CBCP: Abortion remains a mortal sin

aborted babyCatholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (Excerpts) September 3,2015 by Most Reverend Socrates B. Villegas, Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan and President of the CBCP

NEWS that Pope Francis will allow priests to absolve from the sin of abortion has recently gone viral, and, quite misleadingly, some news items even announce that the Pope has shown “more understanding” of abortion. To properly appreciate Pope Francis’ gesture, some things have to be made clear.

Abortion remains a serious wrong. Because the Church holds that human life—willed by the Creator to be in his image and likeness—starts at the moment of conception, which almost all have rightly understood to refer to the moment of fertilization—then, terminating unborn life after fertilization occurs trespasses the sacred ground that human life is. God breathed into Adam the breath of life, teaching us all, in this age and ages to come, the sublime lesson that the spark of life is never ours to ignite or to extinguish but comes from that unquenchable Flame that the Eternal God is.

Because one who deliberately procures it for herself or performs it on another goes against so basic a conviction of the community that is the Church, such a person brings upon himself or herself that is technically called “excommunication”, but what actually means that by his or her choice, a person separates himself or herself from the life of the Church and from the community of brothers and sisters who uphold the inviolability of life.

None of this has changed. The CBCP wishes to make this absolutely clear. Choosing to terminate innocent, unborn life is not among a woman’s options because her right to privacy and to make decisions about herself do not extend to the life in her womb over which she enjoys no dominion at all. Dependent on her, yes, but entrusted to her stewardship, not handed over to her power! Abortion remains a grave and serious wrong. In the traditional language of older catechisms, it is a MORTAL SIN, a deadly sin. Not only does it bring death on another; it brings about the spiritual death of one who commits it with full knowledge of its malice and the consequences of this absolutely abhorrent act…

Under the present discipline of the Church, abortion is a “reserved sin” — one that can be absolved only by the bishop as the head of the particular church. He absolves the sin, and lifts the penalty. The Holy Father, it seems, is inclined to allow all priests who are otherwise not impeded in the exercise of their ministry, to absolve the sin. This does not make the sin less grievous

The proper, Catholic response to the Holy Father’s gesture is for all of us, sinners, to approach the mercy of God that constantly reaches out to us, that seeks out the lost. We will all seek the pardon and peace that come when, in full contrition of sin and a firm resolve to turn away from a life of Godlessness, we kneel and repeat the words hollowed by the tradition of penance in the Church: “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned….” ∎

The Rigging of a Synod? The betrayal of our families

The Rigging of a SynodThis article was originally published in Voice of the Family.

A new book, The Rigging of a Vatican Synod?: An Investigation into Alleged Manipulation at the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, will shed much light on allegations that the Extraordinary Synod, held in Rome last October 2014, was subject to manipulation. The book has been written by highly respected Vatican journalist Edward Pentin and carries the endorsement of Wilfrid Fox Cardinal Napier, Archbishop of Durban. Cardinal Napier is one of the fifteen members of the permanent council of cardinals and bishops overseeing the Synod of Bishops, he attended the Extraordinary Synod and was a member of the committee that drafted the final relatio synodi of that Synod.

In this brief review we would like to draw attention to a few of the key examples of the manipulation that is alleged to have taken place at the Extraordinary Synod.

Cardinal Napier told Edward Pentin that a few months before the Extraordinary Synod an official at the Synod Secretariat had come to see him to share serious concerns. The official told Napier that he was “very disturbed” by what he had witnessed and commented that “this thing is being manipulated, it’s being engineered. [They] want a certain result.”

