By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Silencing in Modern America

Antigone: They see it just that way but defer to you and keep their tongues in leash.

King Creon: And aren't you ashamed to differ so from them? So disloyal!


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A Very Human Lesson

For those of us who supported Bernie, one wider, very human lesson comes to mind: always be true to those you really like, admire, and respect.

Don't sell out or "prostitute" yourself to the others. That's a lesson applicable to intimate relationships, friendships, careers, religion, and politics. Go with those you admire.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Unique Among the "Abrahamic" Religions

"Jesus and the early Christians . . , never endorsed armed violence, as did some texts in the Hebrew Bible, and drew rather on those passages that proclaimed peace."

O'Connor & Farrugia, Catholicism (Oxford University Press, 2015), p. 354.

Not all religious traditions can say the same about their origins.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

R.I.P., But No White Wash Needed

When someone passes away, our common humanity requires saying "rest in peace." But as a lawyer, my view is that Scalia's original intent view of the Constitution was intellectual snake-oil designed to kill the Constitution as a way to protect human rights. And a Constitution exists primarily for that very reason: to protect human rights. So take all the customary accolades with a grain of salt. May he rest in peace.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Bad Management American Style

What I think of when Americans go to Rome demanding good management in the Vatican by the Italians:

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Roma Locuta Est (Rome Has Spoken)

The Pope decrees that not only men may be chosen for the washing of the feet in the Liturgy of Holy Thursday

Vatican City, 21 January 2016 (VIS) – The Holy Father has written a letter, dated 20 December and published today, to Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, in which he decrees that from now on, the people chosen for the washing of the feet in the liturgy of Holy Thursday may be selected from all the People of God, and not only men and boys.

The Pope writes to the cardinal that he has for some time reflected on the "rite of the washing of the feet contained in the Liturgy of the Mass in Coena Domini, with the intention of improving the way in which it is performed so that it might express more fully the meaning of Jesus' gesture in the Cenacle, His giving of Himself unto the end for the salvation of the world, His limitless charity".

"After careful consideration", he continues, "I have decided to make a change to the Roman Missal. I therefore decree that the section according to which those persons chosen for the Washing of the feet must be men or boys, so that from now on the Pastors of the Church may choose the participants in the rite from among all the members of the People of God. I also recommend that an adequate explanation of the rite itself be provided to those who are chosen".

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has today published a decree on the aforementioned rite, dated 6 January 2016, the full text of which is published below:

"The reform of the Holy Week, by the decree Maxima Redemptionis nostrae mysteria of November 1955, provides the faculty, where counselled by pastoral motives, to perform the washing of the feet of twelve men during the Mass of the Lord's Supper, after the reading of the Gospel according to John, as if almost to represent Christ's humility and love for His disciples.

In the Roman liturgy this rite was handed down with the name of the Mandatum of the Lord on brotherly charity in accordance with Jesus' words, sung in the Antiphon during the celebration.

In performing this rite, bishops and priests are invited to conform intimately to Christ who 'came not to be served but to serve' and, driven by a love 'to the end', to give His life for the salvation of all humankind.

To manifest the full meaning of the rite to those who participate in it, the Holy Father Francis has seen fit to change the rule by in the Roman Missal (p.300, No. 11) according to which the chosen men are accompanied by the ministers, which must therefore be modified as follows: 'Those chosen from among the People of God are accompanied by the ministers' (and consequently in the Caeremoniale Episcoporum No. 301 and No. 299 b referring to the seats for the chosen men, so that pastors may choose a group of faithful representing the variety and unity of every part of the People of God. This group may consist of men and women, and ideally of the young and the old, healthy and sick, clerics, consecrated persons and laypeople.

This Congregation for Divine Worship and the Disipline of the Sacraments, by means of the faculties granted by the Supreme Pontiff, introduces this innovation in the liturgical books of the Roman Rite, recalling pastors of their duty to instruct adequately both the chosen faithful and others, so that they may participate in the rite consciously, actively and fruitfully".

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Another One for the List

In the past, I have listed what I considered unique dimensions of Christianity. Here is a new addition courtesy of the recently deceased French intellectual René Girard who "said Christianity was the only religion that had examined scapegoating and sacrifice 
from the victim’s point of view."

Source link: .

