Ethics & Morality

Divorce and remarriage: Catholic crisis, chaos, conspiracy, or just contextual theology?


The fallout from the XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church (aka ‘Synod on the Family’) has been considerable. Whatever the reported outcome, we are exhorted to look not to the letter, but the spirit. For some, it represents an existential schismatic crisis of the sort not seen since the Pope of Rome was excommunicated as the Antichrist by the Pope in Avignon (and vice-versa); for others, it has been a shambolic gathering of confusion, if not of total chaos, the fault of which lies solely with the inept Pope Francis whose principal failing seems to be that he’s not the real pope (who abruptly exiled himself to the Castel Gandolfo and is now prayerfully cloistered in the Mater Ecclesiae monastery on Vatican Hill); and for others still it represents a censorious procedure of plots and conspiracy toward a pre-ordained outcome contiguous with the incremental liberalism of the Second Vatican Council: it is the Church waving farewell to Semper Eadem and embracing the spirit of the age; a “liberal cabal” abasing the infallible Magisterium before the spirit of the age, and sacrificing immutable truths on the altar of faddish (post-)modernity. Some Roman Catholics call it heresy; others call it evil – the “smoke of Satan

Whatever it’s all about, it has clearly been very bleak, if not quite traumatic for some who have been caught in the crossfire of the hermeneutic of conspiracy. One lowly cleric has been sacked, mid-ranking bishops left bemused, and lofty cardinals utterly confounded. And all because Pope Francis wanted to show a little mercy and humility toward diverse expressions of ‘family’.

At least that’s how the pro-Francis popular press (secular and religious) reports it. The anti-Francis platoons are up in spiritual arms and denouncing this pope as a bad ‘un. The Barque of Peter gets them from time-to-time, you see, but not usually this bad. At least not since the Borgia dynasty was incestuously poisoning its way to power and inspiring Machiavelli in his guidebook to political nastiness.

It is axiomatic that applied theology progresses doctrine. We’re not talking about changing the nature of the Godhead or mutating the mission of the Church: we are talking about living theology in the messiness of our broken humanity. Of course, the Church of England has divorce as a cornerstone of its foundation: it isn’t ideal, but man can and does put asunder what God has joined together. Pope Francis plainly understands missiological inculturation and the context of the gospel:

..we have also seen that what seems normal for a bishop on one continent, is considered strange and almost scandalous for a bishop from another; what is considered a violation of a right in one society is an evident and inviolable rule in another; what for some is freedom of conscience is for others simply confusion. Cultures are in fact quite diverse, and each general principle needs to be inculturated, if it is to be respected and applied.

And so he exhorts mercy, because values adapt even when truths remain constant. The more Manichæan-minded view this synod as a liberals vs conservatives spat, each vying for their truth to ascend to a degree of provocation, such that no one would be in any doubt that Peter had spoken. And on so many fundamental family issues, it is indeed Semper Eadem. But on Communion for the divorced and remarried it is more nuanced: there has been a slight crack. It is so imperceptible as to satisfy conservatives that the marriage bond may never, as ever, be broken, but yet it is sufficient to let through a chink of subsidiarity light for those bishops who believe that Rome is not the centre of the pastoral universe because they have to carry out marriage and do family ministry on their own continents and in their own cultures.

In cases of divorce and remarriage, the Roman Catholic Church believes that Communion should be denied to both parties in perpetuity: divorcees excommunicate themselves when they put asunder what God joined together. Should they remarry, they are committing adultery. It seems harsh, but, we are told, it is the shepherd’s loving and merciful care of souls which guards against reception of the host in an unworthy manner, and adulterers are simply not worthy.

But who is worthy to eat bread and drink wine? Who judges? How do they judge? How many millions of Roman Catholics participate in the Mass week by week while openly advocating abortion, using contraception, abusing children or bringing their same-sex partners to the priest’s cocktail party? Is the believer not exhorted to examine his or her own heart?

Why do so many Church traditions develop but the matter of divorce and remarriage may not? Is there a fear that Thomas More and John Fisher might have died in vain? It is surely not a break with two millennia of Church doctrine simply to acknowledge the sociological reality that some situations merit discernment and special treatment. England’s king needed a divorce, and so, for the peace and security of the realm, pace Fisher, England’s bishops granted it. Zimbabwe’s President needed Communion, and so, for the peace and security of Christians in his realm, he was served with it.

Some might call it theological heresy or spiritual hypocrisy: it is the diplomatic application of doctrine; ecclesial realpolitik, for we live in the real world. And so, in the earthly institution of marriage, some women are beaten black and blue, some children appallingly abused, and they are all safer when violent fathers are expelled from the family and bullying husbands are divorced. No one denies this. And so the bishops of Rome have agreed that divorcing couples are met with a “pastoral accompaniment”, which involves discerning the merits on a case-by-case basis. It is not ‘traditionalist’ Church doctrine which changes, but Christian praxis demands a merciful response, which some call ‘liberal’ or ‘progressive’. It is nothing but compassionate morality.

Church is messy because humanity is factious. But if Church can be messy and humanity factious, why may marriage not be broken? Of course, the biblical ideal remains that marriage is an institution designed by God to form a lifelong relationship between one man and one woman. But does not the meaning and value of relationship go to its very quality and soul? Does a marriage any longer exist when one party has suffered betrayal and grieved inconsolably through no deliberate fault of their own?

Divorce is as a result of sin, and was never part of God’s plan. But not every divorce is sinful, and the Bible doesn’t forbid it in all and every circumstance. Scripture acknowledges divorce, regulates it, and thereby legitimates it. By comparing St Paul’s exception (1Cor 7:10-16) to that permitted by Jesus (Mt 19:9) , there are reasonable, experiential principles of similarity which may be used to legitimate divorce in contemporary society: (i) both destroy the essence of the definition of marriage; (ii) both leave one spouse outside their marriage covenant if reconciliation is spurned; (iii) both recognise that divorce is extremely serious and an admission of defeat in all attempts at reconciliation. These principles leave the door open to divorce as a final step – the best of a set of bad options. Divorce is important as a point of no return, and a last resort (Deut 24:1-4 cf. 1Cor 7:11). Insofar as divorce is a public recognition of failure, it is not an easy solution without consequences. But nor should it ever become a millstone around the neck to drown innocent parties in wave after wave of heartless excommunication.

  • Darter Noster

    Discernment does seem important here. It is not changing the doctrine of marriage to recognise that the break up of a marriage is not always mutual. If one party to the marriage insists on a divorce that the other does not want, or commits adultery, or otherwise behaves terribly when the other party does not, it does not seem just to penalise the non-offending party for circumstances that they have not caused.

    There can be such a thing as a no-fault divorce, and the Church has allowed the possibility of annulment (not divorce) on the grounds that one party to the marriage deliberately caused its collapse, whilst the other party did their best, for a very long time. Plenty of people who should not be taking communion stroll up to the rail every week, but get away with it because they are not known to the priest, whilst someone known to be divorced and remarried, even though they were not to blame for the break up of the marriage, gets automatically excluded.

    God is concerned with justice, not just law.

    • Catholic teaching looks to the actual time of the marriage and what was in the hearts and minds of those entering this permanent sacramental covenant – not how the relationship develops in subsequent years. Separation and divorce is permissible in the circumstances you describe, not a second ‘marriage’ unless there was an impediment in the original marriage rendering it void.

  • The Inspector General

    What a triumphant post we have from you today, Cranmer. It resonates loud and clear in the ears of the most unmovable of Catholic clergy.

    Perhaps the answer lies in going back to Christ’s guidance. He did say that he was not here to change the law (of God meant for man). We should take note of that as being of supreme importance and a cornerstone of his mission. Now, if one is not mistaken, divorce was allowable in certain situations in Judaism then as it most surely is now. So, can we take from that that the early Christians went ahead and changed what Christ himself wouldn’t? Presumably because Christ lacked the authority from God to do so.

    Our enemies tell us that Christianity is a tool of oppression of people. Utter rubbish, as we know, but in the case of a woman tied to some scoundrel in marriage, how can anyone put up a defence that in this instance, it is not.

    • Numbskull – Christ Himself declared Mosaic law on divorce an accommodation to “hardness of heart” and ended this concession.

      • The Inspector General

        You don’t happen to have the relevant text to hand…

        • Matthew 19:6, Luke 16:18 and Mark 10:9.

          • Why not include Matthew 5:31 as well, where exceptions are cited? Specifically in cases the Inspector cited.

          • “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce’. But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

            Some scholars claim this apparent exception is based on a mistranslation which appears to say fornication, unchastity, or adultery and are exceptions allowing a divorce. The Greek word is “porneia” which means unlawful sexual intercourse. The Gospel does not use the Greek word “moicheia,” which is the ordinary Greek word for adultery. The intent appears to be to distinguish a true marriage from concubinage. What is being said is that if a man and a woman are in fact married, the bond is inseparable. But if they are not married, just “living together,” then there is no lawful marriage and there can be a separation or annulment.

            “Every man who puts away his wife and marries another is an adulterer, and he too is an adulterer, that marries a woman who has been put away.”
            (Luke 16:18)

            “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery”
            (Mark 10:11–12).

            “To the married I give charge, not I but the Lord, that the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, let her remain single or else be reconciled to her husband) – and that the husband should not divorce his wife”
            (1 Cor. 7:10–11).

          • Jack, I’m ignorant enough where Jewish Law is concerned; much more so with Christian, so I won’t be debating those arguments. My point is that if you feel that the Inspector is bound by RC interpretations, and traditions you should make the case from that perspective, and that if you will cite primary sources without qualifications, you shouldn’t omit a relevant citation which on its own appears to support the Inspector’s position or question.

          • One expects a person claiming to be a Roman Catholic to know Church teaching, Avi.

          • Perhaps, but the teachings in question are discussed by Catholic authorities and the Inspector’s questions or challenges appear to fall well within that debate. Hardly a “numbskull” position which can be dismissed with an unqualified (partial) citation of primary sources.

          • The Inspector is not Roman Catholic but your are correct, Jack’s comment was unnecessarily terse. One simply runs out of patience with his ignorance of the faith he was raised in.

          • The Inspector is no longer Catholic…why was I not informed? I’ll have to work on him then to join us; some of my brothers have been bringing vodkas and even American bourbon (gasp!) to our Sabbath kiddushes and his inclusion to my congregation would greatly improve the situation with his donation of fine Irish whiskies.

            Look, Jack, being a legalist, conservative traditionalist by inclination, on who hypothetically speaking would have either gone to Catholicism or Calvinism, had I been a Christian, and probably even to the “right” of Carl and you, I tend to favour your approach. Nevertheless, I’m of the opinion that many traditionalists …and this goes for Orthodox Judaism as well… are losing ground in Modern, intellectually plural societies, because of their unwillingness to effectively promote and inspire in their defense of process and tradition without threats, insults or compulsion.

          • Umm … the Inspector claims to be Catholic but denies the Trinity, denies the Incarnation and argues against most Catholic teachings. You can invite him to join your ranks but you need to check out his views on the Torah and your scripture before doing so.

            You last point is well made. Part of what Pope Francis is about is trying to lower the anathemas and criticisms when it comes to sexually immorality because the West is submerged in secular humanism and moral relativism. On this Jack is in agreement. However, lines do have to be drawn. One cannot praise homosexuality, fornication, living together or adultery without undermining the foundations of Christian and Jewish morality.

          • No offense, but without objective criteria and as an outsider, I’m more inclined to accept the Ispector’s self-definition…and presumed ansence of a formal act of excommunication. You view that he is a very bad boy is noted, though. I imagine he would be just as troublesome as an Orthodox Jew.

            And I agree; lines have to be drawn. But in this instance, it seems to me that the Inspector’s views are not made in utter ignorance, malice or in direct violation of positions openly and legitimately discussed in your Church.

          • Jack has given you “objective criteria”. He rejects basic Christian doctrine as presented in the early Creeds. By this measure, he is not a Christian let alone a Catholic. He can call himself a Martian but it would not make it so.

          • Your opinion is not the objective criteria I have in mind, Jack. I may say (and dometimes do) say that some Jews I disagree with are not “real Jews,” bit that is a polwmical opinion, a figure of speech. As I said before, I will accept an unambiguous statenent from the Inspector or a writ of excommunication. Surely, as a traditionalist, you have more respect for formal process and RC Church law?

          • In Catholic canon law, formal and public excommunication is rarely applied. Excommunication can be either latae sententiae (automatic, incurred at the moment of committing the offence for which canon law imposes that penalty) or ferendae sententiae (incurred only when imposed by a legitimate superior or declared as the sentence of an ecclesiastical court).

            Public apostasy incurs latae senteniae excommunication. It doesn’t mean he’s booted out of the Church. In current Catholic canon law, excommunicates remain in the Church and are bound by obligations such as attending Mass. They are barred from receiving the Eucharist and from taking an active part in the liturgy. However, excommunicants are spiritually outside of the Church but are urged to retain a relationship with the Church and to repent and return.

          • Are you then invoking latae senteniae against the Inspector? Under what authority and process? A cursory look-see at the revised Canon Law has nothing to say about ambigous musings about the Trinity on a blog and as interpreted by a commenter in the process of a rhetorical dispute. In any religion serious charges require serious evidence. Please note that I’m not challeging the validity of your Canons, but trying to understand your position better and the legitimacy of your accusations by the manifested standards of your own authorities.

          • Nobody invokes such an excommunication. It is automatic.

            As Jack has said, the Inspector has denied on previous threads that Jesus Christ was God Incarnate, the Second Person of the Trinity. These were not ambiguous statements at all. His wittering and musing about Catholic teaching and the Church’s authority matter not given this very clear denial of the Nicene Creed.
            What is the point of all this, Avi?

          • The Inspector General

            You really were born 500 years too late for your excess to be of useful value to the church, weren’t you…

          • The doctrines and teachings of Catholicism on the Divinity of Christ and the indissolubility of marriage have not changed in those 500 years, Al.

          • The point is self-evident in the Inspector’s replies, Jack. He remains unconvinced by any of your threats, accusations or insults. Hardly a pedagogically sound approach, then.

          • Jack isn’t threatening him – just telling it as it is. Avi.

          • The Inspector General

            Try not to let the teachings of the RCC get in the way of your obedience to God. One has detected doctrinal errors that have been passed on through the generations. They are not going to go away, you know…

          • “Doctrinal errors” such as what Inspector? And what is the basis of your authority for having “detected” them?

          • The Inspector General

            A marriage is dead. There is debris everywhere and even the local priest agrees. He writes to his bishop, on her behalf, and asks that the woman be released from her marriage vows.

            The church buries dead people, but what of marriages that are equally dead. Alright, not the ideal that marriage was supposed to be in the couples case, but we are fallible flesh and blood. We bleed, and not just metaphorically…

          • So you don’t agree with Jesus Christ or 2000 years of Catholic practice and belief. On what authority?

          • Ah well, since I already nosed-in as the Inspector General’s advocate general; he is not challenging Jesus but your arguments and from a position which has not been declared heretical in the current debate. Catholic practice and beliefs appear to have altered in the last two millenia, so the Inspector is notbutting his head against a monolith and he is posing questions as a Catholic layman.

          • Christian views on the Divinity of Jesus are not subject to change.

          • Huh? Has the Inspector explicitly made such a challenge? Seems to me you’re using a blunderbuss now. The question is whether the Inspector’s musings are heretical or not. He may well be in error, but you have not established that on this topic they have strayed from positions on the spectrum of current and legitimate Catholic debate, much less that your Church has or would…under establisned procedure… declare him a non-Catholic.

          • Yes, the Inspector has stated Jesus was not God and has also denied the Triune God. That, to a Christian, is apostasy. Of course, he does it all for attention and may not actually mean what he says. No trial or inquisition by a higher authority here. He can believe what he wants. If he does believe what he writes, the excommunication is automatic and private.
            Jack will say no more on this topic as it’s pointless.

          • The Inspector General

            Jesus never claimed divinity. Do you hear that, NEVER. It was thrust upon him by Christians, but there can be Christians who do not agree.

          • carl jacobs

            That is simply wrong.

            As it is written: So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. John 8:57-59

          • The Inspector General

            The Messiah being angelic in nature, not divine. Of the Divinity but below God.

          • carl jacobs

            To refer to Himself as “I Am” is a direct claim of deity. That’s why they took up stones to stone Him. He had (in their mind) committed blasphemy.

            The Messiah being angelic in nature, not divine.

            Again, you are simply wrong. He is not an angel. Hebrews 1:3-6

            After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name He has inherited is more excellent than theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say,

            “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”?

            Or again,

            “I will be to Him a father, and He shall be to me a son”?

            And again, when He brings the firstborn into the world, He says,

            “Let all God’s angels worship him.”

            If God commands His worship, then He cannot be angelic for angels are not worshiped.

          • The Inspector General

            Claiming to be around before Abraham does not a god make. We can assume that the angelic creation predates the evolving of man.

            Hebrews is unfortunate as being a NT text with no identified author. And who ever wrote it, seems to be piling it on with a trowel…

          • Yes, Al.

