So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

FSSP Ordinations - 8am Pacific Time Friday May 26th

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Cardinal Unhinged

cardinal (n.) early 12c., "one of the ecclesiastical princes who constitute the sacred college" (short for cardinalis ecclesiae Romanae or episcopus cardinalis), from Latin cardinalis "principal, chief, essential". 
cardinal (adj.) "chief, pivotal," early 14c., from Latin cardinalis "principal, chief, essential," from cardo (genitive cardinis) "that on which something turns or depends; pole of the sky," originally "door hinge," of unknown origin.
Kasper, Walter. Cardinal. Unhinged.

The superb canonist Dr. Edward Peters has weighed in on Cardinal Kasper's recent ill-informed and inflammatory comments regarding marriage. Choosing to focus on Kasper's illogic, Dr. Peters gives fair treatment to the muddle created by Kasper's obfuscation or avoidance of the facts.
What to know before asserting that a typical annulment ‘makes no sense’—Dr. Edward Peters, JD, JCD, Ref. Sig. Ap.
In his latest remarks on annulments, Kasper says: “There are situations in which annulments are possible. But take the case of a couple with ten years of marriage, with kids, which in the first years [was] a happy marriage, but for different reasons fails. This marriage was a reality and to say that it was canonically null makes no sense.”
Taking the cardinal’s words at face value, he flatly rejects (for it “makes no sense”) declaring null any putative (a term Kasper does not use, but which I will discuss below) marriage if it seemed happy for a time, produced children, and lasted ten years. Let’s look at these factors.
Though some these days are put off when canon law is quoted in correction of canonical errors, nevertheless, a legal principle from the thirteenth century is important here: Non firmatur tractu temporis quod de iure ab initio non subsistit, or, “What is null at the start does not become valid with the passage of time.” Regula Iuris XVIII (1298).
The passage of one day, one year, ten years or thirty since the wedding does not make a null marriage valid, and one need only glance at, say, Canons 1156-1160 to see this principle being honored in modern marriage law. Indeed, the Roman Rota often rules for nullity regarding putative marriages that lasted far in excess of ten years. Does Kasper think those Rota decisions “make no sense”? Furthermore—though it never occurred to anyone that a couple’s having children is proof that they are married and so no pithy phrase is available to refute the claim—the Roman Rota often finds null putative marriages that produced many children. Does Kasper think those decisions “make no sense”?
That leaves, then, only Kasper’s objection to annulments for couples whose marriages seemed “happy” for a few years. At this point, Kasper’s unawareness, or avoidance, of the notion of “putative marriage” prejudices his formulation of the problem.
Long story made short, a putative marriage is a union that, once entered into in good faith (by at least one party), looked like a real marriage (1983 CIC 1061 § 3). Used this way, the term “putative marriage” describes the vast majority of “marriages” that are later proven to have been null and helps one avoid mis-thinking that declaring a “marriage” null does something to a marriage as opposed to finding out something about a union. It’s a fine point, to be sure, but failing to avert to it, as Kasper consistently fails to avert to it, prejudices the formulation of this debate.
Notice, every time Kasper describes the union above, he calls it a “marriage”. Thus Kasper’s audience is set up to react negatively when, per the prelate’s description, a marriage that was happy, a marriage that produced children, a marriage that last ten years, is found null, for indeed, as Kasper’s audience rightly senses, a “marriage” can never be found null! What he does not alert them to, though, is the possibility that a putative marriage could be found null.
And what do others say?
"In the case of marriage, the cardinal explained, the constant Church teaching on the indissolubility of marriage is a matter of established doctrine. In order to uphold that doctrine, he continued, it is essential to determine, in cases of marital breakdown, whether a real marriage existed. Church tribunals, he observed, are designed to sift the evidence and arrive at the truth. Without a rigorous test of the evidence, the truth could not clearly be established and the Church’s defense of marriage would be weakened."—Catholic Culture article citing statements by Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke.
Over at De Omnibus Dubitandum Est, Mark Lambert recalls for us the document on the family by Pope St. John Paul II (the Great), Familiaris Consortio. Mr. Lambert asks the entirely appropriate and timely questions: "Why has this masterpiece remained so obscure? Why, as we approach a Synod on the family, have we not been encouraged to reflect on this document?"
Loving the family means being able to appreciate its values and capabilities, fostering them always. Loving the family means identifying the dangers and the evils that menace it, in order to overcome them. Loving the family means endeavoring to create for it an environment favorable for its development. The modern Christian family is often tempted to be discouraged and is distressed at the growth of its difficulties; it is an eminent form of love to give it back its reasons for confidence in itself, in the riches that it possesses by nature and grace, and in the mission that God has entrusted to it. "Yes indeed, the families of today must be called back to their original position. They must follow Christ." (182) Familiaris Consortio, 86.
Fr. Z. fisks Kasper's ghosting of the issues:

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