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More Vatican sophistry in its attack on marriage and family:
Cohabiting couples just can’t help it.

by Christopher A. Ferrara
March 1, 2017

There is no use pretending otherwise: the Bergoglian pontificate is assuming apocalyptic dimensions in line with Sister Lucia’s warning to Cardinal Caffarra, one of the four cardinals who presented the five (thus far unanswered) dubia concerning the disastrous Amoris Laetitia (AL): “the final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family.”

This column has already explored at length AL’s opening to Holy Communion for the divorced and “remarried” — that is, for people living in what the Catechism of John Paul II rightly calls a “situation of public and permanent adultery.” But now it seems that the door is also being opened for mass sacrilege by couples who merely cohabit without even the pretense of a marriage.

The headline at LifeSiteNews says it all: “Francis urges priests to ‘welcome’ cohabitating couples in the ‘style of the Gospel’.” What does “welcome” mean? Clearly it means the same as it does for the divorced and “remarried,” as confirmed by Francis’ letter to the bishops of Buenos Aires: give them Holy Communion following “discernment.” In other words, give them Holy Communion. And that is exactly what the bishops of Malta and elsewhere — pointing to Francis, who does not correct them — have decreed in sole reliance on AL.

As Francis put the matter in his advice to priests: “At the same time, make yourselves close with the style of the Gospel itself, in the encounter and welcome of those young people that prefer living together without getting married.”

As LifeSite notes: “The pope did not ask priests to admonish such couples for living in grave sin nor did he ask them to work for their conversion and repentance.” To which I would add: Why draw the line here, to include only cohabiting couples? What if couples “prefer” simply to engage in continuous fornication while living with their respective parents, “preferring” to avoid the expense of living together? What does sharing an apartment add to their moral standing? Why are non-cohabiting fornicators not entitled to a “Eucharistic welcome” under the same Bergoglian standard?

Francis went on to say that “On the spiritual and moral plane, they [cohabiting couples] are among the poor and the little ones, toward whom the Church, following in the footsteps of her Teacher and Lord, wants to be a Mother that does not abandon but comes close and takes care. These persons are also loved by Christ’s heart. This care of the last, precisely because it emanates from the Gospel, is an essential part of your work of promotion and defense of the Sacrament of Marriage.”

But this is doubletalk, for sacramental marriage can hardly be defended on the basis of the attitude that immoral cohabitation is merely a “preference” on the part of “poor and little ones,” not a gravely sinful way of life the “poor and little ones” have deliberately chosen and which must be ended for their own temporal and eternal good.

It is clear, however, that in Francis’ view cohabitation constitutes no threat to souls, but rather is acceptable behavior in given circumstances. If that contention seems extreme, recall Francis’ astonishing declaration, published in the original Italian on the Vatican’s website, that couples who cohabit in the Argentinian countryside, deliberately avoiding a Church wedding out of superstition, nonetheless have a “real marriage”:

“I’ve seen a lot of fidelity in these cohabitations, and I am sure that this is a real marriage, they have the grace of a real marriage because of their fidelity.” [Eppure davvero dico che ho visto tanta fedeltà in queste convivenze, tanta fedeltà; e sono sicuro che questo è un matrimonio vero, hanno la grazia del matrimonio, proprio per la fedeltà che hanno.]

Quite simply, Francis regards cohabitation — which is essentially fornication — as not only morally unobjectionable but even the moral equivalent of marriage when the fornicators show “fidelity” to each other. At the very least, he clearly views it as entirely excusable and understandable.

Here one must recall the 2015 session of the phony Synod on the Family, when its thuggish Secretary General, Cardinal Baldisseri, attempted to foist upon the assembly as “the Synod’s” Final Relatio the unamended, blatantly heterodox and widely denounced Instrumentum Laboris [synodal working document]. Facing a revolt by the Council Fathers’ like the one at Synod 2014, Francis was forced to have his ten-man committee draft a hasty compromise Final Relatio in less than 24 hours, provided to the Fathers only in Italian on the very day of the final synodal vote (October 24). Therein we read the following:

“Oftentimes, the choice of simply living together results from not only a general aversion towards institutions and making firm commitments but also an expectation of a sense of security in life (awaiting a job and a steady salary). And finally, in other countries, de facto unions are becoming more numerous, because of not only the rejection of the values of family and marriage but also, for some, marriage is seen as a luxury due to their state in society. Consequently, in the latter case, the lack of material resources forces couples to live in de facto unions.

Sheer and utter sophistry, unworthy of a Church document. Upon a moment’s reflection it should be obvious that couples are not “forced to live in de facto unions” because of any lack of material resources. They are already living together are they not?  How would a sacramental marriage increase their joint living expenses? If anything, a marriage in the Church would be the occasion of substantial gifts and financial assistance from parents and relatives. This is not even to mention the role of divine Providence as to couples who trust in God and do the right thing by marrying in the Church. 

The Final Relatio’s contention is a craven concession to the “sexual revolution.” What is at work in the modern trend toward cohabitation is a fear of commitment on the part of couples who have enough “material resources” to live together as if they were married but do not wish to be permanently bound to each other or to be encumbered by children as the consequence of their sexual relations.  

At any rate, since when is the lack of “material resources” deemed an excuse for committing a mortal sin? Only since the election of Pope Francis. Indeed, no excuse of “lack of material resources” was ever proffered to justify immoral cohabitation during all the Christian centuries in which Catholics lived in dire poverty by today’s standards, yet married in the Church and had large families. 

Maureen Mullarkey poses the pertinent question: “But if economically determined preference is an adequate if not quite sufficient guide to moral decisions, of what good is the Church?” What we are now witnessing, incredibly enough, is nothing less than the undermining of any sensible rationale for undertaking the burden of living according to the Catholic faith. It is literally the case that we have a Pope for whom the only Catholics worthy of condemnation — and whom he condemns without ceasing — are those who staunchly adhere to and defend the Church’s teaching on faith and morals, particularly as it relates to the Sixth Commandment. 

Never in 2,000 years has the Church experienced a pontificate like this one. God only knows when this debacle will be resolved through the long-delayed consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. But we can take heart in Sister Lucia’s further advice to Cardinal Caffarra regarding the “final confrontation” now clearly underway: “Don’t be afraid, because anyone who works for the sanctity of marriage and the family will always be fought and opposed in every way, because this is the decisive issue. [H]owever, Our Lady has already crushed its [the serpent’s] head.”