Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Protestant Revolt: Should Catholics Commemorate 500 Years of Divorce and Heresy?

It is my opinion that the most detrimental destruction to the Sacrament of Marriage over the past 500 years has been the result of the Protestant revolt. Unfortunately the horrific event of the revolt is about to celebrated by the Protestants as well as many ignorant Catholics. Some Catholic churches and Cathedrals are being opened to Protestants so they can celebrate their 500 years of heresy within their walls. This would make the Saints of old cringe in horror! We have entered a new era of an open door policy to the horrors of Protestant error. The assault on marriage today by numerous clergy in the Church reeks of the Protestant acceptance of divorce. 

The consequences of divorce are numerous. While the separated spouses seek to enjoy life with a new "partner" children are left in the dust of loneliness, confusion, anger, resentment, guilt and often times deep depression. Divorce has been the catalyst for countless confused and lost souls. God created marriage first for procreation and the education and raising of children. The bond from the Sacrament of matrimony implies an obligation to one another and a right to one another's body. This is clear from Sacred Scripture and unanimous testimony of the Church Fathers, Saints and papal statements. For example, the Ecumenical Council of Florence states clearly,
"The seventh is the sacrament of matrimony, which is a sign of the union of Christ and the church according to the words of the apostle: This sacrament is a great one, but I speak in Christ and in the church. The efficient cause of matrimony is usually mutual consent expressed in words about the present. A threefold good is attributed to matrimony. The first is the procreation and bringing up of children for the worship of God." (Session 8—22 November 1439)
Thus it seems rational that when the marital bond is broken it is the children who often suffer the most. Children from divorced marriages often find themselves also later in life committing the same mistake of their parents. As we know, sin begets sin! In our modern culture with a divorce rate well over 50%, we see that many of our children are like rudderless ships on a stormy sea, giving themselves over to many types of vice looking for worldly things to give their lives meaning. They are becoming violent, distant and often isolated. They are more likely to post pictures and contact friends on pathetic social media applications such as Facebook rather than developing social skills in person to person contact. As a result they form few lasting bonds with others, and their relationships with their family members often grow cold. Often their view of the Catholic faith grows cold as they see the hypocrisy in their own families, which are the source of scandal. It is no mystery then that revolt against the teachings of Christ is corrupting the youth in our age.

The secondary end or purpose of marriage is the bond of mutual assistance and a remedy for concupiscence. The spouses help one another to live holy lives by mutual correction, encouragement and help one another in moral and material matters. By the very fact that marriage is indissoluble it offers the spouses a glimpse into the eternal bond with God. As the couple remains faithful to one another they also overcome their weakness in concupiscence.  "...if they do not contain themselves, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to be burnt. But to them that are married, not I but the Lord commandeth, that the wife depart not from her husband." (1 Cor 7:9-10)  Thus the companionship, the unitive bond and mutual help is often strengthened as a result of the first end, the begetting of children, but can obviously exist without children. However, when the spouses separate and enter into an unlawful union with someone who is not their spouse, they then heap grave consequences upon their heads and their children by committing the mortal sin of adultery.

Those who live in a state of adulterous relations have been forbidden from receiving the Sacrament of the Eucharist. (Familiaris Consortio, 84) Being that the bond of marriage is indissoluble no man can break that bond, not even the Church.
...whatever marriage is said to be contracted, either it is so contracted that it is really a true marriage, in which case it carries with it that enduring bond which by divine right is inherent in every true marriage; or it is thought to be contracted without that perpetual bond, and in that case there is no marriage, but an illicit union opposed of its very nature to the divine law, which therefore cannot be entered into or maintained."
And if this stability seems to be open to exception, however rare the exception may be, as in the case of certain natural marriages between unbelievers, or amongst Christians in the case of those marriages which though valid have not been consummated, that exception does not depend on the will of men nor on that of any merely human power, but on divine law, of which the only guardian and interpreter is the Church of Christ. However, not even this power can ever affect for any cause whatsoever a Christian marriage which is valid and has been consummated, for as it is plain that here the marriage contract has its full completion, so, by the will of God, there is also the greatest firmness and indissolubility which may not be destroyed by any human authority.
(Casti Connubii 31st day of December, of the year 1930)
The Church's teaching here is clear, either there is no marriage, or there is an indissoluble marriage. There is no in between state. If a declaration of nullity is declared then no marriage existed, and this must be decided by the Church authority and no one else including the spouses themselves. Pope Leo the Great famously demanded that a women who thought her spouse had died in war who married another man demanded that she return to her true spouse once he returned and was found to be alive. He also said that the women would have to return to her true spouse and sever herself from the unlawful marriage under the pain of excommunication. (Sacra Theologiae Summa IVB, 213)

Martin Luther being the madcap he was, creating his own religion at will famously decried, "Matrimony not only is thought to be a sacrament with no support of Scripture, but the tradition on which it is claimed to be a sacrament is nothing but a mockery." (De Captivitate Babylonica Ecclesiae) It is also known that Luther thought polygamy was morally acceptable. This made Luther more akin to the pagans that to the Christians. What part of Christ's words, "So they are no longer two but one" did he miss? Did Christ say the three or four are now one? I think not. Like minded charlatans such as Calvin also denied that Christ established marriage as a sacrament. Being deceitful fools they were unable to see meaning of Matthew 19:3-6 and Ephesians 5:22-32. As a result of these mountebanks the Sacrament of Marriage was destabilized and the Protestant tradition of adultery spread like wildfire everywhere the population fell prey to their malicious heresies.