The Synod Secretariat is managed by the General Secretary of the Synod, Lorenzo Cardinal Baldisseri. The organisation of both Synods on the Family has been the responsibility of Cardinal Baldisseri, though the cardinal has stressed the close involvement of Pope Francis at every stage of the process. In an interview given in January 2015 he said:

Pay attention, as this is something one really should know. The pope is the president of the synod of bishops. I am the secretary general, but I don’t have anyone else above me, such as a prefect of a congregation or a president of a council. I don’t have anyone else above me, only the pope. The pope presided over all of the council meetings of the secretariat. He presides. I am the secretary. And so the documents were all seen and approved by the pope, with the approval of his presence. Even the documents during the synod, such as the Relatio ante disceptationem, the Relatio post disceptationem, and the Relatio synodi were seen by him before they were published.

Pentin recounts that some months before the Extraordinary Synod, the Synod Secretariat had contacted the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family, known for its fidelity to Catholic moral teaching, to recommend experts to participate in the Synod. The Secretariat had made the same request to certain institutes of the Roman Curia.

None of the experts recommended by these institutes were invited to participate in the Synod. A high-level Vatican source has stated that the opinion of these institutes was sought in order that the Secretariat could ensure that orthodox experts could be excluded from participating in the synod. It is also alleged that an official of the Synod Secretariat was told to go through a list of potential experts and exclude all those who were “conservative” and retain all those who were “progressive”.

The manipulation of the synod came to public attention following the release on 13th October 2014 of the interim relatio post disceptationem. This document, which purported to represent the contributions of the synod fathers, is alleged to have seriously misrepresented the views of the assembly. Cardinal Pell called it “tendentious, skewed” and said that “it didn’t represent accurately the feelings of the synod fathers”. Cardinal Napier alleges that the document contained opinions that were never expressed by any of the synod fathers.

Cardinal Baldisseri

Cardinal Baldisseri, Synod Secretary General, reportedly pressured Cardinal Erdo to remove in the pre-synod report the first line that referred to Jesus: “Jesus Christ is our Master before all others and our only Lord.”

The document caused great controversy because it undermined Catholic teaching on key points of doctrine, including the indissolubility of marriage, cohabitation and homosexual unions. Pentin recounts in some detail an enlightening episode in which Cardinal Baldisseri attempted to ignore Cardinal Napier’s request that “same-sex unions” not be discussed in a section dealing with marriage.

Pentin sheds light on other controversial events that took place during the synod, such as the removal of a book co-authored by, among others, five Cardinals, from the mail boxes of the synod fathers in the synod hall. The book Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Churchwhich defends Catholic teaching, was posted to all synod fathers and placed in their mail boxes in the Synod Hall. Cardinal Baldisseri was reportedly “furious” and tried to get the postmaster of the Vatican Post Office fired. In the end the packages were sent back to the post office to be stamped. According to an inside source Baldisseri wanted to hold the books back indefinitely but was informed that this would be illegal. Pentin relates that the books were eventually delivered four days before the end of the Synod, left for two days to fulfill legal requirements, and then removed again. As a result of these tactics it would seem that very few synod fathers received the copies that had been sent to them.

The Rigging of a Vatican Synod? provides a great deal of insight into the theological views of Cardinal Baldisseri. Pentin writes that:

a sense of alarm was experienced among many holders of traditional Church doctrine and practice in May 2014, when, in an interview with Belgian Church newspaper Tertio, Cardinal Baldisseri said it was time to update the Church’s doctrine on marriage—for example, in connection with divorce and the situation of divorced persons and those who are in civil partnerships.

In January Cardinal Baldisseri told a conference organised by Pontifical Council for the Family that “there’s no reason to be scandalized that there is a cardinal or a theologian saying something that’s different from the so-called ‘common doctrine’”. He said further that Kasper’s proposal “should be welcomed as a contribution.”  All this, despite the fact that Cardinal Kasper’s proposal directly contradicts the teaching of the Church as expressed by John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio in 1981 and in official documents of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1994 and 1998.

There is good reason to believe that Cardinal Baldisseri’s theological views have had a very great influence on the synodal texts. One of the most shocking passages in Pentin’s book is an account of Baldisseri’s attempts to alter the content of the pre-synod report. Pentin writes:

Cardinal Erdö had, it seems, drafted the document with the opening line beginning with ‘Jesus Christ is our Master before all others and our only Lord’, and had stated, in an allusion to 2 Timothy, that the faithful owe obedience to Him whether it is convenient or not convenient.