Here is my own previous list of unique dimensions (Mar. 13, 2015, blog post):

1. The only religion in which the Deity permanently takes up a human nature. So much for the chasm between the human and the divine.

2. The only religion in which the Deity is made equivalent to love. Love is not merely a trait of the Deity but is the Deity.

3. This love requires relationship. Hence the Deity is a Trinity of persons in which the Holy Spirit is the love between Father and Son.

4. The religion whose foundational writings, the gospels, contain the most radical critique of religiosity.


5. The only religion which examines "scapegoating and sacrifice from the victim's point of view" (René Girard).

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Break It Down and then the Flash of Insight

John Dalton's A New System of Chemical Philosophy (1808).
I do not understand the physics, but I have known the method used by a recently deceased Nobel laureate physicist:

"He was a master of boiling things down to the simplest possible form and then extracting the most important consequences that follow from that . . . . That's how he gained penetrating insights into very complicated problems where other people didn't see what was going on, because they were too confused by the complications."

Link source: .

As a young attorney, I could be immersed in very detailed and complex research seeking some light at the end of the tunnel--then a senior attorney would come out of the blue with a very simple and valuable insight even though he had no deep familiarity with the research. That is a lesson for specialists in all fields: do not dismiss the observations of outsiders but always consider them as favors that can lead us to think out of our self-imposed and conventional boxes of thought.

This method of "boiling things down" is also very useful in personal relations. You try to understand and get along with certain people, and then you realize that they are just plain obnoxious and need to change, a change you cannot make for them. Other people are hard to reach for a variety of complicated (and sometimes unfathomable) reasons having to do with family background, past experiences, and personality issues. Just recognize that simple fact and move on. You can do no more.

To boil things down is to focus like a laser on what is the fundamental reality of this problem or that person. Then draw out the consequences. Your focus will certainly not be infallible, but in life you have to make a decision and act (or not act, which is itself often a very valuable action).

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Pastoral Revolution

The world--especially the Western world--is in tremendous cultural turmoil where fundamental personal relationships are undergoing dizzying cultural change at tremendous speed. That is why the calling of a Synod on the family by Pope Francis was the right move. The Pope has decried those who wish to stick their heads in the sand. Certainly, Francis has not done that but has taken the bull by the horns by opening a debate and consultation concerning the tremendous cultural shifts taking place in the West (in which I include Latin America and not just Europe, the U.S., Canada, and Oceania).

The future of Catholicism will likely carry on the legacy of Pope Francis in several ways:

1. Scripted synods and other gatherings will be replaced by open and frank debate. There is no need to present a false face of monolithic unanimity on all matters. Such debate will keep at bay the dangers of denial. Otherwise, such events will be rightly discounted both within and outside the Church.

2. The pastoral revolution of Francis makes clear that creative ways of approaching and accompanying the wounded are consistent with traditional doctrine. Doctrinal loyalty does not mean pastoral rigor mortis. In fact, doctrine, especially under the rubric of mercy, calls for continual pastoral creativity. Mercy requires it.

3. The hypernomian (read: overlegalistic) approach of some who call themselves conservatives has exhausted itself in the face of unprecedented and theologically earth-shaking pastoral challenges. As Cardinal Wuerl of Washington, D.C., noted, the pastoral framework has shifted from the code of canon law to the Gospel, the Magna Carta of Catholicism. All else must adjust and adapt to the Gospel.

The Church always renews herself, semper renovanda, a renewal which is a necessity of the future.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

New Faster Annulment Process Not Necessarily a Burden on Bishops

As I read the Latin in the Pope's recent revision of canon law, the shorter process for declarations of nullity is not a burden imposed on and required of bishops, as some have said or implied, but is rather a discretionary power granted to bishops to be used for the benefit of the faithful in certain situations.

Latin: "Can. 1683. Ipsi Episcopo dioecesano competit iudicare causas de matrimonii nullitate processu breviore quoties:" (Source link);

English: "It is appropriate for the diocesan bishop himself to judge cases concerning the nullity of marriage with a shorter proceeding when: . . . ."