          • The Inspector General

            One merely asks for a new understanding of what is. You have nothing to fear but the same compassion Jesus gave the prostitute.

          • dannybhoy

            Labels are dangerous things Avi. It may help identify you but just as easily traps you.
            We can build a cast iron doctrine based on a few verses, or we can build a faith based on the revealed nature of God, and what He says about Himself.

          • LoveMeIamALiberal

            Matthew 5:32 implies a marriage already exists, else there is nothing to debate, so the exception points to a valid reason for divorce. Church fathers such as Augustine accepted this interpretation. The RC Church added the indissolubility of marriage to canon law in 1563.

          • Here’s a good summary of early Church teaching which was against divorce and remarriage, apart from some leniency suggested by Origen.

            “For Augustine, “even from the union of the two, the man and woman, marriage bears a certain sacramental character, (which) can no way be dissolved by the death of one of them.” Such a sacramental bond holds in spite of adultery or divorce. Accordingly, he argued that, while divorce is permissible because of fornication on the part of one spouse (though he candidly admitted that he did not know whether fornication referred to “acts of uncleanness” or to “every transgression of the law on account of unlawful lust,” e.g., idolatry or covetousness), remarriage is out of the question, for, regardless of circumstances or who may be the guilty party, the marriage bond remains. Unless and until the original spouse dies, remarriage is adultery.”

            This position was reaffirmed and solidified by Aquinas:

            “Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica set forth systematically what has become the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church on marriage and divorce. Marriage, he declared, “was instituted in the New Law in so far as it represents the mystery of Christ’s union with the Church, and in this respect it is a sacrament of the New Law.” Nothing – not even adultery can dissolve the marriage of two communicants. While a husband is bound to divorce a wife who continuously commits adultery, he may not remarry (to do so constitutes adultery on his part) unless she dies; should she repent, he should be reconciled to her, although he cannot be compelled to do so. In the case where only one of the marriage partners is a believer, Aquinas taught that the unbeliever might be put away, because “spiritual adultery is more grievous than carnal.” At the same time, a distinction was made: should a communicant divorce an unbelieving wife who was willing to cohabit, he could not remarry; if the spouse, though, was unwilling, then “the believing husband after parting from her (might) be united to another in marriage.”

            The Council of Trent in 1563, in the face of the Reformation and pressure from some humanists within Catholicism, reasserted and set out the established Roman Catholic position on divorce and remarriage:

            “It reaffirmed the indissolubility of the marriage bond and the sacramental character of matrimony. It stipulated that “the bond of matrimony cannot be dissolved on account of the adultery of one of the married parties,” and that neither spouse may contract a second marriage during the lifetime of another without committing adultery. If anyone should promote a contrary position, “let him be anathema.”


          • LoveMeIamALiberal

            But what about Matthew 19:9: “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery”? The notion of ‘no fault’ divorce is clearly ruled out by Jesus, but he is saying that an innocent party would not be held to marriage vows broken by his (and presumably her) spouse.

          • That is covered in the document Jack posted.

            “Accordingly, he (Augustine) argued that, while divorce is permissible because of fornication on the part of one spouse (though he candidly admitted that he did not know whether fornication referred to “acts of uncleanness” or to “every transgression of the law on account of unlawful lust,” e.g., idolatry or covetousness), remarriage is out of the question, for, regardless of circumstances or who may be the guilty party, the marriage bond remains. Unless and until the original spouse dies, remarriage is adultery.”

            And Aquinas: “Nothing – not even adultery can dissolve the marriage of two communicants. While a husband is bound to divorce a wife who continuously commits adultery, he may not remarry (to do so constitutes adultery on his part) unless she dies; should she repent, he should be reconciled to her, although he cannot be compelled to do so. In the case where only one of the marriage partners is a believer, Aquinas taught that the unbeliever might be put away, because “spiritual adultery is more grievous than carnal.” At the same time, a distinction was made: should a communicant divorce an unbelieving wife who was willing to cohabit, he could not remarry; if the spouse, though, was unwilling, then “the believing husband after parting from her (might) be united to another in marriage.””
            This is essentially the position endorsed by the Council of Trent and presented in the Catechism.

          • LoveMeIamALiberal

            I think Chico Marx covered this: “Who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?” All I see is Augustine and Aquinas contradicting our Lord.

          • On the face of it you appear to be correct. However, remember, Jesus was in a discussion with Pharisees and Jewish marriage, as Jack understands it, was more of a private contract than Christian marriage which consists of permanent oaths sworn before God, with “For better or for worse” covering all eventualities.

            The position of the Catholic Church is that Christ raised marriage to a sacramental union that was sealed by God and therefore irrevocable. Jack accepts this is not a position accepted by many Protestant churches and was criticised by both Luther and Calvin as being unbiblical. Both supported remarriage if there was adultery. Incidentally, the latter preferred a return to the Mosaic law where the guilty party would be killed.

            From the article Jack suggested:

            “The Ante-Nicene Fathers generally permitted divorce on the ground of adultery. Some even required it. At the same time, remarriage was usually forbidden. Not only did it cut off any chance of marital reconciliation, but many in the church regarded marriage as an indissoluble bond which continued unbroken until the death of one spouse. Thus (prior to such an occurrence), remarriage was an adulterous act and the offender was liable to excommunication. There was not, however, unanimity. Some, like Origen, allowed remarriage after a divorce on the ground of adultery. Others (e.g., the Council of Arles), while deploring remarriage, did not require excommunication as a penalty. The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers were stricter in their interpretations of Jesus’ sayings. No matter what a spouse had done, remarriage following divorce was out of the question.”

            The Council of Trent resolved these issues and established a clear Roman Catholic position given there was controversy around at the time.

          • The Inspector General

            “What God has joined together, let no man separate”. Looks to be a defence of marriage, if anything. No one can come along and tell a couple they are not married.

          • It is a defence of marriage – as a permanent and indissoluble sacramental covenant.

          • From a historic perspective, this passage most likely reinforces an established rabbinic ruling that outsiders may not dissolve a Jewish marriage. This generally referred to cases of Jews in captivity or slavery.

          • The Inspector General

            If Jesus was equipped to overturn Jewish traditions, and you have to admit that he did little of that, then he had remarkably little to say about this one. A few lines has reached us. Now, you would think that such a decisive alteration of probably the most important institution that man has deserved a bit more than what is on offer.

          • Lol …. He said enough to make Himself clear. Not all His words and actions were recorded, as we are told in scripture. Besides, despite your denial, He was God Incarnate and had all the necessary authority.

          • The Inspector General

            There is no authority on this earth that can prevent one of God’s faithful from being in full communion with the Almighty, divorce or no. Remember that…

          • That’s a bit of a truism, Inspector. By definition, being faithful to God renders you in communion with Him. The question is: what is His will for man?

            Besides, divorce presents no impediment. It’s remarriage after divorce that’s the issue. No one is obliged to be a Roman Catholic or to follow the teachings of the Church.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Divorce is permitted by the Church. As you said remarriage is the issue.Grounds for annulment are reasonable.

            This for me is the issue. I don’t believe that a significant number of Catholics believe in transubstantiation or understand the momentous importance of it, including priests.

            It seeks to me that there is a casual approach to receiving the Eucharist and for me this diminishes Catholicism to a mere sham of what it is meant to be. I believe in the values of Catholicism passed down from the old Catholic families which seem to be becoming more remote from the modern
            anything goes communal drop in centre style Church.

            Mundabor’s vicious unhinged diatribes against the Pope are not remotely recognisable as Catholic in my experience . They are scandalous.The Pope is a simple man not an intellectual person. His position is onerous and we should all pray that he is inspired by the right decisions even if they are not popular ones.He is the appointed representative of Christ and his office deserves respect. On a personal note I don’t believe practising homosexuality, ssm , remarriage without previous annulment will ever be accepted by the Catholic Church….simply because it is dogma and cannot be changed. It really is as simple as that.

          • Wise and thoughtful words, Cressie.
            However, Pope Francis has brought confusion to the Church and is sowing the seeds of potential greater departure from the sanctity of reception of the Eucharist and in the way he is attempting to dilute unchanging doctrine in the name of “Mercy”. In this respect, Pope or not, he does appear to be a threat to the Church and it is legitimate to criticise him.
            You are correct. Mudabor does go too far with his personal onslaughts but theologically he is sound and hates what has been happening to the Catholic Church since Vatican II.

          • Neihan

            Have you ever read David Warren? He’s a bit more measured and temperate than Mudabor. Mr. Warren, however, is always a pleasure to read.

          • Thank you, Neihan. Jack will give him a read.

          • Neihan

            I’m glad you think so! Of everything I’ve read about the Synod that post remains the best and, I believe, most clear-eyed account.

          • Cressida de Nova

            There is more to being a Catholic than understanding theological concepts. Catholics that I know and have ever know don’t behave in that aggressive violent way.It is an anthema to Catholicism. The Catholic Church is now paying the price for concentrating on numbers at any cost rather than emphasis on the true meaning of the Church. This present Pope is not a monster. He knows doctrine the same as you and I and all of us do. He knows he cannot change doctrine. He is just trying to find a way to include some Catholics who are in a difficult situation and may have some grounds for rectifying it.Maybe it will be only a few.

            Catholicism is not all black and white. There are mitigating circumstances. No intelligent person could ever consider being a Catholic if this were not the case. The problem is it will be open to abuse but so is everything in life unless it is properly understood and supervised. And that is where Catholic conscience enters. Truth. You cannot lie to God so there is no point in lying to yourself to justify your actions.
            I am not involved in Catholic education but I have an awful feeling that I would be shocked if I knew what was not being taught.

          • Martin


            Does it not occur to you that those who brutally attack their spouses or abandoned them have already destroyed the marriage.

          • Of course … and they will beheld to account for doing so … but the marriage, just like Our Lords covenant with us, is not conditional and is indissoluble despite our sinfulness.

          • The Inspector General

            You really are a heartless uncaring whatever…

          • And homosexual ‘marriage’, Inspector? Is Jack being “heartless” there too in being relieved this was well and truly kicked into touch by the Synod Fathers despite last years manipulations? You do know the two issues are related?

          • Martin


            Where does it say that marriage is indissoluble? Surely the implication of the text is that it is but is not to be dissolved.

            And you seem to think that God’s covenant with us can be dissolved b y our actions. Or do you believe in once saved always saved.

          • Jack is more of a Molinist than a Thomist about predestination. Once saved always saved, is not how Jack understands salvation.
            We can wilfully resist the sufficient grace God makes available to us all to be saved. God, through His foreknowledge, knows those who will respond and grants them efficacious grace and perseverance.

          • Martin


            The problem is, you don’t understand salvation. You think that while God is involved you have to do something, indeed to continue to do something. Trouble is, that’s not how the Bible describes salvation.

            But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
            (Ephesians 2:4-7 [ESV]

            It is God who does the saving, when the helpless sinner is dead in their sins and can do no good work, not even believe.

            You cannot wilfully resist God’s effectual saving grace, your term sufficient grace is a nonsense. God has declared who He will save even before He created this world.

            But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (I Peter 2:9 [ESV]

            Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
            (Ephesians 1:3-6 [ESV])

          • The problem is, you don’t understand salvation.”
            Who fully understands salvation and how God causes this in the souls of individual men? Even the Catholic Church, after 2000 years has the humility to acknowledge that whilst scripture gives clear pointers predestination remains essentially shrouded in mystery.
            “You think that while God is involved you have to do something, indeed to continue to do something. Trouble is, that’s not how the Bible describes salvation.”
            What’s with the “doing something”? Are you stating that man has no role in working out his salvation? The “doing something” is cooperating with God’s freely given grace, infused into our souls, and even this relies on the work of God. Man can lose sanctification through killing grace in the soul by grievous sin and if he dies in such a state will be damned. The “doing something” is means using our will to follow God’s laws and availing ourselves of the sacraments, channels of infused graces, that strengthen our union with Christ.
            As for your scriptural quotes, Jack isn’t quite sure how they contradict the Catholic Church’s position or support your claim that grace is irresistible, that man is entirely degenerate/dead in his sins and that God selects those He will save and those He will damn. Jack could cite, and has done so in the past, counter scriptural quotes that make it clear God offers salvation to all men and we play a part in this.

          • Martin


            The church of Rome has, for centuries, sought to obscure salvation, to hide it in secrecy & priestcraft, for thence it gets its power. Predestination is clearly described in Scripture, God chooses and none can deny Him.

            How can the dead do anything? They are like the bones in Ezekiel 37. Until God saves the soul it can do nothing. And since salvation is the work of God, what man can undo a work of God? Man has no role in salvation other than to be the subject of it.

            If a man could kill grace it wouldn’t be grace, but the reward for doing good. What sin can we commit that is greater than rebelling against our maker, the sin we have already committed. What can infuse grace more than God Himself, you are describing foolish superstitions. The Lord’s Supper, as He instituted it, is a remembrance of that once completed sacrifice, it is not a re-enactment of that sacrifice.

            Have you learnt nothing from the parable of the great banquet? All are invited to salvation but none will come, therefore the Lord brings those He chooses, even to the point of compelling them to come. He doesn’t select those He will damn for they have already selected themselves.

  • Jon Sorensen

    What we see is a normal evolution of a religion. Nobody talks about Limbo any more. We see this also in modern Bible translations. Gender equality is moving in. Religions have to evolve or die. Christianity has evolved for a long time and now it evolving faster than ever.

    • Andrew Price

      Whatever happened to Jude 1:3
      Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.

      • Jon Sorensen

        I don’t know. What happened to it?

        • Andrew Price

          It’s still there, ‘once for all entrusted’ how can Christianity evolve?

          • Jon Sorensen

            You are kidding right? All the Bible changes, doctrine changes and belief changes all dominations have gone through and changing today faster than ever. Even Protestantism in Europe came 1500 late to the party…

          • Andrew Price

            We must have different bibles.

          • Jon Sorensen

            That too 🙂 Different Protestant Bibles have have different readings.

            Does your Luke 3:22 follow the modern reading or is it like what all early church fathers quoted it? Why do you think it was changed?

          • Andrew Price

            Not too sure what you mean. Are you arguing for Jesus becoming God’s son at the Baptism rather than being eternally God’s son? If so that has never been a main stream view.

          • Jon Sorensen

            “Are you arguing for Jesus becoming God’s son at the Baptism rather than being eternally God’s son?”
            It just shows how the scripture has been changed as Christianity evolved. Christology, Bible and belief have changed.

            “If so that has never been a main stream view.”
            Remember when Luke was written nobody was a Trinitarian, Nobody advocated Jesus being eternal God like John advocated. You can read early Church father’s and they all quote that adoptionist reading. Modern main stream view was unknown to early Christians.

          • Andrew Price

            I think we will have to differ, whilst the doctrine of the trinity was not worked through, I find it hard to believe that Paul didn’t believe the Father was God, the Son was God and the Spirit was God. We could go on. But I doubt I would convince you.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Paul never talked about trinity. You can’t find any trinitarian that has never written about trinity. Remember when Paul’s Jesus become God? Romans 1:3-4:
            “declared to be the Son of God … by the resurrection from the dead”
            He was not Son of God or God before that…

          • Andrew Price

            In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.

            Mind you John wasn’t a church father…

          • Jon Sorensen

            There was no John. And his high Christology was a late comer.

          • Andrew Price

            I bow before your superior knowledge and retreat to my firmly evangelical faith.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Faith is a powerful thing. It usually overrules knowledge. 😉

          • Andrew Price

            Nobody advocated Jesus being eternal God like John advocated.

            Surely John is enough?

          • Jon Sorensen

            Who ever wrote John had high Christology view. Others disagreed. Before John that was not the general view and it took 200 years until John’s view become dominant.

            People who walked with Jesus, like James, did not think Jesus was God. Only Paul introduced that view.

    • len

      Truth does not’ evolve’…. Truth is….

      “The truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it. Let
      it loose; it will defend itself.”
      ― Augustine of Hippo

      • Jon Sorensen

        Exactly. Truth does not evolve, but religions, Christianity and their message evolves.

        Augustine was right. That’s why every religion, denomination and sect has their apologists. the Theory of Gravity does not have any apologists, it defends itself.

        • carl jacobs

          Novice: Master, what is the meaning of life?

          Physicist: 6.67408 × 10-11 m3 kg-1 s-2

          Novice: But …

          Physicist: I’m sorry, but that’s the best I can do. There just isn’t any more.

          • Jon Sorensen

            A classic strawman of an opponents position that nobody advocates. Strawman is usually the only thing Christians can do when talking about meaning of life.

          • carl jacobs

            I wasn’t making an argument. I was illustrating the nature of the universe you choose to inhabit.

          • Jon Sorensen

            ” I was illustrating the nature of the universe you choose to inhabit.”
            Yet another strawman. You are the one who seem to live in fantasy world. Maybe strawman thoughts make you feel comfortable in your world view?

          • Anton

            That’s the gravitational constant, but quoting it to so many decimal places is decidedly optimistic.

