Tuesday, May 27, 2014


It's an interesting development when a bishop can go from saying stuff like this:

According to the Belgian newspaper De Standaard, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri says it is time to update Church marriage doctrine, for example in connection with divorce, the situation of divorcees and people who are in civil partnerships. His comments will appear in an exclusive interview with the Christian weekly magazine Tertio, published on Wednesday.

"The Church is not timeless, she lives amidst the vicissitudes of history and the Gospel must be known and experienced by people today," Cardinal Baldisseri says.

"It is in the present that the message should be, with all respect for the integrity from whom the message has been received. We now have two synods to treat this complex theme of the family and I believe that these dynamics in two movements will allow a more adequate response to the expectations of the people", says the secretary general of the Synod of Bishops.

The Italian cardinal also notes that "Familiaris Consortio" of John Paul II, the last great ecclesiastical document on this subject, is 33 years old.

You can read the full thing here. A couple of weeks later, though, he came back with a amazingly forceful response to those who seek a change in the Church's doctrine.

“Regarding the possibility for the synod of bishops of changing the doctrine of the Church,” Cardinal Baldisseri said, “I underscore that the First Vatican Council’s document ‘Dei Filius’ affirmed that ‘understanding of its sacred dogmas must be perpetually retained, which Holy Mother Church has once declared; and there must never be recession from that meaning under the specious name of a deeper understanding.’”

The cardinal then continued: “And I also remind you that John XXIII said in the inaugural speech of the Second Vatican Council that ‘authentic doctrine … should be studied and expounded through the methods of research and through the literary forms of modern thought. The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another.’”

The first item from the Register isn't a big deal. We have amorphous language on these subjects getting thrown around all the time nowadays.

The second item, though? That's pretty huge. When was the last time you heard a bishop of any stripe mention Vatican I? Or St. John XXIII's insistence that Vatican II would not invoke the charism of infallibility and therefore leave the deposit of faith untouched? That kind of stuff doesn't happen.

That the initial comments were walked back isn't a surprise. That they were walked back with the sorts of references that His Eminence used is not quite shocking, but almost.

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