I take "competit" as empowering the bishop, not as requiring him to so act. Thus, the argument that this reform would crush a bishop with extra work is exaggerated. Bishops are smart enough to apply the reforms with assistance, as needed, in the particular situations envisioned.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

What is Significant in Annulment Reforms

According to the cardinal (Francesco Coccopalmerio) involved in the process (source is America magazine):

II. The most significant changes introduced by the new norm.
I believe that it is interesting to outline, as rapidly as possible, the most significant changes introduced by the new norm that's aimed at speeding up the conducting of the processes of nullity of marriage. I will limit my attention to the text of the motu proprio relating to the Latin Code, the Code of Canon Law. I select three aspects.
Canon 1671 speaking of this.
§ 1. Presupposes the doctrine according to which the diocesan bishop is the judge in his particular Church and it therefore affirms that the tribunal can be constituted by the bishop alone.
§ 2. (Says) the diocesan bishop, however, is not the only judge in his particular Church:
- in fact, it says, the diocesan bishop can establish a tribunal that judges in his stead:
- However, it gives the bishop the faculty to accede to a nearby tribunal.
§§ 3-4. They deal with two problems that we can say are an issue:
- that of the collegial or one-only judge;
- that of the judge who is a cleric or a lay person:
And they resolve them with the following directives (dispositions):
- if it's possible, the tribunal should be collegial and formed of three members who are clerics:
- if it's not possible that all the members are clerics, it's permitted that one only need be a cleric and be the president of the tribunal, while the others can be lay people;
- if, moreover, it's not possible that the tribunal can be collegial, it's permitted that it be formed of one judge only, but he should be a cleric;
- that one only judge who is a cleric should avail himself, if possible, of two assistants (assessors) of upright life, who are expert in the legal and human sciences, and approved by the bishop for this purpose.
§ 5. The tribunal of the second instance should be collegial always, and should be formed according to the criteria given in § 3.
Canons 1679-1680 speak of this and touch the actual structure of the double confirming sentences and decree their abolition.
One can see this change clearly if one looks at the present norm that envisages the double conforming sentences (cann. 1682, § 1 e 1684 § 1) and compares it to the new norm that abolishes this (can. 1679).
The present norms states that “The sentence which for the first time declares the nullity of the marriage transmitted by an act of office (ex officio) to the tribunal of appeal” (can. 1682, § 1). And again, “After the sentence which declared the nullity of marriage for the first time was confirmed in the appeal instance... those whose marriage was declared null can contract a new marriage” (can. 1684, § 1).
The new norm disposes that: “The sentence that for the first time decreed the nullity of marriage, after the times (terms) established have passed...becomes executive” (can. 1679).
It is therefore no longer obligatory to appeal ex officio to the second grade. Nevertheless, the possibility to appeal the sentence is not denied, because the new norm at the same time disposes: “The part which feels burdened as well as the promoter of justice and the defender of the bond of marriage retain the right to challenge the sentence of nullity and appeal against the same sentence (can. 1680, § 1).
Attention, however, and here is the great novelty: “The collegial tribunal, if it concludes that the appeal is clearly only (a) prolonging (tactic), can confirm the decree of the first instance“ (can. 1680, § 2).
3.  THE SHORTER PROCESS ('Processus Brevior')
Another significant innovation, always with a view to speeding up the processes of nullity of marriage, is that contained in canons 1683-1684, and consists in the 'shorter process' (“processus brevior”).
Let's look schematically at the elements that structure this process:
- the diocesan bishop is the sole judge.
- the cause of nullity is introduced by both parties, who must however be convinced of the nullity of marriage;
- the testimonials or documentary proofs must be evident and make clear the nullity (canons. 1683-1684);
- the term (time) within which the 'shorter process' must be done is 30 days from the moment all the participants are convoked, and another 15 days can be added for further observations (canons 1685-1686);
- the sentence is issued by the diocesan bishop himself if he reaches the moral certainty of the nullity of the marriage, or else the case examined by him is assigned to the ordinary process (can. 1687, § 1);
- an appeal against the sentence is also envisaged here but, here too, it cannot be an appeal that is merely a delaying one, because in this case also it is rejected at the start.
As one can see, this 'shorter process' is a very agile structure, and therefore rapid.
However, it is the judicial praxis that will make this structure more precise and definitive. The same can be tranquilly said for the other innovations, and in particular those mentioned above.
We should remember too that since the church is extended in all continents, the experiences of the different surroundings will bring better understanding and eventual normative precisions.



