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Bishop Semeraro Outlines the Program for the New Casuistry

by Christopher A. Ferrara
March 12, 2018

In an article for Vatican Insider, Andrea Tornielli, an unflaggingly vigorous whitewasher of “this disastrous papacy,” presents a summary of “indications” of which people living in what the Catechism of John Paul II rightly describes as “a situation of public and permanent adultery” will be permitted to receive Holy Communion according to Amoris Laetitia, and which will not.

These preposterous “indications on how to discern case by case” which public adulterers purporting to be divorced and “remarried” will be exempted from a moral norm that admits of no exceptions are proposed by none other than the Bishop of Albano, Marcello Semeraro, who is no less than Secretary of Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinals.

Semeraro, as quoted by Tornielli, explains how he proposes to distinguish the “good” adulterers, who can be absolved of their continuing adultery and receive Holy Communion while continuing in their adultery, from the “bad” adulterers who cannot — at least not yet — be admitted to the Sacraments.  This new form of casuistry, evidently sanctioned by the Pope himself, would involve local bishops and priests in “reflection… deepening and discernment on the concrete forms of response to the divorced and civilly remarried faithful present in our communities” and “an adequate time of accompaniment and discernment, which varies from situation to situation.”

Pure gobbledygook typical of the speech of post-conciliar churchmen. The verbiage camouflages a subversive notion without parallel in Church history: that people who have “respectable” divorces and “remarriages” can be treated as if they were validly married and given Communion while continuing their sexual relations outside of marriage.  These “respectable” divorcees would be, to quote Semeraro, those “who not only live in a concrete relationship, but [have] also established a family over time.”  Such “good” adulterers are to be distinguished from “bad” ones who have “a recent divorce, with all the consequences of suffering and confusion that affect children and whole families, or the situation of someone who has repeatedly failed their family commitments.”

So, according to the new casuistry, if someone has only recently divorced his wife and “remarried,” inflicting “suffering and confusion that affect children and whole families,” he cannot receive Holy Communion.  But once the same public adulterer invests a few years in his “second marriage” and has one or more children with his “second wife,” he fulfills the casuistical criterion of “a concrete relationship” in which he has “established a family over time.” 

But what about the suffering this adulterer caused his first and only real wife and the children they both brought into this world in the bond of Holy Matrimony?  That, apparently, can be forgotten over time as a matter of “discernment” which “varies from situation to situation.”

Semeraro assures us that AL does not provide that “all divorced and remarried can have access to the sacraments.”  Oh no, just some of them.  Just the “good” ones who have invested a lot of time in their “second marriages” and now have one or two children to show for it.

This is all in keeping with the idea, now advanced solely on the authority of AL, that people living in adultery “must not be catalogued or locked up in statements that are too rigid without leaving room for adequate personal and pastoral discernment,” which requires “the ability to read each person’s personal history in the light of the Word and in the broad context of God’s mercy.”

Translation: Anyone who can make a convincing case for his adultery to his parish priest — without even an opportunity for the abandoned spouse to be heard — can be treated as if his “second marriage” were valid and be admitted to Holy Communion, despite the absolutely exceptionless character of the Sixth Commandment.  In short, situation ethics.

Nowhere does Semeraro suggest that the “good” adulterers will ever be required to cease their adulterous relations, no matter how much “discerning” they do about their “concrete situation.”  Apparently, “discernment” means nothing more than “discerning” that one is justified in living in a state of public and permanent adultery. 

We are now witnessing an epochal failure of the human element of the Church that threatens to dwarf even the Arian crisis in its scope: the institutionalization of divorce in the Church according to a form of situation ethics which will, inevitably, be cited to justify other departures from the exceptionless negative precepts of the natural law, including toleration of the intrinsic evil of contraception on a “case by case” basis, which is undoubtedly being plotted within the Vatican itself (the subject of my next column).

Can Heaven’s dramatic resolution of the Third Secret’s prediction of an apostasy that “begins at the top” be long in coming? I do not see how it can be.  But Only God knows.