Erdö was put under pressure to remove the line. Erdo told one of Pentin’s sources, a scholar: “Cardinal Baldisseri wants me to change that because he said that ‘it’s negative’ and that I should begin with the ‘Joy of the Gospel’ [Pope Francis’ 2014 apostolic exhortation] and quote Pope Francis. Before Jesus Christ.” 

Pentin continues:

Erdö asked the scholar: ‘Do you think I should quote Pope Francis first?’… ‘You could have knocked me over with a feather’, the scholar told me. ‘Here we are, two days before the opening, there’s the Mass, two days before, and he’s asking me if we should start with Jesus Christ? I said, “Eminence, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is the Alpha and the Omega. We start with Jesus Christ.” He left it in. You’ll see it, it’s still the first line.’

The Extraordinary Synod on the Family, under Cardinal Baldisseri’s leadership, produced documents that undermined Catholic teaching on a whole range of issues relating to human sexuality, marriage and the family. The instrumentum laboris of the Ordinary Synod extends the assault on Catholic doctrine to an even wider number of areas.  ∎


CBCP Re-affirms Church teaching on homosexuality

CBCP President Bishop Soc VillegasCatholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (Excerpts) August 28,2015 by Most Reverend Socrates B. Villegas, Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan and President of the CBCP

The Nature of Marriage in the Divine Plan

THE creation narratives at the beginning of Sacred Scripture reveal that God made human beings in His image and likeness. He created them male and female, equal in dignity but not identical nor interchangeable.

He made one explicitly for the other – “It is not good that the man should be alone” (RSV, Gen. 2:18) – equal as persons, not alike but complementary. So that in relating to each other, as male and female, one would complete the other as two halves coming together to be whole.

This complementarity between man and woman, as St. Pope John Paul II has pointed out, is observed and affirmed at the biological, emotional, psychological, and spiritual levels. But it is most manifest primarily in and through the union of two complementary bodies, male and female.

Simply put, human beings, created by God as either male or female, are meant to complement each other in a union of the two intended from their creation. And human sexuality, characterized as distinctly masculine or feminine, is ordered by nature towards that union, of one specifically with the other.

Having created man and woman, Scripture continues, God instituted marriage as the form of life in which the complementarity of man and woman would be fulfilled and perfected. “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24).

And as it is ordered or directed to the union of man and woman, human sexuality is also ordered towards the procreation and education of children. It is in and through the conjugal union that God has willed to give man and woman a share in His work of creation: “Be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:28).

In the Creator’s plan we see, therefore, that sexual complementarity and fruitfulness belong to the very nature of marriage. In other words, marriage by its very nature and intention is unitive and procreative.

There are some men and women, however, often through no fault of their own, who find themselves sexually attracted to individuals of the same sex…Sexual attraction towards the same sex is not a sin. But it is, in the light of our understanding of marriage, objectively disordered – in the sense that it is not ordered towards the union of male and female in a relationship of natural complementarity.

Homosexual acts or practices that may arise from such attraction, although they may proceed from and be motivated by genuine affection between two persons of the same sex, are similarly not ordered to the union of the two persons and to the procreation of children.

Because they are not unitive and procreative – the distinct qualities of a complementary union of man and woman in marriage – homosexual acts or practices are “contrary to the natural law”. Hence, they are, from the perspective of natural law, gravely disordered and considered “sins gravely contrary to chastity”.

Those who find themselves sexually attracted to others of the same sex are called to develop chaste friendships with both men and women.

The Social Reality of Homosexual Unions

Over the past few years, in an increasing number of countries, including traditionally Catholic countries, homosexual unions have been granted legal recognition equal to that of marriage.

In our understanding of God’s creation of man and woman in complementarity and in His establishment of marriage, however, there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and the family. A homosexual union is not and can never be a marriage as properly understood and so-called.

