CHRISTOPHER A. FERRARA reports for Fatima Perspectives — The Pseudo-Magisterium that has afflicted the Church since the Second Vatican Council has just issued a new pseudo-doctrinal pronouncement from the “International Theological Commission” (ITC). The ITC, which has no doctrinal authority whatsoever and is essentially a neo-Modernist think tank whose mission apparently is to undermine true Catholic teaching while pretending to explain it, has just published something called “The Reciprocity Between Faith and Sacraments in the Sacramental Economy.”
I’ll skip the endless blah, blah, blah we have come to expect from Roman documents since the Council and get right to the poison pill almost invariably to be found in the masses of verbiage the Pseudo-Magisterium dishes out:
“168. ….In the case of sacramental marriage, at least the intention to perform a natural marriage is required. Now, natural marriage, as the Church understands it, includes as essential properties indissolubility, fidelity and ordering to the good of the spouses, and the good of the offspring. Therefore, if the intention to enter into marriage does not include these properties, at least implicitly, there is a serious lack of intention, capable of calling into question the very existence of natural marriage, which is the necessary basis for sacramental marriage.”
So far so good: A valid marriage in the Church requires only the intention to be bound for life to one spouse and be open to children. That is, a natural marriage witnessed by a priest.
But then this:
“169. [Interrelation between Faith and Intention]. With varied emphasis, the Magisterium of the last three pontiffs confirms the interconnection between a living and explicit faith and the intention to celebrate a true natural marriage.”
See what’s coming? The ITC is smuggling “explicit faith” into the requisites for the validity of a sacramental marriage, when the Church has never required explicit faith for the bare validity of a sacramental marriage contract between the spouses.
“…. John Paul II asks not to accept spouses who reject ‘explicitly and formally what the Church intends to do when the marriage of baptized persons is celebrated’ … while maintaining the necessity of having ‘the right intention to marry according to the natural reality of marriage’….
“Benedict XVI notes the remarkable impact of the absence of faith on the conception of life, on relationships, on the very bond of marriage and on the good of the spouses, which can also ‘damage the goods of marriage’….”
Quite devious! John Paul II never actually taught that “living and explicit faith” is required for a sacramental marriage to be essentially valid — that is, a natural marriage blessed by a priest — but only that people who lack sufficient faith in what the Church teaches not be accepted as candidates for marriage, even though the marriage as such would be valid. Whereas Benedict XVI observed only that a lack of integral Catholic faith can “damage the goods of marriage,” even though a marriage it is.
And now the payoff:
“Francis points how the root of the marriage crisis lies in the ‘a crisis of knowledge enlightened by faith’ … and invokes lack of faith as a possible motive for simulation in consent… The jurisprudence of the Roman Rota follows the line taken by Benedict XVI…
“To be more precise, the aforementioned ecclesial instances and the last two pontiffs consider that the lack of living and explicit faith raises well-founded suspicions about the intention of truly celebrating an indissoluble, definitive and exclusive marriage, as a free reciprocal gift and open to offspring, even though at the root they do not rule out the possibility of this happening. In no case does a simplistic sacramental automatism arise.”
So, there we have it: the ITC would make doubts about the parties’ “living and explicit faith” as grounds for attacking the essential validity of their marriage, even though the ITC itself admits that “at root they do not rule out the possibility of this [a valid marriage] happening.” The essential validity of marriage, which requires only simple consent to be bound for life and be open to children, is now belittled as “sacramental automatism.”
Ah yes, consenting to marriage is an extremely complex affair! Much has to be examined concerning the “living and explicit faith” of the parties. And this from a Vatican presided over by a Pope who constantly ridicules “doctors of the law.”
Now, the ITC deviously argues that lack of a “living and explicit faith” is not itself grounds for an annulment, but rather would only indicate grounds for suspicion about the rather simple requisite consent to a natural marriage. But what is the point of inquiring into the existence of a “living and explicit faith” as opposed to simply ascertaining, in the traditional manner, whether the parties consented to be bound for life and be open to children, which vow gives rise to a sacramental marriage when performed in the Church in due canonical form with a priest as witness?
The intent here is clear: to smuggle the vague requirement of a “living and explicit faith” into proceedings for nullity as an independent criterion for annulment while pretending it is only evidence of lack of consent to a natural marriage, which is all that is required for essential validity.
The absurdity of this theory should be obvious: What exactly is “a living and explicit faith”? Are annulments to be granted if one or both parties fail a test on the Catechism? If not, how many articles of faith are required to be accepted explicitly in order to avoid “doubts” about the validity of the marriage? And what if the teachings of the Church are accepted in principle but are not “living” propositions for someone who does not practice what he professes to believe? Are we to doubt the validity of his marriage because he does not have a “living faith”?
Another absurdity: If one’s marriage is annulled upon proof of lack of an “explicit and living faith” supposedly negating even the basic consent required for natural marriage rendered sacramental by due canonical form, is that person still a member of the Church, not excommunicated, and able to receive all the other post-baptismal sacraments? If so, then we would have a situation in which one is a member of the Catholic Church but not Catholic enough to consent validly to marriage. Utter nonsense.
And what about Protestants, who have valid sacramental marriages if they intend to be bound for life and be open to children, provided both parties are baptized—Protestant marriages and baptisms being valid sacraments in the eyes of the Church if the parties intend to do what the Church does? Are the marriages of Protestants also to be doubted based on lack of a “living and explicit faith”? But faith in what? The errors of the Protestant sects?
The “living and explicit faith” test — whatever it means — amounts to a loophole large enough to invalidate the vast majority of Catholic marriages today. Either party can cite a lack of faith in this or that Church teaching to cast doubt on his fundamental consent to a natural marriage. The “evidence” of doubt will be conflated with a criterion for invalidity and a floodtide of annulments could then ensue.
Which is exactly the aim of this latest eruption of the Fake Magisterium, adding yet another rootless novelty to The Great Façade of novelty that characterizes the entire disastrous “updating” of the Church, from which disaster may Our Lady soon rescue the Church of which She is Mother.