Luther helped create the snowball that would grow larger and larger by those who followed him. In 1522 Luther brilliantly decided that divorce was acceptable under certain conditions, and that one could marry another if infidelity or abandonment occurred. He also foolishly wanted these decisions to be held in the hands of the secular governments. As a result others such as Zwingli in Zurich established divorce courts and concocted divorce laws. Zwingli also decided that other reasons could also justify divorce and remarriage. This madcap theological invention has thus lead many to commit grave sinful acts of adultery yet thinking they are following Scripture. We all know the tale of the impious adulterer Henry VIII who started his own Church, founded directly on his vice of adultery.  This degenerate tradition is one that continues on in all of its retrograde glory in the Anglican Church. Protestantism then did not make the family stronger as many historians have claimed, it has weakened the state of marriage as a result of its heretical theological claims.

What a scandal it is then to see bishops of our Holy Church celebrating the impious madness of the the pretended reformers. What an abomination it is to see our clergy participating in Protestant worship! How can they allow Protestants to celebrate or commemorate their revolt in our churches and cathedrals? This is a madness that papal statements have condemned. As faithful Catholics we also must condemn these actions within our proper boundaries within the Church. Most of us can choose where we go to Mass and where we give our money and time. We can all petition God and the Saints for these sacrilegious acts to stop. We can inform our fellow Catholics of the perennial teachings of the Church with charity and clarity. Finally we can tell our Protestant neighbors about Christ and His one and only Church, the Catholic Church. As Catholics we do not harbor ill will towards Protestants today, but we long for their return to the Church and the renunciation of the errors of their heresiarchs. Although for many their culpability today is not the same as their founders, we do not want to confirm them in their error nor pretend that all is well. Why pretend that Luther, Calvin and others were upstanding men and thus falsely communicate the idea that we endorse their harmful doctrines?  This would be an act of cruelty. Nor would it be an act of charity to lead Catholics to believe their malicious errors.

For these reasons then the Church teaches:

 The 1917 Code of Canon Law " It is not permitted at all for the faithful to assist in any active manner at or to have any part in the worship of non-Catholics." (Canon 1258)
"Is it permitted for Catholics to be present at, or to take part in, conventions, gatherings, meetings, or societies of non-Catholics which aim to associate together under a single agreement everyone who, in any way, lays claim to the name Christian? In the negative!... It is clear, therefore, why this Apostolic See has never allowed its subjects to take part in the assemblies of non-Catholics, There is only one wav in which the unity of Christians may be fostered, and that is by furthering the return to the one true Church of Christ those who are separated from her. " (Pope Pius XI, Mortalium Animos)
"How does a Catholic sin against faith? A Catholic sins against Faith by Apostasy, heresy, indifferentism and by taking part in non-Catholic worship."(Catechism of the Council of Trent)
"If any ecclesiastic or layman shall go into the synagogue of the Jews or to the meeting-houses of the heretics to join in prayer with them, let them be deposed and deprived of communion If any Bishops or Priest or Deacon shall join in prayer with heretics, let him be suspended from Communion"
(Third Council of Constantinople.)
"I will not pray with you, nor shall you pray with me; neither will I  say 'Amen' to your prayers, nor shall you to mine"
(Saint. Margaret Clitherow before she was pressed to death by the Protestant heretics.)

Some Catholics are making the case that we are not really celebrating the Reformation but "commemorating" it. They claim we are commemorating reconciliation with them and that we are recognizing the great achievements of the Reformation. What achievements would those be? What reconciliation? Finally, many Catholics are justifying common prayer together with the Protestants claiming that the prayers are prepared in order to be applicable to both Catholic and Protestant beliefs. This however can never be justified. Just because there is nothing in the prayers that are against Catholic beliefs does not justify a participation with those who are not of the same believing, worshiping community, the Church.

