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Debacle at the Lateran – Part III

by Christopher A. Ferrara
June 27, 2016

In my previous two columns on the “Debacle at the Lateran,” I discussed the scandal of the Pope’s latest off-the-cuff-bombshell: that in his view “the great majority of our sacramental marriages are null” whereas couples in the countryside of northeast Argentina who cohabit out of the husband’s superstitious fear of marriage vows, avoiding Catholic nuptials until they are grandparents, have “a true marriage, they have the grace precisely of marriage, because of the fidelity they have.

I noted as well that the Vatican has revised the Pope’s remarks regarding the supposed nullity of marriages, altering in the “official transcript” the phrase “great majority of our sacramental marriages” to read “a portion of our sacramental marriages” or simply “some of our sacramental marriages.”  Father Z rightly mocks the idea that now we have “official off-the-cuff remarks” which follow the unofficial off-the-cuff remarks.

That aside, however, what remains uncorrected in the “official off-the-cuff remarks” is the even more explosive declaration that couples who cohabit out of fear of marriage can nonetheless have “a true marriage” and “the grace of marriage” because of their “fidelity.”  This, of course, is utter and complete nonsense, contrary to the divine and natural law and all of Church teaching on marriage and sexual relations outside of marriage for 2,000 years before Francis arrived from Argentina.  For this, no demonstration is required.

What does merit comment, however, is the further nonsense lurking within the nonsense of this remark.  Now, if couples who cohabit because they wish to avoid marriage vows can have a “true marriage” merely because they exhibit “fidelity” to their partners in sin, what about all the couples Francis claims are not truly married even though they have taken vows? Do not many of these same couples, despite what Francis supposes is their void marriage, also live together, exhibiting fidelity to each other, having children, making life together? 

On Francis’ own view, therefore, these supposedly invalidly married couples would also appear to have a true marriage and the grace of marriage even if their vows did not give rise to Holy Matrimony as such.  For, after all, they cohabit faithfully.  Yet, tellingly, he makes no such concession to them, simply declaring that all their marriages are null.

So, according to Francis, people who cohabit while refusing to take vows have the grace of matrimony, while people who take vows without supposedly understanding them have no such grace, which would mean that “faithful” cohabitation without marriage vows is a spiritually superior condition to faithful cohabitation with vows.

There is something of the diabolical here, whether or not Francis subjectively intends it: an inversion of the truth, the truth turned upside down, reflecting an implicit antipathy to the very concept of Holy Matrimony.  No wonder, as Father Z reports, following the debacle at the Lateran even Father George David Byers, one of Francis’ own “Missionaries of Mercy,” has called for a coordinated prayer campaign to protect Francis from “diabolical attacks.”

When a Pope continually utters shockingly heterodox nonsense, setting himself apart from every one of his predecessors in the entire history of the papacy, including Popes whose personal morality was abysmal, the phrase “diabolical attack” is not melodrama, but simple realism.  Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!  And for the Pope. That “being once converted” he will abandon his present course and “confirm thy brethren” (Luke 22:32) instead of leading them into confusion and confirming them in their sins.