict XVI’s annual addresses to the Roman Rota. Over a quarter century, it appears that JP II had growing concern about possible misuse of tribunal processes (cf., <>). These concerns no doubt led to the Vatican’s 2005 Dignitas Connubii (Instruction to Be Observed by Diocesan & Interdiocesan Tribunals in Handling Causes of the Nullity of Marriage) <>, which I have also read in its entirety. From Benedict’s own addresses (especially the most recent), it very much appears that the concerns of the Holy Fathers about possible tribunal misuse have not subsided….

  • “The canonical proceedings for the nullity of marriage are essentially a means of ascertaining the truth about the conjugal bond….marriage is not a good that spouses can dispose of nor, given its social and public nature, can any kind of self-declaration be conjectured….pastoral love can sometimes be contaminated by complacent attitudes….by avoiding confrontation with the truth that saves, they can even turn out to be counterproductive with regard to each person's saving encounter with Christ….[The indissolubility of marriage] is sometimes obscured in the consciences of Christians and of people of good will….pastoral sensitivity must be directed to avoiding matrimonial nullity when the couple seeks to marry and to striving to help the spouses solve their possible problems and find the path to reconciliation” (1/28/06)

  • “the conviction that the pastoral good of the person in an irregular marital situation requires a sort of canonical regularization, independently of the validity or nullity of his/her marriage, independently, that is, of the ‘truth’ of his/her personal status, has also spread in certain ecclesiastical milieus….the relativistic mindset, in more or less open or subtle ways, can also insinuate itself into the ecclesial community” (1/27/07)

  • “The value of interventions of the Ecclesiastical Magisterium on matrimonial and juridical issues, including the Roman Pontiff's Discourses to the Roman Rota....are a ready guide for the work of all Church tribunals, since they authoritatively teach the essential aspects of the reality of marriage” (1/26/08)

  • "a problem that continues to be very real is visible to everyone....that of preserving the ecclesial community 'from the scandal of seeing in practice the value of Christian marriage being destroyed by the exaggerated and almost automatic multiplication of declarations of nullity,...on the pretext of some immaturity or psychic weakness....

    “recall again...distinctions...between 'psychic maturity which is seen as the goal of human development' and 'canonical maturity which instead, is the basic minimum required for establishing the validity of marriage'....'only incapacity and not difficulty in giving consent and in realizing a true community of life and love invalidates a marriage'....for this incapacity to be recognized, there must be a particular mental anomaly (art. 209 1) that seriously disturbs the use of reason (art. 209 2, n. 1; can. 1095, n. 1), at the time of the celebration of marriage and the use of reason or the critical and elective faculty in regard to grave decisions, particularly in freely choosing a state of life (art. 209 2, n. 2; can. 1095, n. 2) or that puts the contracting party not only under a serious difficulty but even the impossibility of sustaining the actions inherent in the obligations of marriage....

    “one cannot confuse the real difficulties confronting many, especially young people who conclude that marital union is normally unthinkable and impracticable with the true incapacity of consent....It is true that this freedom of human nature, 'wounded in the natural powers' and 'inclined to sin' (Catechism of the Catholic Church,n. 405), is limited and imperfect, but not for this reason does it become inauthentic and insufficient....some anthropological and 'humanistic' currents aimed at self-realization and egocentric self-transcendence idealize human beings and marriage to such an extent that they then deny the mental capacity of many people, basing this on elements that do not correspond to the essential requirements of the conjugal bond....real always an exception to the natural principle of the capacity necessary"” (1/29/09)

So where am I going with this? I believe that parish bulletin announcements, such as "DO YOU KNOW YOUR TRIBUNAL?” and "DIVORCE AND BEYOND", can subtly undermine the respect owed to the Sacrament of Marriage (We certainly never read of information sessions on clerical laicization or on dispensation from vows.). I suspect that the former blurb came from the Archdiocese, but whoever worded it appears to lack familiarity with what Pope Benedict XVI has most recently said. While Benedict has warned of a “pretext of some immaturity or psychic weakness”, the Tribunal’s announcement seems to encourage a fishing trip – specifically for “some weakness in the consent”!

In my opinion, the second announcement seems entirely too cavalier about divorce. Even secular sources, such as the July 2nd issue of Time Magazine <,8599,1908243,00.html>, are recognizing that Americans enter divorce far too easily - and that children are its biggest victims! Young people need reassurance that the Church remains a bulwark in defense of the indissolubility of marriage....