          • carl jacobs

            It was a cut-and-paste from a quick search. What can I say…

  • len

    What we appear to be seeing is a move by Pope Francis towards a ‘more inclusive’ RCC this will require some pretty seismic changes within the RCC.
    The Church in the West moved off its foundation which is’ Christ the Rock’ some time ago and moved onto shifting sand where it is moved and sways with every shift of public opinion.
    Christians either stand on ‘the Rock’ which is Christ or they will eventually be swept away by the incoming tide of deception…

  • Jesus words were pretty decisive concerning divorce and remarriage. A valid marriage is permanent and indissoluble and any other sexual relationship constitutes adultery. The issue really is whether the first marriage was valid and those entering the sacramental covenant did so with full understanding and honesty.
    Jack sees this Synod as a great victory for orthodox Catholicism in the face of progressive liberals attempting to adjust Church teachings to the ‘sociological’ realities of a breakdown in sexual morality in the West. It is widely accepted last years Synod was rigged to promote the acceptance of divorce and remarriage and also homosexual relationships. There were attempts this year too, but the bishops were ready. Both developments were stopped.

    There is some wiggle room in the final document for those wishing to admit the divorced to Communion but this would be a misrepresentation and liberal-progressives are already pushing the envelop.

    Paragraph 85, passed by one vote, is not as clear as it could have been. One section, concerning the validity of first marriages, reads:

    “Finally, there are those who have entered into a second union for the sake of the children’s upbringing, and who are sometimes subjectively certain in conscience that their previous and irreparably destroyed marriage had never been valid. It is therefore a duty of the priests to accompany the interested parties on the path of discernment according to the teaching of the Church and the orientations of the Bishop.”

    If the “orientation of the Bishop” is at odds with “the teaching of the Church” there may be trouble ahead. However, the Church teaches clearly that unless a marriage is declared invalid through the annulment process, there is no second ‘marriage’; the situation constitutes adultery and Communion is not possible.

    Paragraph 86 states:
    “The path of accompaniment and discernment orients these faithful to an awareness in conscience of their situation before God.

    Conversation with the priest, in the internal forum, contributes to the formation of a correct judgment on what places an obstacle to the possibility of a fuller participation in the life of the Church and on the steps that can favour that participation and make it grow.

    Given that there is no graduality in the law itself (Familiaris Consortio, 34), this discernment can never prescind from the demands of truth and of charity of the Gospel proposed by the Church.

    So that this happens, the necessary conditions of humility, discretion, and love for the Church and its teaching, in a sincere search for the will of God and in the desire to reach a more perfect response to it, must be guaranteed.”

    This does not allow for communion based on “internal forum” without obedience to the church’s law. The internal forum is counselling of the person in the confessional on what they need to do, according to Church teaching, to regularize their situation.
    This internal forum requires the person, with the help of a priest in confession, to judge his situation according to church teaching and to do what he needs to do to regularize his situation so that he can participate fully.
    Catholics now have to wait to see what Pope Francis does with the advice he received.

    • GKStudent

      But, what did they say about how children should be treated from an annulled marriage? Are they invalid as the Sacrament is invalid? Does that rest the hands free of the father or mother, or both of those children if their marriage was annulled?

      • As Jack understands it, the children of marriages, valid and invalid, are no longer regarded as illegitimate and the duties of parents stand unchanged.

  • carl jacobs

    The curious thing about this synod is that everyone is claiming victory. Which says something about the nature of the text produced, It’s a good thing the RCC has its Magisterium to authoritatively settle questions, Yes siree Bob.

    • Well, you didn’t expect the liberal-progressives to just pack their bags and leave town without attempting to muddy the waters? They’ll try to twist the final document to their own ends and some ambiguity has been placed in it by the drafters – clause 85, in particular, which was passed by just one vote – all chosen by Pope Francis.

      • carl jacobs

        Jack, if the text wasn’t ambiguous, the right people would be frothing at the mouth. They aren’t frothing at the mouth. They are claiming things like “Synod offers striking softening to remarried, proposing individual discernment”

        Meanwhile traditional Catholics such as yourself are saying “Jack sees this Synod as a great victory for orthodox Catholicism.” This is already turning into a battle of spin control.

        • NCR … ? Oh, please.
          Jack has posted the relevant sections of the document below.

          • carl jacobs

            “Oh, please” nothing. They are reading the same text you are. Have you heard of Lambeth 1.10? When it was passed in 1998, the Liberals went home enraged and absolutely committed to overturning it. Why? Because it was unambiguous in what it said.

            I don’t see Liberal rage, Jack.

          • The likes of NCR occupy an alternate Catholic universe. Jack has been banned there so cannot comment on their site. Apparently, Jack just kept repeating himself and was adding nothing to the discussions.

            Pope Francis stacked this Synod with 45 personally chosen delegates. He also hand choose the ten drawing up the document that was voted on. But for the awareness and fidelity of a group of Cardinals, the outcome could have been a victory for the heretics.
            Mundabor has the correct measure of it, Carl.


            Rorate Caeli points out the hazards and battles ahead given the ambiguity of one clause which was passed by one vote:


            There is a battle ahead, for sure. However, whatever the liberals say, this has been a victory for Catholic truth. It’s now over to the Pope to see what he decides.

          • carl jacobs

            Ironic that you would post about Rorate Caeli since I was just about to do so as well. Its post is titled “The Triumph of Ambiguity.” Mundabor is hanging his argument on the ability to control the meaning of the text. He wrote:

            “Texts are texts. We consider them for what they say, not for what other people will pretend that they say.”

            The truth of that statement will be the exact focus of the coming battle.

            This ain’t over, Jack. This synod settled nothing.

          • Jack, and all other faithful Catholics, is well aware the onslaught from the heretics, particularly the homosexualists, is not over. Will it ever be? At least the division is out in the open as the heterodox have declared their hand.

            As this man says, it is now every Catholic’s duty to fight for orthodoxy.


          • carl jacobs

            “Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me, Amen!”

          • Luther’s actual statement was:

            “Unless I am convicted by scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.”

            As you know, he rejected the infallible and indefectible authority of the Magisterium. Sola conscientia, based on an individual’s interpretation of Sola scriptura, is not the path taken by Catholics.

          • carl jacobs

            Just thought you’d like to brush up on that quote since you might be needing it soon.

          • This war will rumble on until a sound Pope is elected.

          • It’s not going to happen, Carl.

          • carl jacobs

            I dunno. That Magisterium isn’t looking so infallible and indefectible at the moment. In fact, it’s beginning to look a little like the Anglican Communion. From whom Catholic liberals seem to have borrowed a few tactics.

          • The Synod was a consultative group and not the Magisterium. Let’s wait and see if Pope Francis issues anything that openly contradicts previous doctrine and teaching.

            It has to be acknowledged that the state of Christian marriage and sexual morality in the West is in crisis and some way has to be found other than condemnation of teaching Catholic truth to people who are either ignorant or in confusion. That is what the Synod was intended to address before the homosexualist lobby manipulated it last year and put the orthodox bishops on red alert. Despite Pope Francis shipping in 45 personally chosen delegates, the majority of the others held firm.

            Here’s a heartening article from the National Catholic Register:


            Jack will sleep easy tonight.

          • carl jacobs

            No one ever said teaching was going to be changed. That little dodge was always part of the liberal shell game. What you ought to be concerned about is “What will the Germans do now?” The liberal playbook says “Create facts on the ground.” Could they? Would they? Will they? The Pope wanted a specific outcome and he will write the final document. What are the odds it won’t contain the same ambiguity – sufficient to give willing cardinals room to maneuver?

            An indefectible and infallible Magisterium would be cutting off the heads of some Cardinals right about now (metaphorically speaking.) Do you have a Pope would do that?

          • Even Popes Saint John Paul II and Benedict XVI were reluctant to sack clear heretics. Please God, a day will come when there is an African Pope who will have far less reservations. The policy seems to be to tolerate priests, bishops and cardinals who are outside of Catholic doctrine because of the “sociological” context. Jack may wish it wasn’t so but he is not the Pope.

          • The Explorer

            Any possibility of that? In that event, I might even convert to Catholicism.

          • Unlikely as Jack is not ordained and is a married man.

          • The Explorer

            Those are, I concede, grave obstacles. My Protestantism is safe. My C of E adherence isn’t.

          • Anton

            That might not debar you by the time Francis is finished.

          • Hell will freeze over first.

          • Anton

            Is the Pope a Catholic?

          • Pass …

          • Hahahaha!

  • Mungling

    Some thoughts as an orthodox Catholic.

    1) The statement “[i]n cases of divorce and remarriage, the Roman Catholic Church believes that Communion should be denied to both parties in perpetuity: divorcees excommunicate themselves when they put asunder what God joined together” isn’t entirely correct. Contrary to the second sentence, a civil divorce does not result in excommunication. Re-married couples can receive communion if they abstain from sexual intimacy. And the orthodox Catholic view is that that in the case of a valid marriage, a civil divorce does not actually “put asunder” anything.

    2) It’s true that many, many Catholics are receiving Holy Communion “unworthily” for all the reasons listed and more. I’m not, entirely, sure why that matters. Just because they manage to do so doesn’t mean that they should, or that the Church turns a blind eye to it, or that there won’t be spiritual consequences for doing so (relative to their level of culpability). That is a separate, albeit serious issue.

    3) The issue isn’t that the Church doesn’t want to be more merciful, compassionate, and inclusive towards the divorced, remarried, and sexually active; rather, the issue for the Church is that it doesn’t have the power to be “inclusive” in the way that proponents of the Kasper proposal would like. The Church is God’s carrier pigeon: it can provide information but it can’t generate or change it.

    4) The unspoken question underlying much of this discussion is sexual intimacy and romantic relationship is essential for happiness. Much of the modern, western world feels that it is but the Church does not. As a single person who has never been in a relationship and maybe never will, I resent being told that my life is sad and miserable until I have a romantic partner. I do not believe that this is the case. True happiness is found in loving and serving God and fellow man. Singleness brings with it its own trials and difficulties, but it brings unique graces and gifts.

    Many posters who hold to traditional, Christian views on homosexual relationships would gleefully recommend celibacy. I’m sure many posters would also agree that single people should refrain from sexual contact. If Christianity can demand that of people who (through no fault of their own) happen to be exclusively attracted to the same sex, why is it that when it gets applied to heterosexuals that it suddenly becomes intolerable? At least the Catholic Church is consistent.

    • Kate

      Amen! I also agree and I am a single catholic who desires but still has not found a relationship to lead to marriage. Some days, it can be very hard and some days one can fall to some temptations if one is not careful about safeguarding certain things. But honestly, in MOST days, for the most part, there is no misery but much happiness. That is, unless someone becomes convinced that they can never be happy unless they get involved in a sexual or romantic situation. I dare refer some Buddhist-leaning wisdom on this…indeed sometimes suffering comes from desire! Not desire per se as the attraction towards what is good but the conviction that one’s reality is radically flawed as it is and fighting rather than embracing it! The belief that your happiness depends on some external circumstances, other persons or getting what you want……is the very source of suffering! Spirituality re-orients people from this pessimistic worldliness and when one realizes that neither his worth or his happiness depends on any external situation, one finds happiness.

  • carl jacobs

    The conservative Catholic will look and this Synod and say “Look! The dam held against the deluge!” The liberal Catholic will say “Look! There is water coming through the face of the dam!”

  • Anton

    I cannot agree, Your Grace, that “applied theology progresses doctrine”. (I am supposing that you believe this and are not just summarising the Catholic view; do correct me if I am wrong.) We need only the New Testament (in the context of the Old) and exegeses of it for different cultures. We do not need academic theologians who make things needlessly hard; we need only scholars of biblical cultures and languages who are men of faith and can communicate lucidly to today’s culture.

    Any study of the divorce and remarriage scriptures needs to heed two things: (1) divorce, in the Bible, is a matter for the couple, who must then INFORM the authorities (rather than petition them, as today); (2) Jesus treats divorce and remarriage separately and does not suppose that the former automatically confers the right to the latter; he moves from the one issue to the next. (Ancient Jewish certificates of divorce handed by the man to the woman state “you are now permitted to any man”; this was important for the woman to know in view of the penalty for adultery, but it does not necessarily reflect God’s view.)

    So, what did Jesus say?

    Anyone who divorces his wife and [kai] marries another woman commits adultery against [ep] her. And if a woman who divorces her husband marries another man, she commits adultery.. (Mark 10:11-12)

    Anyone who divorces his wife and [kai] marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (Luke 16:18)

    anyone who divorces his wife, not for porneia, and marries another woman commits adultery [and he who marries a divorced woman commits adultery – in some Greek manuscripts]. (Matthew 19:9)

    So Jesus is clear – remarriage after divorce (during the lifetime of the ex) constitutes adultery, with a possible rider relating to porneia in Matt 19:9.

    What about that rider?

    Jesus dos not contradict himself. In two gospels there is no exception, and each gospel writer has no certainty that his readers are going to have access to another account. So there is no exception. But what then does Matt 19:9 mean?

    It means that Jesus is declining to discuss the situation in which a man divorces for porneia and then remarries. He is discussing only situations in which the divorce is for something other than porneia. He says in Matt 19 that remarriage after such a divorce is adulterous and he says nothing in that conversation about remarriage after a divorce for porneia.

    Why did he do that? Because he is talking to Pharisees who were wont to divorce for minor matters such as mispreparing food. (See the Midrash, or ancient Jewish commentary on scripture, denoted Sifré Deuteronomy, part 269; also the Mishnah, tractate Gittin 9:10.) And because porneia is reasonably equivalent to erwat davar which is a Hebrew phrase found in the Jewish divorce regulation in Deuteronomy 24:1-4. Jesus is not doing a scripture study with the Pharisees; he is in a hot discussion with them about their use of excuses to divorce unwanted wives.

    One further point: the Greek rendered as “if a man divorces, and marries another woman…” can equally well mean “if a man divorces in order to marry another woman…” But the latter meaning is excluded because the woman’s adultery in Mark 10:12 takes no account of whether she instituted the divorce in order to marry another man or not.

    As for Matthew 5:31-32, in the second half of verse 32 we see God takes marriage so seriously that a woman who is thrown out cannot remarry even if she is innocent of porneia!

    So, good order in the church will accept that sometimes even Christian married couples bust up, but they must then live singly – as Paul says in 1 Cor 7:10-11. (One should not make too much of the different word Paul uses for divorce in view of the difference I have explained between divorce then and now.)

    What of the Church of Rome? Its distinction between marriages conducted by its own priests and other marriages is specious, for marriage in scripture is like divorce: it is for the couple to inform the authorities, rather than to request. And its excuses for annulment today are dishonest – “I don’t think he was ever sincere.” You must keep your word to your spouse, for that is what matters to God (Gal 3:15). This is really divorce without calling it divorce, in order to get round the fact that the Church of Rome cannot be seen ever to change its mind over matters of doctrine, because it supposedly never makes mistakes. Nevertheless its insistence that remarriage during the lifetime of an “ex” is correct. How I wish that more protestant churches would share this view!

    What about someone who says he is increasingly convinced that Jesus is the divine son of the unique creator God, who died for our sins and was resurrected, but whose first – childless – marriage ended in divorce, and who has since married another woman (who had never been married before), with whom he has several happy children? Meanwhile his first wife has also remarried and has children. Must this man, to enter the church, really dump his second wife and their children and ask his first wife to leave her family?

    Catholics get round this quandary by saying that his first marriage wasn’t really a marriage because it wasn’t conducted as a sacrament by a Catholic priest. If only it were so easy – but it isn’t! This issue must have been raised often in the early church but it is not addressed in any New Testament letter. Why is that? There is sin either way, and God is not in the business of weighing sins against each other in the Bible – his written word is for how to deal with sin. This man and his putative pastor/priest/vicar must consult God themselves. If you approach God with a readiness to obey, he will make clear the course you should take. One size does not fit all in situations in which sin is weighed against sin.

    • And if a woman who divorces her husband marries another man, she commits adultery.. (Mark 10:11-12)

      Until relatively recently, only the man could initiate a no-fault divorce in Jewish law. Roman law, on the other hand, had begun to allow women to initiate divorce. Did this address Romans or assimilated, Romanised Christians?

      • Anton

        The papyrus Se’elim 13 from around Rabbi Akiva’s time appears to be a Jewish statement of divorce by a woman. It was discovered in the Judean desert in 1951.

        • This second century CE document is an isolated anomaly whose interpretation is questioned; it is more likely that it was a receipt for a ketuba payment. Given the unanimous position in Jewish law at the time and for centuries thereafter, even if the document were genuine, it would have had no standing and given the absence of commentary, it’s highly unlikely that it was known about.

          • Anton

            It is written in the format of Jewish bills of divorce of the time and in the presence of named witnesses, and includes the words “I, Shelamzion, daughter of Joseph Kebshan of Ein Gedi, with you, Eleazar son of Hananiah who had been husband before this time, that this is from me to you a bill of divorce and release.” How can that be part of a ketuba?