08-09-2015 - Year XXII - Num. 151  

Motu proprio “Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus” and “Mitis et misericors Iesus”: the Pope reforms the procedures for declaration of marriage nullity 
Presentation of the Holy Father's Motu proprio on the reform of procedures for the declaration of marriage nullity 
Other Pontifical Acts 
Motu proprio “Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus” and “Mitis et misericors Iesus”: the Pope reforms the procedures for declaration of marriage nullity
Vatican City, 8 September 2015 (VIS) - “Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus” and “Mitis et misericors Iesus”, on the reform of canonical processes for the declaration of nullity of marriage, in the Code of Canon Law (CIC) and the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches (CCEO) are the two letters issued “Motu proprio” by the Holy Father Francis, published today.
In the first, “Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus”, the Pope writes that the Lord Jesus, “clement Judge, Pastor of our souls, has entrusted to the Apostle Peter and his Successors the power of the keys to fulfil in the Church the works of justice and truth; this supreme and universal power to bind and dissolve here on earth affirms, corroborates and vindicates that of the Pastors of the particular Churches, by virtue of which they have the sacred right and, before the Lord, the duty to judge their own subjects”.
“Throughout the centuries”, he continues, “the Church, in matters of marriage, acquiring a clearer awareness of the Words of Christ, has understood and explained in greater depth the doctrine of the indissolubility of the sacred conjugal bond, has developed the system for the annulment of matrimonial consent, and has more suitably disciplined the relevant judicial process, so that ecclesiastical discipline is more consistent with the truth of the professed faith”.
“All this has always been done with the supreme law of the salvation of souls as a guide. … Aware of the above, I have undertaken to reform the processes for the declaration of nullity of marriage, and for this purpose I have constituted a Group of persons eminent for their competence in legal doctrine, their pastoral prudence and their forensic experience who, under the guidance of the Most Excellent Dean of the Roman Rota, have drafted a plan for reform, without prejudice to the principle of the indissolubility of the marriage bond. … This Group has developed a framework for reform which, after thoughtful consideration with the assistance of other experts, has provided the basis for this 'Motu proprio'”.
“It is therefore the concern for the salvation of souls that, today as yesterday, remains the supreme objective of the institutions and laws, and drives the Bishop of Rome to offer to the Bishops this reform document, insofar as they share with him the task of the Church to protect unity in faith and in discipline regarding marriage, the cornerstone and origin of the Christian family. The drive to reform has been fuelled by the enormous number of faithful who, while wishing to be at peace with their conscience, are too often separated from the legal structures of the Churches due to physical or moral distance; charity and mercy therefore require that the same Church, as a mother, to be closer to her children who consider themselves separated”.
“This direction was also indicated by the votes of the majority of my Brothers in the Episcopate, gathered in the recent extraordinary Synod, who called for faster and more accessible processes. In full harmony with this desire I have decided to introduce, by this Motu proprio, provisions that favour not the nullity of marriage but rather the speed of processes, along with the appropriate simplicity, so that the heart of the faithful who await clarification of their status is not long oppressed by the darkness of doubt due to the lengthy wait for a conclusion”.
“I have done so following in the footsteps of my predecessors, who wanted procedures for the declaration of nullity of marriage to be treated by judicial rather than administrative means, not because the nature of the matter imposes this but because it is demanded by the need to protect to the greatest extent possible the truth of the sacred bond; and this is precisely what is ensured by the guarantees of the judicial order”.
The Pope goes on to indicate a number of fundamental criteria that guide the reform:
“1. A single judgement in favour of executive nullity: it would appear appropriate to no longer require a double conforming decision in favour of the nullity of the marriage to enable the parties to be able to contract a further canonical marriage, instead considering sufficient the moral certainty reached by the first judge in accordance with the rules of law.
2. A single judge under the responsibility of the bishop: the constitution of the single judge, in any case clerical, is in the first instance the responsibility of the bishop, who in the pastoral exercise of his judicial power must ensure that the former does not engage in any form of laxity.
3. The same bishop is the judge: … The bishop in his Church, of which he is constituted pastor and head, is for this reason judge among the faithful entrusted to him. It is hoped, therefore, that in both large and small dioceses the same bishop may offer a sign of the conversion of the ecclesiastical structures, rather than completely delegating the judicial function in matters of marriage to the offices of the curia. This is especially relevant to the shorter procedure, established to resolve the most evident cases of nullity”.