The Tribunal is a group of specially qualified priests, sisters, and lay persons whose responsibility is to come to the help of people who have experienced divorce. When a divorce occurs, the Catholic Church always seeks to balance two realities. One is the unbreakableness of the bond of marriage. This is God’s law. It cannot be broken by human intervention. On the other hand, the Church is concerned about the spiritual welfare of the people involved. Was this a true marriage? Even though a Catholic marriage was celebrated, was there perhaps some weakness in the consent of the parties involved? The annulment procedure addresses this problem without affixing blame on either party. If you are divorced or married outside the Catholic Church, please telephone the Tribunal Office. Have no fear. All interviews are private and confidential.

Recovery from divorce is not done alone. “Divorce and Beyond” is a program for men and women who are already divorced or have filed for divorce and are working to heal the wounds of divorce. Designed to provide a safe place during a critical life transition, this 10-session program provides the participants an opportunity to gain perspective on their divorce, cope with the stress of divorcing, explore the range of feelings, and find ways of adjusting to their new life. Sessions are confidential, hosted by a team of trained facilitators who are themselves divorced. Topics include: The Process of Divorce; Self-Image; Stress; Anger; Blame and Guilt; Loneliness; Forgiveness, Happiness, and Pathways to Growth. Sessions are held at St. Bede the Venerable’s Trailer on Tuesdays, from 7:00PM to 9:00PM. The next program runs from September 15, 2009 through November 17, 2009. The Divorce and Beyond Ministry is sponsored by the parishes of Cluster #31. For more information contact St. Bede’s at 215-357-5720, 1071 Holland Road, Holland, PA."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

re: "Health Care Debate" (8/23/09 response to the B.C. Courier Times)

[A slightly modified version of the following was posted at the above link on 9/1/09.]

In the Courier Times’ August 23rd endorsement of President Obama's so-called "reform" of health care, it acknowledges that "most people are still pretty confused about…the current health care legislation before Congress.” Yet, the Courier Times inexplicably stops short of encouraging us to read what has been placed on the table.

Reading this dramatic proposal is a responsibility which we owe to ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren. As we need to know exactly what HR 3200 (and its senate companion) says, does not say, and the implications of both, we must not allow its 1018 pages to intimidate us. In the words of a New York City clothier, “an educated consumer is our best customer."

I do not believe that anyone can legitimately argue that health care does NOT need to be fixed. As far as I am concerned, that is not at issue. As per the Catholic Medical Association, "True reform of health-care financing and delivery is certainly needed. Yet the bills that have been passed by committees in the House and Senate—combined with President Obama’s push for hasty action—could make the current, flawed system even worse."

Many people are concerned that “reform” could be hijacked. As per Cardinal Rigali's August 11th letter to the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops "views health care as a basic right belonging to all human beings....I am writing specifically about our fundamental requirement that such legislation respect human life and rights of conscience in the context of abortion. Much-needed reform must not become a vehicle for promoting an 'abortion rights' agenda or reversing longstanding policies against federal funding and mandated coverage of abortion....As amended by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on July 31, H.R. 3200....remains seriously deficient....As long-time supporters of genuine health care reform, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is working to ensure that needed health reform is not undermined by abandoning longstanding and widely supported policies against abortion funding and mandates and in favor of conscience protection.” Like the Cardinal, I want to be absolutely reassured that reform is not hijacked by an “'abortion rights' agenda” or by diminishing rights of conscience for health care workers and institutions.

On August 18th, the Courier Times editorialized that "The death panel an obvious and brazen scare tactic. Anyone with a modicum of common sense knows that....Instead of leading an informative discussion that would have benefitted befuddled citizens in need of clarity, they blurred the issue with myths and misinformation. We have all witnessed the results as angry and frightened citizens stormed town meetings to vent and rage." Really? I only spotted one Courier Times reporter at Rep. Murphy's so-called August 1st town meeting at Concerto Fusion in Morrisville. J.D. Mullane’s eyewitness report differs dramatically from what Mr. Petroziello’s editorial: “voters…have been characterized in media accounts as malcontents stirring trouble ….In Bucks County, I didn't see that at the two meetings held by Congressman Patrick Murphy.”