          • The ketuba interpretation was advanced by two mainstream scholars, one of whom discovered the document. Other than that I’m not familiar with that issue. But what I can say with certainty is that there is no evidencw that this was even a minority practice, as halakhah would certainly have addressed it. In any event, it appears that the document post-dates Jesus’ munistry and it nay well bw an abomaky by a Romazide Jew.

          • Anton

            If you can explain it as part of a ketuba I’d be interested. My guess would be a woman from a wealthy family dumping a husband from a poor one.

          • I can’t explain it, but perhaps Jonas Greenfield and Yada Ardeni, who have written extensively on the issue, can. I still maintain that whatever the origins or rationale for the document may be, it remains as an anomaly which shows no ripples in Jewish or early Judeo-Christian jurisprudence on a serious theological issue. All else is interesting speculation.

          • alternative_perspective

            Avi, I do love how you often shine a Jewish spot light on the Christian faith. Its refreshing to read.

          • dannybhoy

            Agreed. There is much in ‘kosher’ Judaism and practice which we, who believe we have been grafted in can learn from.
            I think the concept of community and being set apart unto God needs to be rediscovered by the Church.

          • Anton

            Persecution will accomplish that.

          • …as well as cleaving to the Almighty’s Covenant with Israel loyally and with joy, through thick and thin and never abandoning the mission to be the light to the Nations, if I may add.

          • Anton

            Some Christians already understand that it is a mistake to suppose God has thrown the Jews onto the scrapheap of history and their return to the Holy Land is an accident of history. It is no accident and I am delighted. They will not be displaced again – but things will get worse before they get better.

          • And I’m delighted by these changes, Anton. Yet, we are still a scattered and divided people in a state of Galut/Exile, the current period of tolerance may be short-lived as at numerous other times and the survival of the Jewish state is not necessarily guaranteed. It’s not that I’m a gloomy pessimist, I do believe that a miracle has occured…is occuring…with the return to and success of Eretz Israel, but the sin which led to our dispersion…disunity and baseless hatred among ourselves…is yet to be conquered.

          • Anton

            You and I disagree, obviously, about the sin for which the Jews were dispersed. It is difficult to believe that the disunity and hatred of which you speak was a sin 25 times worse than that for which the 70-year exile to Babylon took place. (It lasted 25 times as long.) God warned the Jews of the exile to Babylon and there was hatred and exploitation but by far the most odious sin in his nostrils was idolatry. The Jews have done none of that in the last 2000 years, so either the hatred must have been much more than 25 times as bad as before Babylon, or the sin in question has not been identified…

            Moreover, where is the Jew who prophetically warned of the longer exile? i know of only one, Jesus of Nazareth. He is the cure for hatred too. I cannot blame you for not believing that given the historic track record of churches toward Jews, but my own testimony is that this is so.

            You will not be thrown out again. If you don’t believe the New Testament, remember that Amos (9:13-15) speaks of a permanent return, which the return from Babylon proved not to be but which is consistent with the present return.

          • A valiant try, Anton 🙂 You must do what you must do. There are those in my community who insist that good and righteous Christians must now rejoin Israel as Jewish converts. But I’m still with the mainstream view that righteous Gentiles can remain as such, that they have a place in the World to Come and leave things in God’s good hands.

          • Anton

            Shalom and keep thinking.

          • Shalom and blessings!

          • Anton

            Thank you!

          • Hi

            Whatever Jesus or thr Church may have said about Jews being replaced or as Jesus killers, in the Jewish Bible God is consistent in his love for the Jewish people, The Holy One -HaKadosh Baruch Hu- blessed be he- says :

            “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.”(Malachi 3:6)

            “I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. For the land will be desertedby them and will enjoy its sabbaths while it lies desolate without them. They will pay for their sins because they rejected my laws and abhorred my decrees. Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them or abhor them so as to destroy them completely, breaking my covenant with them. I am Adonayi their God. But for their sake I will remember the covenant with their ancestors whom I brought out of Egypt in the sight of the nations to be their God. I am Hashem.’”[Leviticus 26: 42-45]

            Also the sages of blessed memory, in the Talmud relates that when the Jewish people did the will of God that the two cherubim on the Ark of the Covenant faced each other, symbolizing the love between God and His people. (Yoma 54 a) . However, when the Jewish people were sinful the cherubim swivelled away from each other (Bava Batra 99a).

            Thr strangest thing was that when the Temple was destroyed the cherubim were facing each other…. ergo on the surface the destruction appears to be a rupture between God and his people. Yet beneath the surface something else entirely is unfolding. God loves his people and yet despite the suffering He knows we will endure, to achieve a holy purpose for Him, for us and for the nations.

          • Anton

            “Thr strangest thing was that when the Temple was destroyed the cherubim were facing each other”

            Do you mean by the Babylonians or the Romans (AD70)? I thought that the Ark never reappeared after the Babylonian desecration.

          • Babylonians!

          • Anton

            Thanks. I agree strongly with your last paragraph above.

          • dannybhoy

            “Thr strangest thing was that when the Temple was destroyed the
            cherubim were facing each other…. ergo on the surface the
            destruction appears to be a rupture between God and his people.”
            This just legend right?
            The point is that the Covenant relationship was dependent on Israel’s keeping of the conditions imposed by God, and in return God would bless and protect them in their obedience or punish them for their disobedience and worship of false gods.
            This is the heart of Torah and the prophets.
            So something big had to have happened for Israel to have lost the Temple and the city and to be expelled.
            True Christians respect and recognise that Covenant.

          • Hi

            I am simply not up for another long discussion , so I will be brief. It depends on which Jew you go to for an answer. Not unlike asking a Christian if they believed Jesus changing water into wine was a legend. There’s a lot more to Torah than just that. Your description is like examining one little thread of the whole tapestry of God, Jewish history and Judaism.

          • dannybhoy

            But it is Scriptural…
            Deuteronomy 11
            26 “Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you today; 28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known. 29 Now it shall be, when the Lordyour God has brought you into the land which you go to possess, that you shall put the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal.
            30 Are they not on the other side of the Jordan, toward the setting sun, in the land of the Canaanites who dwell in the plain opposite Gilgal, beside the terebinth trees of Moreh? 31 For you will cross over the Jordan and go in to possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you, and you will possess it and dwell in it. 32 And you shall be careful to observe all the statutes and judgments which I set before you today.”
            There are lots of other references Hannah. I say this not to condemn Israel or to justify our own shameful Christian attitudes and treatment of the Jews; simply to repeat the terms of that Covenant relationship.

          • Hi

            I have no idea about the beef here is or why my original post was controversial : My point was not to deny “the scriptural”, but to point out the equally true fact that God loves infinitely the Jewish people, despite our failings and our sin, the two go hand in hand and are not separate . That is the purpose of the cherubin story/event /legend and means to me that whatever we go through God isn’t abandoning us.

            In respect of your summary of the Torah, I was not arguing with your point , simply suggesting that there is more to Torah.For example The Torah is concerned not just with man and God or tribe and God, but family , community, nation, others.

          • dannybhoy

            “I have no idea about the beef here is or why my original post was controversial”
            There is no beef nor controversy. What we are talking about is why God withdrew His hand of protection from the nation of Israel, allowing them to go into exile and to lose the Temple where sacrifices and offerings were conducted by the Cohenim.

          • No that’s trendiest you lead the conversation into.

          • dannybhoy

            You mean it isn’t a legitimate question? That’s fine.

          • Hi

            Goodness no , I’m not into censorship or whatever.

          • And I’ve answered as best I know.

          • Not unlike asking a Christian if they believed Jesus changing water into wine was a legend.”
            Only a “revisionist”, who claims scripture was written dishonestly, would claim this to be a legend – or allegorical – and not miracle.

          • “You and I disagree, obviously…” Ah, yes, Anton, and it will have to stay at that until the Almighty sorts us all out.

          • Anna

            Israel is God’s firstborn and his love for Israel is irrevocable.

            As to the reason for the second dispersal, what do you make of the following scriptures?

            “And the Lord said to me … I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.”

            Deuteronomy 18:17-17 (ESV)

          • I try not to engage in substantive or contentious theological debates here, Anna, as I’m a guest on a Christian site and will not be rude, or in general, as participating in disputations is prohibited to us by still-standing rabbinic decrees dating back to the Middle Ages. Believe you me, I do have my views, but we don’t proselytize and prefer not to be proselytized.

            For any Jews reading this, the Canadian chapter of the anti-missionizing organization, Jews for Judaism, addresses this and other challenges, e.g., ….and don’t be afraid to speak to any authentic, Orthodox rabbi .

          • Anna

            Of course I respect your perspective on this matter, so we won’t discuss the scripture verse. Thanks for the link.

            “…we don’t proselytise…”

            You mentioned in an earlier post about “never abandoning the mission to be the light to the Nations”. How do you hope to achieve this objective without proselytisation?

            If you do not share your faith or bear witness to the truth of God, how can you be “the light to the Nations”? Surely if you have the knowledge of a remedy for my disease, but choose to withhold it from me, is that not selfish? And wrong? What does the world need more than a relationship with our Creator?

            “…and prefer not to be proselytised.”

            Personally I see nothing wrong with sharing one’s faith (provided you do it with gentleness and respect); but this was not my intention in asking you that question. I have enjoyed
            reading many of your posts in this blog and was hoping to gain an insight into the Jewish understanding of this verse.

          • Hi Anna, I know that you mean well and hope that I haven’t implied otherwise. The Jewish prohibition against discussing specific faith issues with adhetents of other religions came from a time when Church authorities set up formal and rigged disputations which were always lose-lose situations for Jews in that they were typically preludes to burnings of the Talmud, forced conversions or confiscations and mass expulsions. If Jews defended their faith vigorously, they were deemed enemies of Christianity to be watched and suppressed or expelled; if meekly, they “proved” the failure of their faith and Covenant, inviting aggressive proselytizing or forced conversions. It has barely been half a century, in a span of millenia, that unrestrained dialogue or criticism could be held safely, so the ruling is not about to be removed soon.

            The commandment to “be a light onto the Nations” is fulfilled not by proselytizing or specific, Jewish religious instruction, but by individual and communal examples of honouring the Torah through religious observance, respect for civil and secular laws, the setting up of courts and social charities, and in general, behaving fairly, justly and honourably within the family, community and with one’s neighbours. Nothing is being witheld from you; our literature and services are open to all and you can fulfill all of the Torah commandments applicable to non-Jews within your own religion or belief system. Honouring God and behaving justly, decently and charitably is the seemingly secret remedy, and it can be found in your own religion as well.

          • Anna

            Thanks for the reply.

            As a Christian, I have always felt it my duty to share my faith, so that others may experience the joy of knowing God through Christ in this life and his eternal presence in the life to come. I am ashamed that I do so little of it.

            Your method of being the ‘light onto the Nations’ does not seem to be very effective, if I may humbly say so. Few people even know what the Jews believe.

            “Honouring God and behaving justly, decently and charitably is the seemingly secret remedy, and it can be found in your own religion as well…”

            You seem to hold that the truth is found in all religions; yet the teachings (of Hinduism, for example) often contradict the Ten Commandments. So it is essential that the truth is shared, and if you are convinced about the truth of your religion (as I am about the Christian way), then you should do it without hesitation.

          • I think you misunderstood my explanation as a kind of an ultra-tolerant hippie approach to all religions, Anna. I was afraid of that when I retead my post.

            No, theological truth is to be found only in the Torah, written and oral, and for those of us in the Covenant, in the opinions of our sages, teachers and courts as well. The standard for monotheism, though …when applied to non-Jews… is very lenient, which is why, for example, Hinduism is treated no differently from Islam or Christianity, even though it may appear to be polytheistic.

            The comnandment to be a light onto all Nations today is limited by the absence of the Temple and centralized authority in the form of a Judaic monarchy and an eccliastic court, the Sanhedrin. If it seems overly formal and technical it is because it is such; we are fundamentally different in many respects. In either case, with or without a centralized authority, this commandment and our theological approach are fulfilled primarily by promoting what Jews do, rather than believe. Wherever there have been Jewish communities, there has been an obvious influence on the establishment of sound docieties with fair courts, rules for stable commerce and social interaction and organised charitability. Faith or transmission of any religious truths or doctrines is difficult if not impossible or irrelevant in a climate of idoltry, idecency, injustice, social and economic chaos and unmitigated poverty. This, the “repairing of the World” as a partnership in God’s creation of the World… is a core belief in Judaism and we think that the best way to actualize it is by example. It may seem unusual or feebly to you, but bear in mind that it is only Christianity and Islam which believe in pro-active, even aggressive missionising.

          • “I do believe that a miracle has occured…is occurring …”
            But, you don’t believe in miracles, Avi.

          • Cheap shot. We discussed this in detail about a year ago, Jack. I take the minority, but fully legitimate and classical position that God performs supernatural miracles through and with the mechanism of His Natural Laws.

          • Jack’s definition is that a true miracle is not explicable by natural or scientific law. Such an event would be directly attributable to God.

          • How does this contradict my definition? The intervention is super-natural by virtue of being an interruption of ordinary events…an act in history; the mechanism is through the “ordinary” Laws of Nature and may themselves appear to be ordinary. So, in the case above, the establishment of a Jewish state in the heels of the near-destruction of Eurooean Jewry and at a time of its greatest weakness, may have been an intervention, even though it engaged political actors, pioneers and soldiers and can be explained entirely in ordinary terms.

          • It contradicts your definition because the reestablishment of the State of Israel, whilst a remarkable event, is explicable by the actions of men. A miracle, as understood by Jack, is an act of God that is outside of natural laws, rather than Him guiding ordinary events. All of history is under the ultimate control of God. The Pillar of Fire and Manna in the desert would qualify as miraculous, for example, as would Elisha’s bones reviving the dead and Elijah raising the widow’s son from the dead.

          • No? It doesn’t contradict my definition, Jack; it reinforces it. Miracles are God’s actions, deviations from the normal flow of history, but are activated by ordinary human actions and acts of nature. Humans and nature are God’s tools for occasionally performing miracles, or assistive interventions for a Divine purpose. All, including the examples you gave can be explained in materialistic terms or as allegories by people whose world view and language was steeped in superstition and mysticism. In practical terms for us, it is the diffetence between believing that our Temple will descend whole from Heaven or that, once again, it will be built by us, by architects, masons, plumbers…and interior decorators, no doubt. The latter will be no less holy, no less miraculous, no less “supernatural” than the former.

            Your problem with understanding the diffetences is that your world view is still fundamentally Pagan; Manichean or dualist, where matter is evil and spirit is good. It seeps into your theology, and political and social thought as well. With that approach you are missing out on the holiness of God’s physical Creation, which he deemed to be good, the miracle of humankind which was made in His image and the profound beauty and significance of His rational, comprehnsible natural laws and order, which were created for our benefit, not to frighten or confuse us.

          • “All, including the examples you gave can be explained in materialistic terms or as allegories by people whose world view and language was steeped in superstition and mysticism.”

            So explain what natural, material processes were at work in the raising of the dead. Are you saying Elisha’s bones reviving the dead and Elijah raising the widow’s son from the dead, were materialist events or claiming they are the allegories of superstitious people?

            Your last paragraph is just obfuscation.

          • We’ve gone over this at least twice before, Jack.

            Emergency resuscitation from near or apparent death (difficult to define even now as it’s a multi-staged not binary process) is a miracle, a genuine miracle thanks to human understanding of natural laws, skills and technologies, performed daily by thousands of people. If your dad awoke from a coma with a poor prognosis after 3 weeks, as mine did a few years ago after an accident, you would immediately, and to the depths of your being, feel the divine power and authenticity of such a miracle.

            Elijah’s bones reviving the dead is defined as an allegory in the Talmud. R’Tana, R’Judah and Rashi classed it as a poetic allegory, with Rashi teaching that it is “an allusion to the Exile – as a dead man come to life the Israelites would return from Exile” (Sanhedrin, 92b). You may disagree, but what you have is another eccmple that the sages of Antiquity …and among them you had Christian and Muslum philosophers as well… were more rational and “modern” than the confused and frighful obscurantists who followed.

            My last paragraph is a clarification; it zeroes-in on the intellectual underpinnings, paradigms and axioms behind your errors 😉

          • So Elijah raising the widow’s son from the dead was an early account of resuscitation, was it? And Jeroboam’s hand withering, what was that? And death of the firstborn in the land of Egypt? That was a virus that just happened to single out the firstborn?

          • Still no get? All these miracles were manifested through natural and physical phenomena! Resuscitation, a hand withering, death of children. The miracle was in the focus, timing and impact on history. Ditto for miraculous battles for the land of Israel employing ordinary people and weapons and Israel flourishing when others with bigger populations, more land, few or no enemies and a wealth of natural resources struggle or fail.

          • You really can’t see the difference between God acting outside the laws of His natural universe and the Providence of God?

            >i>”The miracle was in the focus, timing and impact on history” – of bringing a person back to life, the withering of a hand and the targeted death of the first born of Egypt, including their cattle.