4. Short procedure: Indeed, aside from streamlining processes for the declaration of nullity, a form of shorter process is designated – in addition to the current documentary procedure – to be applied in cases in which the alleged nullity of the marriage is supported by particularly clear arguments”. The Holy Father observes that “it does not pass unnoticed that a shorter procedure may endanger the principle of the indissolubility of marriage; for precisely this reason I have required that in such a procedure the judge be the bishop himself who, due to his pastoral office, is with Peter the greatest guarantor of Catholic unity in faith and in discipline”.
5. Appeal to the Metropolitan See: it would be appropriate to restore the faculty of appeal to the Metropolitan See, since this office of the head of the ecclesiastical province, stable throughout the centuries, is a distinctive sign of the synodality of the Church.
6. The competence of the Episcopal Conferences: the Episcopal Conferences, which must be above all driven by the apostolic eagerness to reach the lost faithful, are strongly aware of their duty to share in the aforementioned conversion, and fully respect the right of the bishops to organise the judicial power in their own particular Churches. … Along with their proximity to the judge, the Episcopal Conferences, to the extent possible, must ensure just and dignified retribution to tribunal staff, ensuring that the processes are free, since the Church, in a matter so closely linked to the salvation of souls, demonstrates the gratuitous love of Christ by which we have all been saved”.
7. Appeal to the Apostolic See: It is convenient, in all forms, to maintain the appeal to the ordinary Tribunal of the Apostolic See, that is the Roman Rota, respecting an ancient judicial principle, so as to strengthen the bond between the See of Peter and the particular Churches, in any case taking care, in the discipline of such appeal, to limit any abuse of the right, so that it does not jeopardise the salvation of souls.
The law of the Roman Rota will be adapted as soon as possible to the rules of the reformed procedure, within the limits of necessity.
In the eighth point the Pope mentioned that, given the specific ecclesial and disciplinary order of the Eastern Churches, the norms for the reform of the discipline of marriage processes have been issued separately in the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.
Finally, he decrees and institutes that the Book VI of the Code of Canon Law (part III, title I, chapter I) on processes for the declaration of the nullity of marriage (canons 1671 to 1691) will be entirely substituted by the new norms, with effect from 8 December 2015.
In the Motu proprio “Mitis et misericors Iesus”, addressed to the Eastern Churches, Pope Francis notes that his venerated predecessor, St. John Paul II, in promulgating the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, affirmed that “since the beginning of the canonical codification of the Eastern Churches, the same consistent will of the Roman pontiffs to promulgate two codices, one for the Latin Church and one for the Eastern Catholic Churches, has shown very clearly that these latter wish to conserve what has occurred by divine providence in the Church, that is, that reunited by a single Spirit, she must breathe with the two lungs of East and West, and burn with Christ's charity like a single heart composed of two ventricles”.
“Following in the same path, and taking into account the particular ecclesial and disciplinary order of the Eastern Churches, I have decided to issue in a separate Motu proprio the norms for the reform of the discipline of marriage processes in the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches”.
The Pope goes on to emphasise the importance of the ministry of the bishop, with according to the teachings of the Eastern Fathers, is “judge and physician, since man, wounded and fallen, owing to original sin and his personal sins, sickens and with the medicine of penitence obtains healing and forgiveness from God, and is reconciled with the Church. Indeed, the bishop, constituted by the Holy Spirit as the figure of Christ and in the place of Christ, is first and foremost the minister of divine mercy”.
The Bishop of Rome emphasises that appeal to the Metropolitan See is “a hallmark of the fundamental synodality in the Eastern Churches, which should be supported and encouraged”, and addresses to the Synods of the Eastern Churches the recommendations which in the Motu proprio “Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus” are addressed to the Episcopal Conferences.
Finally, he decrees and establishes that in Title 26 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches (Chapter 1, article 1). Cases for the declaration of the nullity of marriage, canons 1357-1377) is entirely substituted by the new norms, with effect from 8 December 2015.
Presentation of the Holy Father's Motu proprio on the reform of procedures for the declaration of marriage nullity
Vatican City, 8 September 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Holy Press Office a press conference was held for the presentation of the two letters issued “Motu proprio” by the Holy Father Francis, “Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus” and “Mitis et misericors Iesus” on the reform of canonical processes for the declaration of nullity of marriage in the Code of Canon Law (CIC) and the Code of Canons of the Oriental Churches (CCEO) respectively.
The speakers at the conference were Msgr. Vito Pinto, dean of the Roman Rota and president of the Special Commission for the Reform of Matrimonial Processes in Canon Law; Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts and member of the Special Commission; Bishop Dimitrios Salachas, apostolic exarch of Athens for Greek Catholics of Byzantine Rite and member of the Special Commission; Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, S.J., secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and member of the Special Commission; Msgr. Alejandro W. Bunge, prelate auditor of the Roman Rota and secretary of the Special Commission; and Fr. Nikolaus Schoch, O.F.M., substitute promoter of Justice at the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura and secretary of the Special Commission.