Father Thomas Crean, OP explains,
Now to consider the second alternative : a proponent of ecumenical worship might well accept that such worship was not formally Catholic, yet go on to argue that it remains nevertheless untouched by pre-conciliar strictures against forbidden communicatio in sacris. Such strictures, he might say, apply only to those forms of non-Catholic worship which manifest adherence to a non-Catholic religion. Ecumenical worship, he might add, may indeed not express adherence to the Catholic religion; yet nor does it express adherence to a non-Catholic religion – for it does not express adherence to any religion. It is precisely designed to allow different Christians to worship God together without expressing adherence to a common understanding of Christianity. It is therefore legitimate.
Such a view is plausible; but is it tenable ? Can there really be a public, divine worship which manifests adherence to no definite religion ?
Let us consider what a human being, whatever his religion, seeks by engaging in a religious act. He is seeking to put himself or to maintain himself in a right relation with the Deity: that is what makes his act religious. He is not seeking merely to express certain convictions about God, as someone might do by filling in a questionnaire – he is seeking to come into the presence of God, and to be ‘ordered’ to God as God Himself wills. So by engaging in a given religious act, a person expresses his desire to be in a right relationship with God by means of it. But now let us assume that the religious act in question is a public act, i.e. the act of a community. By engaging in this essentially public act, the person would now be expressing his desire to be in a right relationship with God in or by means of this community. For since it is the community which is the subject of the religious act in question, by becoming a part of the acting community, he signifies that it has, for him, the power to perform a properly religious act, that is, to put him in a due relation to God. He may not in fact believe this – but it is what his act, as such, signifies.
Common worship need not imply a complete agreement on all matters concerning God and man. Thus within the Catholic Church, a Scotist and a Thomist may happily worship together. But if the foregoing reasoning is correct, common worship does imply an agreement that the community which thus worships together is a community in which God wills to be worshipped, and which is able to put one in a due relation with Him. In this sense, common worship does imply a common religion.
The Catholic, however, believes that it is in the visible Catholic Church, and only there, that God wills to be worshipped and that he can save his soul. He does not believe that any other community can bring him into a right relationship with God or maintain him in such a relation, except the Church. By engaging in ecumenical worship, therefore, he would seem to be in a contradictory position; he would be manifesting a religious commitment to a community which he believes has for him no salvific power, no power to put him in a due relationship with God. His act, as a public religious act, implies that he attributes such a religious power to the community; his faith forbids him to believe this. For he believes that if he left the Catholic Church, even to engage in exclusively ecumenical worship, he would lose his soul.

For a detailed explanation of the illegitimacy of Catholics participating in non-Catholic forms of worship I recommend the Dominican theologian Thomas Crean's article,  'Praying With Non-Catholics — Is it Possible?'

Should Catholics then be engaged in anyway shape or form in commemorating or celebrating the Protestant revolt? Should we be causing scandal by allowing them to pray in our churches? Should we pray in common with them as if our difference in beliefs do not matter? I think the answer is clearly no, we should not. We should be working to bring the Protestants back into the Church, not by acting as if our commonalities are the most important reality, but by making it clear that their existence outside the unity of the one Catholic Church is the true topic of concern. This is what true charity consists, willing the good of the other, not obscuring the good of the other. We cannot expect to win souls over to the Church while pretending to honor or commemorate division, or even give the appearance of such.
We must mention another fruitful cause of evil by which the Church is afflicted at present, namely: Indifferentism, that vicious manner of thinking which mushrooms on all sides owing to the wiles of malicious men, and which holds that the eternal salvation of the soul can be obtained by the profession of any faith, provided a man's morals be good and decent ... Let them beware who preach that the gates of Heaven are open to every religion! Let them seriously consider the testimony of the Savior that some are against Christ because they they are not with Christ, that they scatter who do not gather with Him, and therefore without doubt they will perish in eternity unless they hold to the Catholic faith and observe it whole and inviolate. (Pope Gregory XVI)
 This shameful font of indifferentism gives rise to that absurd and erroneous proposition which claims that liberty of conscience must be maintained for everyone. It spreads ruin in sacred and civil affairs, though some repeat over and over again with the greatest impudence that some advantage accrues to religion from it. "But the death of the soul is worse than freedom of error," as Augustine was wont to say.21 When all restraints are removed by which men are kept on the narrow path of truth, their nature, which is already inclined to evil, propels them to ruin. Then truly "the bottomless pit"22] is open from which John saw smoke ascending which obscured the sun, and out of which locusts flew forth to devastate the earth. Thence comes transformation of minds, corruption of youths, contempt of sacred things and holy laws..
(Pope Gregory XVI, On Liberalism and Religious Indifferentism)


croixmom said...

Excellent essay, Matthew. Thank you for this.

James Bellisario said...

Thanks! I hope all is well for guys. You are all in my daily prayers!

Parádoxo said...

I learned a lot from this.
I'm in no position to offer pointers, but I think it would help if the links were a different color than the rest of the text, or else underlined. Mostly because I only realized you linked to your sources when I accidentally put my cursor over one of the titles. I can only wonder what other gems you linked to that I failed to notice!

Take care,
a new reader

James Bellisario said...

Thanks for you comments. I have changed the links to orange so they are easy to see!