Synod Questions And A Clarification On The Virtue Of Mercy October 30, 2014
Rev. Marcel Guarnizo


QUESTION:   The relatio is a work in progress, and already some participants have called for changes to walk back some of the language released. Do you expect that the second draft on Saturday will address those concerns?

FATHER GUARNIZO:   It all depends apparently, on who deals with the final redaction of the document.
Certainly a great number of bishops and cardinals oppose Cardinal Kasper’s proposal as being inconsistent with logic, sound philosophy, morals, Church law, and Catholic theology. But the response should be thoughtful. And I do think the counter arguments to Cardinal Kasper & company, have been thoughtful, steeped in Catholic tradition and theology, and consistent with the aim of theology, pastoral practice, and the discipline of the Church, namely the felicity and happiness of man. A respect for human dignity requires clarity and precision when conveying the doctrine of salvation.

QUESTION:   How does the “law of graduality” as mentioned in the relatio impact the teaching on the indissolubility of marriage? Does this tend to give license to those who want access to the Eucharist regardless of the status of their communion with Church teachings, and why?

FATHER GUARNIZO:  The law of graduality in my view does not apply to marriage. One is either married or not. A determination by the Church may be needed to discover and assess the fact. The process of annulment exists to determine this, if a marriage is called into question. But one cannot be partially married, somewhat married, married but not fully. There is no possible graduality here.

To make an analogy to ecclesial communion by different ecclesial communities or particular churches in this regard a false analogy. The Church can be in communion on some points with other ecclesial communities and not in communion on other points, that is, the degree of unity may vary. Sacramental communion, communion of faith, and hierarchical communion are all needed to be in full communion with the Catholic Church. Therefore, different degrees of communion are possible.

In the case of marriage the determination is singular and unique. A couple is married or not, period. There is no such thing as married in some respects and not married in other respects. If it were possible to have degrees of marriage, it would be to propose yet another logical contradiction, that one could be married and not married at one and the same time. It is analogous to a mother being pregnant. She is either pregnant or she is not, she cannot be somewhat pregnant or gradually pregnant.

Seeking some status to accommodate other “unions,” is in my view again, a futile exercise. Sacraments affect the grace they signify upon completion of the sacrament, after the rite of baptism you are baptized. Before baptism, you are not. If there is a valid, sacrament the reality of the sacrament takes effect immediately.

The commandments and the law of God are also not subject to graduality. It is not possible to believe that the prohibition against fornication applies as a prohibition gradually to different people. If not, someone could therefore be licitly fornicating for some months, others for some years as the commandment applies differently to each person. Who could with certainty of truth imply that for some couples the prohibition of the commandment does not apply yet? This is to empty revelation of its clear meaning. It matters little if they cannot change doctrine; the effect in practice is to make the teaching of Christ and the Church vacuous, in practice. Again, all this is impossible from a philosophical, theological, and ethical perspective.


About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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