Cardinal Coccopalmerio specified that the reform regards the canonical process for the declaration of nullity of marriage. “It is a process that leads to the declaration of nullity, or in other words, which leads first to establish whether a marriage may be declared null and, if so, to declare its nullity. It is not, therefore, a process that leads to the annulment of the marriage. Nullity is distinct from annulment, and declaring the nullity of a marriage is entirely different to decreeing its annulment.
Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, S.J., recalled the necessary requisites according to canon law for the validation of a marriage between Catholics which, aside from the absence of diriment impediments and the observance of canonical form, including the free consent of the spouses.
“According to the teaching of the Church”, he said, “marriage is one, only a man and a woman may unite in marriage, and it is impossible to undertake a new matrimonial union during the life of the spouse. Marriage is indissoluble, as Jesus taught, and we have many examples of this teaching in the Gospel. The Letter to the Ephesians explains to us that sacramental marriage cannot be broken as it is the image and expression of Christ's love for His Church. … Marriage must be open to the transmission of life”.
“In our traditional civilisation, it was possible to suppose that these teachings of the Church were known and shared. In recent times there has emerged the doubt, that would seem not without basis, as to whether all those who marry in the Church are sufficiently aware of these teachings and, therefore, as to whether their consent truly refers to them. If it is not the case, their marriage would be null; that is, it would not exist in fact. And precisely because there are these doubts, many would like to be able to offer a rapid but reliable means for resolving the problem and contributing to pacifying the conscience of many Catholics”.
The key points of the reform were explained by the prelate auditor of the Roman Rota, Msgr. Bunge: “1) the central role of the diocesan bishop, to be applied in the spirit of collegiality.
As well as the regional, interdiocesan and synodal tribunals, according to the various methods of the Church and taking into account the good of the faithful and the appropriateness of accessibility of pastoral remedies for wounded faithful, the diocesan bishops are enabled to have their own diocesan tribunals, and if necessary, also to decide that in this tribunal, if it impossible to have a collegial tribunal (always chaired by a member of the clergy), there may be a single judge (again clerical).
2) Short procedure (avoiding the terms 'summary' or 'administrative') for clear cases of nullity of marriage, to render it more accessible to the 'masses'. In these cases the judge would be the bishop, assisted in ascertaining the facts by two assessors, with whom he will discuss in advance the moral certainty of the facts adopted in deciding on the nullity of the marriage. If the bishop is convinced of the moral certainty, he will pronounce the decision; otherwise the case will be referred to the ordinary process.
It may be objected that a bishop would be unable to decide a high number of cases, to which there is a dual response: in a region there would be not only the regional and interdiocesan tribunals, but also the bishop in each diocese for cases that are obviously clear; secondly, the bishop would be assisted by the staff of his tribunal. Ongoing formation would ensure that each bishop, with his tribunal for these cases of marriage nullity, would discover the ministry appropriate to him, entrusted to him in his holy ordination, as the judge of his faithful.
3) Appeal would be rare, as there would exist agreement between the parties and there would be evident facts regarding nullity; in the presence of elements that would lead the appeal to be considered merely dilatory or instrumental, it would be rejected a limine.
4) Ordinary process:
- Fast (a maximum of one year)
- Abolition of the double conforming decision (that is, the need according to canon law in the procedures for the declaration of nullity of marriage to have two conforming decisions to enable the spouses to be free to contract a new marriage. This implies that two tribunals of distinct grade declare the nullity of the marriage for the same reasons in fact and in law, Ed.).
- The affirmative non-appellate judgement ipso facto becomes executive.
- If an appeal is sought following an affirmative judgement this can be rejected a limine due to an evident lack of supporting arguments.
This may occur in the case of instrumental appeal, intended to harm the other party; often the non-Catholic appellant has already undertaken a civil remarriage.
There emerges in the reform the situation which is by now the reason why the majority of Catholics seek the declaration of nullity of marriage: 'consulere conscientiae', that is, aside from the civil law aspects, for reasons of conscience (to partake in the sacraments of the Church and to perfect a new bond which, unlike the first, is stable and happy).
5. The speed of the procedure favours the limitation of appeals to the Holy See and therefore to the Roman Rota, or appeals to the Apostolic Signatura to newly present a case previously rejected by the Rota.
In conclusion; the glory of God s living man, and may I add, man saved by the diligent ministry of the justice and mercy of the Church”.
Other Pontifical Acts
Vatican City, 8 September 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed Bishop Raymond Poisson, auxiliary of Saint-Jerome, Canada, as bishop of Joliette (area 8,800, population 281,000, Catholics 256,000, priests 113, permanent deacons 7, religious 230), Canada.
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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Pope Francis on St. Francis of Assisi