            These events can were direct interventions by God outwith the usual natural processes. The Jewish Testament is replete with other examples.

            “Ditto for miraculous battles for the land of Israel employing ordinary people and weapons and Israel flourishing when others with bigger populations, more land, few or no enemies and a wealth of natural resources struggle or fail.”
            Well it was rather fortunate the Jordan river parted and the walls of Jericho fell. God controls history so events in the history of the Jews can be seen a manifestation of His sovereignty over the nations using faithful – and sometimes unfaithful – people to achieve His purposes with the odd miracle thrown in when required. But, of course, men and women had to exert personal effort in these scenarios.

          • CliveM

            I agree with your definition. All to often events in the Bible are written off as natural events. So what? If God created that natural event as part of his purpose, then for me it is a miracle. Apologies for the following example! But if the star over Bethlehem was simply a comet, why should that matter. The Comet is part of Gods purpose. It was created to be the star. It’s ‘intervention’ is the miracle.

          • dannybhoy

            Although as Creator and Originator, He can also suspend them.

          • Yes, He can do anything. He can make it all disappear or turn it pink and purple, give us all wings or jet-packs, send monsters and goblins among us, make time run backwards, remove gravitational force, flip us into a one-dimensional cosmos or crunch existence to an app in a hard drive . But He doesn’t do any of this because the world He made for us operates according to a logical order which we can comprehend and work with. Just because we are used to it, because we impiously came to think of it as mundane, it doesn’t (or shouldn’t) mean that it is not miraculous and utterly mind-blowing.

          • dannybhoy

            “But He doesn’t do any of this because the world He made for us operates according to a logical order which we can comprehend and work with.”
            He wouldn’t do any of those examples you gave because He is reasonable, as stated in Isaiah 1…
            “18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith Hashem; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
            Orthodox Jewish Bible

            So God is consistent in His attributes, and as Creator there is nothing to say that He could not intervene or suspend a law that He designed, in order to convince the people that He is Almighty God.

            Shemot 24:9-11Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)
            9 “Then went up Moshe, and Aharon, Nadav, and Avihu, and shiv’im Ziknei Yisroel; 10 And they saw the Elohei Yisroel; and there was under His feet the likeness of sapphire stone pavement, and like the very Shomayim in its clearness. 11 And against the leaders of the Bnei Yisroel He laid not His yad; also they saw HaElohim, and did eat and drink.”
            Did God reveal Himself to the leadership of Israel?
            I believe He did.

            The Scriptures say that He did.
            Else, what did they see?

          • They “saw” aspects and “human-ready” and comprehensible manifestations He chose to reveal. Note that there is no description of “Elohei Israel,” and one can question whether they literally “saw” Him or perceived Him by other means. In contrast, the base or the something “under His (figurative) feet” is likened to a material and a colour familiar to the men.

            But the argument I have been making to Jack is not that God cannot suspend, violate or toy with nature to impress us or get our attention, but that He generally doesn’t and that because an event looks mundane (to our jaded eyes) and is explicable by natural laws (which are no less astounding regardless of our familiarity with them), this diesn’t disqualify it from being a genuine miracle, as the act us judged by its effects not the means of transmission.

          • dannybhoy

            They “saw” aspects and “human-ready” and comprehensible manifestations He chose to reveal.

            Agreed, and whatever they saw, it was God who intiated it.

            “but that He generally doesn’t”

            Agreed, and when He does it is always for a serious purpose.

            I don’t think there is any real disagreement here. I have been greatly moved in Jewish services by the singing and the solemnity and I see it as a manifestation of God’s presence, and if you like a demonstration of His love for your people.

            I recently discovered Simcha Leiner’s music. I find it similarly uplifting..

          • Nice!!! Here is the impossible tune that inspired me on the world-wide shabbat this past weekend; Matisyahu’s haunting rendition of the kiddush (which I’m guilty of sometimes speeding through from familiarity and habit):


            And my favourite in’yer-face moment, him facing off the BDS crowd with the giant Palestinian flags at the Festival in Spain where they tried to ban him:


          • dannybhoy

            He’s the guy who was banned then reinstated by the Rototom Sunsplash Festival…
            Too funky for me. Maybe if I was a pot smoker I might like it more..
            Here’s the reggae I like..


            Old time is best..

          • Not bad…for 60’s rock/Motown…not very Reggae, though. Hinys of it. And Matisyahu’s tame as a lamb compared to the kind of Heavy Metal Christian Rock a Pentecostal friend of mine scteeches and riffs through. Me, I’m old Genesis (with Gabriel, Rutherford and Hackett)…and a fanatical classic (Jethro) Tull-head.

          • dannybhoy

            Historically one might argue that it was purely circumstantial that Great Britain was recognised as holding the mandate for Palestine by the League of Nations..
            “The draft of the Mandate for Palestine was formally confirmed by the Council of the League of Nations on 24 July 1922, supplemented via the 16 September 1922 Trans-Jordan memorandum[2][3] and then came into effect on 29 September 1923[2] following the ratification of the Treaty of Lausanne.[4][5] The mandate ended at midnight on 14 May 1948. The Palestine Mandate legalized the temporary rule of Palestine by Great Britain.”

            That the Zionist Chaim Weitzman invented acetone, and was rewarded by the British Government with the signing of the Balfour Declaration on 2 November 1917..

            One could argue that it was ‘happenstance’, but I believe that God intervened and used Great Britain’s leadership (some of whom were devout Christians), to initiate the return of the Jews to their ancient homeland and to eventually establish a secular State there.

          • Glad to amuse, Alternative. I do try to steer clear of theology (mostly), as this is a Christian blog, and to comment only on issues which address Judaism.

          • alternative_perspective

            Im pleased to see we have someone with a firm grasp of scripture on this topic here, personally I’ve never studied the bible for this purpose and am great fully absorbing your notes.

          • Anton

            This is the hottest and most difficult topic in exegesis. I’m flattered but please read other commentators too and reach your own conclusions.

          • Anton
    • Anton, the Catholic Church accepts the validity of non-Catholic marriage at face value – in another faith and also civilly – because she accepts natural marriage as a fact. They will look at the circumstances if someone converts and/or wants to remarry. It is Catholics who are bound by Canon Law and must be married with a Catholic priest overseeing the sacrament. If they are not the marriage is not accepted.
      As for annulment, it is the state of mind of the couple at the time of their marriage that counts, not what happens thereafter. People do lie at marriage ceremonies;people may not understand Catholic teaching about the purposes of marriage; they may not fully comprehend it is permanent. We live in times where the Church has not been as clear as it should be about marriage. It is these situations the annulment should properly address i.e. where no valid marriage took place. True the process can and is misused and in some cases is tantamount to a Catholic ‘divorce’. In those situations, objectively, any couple ‘remarrying’ are committing adultery and, if they do so knowingly, they compound their sin by sacrilege – and so do those colluding in the process.

      • Anton

        It is not – or should not be – the state of mind of the man or woman that counts. It is what they say freely to each other. State of mind cannot be known with certainty and when someone wants a divorce (sorry, annulment) it is easy to be slippery about what you really thought or felt several years earlier, or to speak in a loaded manner about what you think someone else was thinking.

        Marriage is a covenant, and what covenant is annullable because one party wasn’t sincere? See Galatians 3:15.

        Of course it is Catholics who undergo marriages which Rome regards as indissoluble. but Rome still regards other marriages as potentially dissoluble and I protest that all wedding vows are treated with equal seriousness in heaven.

        • Jack’s preferred translation of that verse reads:

          “Brethren, let me take an argument from common life. A valid legal disposition made by an ordinary human being cannot afterwards be set aside; no one can make fresh provisions in it.”

          If a person does not fully comprehend what they are saying then it cannot be said it is free and therefore the contract valid. Basic contract law is that commitments are made with full understanding and given freely. A man or woman may be conned during the ceremony by their intended spouse who has a lover they are not willing to forgo. They may be forced by their family. They may not intend to have children. It happens.

          The Church will apply the very same standards to all marriages regardless of where or by whom they are conducted. And Jack agrees, what counts is they are made before God.

          • Anton

            Don’t understand the words they are saying? Nobody getting married is in the slightest doubt of the meaning of those words. I they were they would have sought clarification, and the persons officiating are meant to check all that up. These vows are designed for the general population. They are not rareified aspects of tax law.

            The word DIATHEKE which you translate “legal disposition” is that which in the Septuagint is always used to translate the Hebrew BERITH which we know as “covenant”.

          • “Nobody getting married is in the slightest doubt of the meaning of those words.”
            That’s what an annulment considers. Do people actually understand and accept Catholic views on marriage. Plus, one party may understand the words, just not agree whatever he/she says.

          • Anton

            People are responsible for their words.

            Suppose I make a business contract which I privately have no intention of keeping. Is that annullable too?

          • That’s fraud and business dealings are not sacramental marriage. The permanent bond is only established if both commit.

          • Anton

            Marriage is a covenant. That’s explicit in scripture (eg Proverbs 2:17). We needn’t discuss the issue of whether it is also a sacrament (on which we might disagree); the point is that it involves – but is more than – a contract, and contracts are binding up on the word of the two parties.

          • Well, we’ve run into a cul-de-sac here.

    • chiefofsinners

      Thanks, Anton. You’ve saved me half an hour of typing by laying out exactly the biblical teaching on marriage. Anyone who wishes to base their faith on scripture rather than “church traditions” or “applied theology” need look no further.

      • Anton

        Thank you! People should read other commentators too and make their own decision on what the Bible says. What they shouldn’t do is assume that the leaders of their congregation have it right.

        • chiefofsinners

          That’s true. This topic, more than any other, is one where people’s interpretation of scripture is influenced by what they want it to say.

          • Anton

            It is important to study it BEFORE you fall in love.

          • The very reason Christ established an Apostolic Church and gave it authority to speak in His name.

          • Anton

            To save time at this point, readers might look at the paragraph, in my lengthy post above, which both critiques and praises the Roman Catholic church’s position, and the resulting exchange I had with Jack.

          • chiefofsinners

            Hmm. Yes. The difference between us being that I believe the apostles were those directly commissioned by the Lord, as 1 Cor. chapters 9 and 15 make clear.

    • Albert

      I was with you quite a long way through this, and then I read this:

      It means that Jesus is declining to discuss the situation in which a man divorces for porneia and then remarries. He is discussing only situations in which the divorce is for something other than porneia. He says in Matt 19 that remarriage after such a divorce is adulterous and he says nothing in that conversation about remarriage after a divorce for porneia.

      At one level, the meaning here does not make a lot of difference, since, as you say As for Matthew 5:31-32, in the second half of verse 32 we see God takes marriage so seriously that a woman who is thrown out cannot remarry even if she is innocent of porneia! The fact is that Jesus teaches any second marriage is adultery. And since of course, an adulterous marriage is not a marriage at all (it’s bigamy) it’s obviously impossible for Christian communities to solemnise such “marriages”.

      However, I’m not so sure that Jesus is simply refusing to comment on this – in a sense, he already has by declaring the remarriage of the “innocent” party, adultery. I think Jesus just means that if a man divorces his wife, he makes her an adulteress (because she will marry again), but if she has already left him, and he therefore divorces her, then he is not the cause of her adultery – she is. Obviously, this permission for him to divorce his wayward wife is not permission for him to marry again, for Jesus rules that out for the “innocent” party in that very saying.

      A couple of other things:

      Its distinction between marriages conducted by its own priests and other marriages is specious, for marriage in scripture is like divorce: it is up to the couple to inform the authorities that they are marrying, rather than request it.

      This distinction does not exist as such. A marriage between two Protestants celebrated in the CofE or between two atheists celebrated in a castle somewhere, are just as valid as those between Catholics before a priest. The issue applies simply to Catholics. The Church asks “What must a Catholic couple do to marry?” This is a fair question. It replies effectively that the marriage is not a private institution, but involves the Church. Thus, for Catholics, and Catholics only, they must either be married in Church in the presence of a priest or they must have permission to be married elsewhere.

      And Rome’s excuses for annulment today are dishonest – “I don’t think he was ever sincere.” You must keep your word to your spouse, for that is what matters to God (Gal 3:15). This is really divorce without calling it divorce, in order to get round the fact that the Church of Rome cannot be seen ever to change its mind over matters of doctrine, because it supposedly never makes mistakes.

      This is clearly not the case, as the fact that we are arguing about communion demonstrates. The fact is that a marriage may be invalid because the subjective conditions were not met. If that is the case, then annulment, for these sorts of reasons becomes not only possible but also just.

      Your later example concerns the Pauline Privilege. I cannot comment on that, because I’ve never understood it (still less do I get the Petrine Privilege)!

      • Anton

        We agree that to marry another during the lifetime of an “ex” is adulterous, but if you reject my explanation of the phrase “not for porneia” in Matt 19:9 then you’ll need to provide your own.

        You wrote:

        A marriage between two Protestants celebrated in the CofE or between two atheists celebrated in a castle somewhere, are just as valid as those between Catholics before a priest.

        I would be glad if that were so, but is it not the case that Rome regards marriages contracted before a Catholic priest as indissoluble because it regards them as “sacramental” in contrast to other marriages?

        As for annulment as divorce by another name in the great majority of cases inside the RC church, please see my exchange with Jack on this thread. What do you think has changed, that this is increasingly routine whereas in the Middle Ages it was all but unknown?

        • Albert

          We agree that to marry another during the lifetime of an “ex” is adulterous, but if you reject my explanation of the phrase “not for porneia” in Matt 19:9 then you’ll need to provide your own.

          I thought I had. Jesus is saying a man who divorces his wife makes his wife an adulteress – but not if he divorces her because she has already left him.

          I would be glad if that were so, but is it not the case that Rome regards marriages contracted before a Catholic priest as indissoluble because it regards them as “sacramental” in contrast to other marriages?

          No, a valid marriage between two baptised Protestants is also sacramental and indissoluble, likewise (as I understand it) a valid marriage between two unbaptized persons is also indissoluble.

          Now as for your discussion with Jack, I can’t really see that you’ve got the better of him. Here’s a point, the application of which, I would question:

          the point is that it involves – but is more than – a contract, and contracts are binding upon the word of the two parties.

          I agree with that, but think that there are examples, both within and without marriage, when it becomes clear that one of the parties did not intend (or was not able to deliver on) what they promised. So, if Fred marries Sue hoping for children, but Sue never had any intention of having children despite the fact that openness to procreation is entailed by marriage, Fred surely is not bound by that agreement, for Sue has in effect invalidated her side of the agreement even in the act of making it?

          I completely accept that the annulment process may sometimes be abused, but that does not alter the rightness of having the process.

          What do you think has changed, that this is increasingly routine whereas in the Middle Ages it was all but unknown?

          The theology of annulment was well-known enough. The moment one speaks of what makes a valid marriage, or impediments etc. one necessarily allows the possibility of annulment – the fact that many Protestants don’t seem to follow the logic here is evidence of their illogicality (as on many matters of marriage), not of the impermissibility of Catholic practice. Why has there been a increase in Catholic annulments? My guess is that it is to do with education – people come to know what is possible. But that’s just a guess, and does not alter the theology.

          • Anton

            About your explanation of “not for porneia” in Matt 19:9, I don’t think you can treat it in the same way as the similar phrase in Matt 5:31-2 and use that parallel to “write into” Matt 19 the phrase from Matt 5, “makes her to be adulterous”. This is common practice but the two contexts are very different: one in which Jesus is teaching an attentive crowd, the other in which he is having a heated argument with Pharisees who were notorious for dumping unwanted wives for minor matters. Please explain “not for porneia” in Matt 19:9 in its own context.

            Regarding Fred and Sue, the problem is that you can’t be certain what was in someone’s mind years earlier, and you can’t be certain that someone is telling the truth today about the situation at the time of the wedding. There is plenty of incentive to lie. What you can be certain of is what they SAID, which is why that should be definitive – for the sake of the institution of marriage. Fred got to know Sue well enough to risk that she was lying when she took vows with him. Remarriages after divorce is weakening the institution of marriage, and remarriage after contrived annulment is, unhappily, the Catholic analogue. It is obvious to an unbiased observer that the surge in the number of annulments in the last 100 years is an accommodation to the world rather than a demonstration of greater ecclesiastical compassion. It is no secret that many conservative Catholic priests are aware of that and are unhappy about it. Annulment cannot be called divorce but in the great majority of cases that is what it is, albeit by another name because Rome cannot be seen to change its mind, in order to preserve its questionable claim of inerrancy.

            I am willing to be corrected about whether Rome regards any marriages not conducted by a Catholic priest as dissoluble. Two questions. Can you, as a Catholic, point me to where in the Catechism marriages are affirmed as indissoluble in Rome’s eyes regardless of who officiates and of the faith of the man and woman? Second, has Rome ever changed its view of any such marriage?

          • Albert

            This is common practice but the two contexts are very different: one in which Jesus is teaching an attentive crowd, the other in which he is having a heated argument with Pharisees who were notorious for dumping unwanted wives for minor matters. Please explain “not for porneia” in Matt 19:9 in its own context.

