On Scandals in the Church

When I expressed my heartbreak at the scandals that rock the Church once, someone said to me; "where else do you expect Satan to be at work?"

Fr. Francis Coveney writes:

The very act of receiving Holy Communion is a statement that we wish to be in full union with Almighty God. And we cannot be in full union with Almighty God if we are living a life (and intend to continue living a life) that is incompatible with keeping all of the Ten Commandments.

For a priest (or God forbid, a bishop or a Cardinal) to celebrate the Sacraments while living in a state of mortal sin – or intending to commit a mortal sin – is to commit an act of sacrilege.

At the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:29) the Apostles decreed that although Pagan converts were not bound by the Jewish dietary and hygiene laws, they were to be bound by the moral law - and specifically mentioned avoiding "pornea" (that is illicit marital relations).

As all Catholics (but especially priests and bishops) should know, the Catholic Church’s teaching on Divorce and Re-Marriage is based solidly on Scripture – in fact on the teaching of Our Lord Himself.

Jesus states (Matthew 5:32; Matthew 19:1-12; Mark 10: 1-12; Luke 16:18) that if a man divorces his wife and marries another woman, he commits adultery; and when a man marries a divorced woman, he commits adultery; and when a woman divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.

The Catholic Church has no authority to deviate from the teachings of Jesus Christ who stated that divorcing and remarrying is the moral equivalent of committing adultery.

Nor does the Church have the authority to permit adultery – which is forbidden in the Ten Commandments: breaking any one of these is a mortal sin.

This teaching has been interpreted infallibly by the Council of Trent

“If anyone says that the Church is in error for having taught and for still teaching that…the marriage bond cannot be dissolved…and that neither of the two, not even the innocent one who has given no cause for infidelity, can contract another marriage during the lifetime of the other…Anathema sit.”—[Council of Trent 24th Session: Doctrine on the sacrament of Matrimony – November 11,1563 – Canon 7]
Furthermore, the Council of Trent also taught that if you have committed a mortal sin, you must go to confession before you can receive Holy Communion again.
“Those whose conscience is burdened with mortal sin, no matter how contrite they may think they are, first must necessarily make a sacramental confession…If anyone presumes to teach, or preach, or obstinately maintain, or defend in public disputation the opposite of this, he shall by the very fact be excommunicated.”—[Council of Trent 13th Session on the Most Holy Eucharist October 11, 1551 - Canon 11 ]
Yes, you read that right -. “If anyone presumes to teach… the opposite of this, he shall by the very fact be excommunicated.”

From the earliest days of the Church, three sins have been considered to be particularly grave: murder, apostasy and adultery.

The good news is that apart from the Sin Against the Holy Spirit, there is no sin that cannot be forgiven.

But to receive forgiveness for a mortal sin, you need to repent of that sin, go to confession, confess your sin(s), make an act of contrition (which includes saying “I will not sin again”), receive absolution from the priest and then carry out the penance the priest has given you.

This applies of course to all sins – not just sins against the 6th Commandment. A bank robber or a murderer or an adulterer can go to Confession – but to receive forgiveness they must resolve not to sin again.

This is a matter of Doctrine – not Discipline.

Those who argue otherwise may well imagine that they are being kind and compassionate. But in fact they are unwittingly being extremely cruel - because they are leading others to hell.

The shepherds of the Lord’s flock should be very alert to this and act accordingly.

The very word martyr means a witness - a witness to the truth of Christ.

The English Martyrs (who included lay men, lay women, a lay brother of the Society of Jesus, priests - and of course a Cardinal, St John Fisher) were prepared to witness to the truth of Christ's teaching on the indissolubility of marriage.

May they inspire us all to bear courageous witness to the Teachings of Christ in our own days.


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