In response to this emerging social reality and for the guidance of the faithful, therefore, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith instructs:

In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection.

Concretely, this means that Catholics cannot participate in any way or even attend religious or legal ceremonies that celebrate and legitimize homosexual unions…Moreover, Catholics are called to resist all attempts to normalize homosexual behavior and homosexual unions in their culture….

…to homosexual individuals who are tempted either to pride or to despair, the Catholic Church is called to preach the power of grace through prayer and Holy Communion, and the mercy of Jesus Christ through the sacrament of penance.

It is Jesus Christ, and He alone, who can heal every broken human heart that yearns for unconditional love and authentic friendship. It is Jesus Christ, and He alone, who faithfully accompanies the homosexual person from grace unto glory. ∎

…The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains: “The intimate community of life and love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator and endowed by Him with its own proper laws. . . . God himself is the author of marriage.”

The Nature of Homosexuality in the Created Order

Created either male or female, and by their masculine or feminine sexuality thus directed towards union with the other who complements them, men and women are naturally drawn and relate to each other in this order.                  (Continued on next page)

Cardinal Burke: Grave reservations on the same annulment proposals Pope Francis just enshrined

Cardinal BurkeSpeaking on September 8 at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Cardinal Raymond Burke expressed grave reservations about the very proposals that were released the same day in Pope Francis’ Motu Proprio concerning annulments in the Catholic Church.

The most startling changes in the annulment procedure declared by Pope Francis were to drastically lessen the time for acquiring an annulment to as little as 45 days.  Moreover, the Motu proprio eliminated the need for a second confirming judgment and left to the local bishop rather than canonical judges, the decision on annulments.  Burke noted that the canonical procedures had been developed over centuries to give certainty of arriving at the truth.

He stressed the importance of determining the truth on the matter, noting that it deals with the “salvation of souls.”

Burke noted that similar proposals to alter the process along the lines that were suggested at the Synod (and now implemented in the Motu proprio) were also proposed before the 1983 reformation of canon law and were rejected by Pope St. John Paul II. Moreover Burke noted that the Vatican already attempted a lessening of the procedures for the United States in the 70s and early 80s, leading to an impression of “Catholic divorce.”

Burke firmly rejected the notion that people could be too weak to conform to God’s law on marriage, saying that Our Lord has assured us that He gives to us all the grace we need to live our lives in His will.

“In the present moment when the attacks on matrimony and on the family even within the Church seem the most ferocious,” he said, “it is the Church who must show to the whole of society the truth in all its richness and thus the beauty and the richness of the truth about marriage.”

He warned that “confusion and error on holy matrimony” are being “sown by Satan in society and in the Church.” Marriage, he said is “under a ferocious and diabolical attack.”

Responding to Church leaders who have called for false accommodation with the world, even for silence in the face of homosexual liaisons being accepted as “marriage,” he said we must “call things by their proper name in order not to risk contributing to confusion and error.” That, “according to Divine wisdom, the Church must always speak the truth with love.” ∎

by John-Henry Westen, from Lifesite News

Half of marriages today invalid – and eligible for annulment?

In an interview with Commonweal Magazine in May 2014, Cardinal Walter Kasper made the staggering claim that Pope Francis thinks that half of Catholic marriages are likely invalid.

The Pope is said to have speculated that these “invalid” marriages were somehow deficient in form (how the sacrament was conducted) or in intent (the couple didn’t intend to marry as the church teaches) and thus are eligible for annulments.

The Pope has raised the profile of Cardinal Kasper, who for 30 years has been advocating for marriage reform, saying it is a kind of mercy. Kasper holds that while civil remarriages cannot be recognized by the church, asking the civilly remarried to abandon their second marriage or be excluded from Communion is untenable.

The Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Cardinal Muller, reinforcing Church teaching, has clearly stated that the words of Christ forbid remarriage, and the theology of the church proclaims that the marital union reflects the faithfulness of Christ to the church. As Muller put it, “Faithfulness to marital consent is a prophetic sign of the salvation that God bestows upon the world.”