            I would say I am. You are placing a great deal of emphasis on the Pharisees. I would place the emphasis on Jesus. He is teaching, even when he argues.

            Regarding Fred and Sue, the problem is that you can’t be certain what was in someone’s mind years earlier, and you can’t be certain that someone is telling the truth today about the situation at the time of the wedding. There is plenty of incentive to lie.

            In the case I gave, it is straight forward. No child appears, eventually Sue admits that she has been taking the pill. In this example, and in many others, the incentive to lie would actually result in the annulment being refused. Sue would be saying, for example, that she never took contraception, and did not conceive because of fertility reasons. In other examples, there may be a genuine psychological condition that can be medically tested. How much do you know about the procedure of annulment in the Catholic Church? Who has to testify and with what evidence? Your position is only tenable if you have a good grasp of the procedure.

            It is obvious to an unbiased observer that the surge in the number of annulments in the last 100 years is an accommodation to the world rather than a demonstration of greater ecclesiastical compassion.

            Am I to take it that you are the unbiased observer?! Your example could equally be explained by the fact that in more pro-marriage societies, the validity of invalid marriages was never tested.

            Annulment cannot be called divorce but in the great majority of cases that is what it is

            What are your sources for this claim – “the great majority of cases”?

            You lump all protestants together in your comment about illogicality, but at other times you grumble that we cannot be lumped together because of our divergent views of certain theological matters. Isn’t this having it both ways?

            When I re-read what I had written, I noticed that point and added a correction:

            the fact that many Protestants don’t seem to follow the logic here is evidence of their illogicality

            I added the word “many” there for the reason you complain about – perhaps it did not show up on the version you read?

            Two questions. Can you, as a Catholic, point me to where in the Catechism marriages are affirmed as indissoluble in Rome’s eyes regardless of who officiates and of the faith of the man and woman?

            That’s probably not a Catechism point, but a canon law point. I normally defer to Happy Jack on matters of canon law, because I can never remember the details even when I know them! But your point seems to be answered by the following:

            Can. 1055 §1. The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring, has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament between the baptized.

            §2. For this reason, a valid matrimonial contract cannot exist between the baptized without it being by that fact a sacrament.

            Can. 1056 The essential properties of marriage are unity and indissolubility, which in Christian marriage obtain a special firmness by reason of the sacrament.

            There’s no mention here of who officiates. Of course, different societies have the right to determine that. But once a society has determined that, then, provided the criteria are just, the validity of the marriage rests on that. This is why a marriage celebrated between two atheists in a castle before a registrar is considered valid by the Church, but two Catholics doing the same would be regarded as invalid.

            Is this what you mean by your last question? I would have thought that for as long as the Church has reflected on marriage she will have regarded its validity as resting on the usual things, eligibility, form, right minister etc. These things of course will change from place to place and time to time (the age at which a valid marriage can be contracted will change from country to country, for example), but I would have thought the principle that those things need to be in place according to local law would remain pretty stable.

          • Anton

            Certainly Jesus is speaking truth to the Pharisees. That’s why he’s getting under the skin – I’m sure we agree on that. I think that by saying “not for porneia” he’s preventing them diverting the discussion into one on remarriage generally and forcing the spotlight to stay on their corrupt practice. It doesn’t matter much; we agree on the conclusions for different reasons.

            “Your position is only tenable if you have a good grasp of the procedure.”

            I don’t need to know the legalities to know that it boils down to one person’s word against another about what they were thinking many years earlier – and that the motivation to lie is present in at least one of the pair. Secular law courts find such things the hardest to deal with, and ecclesiastical courts have notoriously lagged behind them in regard to safeguards to ensure impartiality. So I’m sceptical. But in any case, you will find plenty of traditionalist Catholics who regard divorce as having sneaked into their church under another name. If not to me, how would you reply to them?

            Thank you for the reference from canon law, but I am concerned by that comment, “which in Christian marriage obtain a special firmness by reason of the sacrament”. The phrase “special firmness” suggest to me that non-Christian marriages aren’t viewed by Rome as equally indissoluble as Christian ones.

            My other question was based on my concern that Rome might have changed while appearing not to. Thanks and I’ll ask others offline.

          • Albert

            I don’t need to know the legalities to know that it boils down to one person’s word against another about what they were thinking many years earlier – and that the motivation to lie is present in at least one of the pair.

            My understanding is that the process is tiresome and detailed – that lots of people are involved, that it is difficult is one of the parties does not wish to be involved. But in reality, what does someone gain from lying? In the end, in Western society, people can just divorce and remarry. Catholics who do so can easily receive communion in practice. Annulment is expensive. Those who go for the annulment process aren’t so much after a legal permission from the Church to remarry, as a judgement that, in the eyes of God, they weren’t married already. You can lie to a tribunal, but you can’t cheat God.

            Having said that, I am sure, as you say, that there are examples of misuse and abuse. The last two popes have tried to tighten it all up. So I’m not at all denying a point you are making. But would deny that annulment is simply Catholic divorce. It isn’t, even though it may be used as such.

            The phrase “special firmness” suggest to me that non-Christian marriages aren’t viewed by Rome as equally indissoluble as Christian ones.

            I wonder what that means. It might be there to take account of the Petrine and Pauline Privileges. Or it may just be a way of saying “it’s never possible to dissolve a valid marriage, but there are even more problems with dissolving a sacramental marriage. And that last point seems to me to be right.

  • On retreat at present and trying not to read many blogs, but got 20 minutes before Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament so I’ll weigh in with a single question. Could it be that a Synod that is being claimed as a victory by both sides might actually (gasp) have by some miracle of the Holy Spirit got the balance right?

    Just a thought.

    • The Explorer

      I know one side believes in the Holy Spirit. Does the other?

      • Perhaps both sides would consider the other to be misrepresenting the final document, and both sides believe in the Holy Spirit but have different views on which bishops were guided by it? 🙂

        • The best NCR and other liberals can come up with is:

          “While the words in the document lack specificity, they may signify a notable shift in the church’s practice that divorced and remarried persons cannot take Communion without receiving annulments of their first marriages.”

          The words in the document as a whole suggest no such thing and this is mere liberal-progressive misrepresentation

          • How then would you answer Fr Thomas Reese SJ on that same site you got banned from?


            “Who lost? Those who wanted to emphasize the law over mercy, who were opposed to any changes in church practice.

            Why do I know they lost? Because it was they who fiercely attacked the paragraphs dealing with divorce and remarriage, but they were defeated when the votes were counted.

            In the days ahead, conservatives may attempt to spin the final recommendations in a way that supports their position, but they cannot get away with that unless they answer the question, “then why did you so fiercely oppose these paragraphs?”

          • Kate

            Cardinal Pell has stated that he was soooo happy with the document which he considered a miracle, because it reaffrimed current doctrine, discipline AND praxis. They only chose a kinder “more verbose” (in his words) way to restate the current practice (not just doctrine!).… Cardinal Muller also affirmed there is not a thing in the document that in any way contains doctrinal error.

          • And Cardinal Pell should know.

          • So now we wait to see what His Holiness will make of the whole thing 🙂 I’m out for the night, good night all 🙂

          • He’s between a Rock (the Church) and a hard place (the Kasperites, homosexualists and assorted heterodox bishops). Has he the courage to oppose the majority of bishops? Does he really want to? Jack just cannot fathom the man but is losing confidence in him as the leader of the Church as each day passes.

          • The paragraph, number 85, he’s referring to was passed by one vote. It does not permit the divorce and remarried to use the “internal forum” to decide whether to receive Communion.

            It passed, despite one ambiguous sentence, because a sufficient numbers of bishops (45 appointed personally by Francis) accept that a way has to be found to reach out to those in these situations and include them in the Church for their sake and the sake of their children. And Jack would agree with this too. The intention is bring them to a fuller understanding of Church teaching and enable them to resolve their situations.

            The liberal NCR and many of its commenters are hailing it as a victory for private conscience over Church teaching. It isn’t this at all.

            Paragraphs 84 and 85 require a careful reading – as does the entire document.

          • CliveM

            Happy Jack

            The problem with ambiguity is that it doesn’t matter how small it is, it has the habit of becoming infinitely malleable.

          • A better word is “soft” rather than ambiguous. That’s why paragraph 85 was passed by a single vote. It “lacks specificity” but the document upholds Catholic teaching.

          • CliveM

            Happy Jack

            If I understand right, Bishops have recently been handed greater authority in how a divorcée is dealt with pastorally and whether a marriage is annulled.

            You watch how this ambiguity,(softness if you like), along with their new responsibilities, gets played by the more liberal Bishops

          • Liberal priests and bishops have been doing this since Humanae Vitae and Vatican II. It’s just out in the open more now and orthodox and heterodox bishops have been in open conflict.
            The Synod has recommended no such pastoral discretion in granting the divorced and remarried access to Communion. Their text underscores orthodox teaching. It rests in the hands of Pope Francis now as the Synod is a body making recommendations to him. Changes introduced earlier by Pope Francis to the annulment process speed it up and do allow Bishops to act more independently, this is so. Nevertheless, grounds do still have to be present.
            All Catholics will be watching events carefully.

    • Not if one side is misrepresenting the outcome; no.

  • Martin

    I await His Grace’s commentary on those other sects, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons and Seventh Day Adventists. 😉

    • carl jacobs

      … Arminians …

      Ow! Ouch! Ow! I’m a baaaaaad Calvinist!

      • Martin


        Oh, I’d forgotten them. 😉

        • carl jacobs

          They fit right in there between Unitarians and Freemasons. 😉

          • The Explorer

            No they don’t. Arminians are Trinitarian.

          • Anton

            It would be a great help if Arminians and Calvinists could first find a statement that they agree to disagree on. As it is there is too much talking past each other.

          • carl jacobs

            a statement that they agree to disagree on.

            Regeneration precedes faith.

          • Anton

            Well, that’s a proposal by a Calvinist. Any Arminian prepared to agree that they disagree with it?

          • The Explorer

            Interesting point. Does the regeneration produce the faith, or does the faith produce the regeneration?

          • Martin


            Faith is the gift of God.

          • The Explorer

            Agreed. ‘Ephesians-‘ 2:8. That this cannot be ignored is one of the real insights of Calvinism.

          • Not a new insight at all. t is a standard doctrine of Catholicism.

          • The Explorer

            I didn’t suggest it was new: Calvin, after all, regurgitated Augustine. I said it was a real insight: one of the things Calvinism is right to insist on.

          • Well of course Calvinism is right to insist on it. It’s where Calvin takes it that is the central issue. He would have it that God reserves to gift for the predestined elect who are otherwise dead in their sin and totally degenerate. Catholicism believes faith it is freely available to all men through sufficient grace but that it can be and is resisted by man.

          • The Explorer

            I’m with Catholicism.

          • As are all people who understand and appreciate scripture and the life and teachings of Jesus Christ about His Father and the plan for man’s salvation.

          • Manfarang

            He is mixing them up with Arians.

      • Rasher Bacon

        Didn’t they get massacred by the Ottomans?

        • carl jacobs

          Nah. Arminian massacres generally occur when they try to debate Free Will.

          • William Lewis

            But it’s not a foregone conclusion.

          • carl jacobs

            Yes, more like “predestined.”. 🙂

          • William Lewis

            Luckily, Arminians get to choose whether to debate free will, or not. 🙂

        • The Explorer

          That was the Armenians.

          • Rasher Bacon

            Oh no! And there was me thinking a bit of vowel play might go unnoticed.

          • The Explorer

            A thing of mine. There was a time when I thought Armenians and Arminians were variant spellings of the same thing. I wondered why Armenians were so interested in Calvinist theology.

      • Rasher Bacon

        If you’re a Calvinist, have you read ‘The days are just packed”? or “Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat” Very closely linked with Hobbes.

        • carl jacobs

          Hobbes likes Tuna fish sandwiches, I hear.

      • Is there such a thing as a good Calvinist?

        • carl jacobs

          Depends on what you mean by “good.”

          • Indeed it does.

          • carl jacobs

            If, for example, you were asking “Is it possible for a Calvinist to be a comedic genius?” then I would say “Yes, I am living proof.”

          • Well that certainly had Jack in stitches.

          • carl jacobs

            The British are not known for their highly developed sense of humor, Jack. Just look at what passes for British comedy.

          • Best stop whilst you’re ahead, Carl. Now when you are attacking the French ….

          • carl jacobs

            Scene: A Cafeteria in France.

            Man: What are you doing here?
            Woman: I am waiting for a man.
            Man: I am waiting for a rhinoceros.
            Woman: How very boring.
            Man: Life is a dreary void. Let’s have sex while we wait to die.
            Woman: Well perhaps. Let me finish my cigarette first.

          • That’s pretty good for modern theatre, Carl. Almost as good as *Waiting for Godot.* You missed your calling.

          • carl jacobs

            Yes, but does your wife approve?

          • I wouldn’t show this to her; she might make me watch it if it makes it to production.

          • carl jacobs

            Wait. So I could get PAID for this?

          • Don’t get carried away just yet. Start by busking at marijuana cafes in Colorado and work your way up to church basement theatre. (O, what disaster have I wrought!)

          • carl jacobs

            Interesting. I once heard that the end of “2001: A Space Odyssey” actually makes sense if you are stoned. It must be the secret to modern art.

          • Anton

            But you’ll never explain it once you are no longer stoned.

            Modern art is easy to explain: money for nothing. There have always been charlatans but only in the modern era have the critics told the people that charlatanism is art, and only in the modern era have the people hearkened. We live in degenerate times.

          • carl jacobs

            What you have read above is the beginning of my new play “Waiting for Godot’s Rhinoceros.” It will reveal the essential emptiness and absurdity of bourgeoisie Capitalist society and its cloistering patriarchal oppression. Lesser minds will not appreciate its truly profound and shocking insights. I will sell it for $10 Million dollars and move to Paris. There I shall starve yet somehow comfortably as I despise the filthy lucre I have received for exposing the truth.

            Please, pass the woman.

          • No, no, leave that bit as is. Spend the next two acts pacing around, looking at your watch, sighing audibly and feeding the pidgeons. Much more poignant, and when your audience slips into a coma, you can clean out their wallets.

          • carl jacobs

            And thus does the audience become part of the play. The effect would be profound. And it wouldn’t actually be stealing. It would be artistic license. Any financial loss would be more than compensated by the gain of spiritual enlightenment.

            I am an artistic genius! Sometimes my creativity just cannot be stopped.

          • Stealing? What an archaic term. Nowadays it’s called “supporting the arts.”

          • carl jacobs

            A Great Artiste cannot steal. He merely channels his ideas through mortals and other lesser creatures.

          • IanCad


            I once paid you the supreme compliment of mentioning your name, along with that of Edward Gibbon, in a discussion that resulted in me changing my views on the retributive dimension of punishment.

            You, and the author of The Rise and Fall – Carl Jacobs and Edward Gibbon – in the same sentence. Both have a sense of rectitude and are similar of meter. Play around with them: Jacobs & Gibbon.

            Reverse them and there you have it – Gibbon Jacobs. What a name! Absolutely perfect for the hero in your new play.

          • carl jacobs

            Hrmmm. I like this idea. Although I prefer Jacob Gibbon. From Toulouse, no doubt.

            Waiter: What do you want? I’m busy.
            Gibbon: A Roast Beef dinner.
            Waiter: We don’t serve rosbiff. English dog.
            [Waiter walks away]
            Gibbon: I’m not English. I’m French. From Toulouse.
            [Brief pause]
            Gibbon: And it’s rhinoceros! Not dog.

          • IanCad

            This is getting preposeros.

          • Take my word for it; it doesn’t. Probably because by then the effects have worn off and after too many trips for more popcorn and chocolate to satisfy the munchies, tripping in the dark over the legs of irate people on the way back and friends who won’t stop giggling or sharing profound thoughts and visions, key scenes have been missed.

          • The Explorer

            “What’s wrong with the ending of ‘Space Odyssey’? Eighteenth-Century civilisation died out (the fallen wine glass) and gave way to the modern world. Human life on Earth is replaced by human life on other planets. One generation dies, but its descendants carry on. In that sense, the human race is constantly reborn. The black stone is like one of the Stone tablets of the Ten Commandments: the rules that hold a society together. Simples.

          • carl jacobs

            So. Been spending some time in Colorado, have you, Explorer.

          • The Explorer

            ?? That’s too American for me. Please explain.

          • carl jacobs

            Colorado is famous for having legalized marijuana. When you go through the security line at Denver International Airport, there is a little container for disposal of any extra weed. One has to wonder what happens to all that stuff.

          • Ingredients for a refereed pot-tadting sbord banquet at the annual Customs and Immigration shin-dig?

          • Very droll. Now if it had been two men ….

          • carl jacobs

            Reactionary Philistine. What do you know of great art?

          • Sam


            The French term would be cafe . (cafe has a dash over the last e for whatever reason).

          • carl jacobs

            You mean … Using the term “cafeteria” in this context would annoy the French?

            Heaven forfend!