Based on his August 13th piece, Mr. Mullane also has a very different take on Section 1233 of HR 3200: "Section 1233 would have Medicare pay doctors to counsel seniors on 'end-of-life' matters once every five years - or more if the patient's health is dicey....The man who wrote Section 1233, Congressman Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., advocates euthanasia or, as he calls it on his Web site, 'Death with Dignity'....Can a man who supports doctor-assisted suicide be completely disinterested when he writes a national law that deals with 'end-of-life' matters?" As per Charles Krauthammer’s August 23rd piece, "We…have to tell the defenders of the notorious Section 1233 of H.R. 3200 that it is not quite as benign as they is subtle pressure applied by society through your doctor. And when you include it in a health-care reform whose major objective is to bend the cost curve downward, you have to be a fool or a knave to deny that it's intended to gently point the patient in a certain direction, toward the corner of the sickroom where stands a ghostly figure, scythe in hand, offering release."

Don't Mr. Petroziello and Mr. Mullane ever talk at the water cooler?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Some Reflections after NFP Awareness Week 2009

As a consequence of the so-called “Sexual Revolution,” people adopted the dopey notion that they had benignly uncoupled sexual activity from marriage and pregnancy. Particularly since the arrival of the birth control pill in the late ‘50s, we have witnessed profound cultural changes. We have seen the growth of a hideous disrespect for human life, along with increased sexual crimes against women, astronomical STD rates, & the scourge of pornography. There have been devastating impacts to marriage & family. To be blunt, anyone who would deny this is a fool....

*While ready availability of contraceptives has always been promoted as a supposed panacea for "unwanted pregnancies,” it has instead been connected to increased abortion rates!

  • The CDC reports that one of every three pregnancies ends in an induced [surgical] abortion <>.
  • Of each week's 146.5 thousand abortions in the United States, about 82% are via chemical & mechanical - rather than surgical – means (based on extrapolated data from Pharmacists for Life). Certain so-called “contraceptives” can actually operate as abortifacients.

*In the past half century, the rate of forcible rape of women has tripled:

*There are now 56 times more new STD infections each year, than there were overall STD infections in 1957:

*As reported in Bishop Robert Finn’s February 2007 pastoral letter, “Blessed Are The Pure In Heart” <>:

  • “U.S. porn revenue exceeds the combined revenues of ABC, CBS, and NBC (6.2 billion). Porn revenue is larger than all combined revenues of all professional football, baseball and basketball franchises. The pornography industry, according to conservative estimates, brings in $57 billion per year, of which the United States is responsible for $12 billion.”
  • “There are 100 thousand websites offering illegal child pornography (U.S. Customs Service estimate).”
  • “Child Pornography generates $3 billion annually.”
  • “70% of 18 to 24 year old men visit porno-graphic sites in a typical month. 66% of men in their 20s and 30s also report being regular users of pornography.”
  • “One out of three visitors to all adult web sites are women.”
  • “Eleven years old is the average age of first Internet exposure to pornography.”

*While some people still try to insist that pornography is a “victimless” crime, the U.S. State Department’s “Trafficking in Persons Report 2007” indicates otherwise <>:

  • “Annually, according to U.S. Government-sponsored research completed in 2006, approximately 800,000 people are trafficked across national borders, which does not include millions trafficked within their own countries. Approximately 80 percent of transnational victims are women and girls and up to 50 percent are minors. The majority of transnational victims are females trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation.”

*Over the past half century, Americans have become less likely to marry. Of those fewer who do marry, they are more likely to divorce:

*As per the current Time Magazine,

  • "There is no other single force causing as much measurable hardship and human misery in this country as the collapse of marriage. It hurts children, it reduces mothers' financial security, and it has landed with particular devastation on those who can bear it least: the nation's underclass....
  • "The poor and the middle class are very different in the ways they have forsaken marriage. The poor are doing it by uncoupling parenthood from marriage, and the financially secure are doing it by blasting apart their unions if the principals aren't having fun anymore....
  • "on every single significant outcome related to short-term well-being & long-term success, children from intact, two-parent families outperform those from single-parent households. Longevity, drug abuse, school performance & dropout rates, teen pregnancy, criminal behavior & incarceration — if you can measure it, a sociologist has; & in all cases, the kids living with both parents drastically outper-form the others....
  • [As per] "David Blankenhorn, president of the Institute for American Values....: 'Children have a primal need to know who they are, to love and be loved by the two people whose physical union brought them here. To lose that connection, that sense of identity, is to experience a wound that no child-support check or fancy school can ever heal'....
  • "is marriage an institution that still hews to its old intention and function — to raise the next generation, to protect and teach it, to instill in it the habits of conduct and character that will ensure the generation's own safe passage into adulthood?" <,8599,1908243,00.html>

As per the USCCB,

While the state of marriage in the United States could tempt us to despair, we were reminded again last month that the Church has the Truth, to remedy all of our ills!