In the interview, when Cardinal Kasper was confronted with the arguments of his opponents — namely that others in a state of mortal sin are required to confess their sins and make some kind of change to remedy their state of life — he balked at the suggestion that the civilly remarried should be required to live according to the church’s teaching, that is, with sexual fidelity to the first, valid marriage. “To live together as brother and sister?” he asked. “Of course I have high respect for those who are doing this. But it’s a heroic act, and heroism is not for the average Christian.”

In other words, according to Kasper, Christians are too confused and ignorant to know what a marriage is. They do not understand or take seriously the vows they make. This dire reading of the signs of the times allows the “solution” that reformers like Kasper have been demanding, a de facto abandonment of the church’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage.

Perhaps the cardinal should speak more plainly. He is not defending the dignity of “average Christians”; he’s condemning many of his co-religionists to a life as semi-Christians. His idea of mercy is to tell believers that, in view of the way things are — pluralism and all that — there’s no need for them to live as Christians have lived before them. Come to Communion, but leave Christian heroism to the experts.

Polish Bishop Antoni Stankiewicz said that any view that dismisses so many unions as invalid reflects an “anthropological pessimism” that would hold that “it’s almost impossible to get married, in view of the current cultural situation.” If the Pope’s view is that 50 percent of Catholic marriages are invalid, it is not just an insult to our natural human ability to marry, but also an insult to St. Paul, who said that the moral law is written on men’s hearts. Cardinal Kasper’s belief amounts to nothing less than a slur on God’s fidelity. If Christians can’t expect God to help them live the married life, if they cannot expect Him to be faithful to His promises, why the fuss if we are not faithful to our own? ∎

By Hannah Roberts, from www.dailymail.co.uk

Pope Francis authorizes priests to absolve the sin of abortion

Pope Francis forgives abortion

On July 25, 2014, investigators posing as a fetal tissue procurement company met with Planned Parenthood’s Senior Director of Medical Services, Deborah Nucatola. The secret videos (left) capture Nucatola admitting that the group sold aborted babies’ body parts in the U.S. Pope Francis’ seeming “softening” on abortion came as a big blow to pro-life groups in the U.S., who are in the midst of a major struggle.

Pope Francis shook up the Catholic world by announcing on September 1 that priests around the world will be authorized to forgive the sin of abortion when the church begins a “Year of Mercy” this December.

Under the present discipline of the Church, abortion is considered a “reserved sin” — one that can be absolved only by the bishop as the head of the particular church, or a priest who has been given special authority by the bishop. Pope Francis’ new ruling allows all priests to absolve the sin, without need for further authorization by the bishop.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that a person who procures an abortion incurs automatic excommunication, a penalty that often only a bishop can lift. Some experts in the Catholic canon law expressed confusion about the practical effects of the Pope’s announcement.

Sympathy with the Mother: Instead of the Aborted Child?

The proclamation is a major, historical departure from the approaches of previous pontiffs to the issue.  Rather than condemning the evil of abortion and emphasizing that no situation can ever justify it, the emphasis by the Pope is that of “understanding” the plight of the mother and the situations that led to her abortion.

In his short statement, the Pope said he sympathizes with “women who have resorted to abortion,” believing that they have no other option. “I am well aware of the pressure that has led them to this decision.”

In fact, many Catholics have perceived this move as a seeming “lowering down” of the gravity of the sin of abortion, with more emphasis put on “understanding” the “painful and agonizing decision” undertaken by women who have had abortions, rather than the plight of the murdered unborn child.