          • Manfarang

            Humour doesn’t travel.

          • carl jacobs

            Monty Python traveled. And that’s how far back you have to go to find Good British Humour – Humour of the Queen.

            When half of your punch lines lie dead in the ditch
            Don’t call your delivery a cross eyed old bitch.
            It’s British as you are, so treat it as sich
            And we’ll laugh at the Good British humour

    • …. and Calvinists.

      • carl jacobs

        Derivative. Very derivative.

      • Martin


        The CoE is Calvinist, or more correctly Reformed, in its doctrine.

    • IanCad

      Can’t speak for the others Martin, but I’ve been posting here for a long while and have made no secret of the fact that I’m an SDA.
      We look, and hope for, for the soon coming of Our Lord. Our salvation is by grace through Christ. The doctrine of an ever-burning, everlasting Hell is rejected, as is the immortality of the soul. The denomination has been at the forefront in the struggle for religious liberty.
      And, of course, we worship on the Sabbath of God.
      About twenty million of us worldwide.

  • Quote of the day on Pope Francis:

    “His own bishops trust him less than a Palestinian used car dealer.”

    • Hi Jack

      I popped over to Mundabor……He’s really running a parody Catholic site like the Catholic version of the Landover Baptist Church site?

      But why do you think he is so cool?Why has he got a picture of the fascist Franco on his blog as a source of inspiration? Why is he so sensitive to criticism by not allowing any other opinion but his own inflated ego and self opinion, but is distinctly un senstitive when it comes to him dishing it to those he doesn’t like (Ironically his own church leadership , but less surprising homosexuals).

      Come on. The ultra orthodox Catholics can surely muster a greater challenge to whatever is wrong with the Catholic world than that blog.

      • carl jacobs

        a picture of the fascist Franco

        So that’s who that was. I was wondering but I figured I would never know. Thanks for answering my question.

        • Hi Carl

          Glad to be of help…

          • Hannah, you would have preferred a Communist Spain – or one ruled by the Nazi?

          • Hi Jack

            What do you think ? Mine is none of the above!

          • The Spanish Republic when it seized power in April 1931, and proclaimed the Republic was a puppet in the hands of the Stalinist regime. The Republicans had built up so hatred and class envy towards the Monarchy and the Church. Once they seized power they hit their enemies; their first and easiest target being the Church. The new regime made laws against the Church and the anarchists, socialists and Communists used violence against people and property.

            Where do you think Jack stands on Franco? You don’t permit Communists, anarchists and socialists to run amok and use anti-democratic methods to attack its own people.

          • Sam

            dude , it’s like saying do you want Germans or Russians to be claiming the sun loungers before breakfast when on one of those skegness in Spain places !? no of course NOT! Be brave and get in there first with a union Jack towel! “

          • Not when those claiming the sun loungers do so by nefarious means and use machine guns, you don’t. Perhaps Spain needed to modernise more but in the 1930’s democracy wasn’t big on continental Europe. Franco did what had to be done.

          • Sam


            I’ve fallen off my chair…Didn’t think you were an ends justify the means man?? I thought you dealt with ( not in the star wars sense) “absolutes” where everything is black and white, right and wrong etc .

          • So precisely what did Franco do that was immoral in protecting his country from the descent into the chaos of Communism and their murdering rampage?

          • Sam


            a more balanced view –

            It was the nationalist fascists who were revolting against a democratically elected Cortes which had come to power after another military dictatorship had come to an end . It was not communists raping and looting, but the establishment of a secular democratic state which removed the privileges of the Catholic church that started the war. The bloodshed took place when the nationalists took up arms against this government with bloodshed and war crimes on all sides.

            Franco was not a saint either and it was a bitter civil war, not just a counter revolution to a handful of zealot communists(of which I’m not defending):


            This bit is interesting:

            “The mass killings of the Spanish Republican loyalists, which included Popular Front adherents, liberals, Socialists, Trotskyites, Communists, anarchists, Protestants, freethinkers and intellectuals, among others, such as those branded as Catalan and Basque separatists and Freemasons occurred from the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, in July 1936, and continued unabated until 1945.

            Nationalist atrocities, which the authorities ordered to eradicate any trace of “leftism” in Spain, were common, ideological practice. The notion of a limpieza (cleansing) was an essential part of the right-wing rebel strategy, and the process of assassination began immediately after the nationalists had captured an area.In the rebel-controlled zone, the nationalist military, the Civil Guard, and the fascist Falange carried out the violence in name of the regime, which was ideologically legitimized by the Roman Catholic Church”

            So yes if Franco and his followers had to do what he had to do, he still had a lot of blood on his hands, about 100,000 to 400,000 people, great than the equally terrible red terror of 38,000 to 72,000, but given your own arguments here with others whether we talk about world war II, I’m guessing you’ll have a change of heart and say Franco was wrong . Or will you admit that you are saying Franco’s bloodshed was the justifiable means to justify the end (a Catholic authoritarian fascist regime)?

            Or to be blunt if he’d have been a protestant a communist or a non Catholic approved fascist , in which case you’d probably be decrying him for indiscriminate murder?

          • CliveM


            Sam you might find this link interesting. Elsewhere I read he especially targeted Sephardi Jews.

            Interesting that Franco may have had some Jewish blood!

          • Hi Sam

            That’s a totally different version to the one Jack is giving…. they could be two different events !

          • Sam

            History and its analysis is never objective.

          • Remember, Hitler came to power through democratic means too.

            In 1934, Franco was put in command of operations designed to quell a revolutionary leftist movement that was reacting to the 1933 elections, in which a right wing majority emerged. (In October 1934, a bloody uprising of Asturian miners who opposed the admission of three conservative members to the government). In this, Franco directly partook in some of the initial events that began to divide the left and right in a violent context. Following that, the division began to widen and eventually Franco was forced to choose to fight for either the Republicans or the Nationalist rebel forces. He chose the latter. In 1939, Franco’s forces won the Civil War that followed.”


            “Following a number of scandals that weakened the Radicals, one of the parties of the governing coalition, parliament was dissolved, and new elections were announced for February 1936. By this time the Spanish political parties had split into two factions: the rightist National Bloc and the leftist Popular Front. The left proved victorious in the elections, but the new government was unable to prevent the accelerating dissolution of Spain’s social and economic structure. Although Franco had never been a member of a political party, the growing anarchy impelled him to appeal to the government to declare a state of emergency. His appeal was refused, and he was removed from the general staff and sent to an obscure command in the Canary Islands. For some time he refused to commit himself to a military conspiracy against the government, but, as the political system disintegrated, he finally decided to join the rebels.”


          • Sam


            Hitler never won a majorty : he was let in by right wing nationalist parties who were not Nazis, led by von papen and the right wing nationalist old fart that they had as a president. Germany did not have to go down the Nazi route.

            Anyway , I’m glad you are shifting to a more balanced view by using some source material than that which you blasted Hannah with (poor thing isn’t an historian).

            As I say I’m not defending atrocities that were committed by socialists or the fascist Franco. In fact I condemn both.

            [I was going to raise the initial line of inquiry about ends and means, but it is a regular theme here. Doubtless the opportunity will come again.]

          • carl jacobs


            I see feathers. Everywhere. Covering everything. What have you done with our poor Jack?

          • Sam

            Jack is the gift that keeps giving on this thread.

          • Anton

            What else happened next? From the 1940s to the 1980s under Franco and for a time after, thousands of babies born in Spain were taken from their mothers at birth and sold to ‘approved’ families. By no means all were given up voluntarily by single mothers; many women were told that their newborn baby had died in an adjacent hospital room. The Catholic church was in practical charge of social services in Spain (not in itself a bad thing and as in many Catholic countries); in Spain the church expedited the switch of these niños robados (stolen children). The story started to come out in 2011 following a deathbed confession to Juan Luis Moreno, who had been brought up in Barcelona, by his adoptive father, who also named Juan Luis’ childhood friend Antonio Barroso as a switch. This story – confirmed by DNA testing – was publicised, after which many women came forward to state that they had seen their babies only while giving birth. In some cases the politics of the mother appears to have been a factor. The Spanish lawyer Enrique Vila has written several books on the subject.

          • carl jacobs

            Do I detect a faint trace of Realpolitik in this post? I am pleased.

          • Possibly …. when it serves bringing stability to a country descending into anarchy and correct means exist to restore order and promote the common good.

          • carl jacobs

            It’s just that heretofore you have always adopted a position of “It is better to lose nobly than win badly.”

          • But Franco did neither. His cause was noble and he won well.

          • carl jacobs

            So you are saying that Franco had nothing to do with Nationalist reprisals?

          • A civil war is not always possible to control from central command.

          • carl jacobs

            That is a deft evasion. Is he responsible or not?

          • Honest answer, Jack doesn’t know. Define responsibility in the situation at the time. Did he encourage it? Could he have controlled it better? There was local bitterness and animosity throughout many regions in Spain and when you arm enemies we know what happens.

          • CliveM

            What about the 15000 to possibly 50000 who were killed in the first 10 years following the civil war?

          • Franco, it seems, was responsible for many of those deaths.

          • Franco was responsible for the summary executions. That’s what military dictators do in such situations. They ruthlessly supress and eliminate opposition.

          • CliveM

            Yes agreed. However it doesn’t make it right and in the way of these things you can be certain a lot of them will have been completely innocent.

            It’s why generally speaking Military Dictatorships are such a bad idea.

          • … but sometimes necessary.

          • Albert

            There’s an interesting point here. As we look at the Middle East, it’s hard not to feel that life was better under the dictators – even a Kurdish general said so about life under Saddam.

            And here’s the painful paradox: democracy can only work within a framework of peace and order. But what of those countries that have neither? Perhaps the violence of dictatorship is necessary for a whole range of reasons, but even (whether accepted or not by the tyranny) as a prerequisite of democracy.

          • It’s a wicked world, Albert. Certainly Spain had descended into chaos by the mid-1930’s prompted by a lack of social justice that anarchists, socialists and communists used to provoke envy and hatred. Who would want to lead a nation in such circumstances and attempt to restore peace and order?

          • Albert

            I suppose in the end, even democracies will be able to declare a state of emergency, in such situations. I wonder what that would look like. I wonder would it would look like if a democratic state did not declare a state of emergency.

          • Sam


            You sure a Kurd said that ? Last time I mentioned the s word to a Kurd I work with I almost in for a black eye….

          • Albert
          • carl jacobs

            Life is always better under a gov’t than under the anarchy of no gov’t. When American will collapsed in Iraq, there was nothing to prevent the unraveling of the Post-WWI territorial arrangement that created Iraq. There was no longer a monopolizer of violence to hold together the artificial state that was Iraq. That’s the benefit that Hussein provided. What is going on in Iraq is a rather bloody way of redefining nations. Both Iraq and Syria are now legal fictions of the past.

            But of course the Kurds might think that life under Saddam was better than life under no gov’t. Even so, they certainly would have preferred life under Kurdish sovereignty – which is why they rebelled against Iraq, and Turkey, and Iran. They still do prefer such an outcome.

          • Albert

            Certainly, although whether Iraq has no government is an interesting question. I imagine that it has areas with different, makeshift governments, like IS.

          • carl jacobs

            Wouldn’t you agree that a Gov’t is more than the ability to kill with impunity?

          • CliveM

            I would have thought the primary purpose of a Govt was to stop people being killed with impunity.

          • Albert

            I would of course – after all, didn’t Pius IX condemn a proposition to the effect that authority is just people with guns? But I wonder if IS think that they are nothing more than the ability to kill with impunity. Surely, they think they are imposing God’s law.

          • Sam


            “But sometimes necessary”

            I’m framing this comment (:

          • CliveM

            It has been said that civil war tends to be the most destructive, brutal type of war, turning neighbour against neighbour and father against son. (As a percentage, in England, more people died in the English civil war, then in the Great War). Even if the cause is right, sadly moral compromises need to be made. Unfortunately the type of person capable of winning such a war tend also to be brutal, vicious and amoral. Franco was all these things. He had people murdered not to create stability, but to secure his position.
            A lot of people died post civil war for no other justification then this.

          • You’ve decided Franco was “brutal, vicious and amoral” and judged his motives as self interest in power? Jack’s isn’t quite so certain about this.

          • CliveM

            By their deeds so shall you know them.

            Were you aware that if a family member joined the Republicans and if Franco’s forces became aware of it, remaining family members would be executed, including pregnant women?

            He expressed no remorse for the excesses, allowed 50000 volunteers join the nazis on the eastern front, had a list of Spanish Jews written up and passed to Himmler. Persecuted Protestants for being Protestant. He may not have been evil in the Hitler or Stalin mode, but he did and allowed vicious, brutal things to be done and showed no moral concern for them.

          • That’s the nature and evil of war, innocent people suffer as well as the guilty. Once unleashed, the lust to kill and exact revenge can be uncontrollable. Was it an official policy to kill relatives or informally sanctioned? In what way did he persecute Protestants? Jack was unaware of this. Colluding with the Germans over Spanish Jews is hard to fathom too. Did he hand them over to the Germans? As for volunteers joining the Eastern Front, Franco probably saw Communist Russia as a greater threat to Spain and the world than Nazism. There was a time when many in Britain’s elite thought the same way.

          • CliveM

            With regards was it official policy to shoot family members, it would appear that it was, the orders came down from senior officials.
            Protestantism wasn’t ‘Spanish’ enough for Franco. They were treated like Jews were in the Nazis early days. Lost jobs, lost civil rights, excluded from society.
            No native Jew was shipped to the Nazis, however non native Jews and those who had escaped from Vichy France were returned. Ironically it is rumoured that Franco had Jewish heritage.

            Agree with regards the Russians. He probably also felt he owed Hitler something for his help in the Spanish civil war.

          • Jack has just read the full Wiki article and it is clear Franco was faced with making very difficult choices in a very confusing situation. He did nothing to undermine democracy in the West and it seems he also protected Spanish Jews. Jack can’t recall reading anything on the oppression of protestants. Franco rejected Hitler’s pagan mysticism and refused assistance to him, apart from permitting volunteers to fight against Russia.
            Like many Catholics at the time he believed there was a Jewish-Masonic-Bolshevik conspiracy against Christianity and, in particular, Catholicism. Jack’s father was a convert from Judaism. He loved his people and he shared with Jack in later life that even he shared this opinion.

          • CliveM

            Regards protecting Spanish Jews up to 2010 that was a fairly widespread view, documents found at that time undermined that view. He certainly returned Jewish refugees to Nazi held territory.

            If Hitler had promised Gibraltar as Franco requested, he would have joined the Axis powers.

          • You cannot know that. Many historians believe Franco made demands he knew Hitler would not meet.

          • CliveM

            Well I agree you cannot know. However my suspicion is he would have liked to, but knew that Spain was in no economic or social position to do so.

          • CliveM

            Ps just read Mundubors latest blog, I think he’s unhinged, certainly obsessive about the Pope

          • Oh, Jack doesn’t know about that. Read this:

            Similar views, just presented differently. And some of the comments it attracted were more unhinged.

          • CliveM

            Interesting article. I note he seems to be suggesting that Papal power is only limited by convention, rather then Church law. If he decided to approve Mass for the re-married, there isn’t a current mechanism to stop him. Is this right?

            Mundubor did three blogs today, all pretty much repeating themselves except the last one appeared to also suggest the Pope (or evil clown as he puts it) might be a ‘fag’! Are you sure he’s not unhinged?

          • Mundabor goes way too far at times in his free styling comments. However, he’s not alone in his assessments though these are often dressed in coded words.
            There is a wide ranging and complex discussion amongst canon lawyers about whether an openly heretical Pope can be removed and, if so, how. The Pope is bound by no law at all – other than fidelity to what Catholics refer to as the “deposit of faith” i.e. settled doctrine and teaching that cannot be changed. Catholics are obliged to remain in communion with their Pope and his personal opinions can be accepted or rejected. More formal documents setting out doctrine and its application in changing circumstances, is a different matter.
            By the way, anyone can attend any Catholic service. The issue is access to the Eucharist at Mass and also whether those in a state of serious and public sin can participate in Church life e.g. be Godparents; read at services; be Eucharist ministers etc.

          • CliveM

            Even I’ve attended a Catholic service! So yes I was aware that the issue was the Mass.

            Do people know who Mundabor is?

          • carl jacobs

            This really does surprise me. How any times have I said this in a different context and what have you said to me in return? You breathe fire and brimstone at me over WWII and yet you say this about Franco. It is hard – really hard – to avoid the conclusion that Franco is getting a pass from you because he protected the RCC.

          • But the contexts we’ve disagreed over have been when action is taken not on the basis of the justice of the cause itself but on the basis of another nation’s self interest.

            In protecting Spain from anarchists, socialists and communists, and their murderous attacks on the people and the Church, Franco also protected Europe from Communism. If they’d succeeded there, where next? France? Italy had its own fight on its hands, as did Greece. Germany too.