11. [St.] Francis helps us to see that an integral ecology calls for openness to categories which transcend the language of mathematics and biology, and take us to the heart of what it is to be human. Just as happens when we fall in love with someone, whenever he would gaze at the sun, the moon or the smallest of animals, he burst into song, drawing all other creatures into his praise. He communed with all creation, even preaching to the flowers, inviting them “to praise the Lord, just as if they were endowed with reason”.19 His response to the world around him was so much more than intellectual appreciation or economic calculus, for to him each and every creature was a sister united to him by bonds of affection. That is why he felt called to care for all that exists. His disciple Saint Bonaventure tells us that, “from a reflection on the primary source of all things, filled with even more abundant piety, he would call creatures, no matter how small, by the name of ‘brother’ or ‘sister’”.20 Such a conviction cannot be written off as naive romanticism, for it affects the choices which determine our behaviour. If we approach nature and the environment without this openness to awe and wonder, if we no longer speak the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world, our attitude will be that of masters, consumers, ruthless exploiters, unable to set limits on their immediate needs. By contrast, if we feel intimately united with all that exists, then sobriety and care will well up spontaneously. The poverty and austerity of Saint Francis were no mere veneer of asceticism, but something much more radical: a refusal to turn reality into an object simply to be used and controlled.

--Encyclical Laudato Si

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Making Amends

June 15, 2015

Francis commemorates the reformer Jan Hus on the 600th anniversary of his death

Vatican City, 15 June 2015 (VIS) – This morning Pope Francis received in audience the representatives of the Czech Hussite Church and the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren, in Rome to celebrate a liturgy of reconciliation on the occasion of the 600 th anniversary of the reformer Jan Hus, distinguished preacher and rector of the University of Prague, whose execution was lamented by St. John Paul II in 1999, who included him among the reformers of the Church.

“In the light of this consideration”, said Francis, “it is necessary to continue our studies of the figure and work of Jan Hus, which has long been a matter of controversy between Christians, but which has today become a reason for dialogue. This research, conducted without any form of ideological conditioning, will be an important service to historical truth, to all Christians and to society as a whole, even beyond your national borders”.

“Today's meeting gives us the opportunity to renew and deepen the relations between our communities”, he added. “Many disputes of the past ask to be revisited in the light of the new context in which we live, and agreements and convergences will be reached if we face the traditional conflictual questions with a new outlook. Above all, we cannot forget that the shared profession of faith in God the Father, in the Son and in the Holy Spirit, in which we have been baptised, already unites us in bonds of authentic fraternity”.