Vatican and CBCP Damage Control

The Vatican, as well as many bishops’ conferences around the world, had to go into full damage control mode after the announcement, clarifying that the Pope did not really condone abortion.   The Vatican’s subsequent statement emphasized that the church did not “condone abortion nor minimize its grave effects”.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) likewise issued an immediate statement, clarifying that “abortion remains a mortal sin”.  ∎

Cardinal Danneels Admits: “Mafia Club” Opposed to Benedict XVI Plotted Pope Francis Election

Cardinal DanneelsThe election Pope Francis was the fruit of secret meetings that radically liberal cardinals and bishops, organized by Carlo Maria Martini, held for years at St. Gall in Switzerland.  This is what is claimed by Jürgen Mettepenningen and Karim  Shelkens, the authors of a just published biography of the Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels.

The book reveals that the Cardinal was a regular member of a secret pressure group of Churchmen that opposed Pope Benedict XVI. Danneels said that what was officially but discreetly labeled “the Sankt-Gallen group” was referred to by its members as “the Mafia”. Its self-imposed aim was to achieve a drastic reform of the Church, to make it “much more modern”, and for Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio to head it.

The group met every year since 1996, and together they organized the secret “resistance” against Cardinal Ratzinger, who at that time was the right-hand man of John Paul II.  Their goal at the time was to elect a “reformer” pope to eventually replace John Paul II, in view of his nearing death, and to prevent at all costs the election of Cardinal Ratzinger as Pope. The question that was put more and more emphatically by the group was: “What after John Paul II? How can we avoid Ratzinger as Pope?’”

When Pope John Paul II died in 2005, the group already pushed the present Pope to the fore, although in the end, Cardinal Ratzinger still got elected despite their efforts. Eight years later, in 2013, they finally got what they wanted, with Pope Francis re-shaping the Church according to their original vision.

The group counts amongst its members the most radically liberal bishops and cardinals of the Church, such as Cardinal Walter Kasper, Cardinal Karl Lehmann from Germany, Cardinal Achille Silvestrini from Italy, Dutch Cardinal Adriann Van Luyn, Cardinal Basil Hume from England, and the late Jesuit Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini.

Said Schelkens in an interview this week: “The election of Cardinal Bergoglio was prepared in Sankt-Gallen, without doubt. And the main lines of the program the Pope is carrying out are those that Danneels and Co were starting to discuss more than ten years ago.”

Pope Benedict XVI

“Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves.”
– Pope Benedict XVI (homily during papal inauguration mass)

In Violation of Papal Law

Saint John Paul II’s Apostolic Constitution Universi Domini Gregis clearly forbids under pain of automatic excommunication (i.e. immediately imposed, without necessity of declaration) the canvassing for votes:

Let the Cardinal electors, moreover, abstain from all pacts, agreements, promises and any other obligations you like, by which they might be constrained to give or refuse support for anyone.

The constitution of a “Mafia” like the Sankt-Gallen group is in clear violation of that papal order.  In another section Universi Domini Gregis, St. John Paul II expounded further on this:

Confirming the prescriptions of my Predecessors, I likewise forbid anyone, even if he is a Cardinal, during the Pope’s lifetime and without having consulted him, to make plans concerning the election of his successor, or to promise votes, or to make decisions in this regard in private gatherings.

It must be noted that St. John Paul II published the above papal law in February 1996, the very year that the Sankt-Gallen group was formed.

The above revelations reinforce the shocking claims of Dr. Austen Ivereigh (author of the book The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope) who said that a group of Cardinals actively “campaigned” for the election of Pope Francis, in violation of the papal law.

Advocate of Same-Sex “Marriage”

Cardinal Danneels is recognized as one of the most radically liberal prelates of the Church.

He once advised the king of Belgium to sign an abortion law in 1990. He has refused to forbid pornographic, “educational” materials being used in Belgian Catholic schools.

He once said same-sex “marriage” was a “positive development”.  The cardinal also wrote a letter to Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt praising him for “the approval of a legal statute for a stable relationship between partners of the same sex.” Verhofstadt’s government introduced same sex-‘marriage’ into Belgium in 2003.

The Vatican listed Danneels second in importance out of 45 delegates personally chosen by Pope Francis to participate in the upcoming meeting. ∎