            Plus, he wasn’t just protecting the Roman Catholic Church in 1936, though that would have been sufficient cause in Jack’s view. Some way had to be found to protect the innocent. The rule of law had broken down. You don’t stand around watching Christians – or any other group – being murdered indiscriminately when you have the means to do something about it. He had them and he used them.

            Quarrel about his behaviour when the civil war was won and how he eliminated the opposition and imposed order, and Jack is less firm in his convictions because he hasn’t the necessary knowledge.

          • carl jacobs

            For goodness sake, Jack. Hitler protected Europe from Communism as well. Is that really your standard?

            The Communists were killing priests and religious people in Spain for the exact same reason Franco had Leftists shot. They were both attempting to demolish the human foundation of the competing order. You can’t condemn the slaughter of the priests unless you also condemn the daughter of the Leftists. They are exactly analogous.

          • Priests were not going around shooting Communists, Carl. They were not stirring up envy and hatred towards their own people. Law and order had broken down. Hitler’s fight against Communism lost legitimacy when he started killing Jews and other innocent minorities and invading sovereign nations to create a German empire. And this was his intent from the start, as he made clear his writings and speeches. As Jack said, he doesn’t know enough to make an informed comment about Franco’s reasons for what he did immediately after winning the civil war. Jack would comment that when you’re in a life and death fight for a just cause you use the minimum force to secure your objectives, avoiding unnecessary killing.

      • CliveM


        You peaked my curiosity so I had a look.

        Yeeesssssss…… Hmmm. Wouldn’t want him as a neighbour.

        You’re right. His theology maybe orthodox Catholic, but you need more then that to be a Christian.

        • Hi Clive

          I’m assuming its ultra orthodox Catholic because Jack is so approving. But he hasn’t got a good word to say about this church he belongs to or its leaders (i bet it’d be different if the show was on the other foot). Surprising as I thought you had to submit to authority and not go it alone. But it’s a one man crusade against his own pope. With some occasional pot shots at Jews, protestants and gays

          This doesn’t shock or offend me, it’s refreshingly honest, although if that blog was the way Catholics used to see things, I can appreciate why some Jews in my community have an absolute fear of the Catholic Church and think giving them any temporal power back will return us to 1492.

          • CliveM

            From what he has said, I think even Jack feels he goes to far occasionally.
            To call the Pope an evil clown! You may not agree with him, but……..
            And yes he knocks all the usual suspects. To be honest, some of it seems to be playing to the gallery. I get the impression he enjoys the attention.

          • Hi Clive

            I’m sure you are right.

          • CliveM

            I’m up voting your original comment! :0)

          • Mundabor believes in the outright mocking of heretics and all those subscribing to modernist liberalism. He sets out to provoke. Each to his own. It is hardly likely to persuade and change one’s position but he doesn’t claim this is his aim.
            Jack is not an “ultra-orthodox Catholic”, whatever this is. There are a number of issues Jack doesn’t agree with Mr M. on. He also doesn’t agree with his personal abuse of the Pope or the heterodox Bishops and Cardinals he regularly condemns. It is unnecessary. However, that aside, the points he makes about these people is worth noting.

          • Hi Jack
            “Jack is not an “ultra-orthodox Catholic”, whatever this is. ”

            Hey you could have addressed that to me as I was the one who coined the phrase….

            The explanation:

            From the about page of Mr M :”This is the blog of a conservative Catholic. A very conservative one. This blog’s aim is to allow true, traditional, unadulterated, strictly orthodox Catholic doctrine to be made available in a world suffocating more and more in political correctness and “feel-good”, “everything goes”, “let us not upset anyone” so-called Catholicism”

            I’m reading this and translating it into my own understanding.As you know the word conservative in Judaism is a different denomination to orthodoxy , so if Mr M were Jewish, he’d be orthodox, but probably ultra orthodox . Besides which aside from the way he rails at the world, to my mind and from what you say you could pretty much agree with that paragraphs, no ? Whether anyone likes it or not , you are what you are and that is a consistent [dogmatic]* orthodox Roman Catholic. I don’t mean this in the pejorative, just as a statement of the bloomin obvious .

            *again don’t be upset- you are dogmatic, as your views on divorce , abortion, homosexuality etc demonstrate embrace yourself!

          • An “ultra orthodox” Catholic rejects many developments since Vatican II and wants to see the Church return to a pre-1960’s position. This is not Jack’s position.
            As for Jack’s views on matters of personal morality, particularly divorce and remarriage, contraception, abortion and homosexuality, these are not “ultra-orthodox” but mainstream Catholicism.

          • CliveM


            You shouldn’t have changed your original comment yesterday. :0)

          • Hi Clive

            Oh this small discussion is nothing compared to the bun fights we used to have…. But I searched for my original comment and I can’t find it. But of course Jack knows I have a certain platonic fondness for him anyways.

          • CliveM

            Happy Jack

            You do know the ‘original’ comment I was reffering to? As a clue it’s not the one with the phrase “ultra orthodox” in it.

            Because I get email alerts, I see the original comment as well as the amended comment.

            I understood Hannah to mean ‘very orthodox’, but I may be wrong. I have to admit I didn’t know ultra orthodox had a specific meaning in Catholic circles, so apologies if I seemed a bit rude.

  • Martin


    It’s started. 😉

  • Tutanekai

    The air is heavy with the stench of schism.

    It won’t be long before the Catholic Church starts to semble Protestantism, with thousands of sects and movements all claiming to preach absolute truth, and all violently disagreeing with each other.

    How credible is a divided faith? Who can you convince if you can’t convince each other?

    • Ivan M

      All the more reason for you to revert back to Catholicism. You will be one more arse pedlar among others. Come back to Momma.

  • CliveM

    I feel sorry for Francis. He has inherited a situation where a murderer like Mugabe can receive Mass, but some poor woman who has had the crap beaten out of he by a former husband and remarries (remembering in large parts of the world there would be no other security net) can’t. Maybe he is simply trying to bring in an element of fairness and justice?

    • dannybhoy

      Clive, the door marked “Exit” is always an option to any member of the clergy.
      Official or hierarchical churches have a tendency to encourage the ambitious, to accommodate the wayward, and to demand unconditional loyalty of their adherents.
      A clergyman or woman of integrity does not have stay within a system they consider corrupt or not fir for purpose…

      • CliveM

        What are you suggesting the Pope should leave the RCC?

        Now that would create a sensation!

        • dannybhoy

          Yes. Wouldn’t you love it if some senior figure had an attack of conscience and decided to step down. Bishop or otherwise…

          • Dissenters and liberal-progressives are hardly likely to have “an attack of conscience”. Schism is not a satisfactory option for faithful Catholics.

          • dannybhoy

            Sincere Dissenters or those who like Martin Luther came to a different understanding of Christianity and the authority of the church, obviously did have an attack of conscience Jack!
            But my comment includes the Anglican church too. Anyone who has a position of authority and influence within the church and doesn’t believe (I don’t mean the doubts all Christians sometimes experience), should step down until they resolve their conflict one way or another. Those who interfere with children or young people should be expelled by the church.

          • Agreed about Martin Luther following his (troubled) conscience even if, as Jack believes, he was in error and searching for definitive answers about salvation.
            That said, Saints Thomas More and John Fisher, who both died martyrs deaths in England for their Catholic faith, were reformers and recognised corruption in the Vatican in their day, as do many Catholics today. What they didn’t do then and faithful Catholics don’t do now, is attempt to topple the authority of the Church’s Magisterium in matters of established dogma and doctrine concerning faith and doctrine..

          • dannybhoy

            Revelation 3>

            14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.
            15 “ ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. sWould that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”

            No Church is safe from God’s scrutiny Jack…!
            2nd Corinthians 6>
            ” 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
            “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”

            It is the Holy Spirit who keeps Christ’s Church walking in the light. For whatever reason men can be led astray, can fall into error, can be led into sin.
            ………….As we all know…

          • GKStudent

            “What they didn’t do then and faithful Catholics don’t do now, is attempt
            to topple the authority of the Church’s Magisterium in matters of
            established dogma and doctrine concerning faith and doctrine”

            But, what is really strange, is, those who want to topple the Church, and the Authority Christ rested in and upon the Apostle’s through the Holy Spirit, is this. That, they want to change the Dogma and Doctrines of the Church – the means of Salvation – by utilizing serious grave moments and events (i.e. sex abuse, mismanaged and misused resources, vanity, etc.) to catapult change in Her very core identity. What’s not only really strange, but quite frankly perverse is the perseverance to undermine Her teachings by attacking Her Doctrine of Salvation. It’s one thing altogether, like the saints, to work at safeguarding the weak and vulnerable. However, to use it as a calculated act to re-define Her Doctrines, robs Her (and the Abused) of any stability and security; robs people of their dignity to be called Sons and Daughters of God – Co-heirs. Because, Salvation is to recover. Thus, Abused children have the Mercy of Christ which the Church has declared for ages. And now, those who are Abused, have no voice heard for love, mercy, care, and justice. Rather, they are being treated as a means to go after the Church’s teachings. Think, why with the abuse would it concern anyone to topple the Church’s teachings on re-marriage, divorce, homosexual behavior? Her teachings aren’t the problem. Rather, it’s the abuses men have used the Church for, and taking advantage of the faithful. Not because of Her Doctrines and Teachings on Salvation. but, because they were violated by those men. So, to attack Her moral teachings on the state of grace, and the soul, which all fall in the manner of Salvation as it is taught, would you destroy the very foundation of why it is wrong to abuse children? That doesn’t make sense. Her teachings were and aren’t the problem. Rather, really, the issue stems from men manipulating their way through Her. Not by Her message of Salvation, but taking the image of priest (a father – a trusting image) to prey on children. We should rather try to save, retain, and bring back the priesthood in the order as Christ established, not destroy. For to do so, you now have lent the evil purpose of men who’ve attacked the most vulnerable in the Church to now destroy the priesthood – which completely follows the plight of these men.

          • Agreed. The Church is both Divine and human. Her members will sin and its enemies, knowingly or unknowingly, will attempt to take advantage of this. That’s the paradox throughout our Church’s history. The guidance of the Holy Spirit in matters of faith and morals; the limitations, weaknesses and sinfulness of man in following the Holy Spirit.
            Some things can never change; some things must adapt and change to suit the “signs of the times” but as an organic development staying true to her identity. The Church herself, like Christ Himself and so many of her great Saints, is a living “sign of contradiction”.
            God Bless; keep the faith and walk peacefully.

        • William Lewis

          Sounds like some Catholics believe he already has.

          • CliveM

            I noticed on mundabors blog a post about how to get rid of a heretical pope!

          • William Lewis

            With difficulty I’d imagine. How does one define an heretical Pope for a start? With what authority?

          • CliveM

            I had heard the Vatican has its methods!!!!!!!! Ask John Paul 1.

            Only joking HJ!

      • The Catholic Church uncompromisingly defends the sanctity of long marriage by stating clearly that a valid marriage is indissoluble no matter what transpires during it’s course. Divorce and separation is permissible but, if the marriage is valid, there can be no remarriage. This teaching, as Jesus’ disciples acknowledged at the time, is a hard one but it stretches back to Apostolic times and has been repeatedly affirmed.
        There will always be dissenters in the Church and those there for personal gain and advancement. The Catholic with integrity will stay and resist their advancement and corrupting influence in whatever guise is presents. The corrupt, by definition, stay.

        • Ivan M

          It is not only a hard teaching but one that Jesus says is impossible for man. He didn’t say that a cold shower would do the trick. I believe that with that He has left some leeway for discretion. Now in my middle age I can always pretend that with some effort I can live up to that teaching, but it was never like that when I was younger. I tend to think that the RC is unnecessarily rigorous in dispensing Holy Communion. Jesus Christ Himself indicated at the Last Supper that His Body and Blood will bring Salvation or Perdition according to the inner disposition of the recipient whether he be Hitler or Mother Theresa.

          • Impossible for fallen and hard hearted man without sanctifying grace and without the proper disposition, Ivan.

          • dannybhoy

            For what it’s worth my musings led me to speculate on how life was in the context of Judaism and its laws and rules for daily life.

            Women were not regarded as equals, and had no say in community life.

            These were tight communities (remember the woman at the well) where everybody would probably know everybody else. and their business…

            “and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? 55Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him.” Matthew 13

            Very different from our pagan/Gentile societies, although probably all societies married young.

            So my view is that for Christians marriage for keeps remains the command and the ideal. Yet the reality is that we live in very fluid and very anonymous cultures in which freedom is glorified and the happiness of Self the Holy Grail.
            I think Christians marry wanting it to last a lifetime, but the rules have changed, women have equality and society says “If it ain’t working anymore, walk away; start again.”

            So a Christian man or woman whose marriage has broken down irretrievably face two choices: honour the Biblical injunctions, or look at your own circumstances and go to God in prayer, seek reconciliation and see how things develop.
            I was 20 years away from God because I couldn’t understand how I could have theologically got it so wrong!
            The Christians I knew had no answers, some were embarrassed, some questioned whether I was ‘saved’ in the first place..
            The turning point for me after having married again outside of a Christian context, was when I got so fed up being in the spiritual wilderness I turned back to God in repentance.

            I realised that
            a) God knew my heartache and questionings.
            b) He is the God of new beginnings, and whist we may have made a mess of things if we give it all to Him and are obedient, He can make something positive and life giving out of our disasters.

          • Ivan M

            Just to clarify Danny, the thought of divorce never ever crossed my mind. I was referring to adultery both physical and of the mental kind that Jesus condemns.

          • dannybhoy

            I don’t know any Christian man who hasn’t either constantly or occasionally struggled in their thought life. It takes real prayerful discipline to take control of the mind’s meanderings.

            I was going to say I don’t know any Christian who has committed adultery.
            Then I realised that was not true.

        • dannybhoy

          I have my personal views and experience on marriage and divorce

  • IanCad

    Let’s stir the pot a little.
    Francis is the first Jesuit pope. What you see is not necessarily what you get.

    • Unfortunately, it seems that what we see is what we’re getting ….

    • Ivan M

      Recall that Pope Benedict had his ass handed to him by the Lavender Lobby. That most intellectually gifted of Popes and darling of the traditionalists resigned in favour of Pope Francis since he feared that he was not up to the task, of guiding the Church in his old age. Now when at the death of John Paul the Great, Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Pope informed sources indicate that the later Pope Francis obtained the second-highest vote. Surely a man like Ratzinger would immediately realise that Francis would be a shoo-in at his resignation. Did he then try to thwart it? No, as he said at that time the Church was supernaturally guided, that the Holy Spirit would ensure that there was no major screw up.
      And that is what we saw. While Pope Francis irritates the right people with his Gandhi clown acts, those who for one reason feel alienated from the Church have started trudging back. The Church exists for the spiritually poor and lost, it is no good for us to make our bed with the rich and satisfied. Pope Francis’ pastoral style appeals to many I know who would never think of schism and rebellion. He is the right man for this time. As he has shown by seeing off the homoerotic lobby, by rolling with the punches unlike the hapless Benedict with his rigourous intellectual style.

      • IanCad

        That’s an interesting take, Ivan.
        So, as Ratzinger was the director of JP2, is he still a major influence behind Francis? If that is so, we have the remarkable case of a man who has been, in effect, pope three times.

        • Ivan M

          With the late Pope, Ratzinger was one of the Young Turks at Vatican II. Since few doubt the orthodoxy of these men when it comes to the moral teachings, we can expect that Francis hews to the same. Pope Francis has not compromised on the core. He has far more diverse pastoral experience than Benedict, having been Bishop of Buenos Aires, a poor man, a chemistry teacher, sometime collaborator and critic of the Argentinian junta, all round tango dancer and so on, he is more in tune with the ordinary Joes.

          We are a Church of 1.5 billions, not all of us want to be moulded by the stern discipline of the liturgy and music of the Roman Mass. Jesus Christ himself hanged around with prostitutes and tax-collectors, so it is not is as though Jorge Mario is doing something unusual by getting close with the lost sheep, Ian.

      • Anton

        Ratzinger was never an ultra-traditionalist. He is best described as on the conservative wing of liberalism, theologically speaking. Here is a fine lecture by Nick Needham (not a Catholic) explaining that fact:

        • Ivan M

          He is the closest thing to a traditionalist that we will ever get. The RCC is simply too big and the world of today too diverse for more than a small fraction of putative Catholics to hew to the Lefebvre line.

          • Anton

            How can I as a protestant complain at that? We have had more acknowledgement from our brothers in Christ in Rome that we are their brothers in Christ than we ever had prior to Vatican 2.

            I take Vatican 2 to be a mixed thing and if Rome wants advice on how to deal with theological liberals, conservative evangelicals can help. Recognise early that you are in a war is the most important point.

          • Ivan M

            Advice is good but it will only go so far. As far as I am concerned anyone who accepts the Nicene Creed or a slight variant thereof is a Christian. I don’t think we are in any kind of war that will take generations to resolve. When so-called Irish Catholics can see nothing wrong with SSM, the world has moved on.

  • Albert

    nor should it ever become a millstone around the neck to drown innocent parties in wave after wave of heartless excommunication.

    but that is the most obvious interpretation of scripture…