  • "The Church forcefully maintains this link between life ethics & social ethics....we are called by the prospect of a world in need of profound cultural renewal, a world that needs to rediscover fundamental values on which to build a better future....
  • "Openness to life is at the centre of true development....The acceptance of life strengthens moral fibre & makes people capable of mutual help....
  • "The Church, in her concern for man's authentic development, urges him to have full respect for human values in the exercise of his sexuality. It cannot be reduced merely to pleasure or entertainment, nor can sex education be reduced to technical instruction aimed solely at protecting the interested parties from possible disease or the 'risk' of procreation....
  • "there is a need to defend the primary competence of the family in the area of sexuality...and to ensure that parents are suitably prepared to undertake their responsibilities. Morally responsible openness to life represents a rich social and economic resource.
  • "Populous nations have been able to emerge from poverty thanks not least to the size of their population and the talents of their people.
  • "On the other hand, formerly prosperous nations are presently passing through a phase of uncertainty & in some cases decline, precisely because of their falling birth rates....The decline in births, falling at times beneath the so-called 'replace-ment level', also puts a strain on social welfare systems, increases their cost, eats into savings and hence the financial resources needed for investment, reduces the availability of qualified labourers, & narrows the 'brain pool' upon which nations can draw for their needs….smaller & at times miniscule families run the risk of impoverishing social relations, & failing to ensure effective forms of solidarity....
  • "It is...becoming a social and even economic necessity once more to hold up to future generations the beauty of marriage and the family, and the fact that these institutions correspond to the deepest needs and dignity of the person....
  • "It is contradictory to insist that future generations respect the natural environment when our educational systems & laws do not help them to respect themselves....
    In vitro fertilization,
    embryo research,
    the possibility of manufacturing clones and human hybrids:
    all this is now emerging and being promoted in today's highly disillusioned culture, which believes it has mastered every mystery, because the origin of life is now within our grasp....How can we be surprised by…indifference shown towards situations of human degradation, when such indifference extends even to our attitude towards what is and is not human?
  • "What is astonishing is the arbitrary & selective determination of what to put forward today as worthy of respect. Insignificant matters are considered shocking, yet unprecedented injustices seem to be widely tolerated. While the poor of the world continue knocking on the doors of the rich, the world of affluence runs the risk of no longer hearing those knocks, on account of a conscience that can no longer distinguish what is human.
  • "God reveals man to himself; reason and faith work hand in hand to demonstrate to us what is good, provided we want to see it; the natural law, in which creative Reason shines forth, reveals our greatness, but also our wretchedness insofar as we fail to recognize the call to moral truth" <>

The Holy Father's words are so beautiful, incredible, and timely! Married couples who adhere to the Church's teaching about marital relations are receiving incredible blessings - evidenced by a miniscule divorce rate.

Catholic Medical Association 7/29/09 Press Release on Healthcare Reform

These are just a few excerpts from the Catholic Medical Association's inspiring statement:

  • "The CMA is concerned that the bills that have emerged from House and Senate Committees to date are too flawed, and the process too rushed, to provide meaningful reform....The CMA is particularly concerned about two significant ethical issues
    (1) respect for the conscience rights of health-care providers; and
    (2) a mandate to finance and provide abortion....
    CMA President Louis C. Breschi, M.D., is alarmed that White House officials and the Senate H.E.L.P. Committee have refused to exclude abortion from health-care legislation. The House Tri-Committee bill never mentions the word 'abortion, but most analysts think that, without explicit exclusion, abortion will be mandated by the Secretary of HHS and/or by the courts....

    "The Catholic Medical Association supports health-care reform that increases access and quality, and respects the values of providers and patients....current bills require such substantial amendment that it would be better to scrap them and start again....

    "Health-care reform encompasses both individual rights and the common good, ethical issues surrounding life and death, and economic issues ranging from taxes and property to economic competitiveness. It is essential that Congress first 'do not harm' and then enact measures that can respect all of these complex goods."

The Beatitudes from "Jesus of Nazareth"


Use of Emergency So-Called Contraceptives in Catholic Hospitals for Those Reporting Rape

Book & Film Reviews, pt 1

Book & Film Reviews, pt 2

Blog Archive

And yup, that's me!

And yup, that's me!
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12/12/08 Interview with Rev. Tad Pacholczyk, Ph.D. of the National Catholic Bioethics Center

March for Life 2010