105 – Not all discern, in their solitude, the Lord calling them. Around us we find various families in so-called irregular situations – I don’t really like this word

Among the wide feedback that we have been receiving from around the globe, offering support and useful contributions, some time ago we received a suggestion for an analysis, from a brother priest, regarding one of the topics addressed by Francis in a General Audience, during the preparatory series for the Synod of Bishops on the family. This request already contains some excellent points for this study, and so we decided to make it available to our readers. Obviously, we have excluded the parts of the letter that might reveal the identity of the priest (and have copied from the original English translation passages that our brother priest cites in Spanish).

‘Dear Brothers in the priesthood:

Congratulations for this great work!

I am a priest […] who seeks to teach authentic Catholic doctrine to the faithful. I have observed with sadness that the words of the Vicar of Christ often confuse the faithful, even those who heard of them through the Catholic media.

I read a paragraph from the last catechesis of the Pope [June 24, 2015] that seems to sow confusion regarding the obligation to follow the commandments of Christ. It is the following passage:

It is true, on the other hand, that there are cases in which separation is inevitable. At times it becomes even morally necessary, precisely when it is a matter of removing the weaker spouse or young children from the gravest wounds caused by abuse and violence, by humiliation and exploitation, by disregard and indifference.

There are, thanks be to God, those who, sustained by faith and by love for their children, bear witness to their fidelity to a bond they believed in, although it may seem impossible to revive it. Not all those who are separated feel called to this vocation. Not all discern, in their solitude, the Lord calling them. Around us we find various families in so-called irregular situations – I don’t really like this word – and it causes us to wonder. How do we help them? How do we accompany them? How do we accompany them so that the children aren’t taken hostage by either dad or mom?’

We might ask if perhaps the commandments should be obeyed only by those who ‘feel the vocation to do so?’ If within the difficulties encountered in following the commandments of God, I do not recognize ‘a calling of the Lord’, would I no longer be obliged to obey them? If the commandments of God are the truths that makes us free, leading us along the path of fullness, are there contradictory paths by which men may arrive at fullness? May those who feel called to obey the commandments of God and those who do not feel called, equally progress toward sanctity?

It seems to me that Pope Francis contradicts that which Saint John Paul II said in Familiaris Consortio, no. 34:

They [married people] cannot however look on the law as merely an ideal to be achieved in the future: they must consider it as a command of Christ the Lord to overcome difficulties with constancy. ‘And so what is known as ‘the law of gradualness’ or step-by-step advance cannot be identified with ‘gradualness of the law,’ as if there were different degrees or forms of precept in God’s law for different individuals and situations. In God’s plan, all husbands and wives are called in marriage to holiness, and this lofty vocation is fulfilled to the extent that the human person is able to respond to God’s command with serene confidence in God’s grace and in his or her own will.’( John Paul II, Homily at the Close of the Sixth Synod of Bishops (October 25, 1980) )

The Scripture is also clear with respect to the fact that one may not reach eternal life without fulfilling the commandments: ‘Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor practicing homosexuals nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God’ (1Cor 6:9-10).

The Pope says that he does not like to label as ‘irregular’, the unions that the Bible calls ‘adultery’. A question arises: What does he wish us to call them? Marriages? We cannot stop calling things by their real name, because the faithful may become confused and fail to distinguish between good and evil.

The warning of Isaiah could be applied to us: ‘Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, who change darkness into light, and light into darkness, who change bitter into sweet, and sweet into bitter’ (Is 5:20)!

I hope that this information is of use, for it appears that this part of the Pope’s message may cause much confusion, and I have not found any commentary about it online.

I pray for you so that God bless you and continue granting you his wisdom.’

We could say that in this excellent proposal, our study is already almost prepared, but it is always our duty to investigate the riches of the Magisterium. Meditating about these words, the consoling words of the Savior come to mind: ‘Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light’. This passage is reassuring for so many Christians who must face difficulties in order to bear the name of Our Lord with pride, in the midst of this apostate world. It is also the case of those who after suffering abandonment by a spouse find the strength to remain faithful to God in their new situation. Loneliness is not a very desirable companion, and the perspective of a life without a family may seem sad and bitter. But it is still possible to find happiness in this state. The example of saints and the doctrine of the Church are very clear: true happiness and peace consists doing the will of God, and fulfilling his commandments.

One who strays from the commandments of God and succumbs under the weight of his passions loses serenity, and will find himself obliged to carry a terribly heavy yoke.

Consequently, we cannot but caution those who vacillate between fidelity and sin, that a union outside of the law of God is not a solution to improve your lives. Rather, the solution is found in confiding in God and following his precepts. There is no third path with respect to the commandments of God: we either fulfill or transgress them. In fulfilling them, we enter eternal happiness, while in transgressing them, we receive an eternal chastisement.



Quote A

Teachings of the Magisterium

Enter in the various parts of our study

I – The situation of separated spouses is the same for all: a second union may not be formed, and any union after a separation is considered irregular
II – All of the baptized are equally obliged to fulfill the Commandments with all the sacrifices that this implies
III – Man’s happiness consists in doing the will of God

I – The situation of separated spouses is the same for all: a second union may not be formed, and any union after a separation is considered irregular

John Paul II

This truth about the indissolubility of marriage, like the entire Christian message, is addressed to the men and women of every time and place
Christian life must be coherent with the faith
Jesus brings God’s commandments to fulfillment by interiorizing their demands and bringing out their fullest meaning
Though the Gospel teachings constitute a ‘sign of contradiction’ Christ grants his assistance and grace

Benedict XVI

The trials of Christians are indeed numerous, but they must be faithful to God in their marriage

Paul VI

Christians must observe conjugal fidelity


The transmission of human life is only licit within Sacramental Marriage
Conjugal fidelity is the sacred duty of each of the spouses

Benedict XIV

The laws should chastise those who do not respect the indissolubility of the matrimonial bond

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Acts such as adultery are always gravely illicit – no circumstance can legitimize a ‘second union’

Saint Augustine of Hippo

Not even for the sake of bearing children may one unite with another person

Sacred Scripture

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil

Pius IX

Any other union of man and woman, except the sacramental union, is nothing else than concubinage

Council of Trent

Anathema for those who deny that a new union after separation is adultery

II – All of the baptized are equally obliged to fulfill the Commandments with all the sacrifices that this implies

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Ten Commandments oblige always and everywhere - no one can dispense from them
The Ten Commandments are obligatory for Christians

John Paul II

There are no different degrees or forms of God’s law for different individuals and situations
Even during life’s difficult moments one must fulfill the commandments
The ‘indispensable fruits’ that the Christian must produce are in fulfilling the commandments
All of the faithful are called to a generous fulfillment of the law of God
The only way to build entirely fulfilled life is through observing the commandments
Christians know that every day they must carry the Cross up the hill of their Calvary – sufferings are not a reason for abandoning God’s will

Benedict XVI

Materialistic ideologies tell us it is absurd to observe God’s commandments

Pius XI

The doctrine of Christ always remains the same

Saint Irenaeus of Lyon

Those who do not obey God shall be righteously judged and those who have obeyed Him, honoured with immortality

III – Man’s happiness consists in doing the will of God

Sacred Scripture

Blessed are the clean of heart
All these curses will come upon those who do not keep the commandments of God

John Paul II

True joy and serenity is found in the fulfillment of the divine precepts
Happiness is not achieved by irresponsible selfishness which disrupts the family and society – even though the world spreads this falsity

Benedict XVI

The only joy that fills the human heart comes from God: the cross of Christ
The Church has received from its Founder the mission of showing people the way to true happiness: fidelity to the words of Christ

Saint Augustine of Hippo

The sinner’s unfortunate good fortune
If you would be blessed, be undefiled – ‘blessed are they that walk in the law of the Lord’

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