“Vatican Council II affirmed that 'every renewal of the Church is essentially grounded in an increase of fidelity to her own calling. Undoubtedly this is the basis of the movement toward unity. … Church renewal has therefore notable ecumenical importance'. Nowadays, in particular, the need for a new evangelisation of many men and women who seem indifferent to the joyful news of the Gospel makes it urgent to renovate every ecclesial structure so as to promote a positive response from all those to whom Jesus offers His friendship. And visible communion between Christians will certainly make this announcement more credible”.

“Responding to the call of Christ to continual conversion, of which we are all in need, we can progress together on the path of reconciliation and peace. Along this road let us learn, by God's grace, to recognise each other as friends and to consider the motivations of others in the best light possible. In this sense I hope that bonds of friendship may develop also at the level of local and parish communities. With these sentiments, I join spiritually in the penitential liturgy you will celebrate here in Rome”, concluded the Holy Father. “May God, rich in mercy, grant us the grace to recognise ourselves all as sinners and to know how to forgive each other”.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

New Kindle Book: Philosophy in Don Quixote

You can read a description of the book at the Amazon link below. The book will be available shortly for free downloading from April 1st through April 5th. 

If you care to write a review, please do so.

The book is a short read of about 39 pages. It is especially geared to those with a taste for existential philosophy.

Amazon link: .

Friday, March 20, 2015

Jean Vanier on the Challenge

Read at this PDF link:

STATEMENT BY JEAN VANIER: “Transforming our Hearts” Templeton Prize News Conference, British Academy, London, March 11, 2015

I first of all want to thank you, Jennifer Simpson, and your father, Dr. John M. Templeton, Jr., and all those who work with you, especially the judges, for the wonderful prize you have awarded me.

I want to thank in a special way all those I represent here, people with intellectual disabilities of L’Arche and Faith and Light. They have brought me so much over the past 50 years, and have taught me more than all those teachers and professors in schools and universities that I have attended. They have taught me about what it means to be human and about how our societies can be transformed to become more peaceful and unified.

Our world is evolving rapidly, and is at a crisis point today. Either we will move together towards a deeper unity of all people, in a spirit of openness, fraternity and mutual respect, or the divisions that exist will grow into terrible forces of fear and hate, encouraging wars, terrorism and even the use of atomic weapons, each of which is a form of suicide for humanity.

A change for peace is beginning. The horrible age of slavery, where human beings were cruelly brought from Africa to the Americas, has largely gone. Unfortunately other forms of slavery, such as prostitution and sex trafficking, still exist. That age however left after effects, in apartheid and in forms of racism that persist today. Thank God that the people of Africa, as well as the indigenous people of Canada and other countries, are no longer seen as “savages”, but as dignified peoples with sacred traditions that could benefit all of humanity.

There is also a change in the way people with intellectual disabilities are seen. For many years these wonderful people were seen as “errors”, or as the fruit of evil committed by their parents or ancestors. We see for instance in the Gospel of John, the disciples of Jesus asking him about a man born blind. Was he born blind because of his sins, or because of the sins of his parents? This idea that people with disabilities were the fruit of evil committed by ancestors still remains in some strands of religions. Children born with disabilities were traditionally hidden away in big institutions, or in poorer countries where institutions did not exist, in the cupboards of their homes, or sent as beggars into the streets. They were seen as hardly human, and as a shame and dishonor for their parents. They were terribly humiliated and rejected. Today we are discovering that these people have a wealth of human qualities that can change the hearts of those caught up in the culture of winning and of power.

There is also a change in the way we are discovering the qualities of a person, hidden underneath their capacities of knowledge and of power. The value of human beings resided so often in their qualities of strength, of competence, of efficiency and of knowledge. Sometimes, fortunately, these were also coupled with values of honesty and integrity. Countries, groups and people were more or less fighting to win and to be the best, to have more and to do more. So it was that generals and politicians were applauded, monuments created in their honor, and streets named after them. It was power and competence that defined the identity of someone.

Change is gradually taking place, like a little seed in fertile earth, a seed of peace. For this change the whole world of psychology has helped us all to see how people can be manipulated by their unconscious needs to win, and by compulsions grounded in the fear of losing and of being no good. People can throw themselves into ideologies that cut them off from experience and reality.

Universal peace can only come if we develop and awaken those very human qualities, hidden under the more superficial needs for power and of winning, which lead us to welcome reality. These qualities are those linked to the heart the capacity to love people, to respect them deeply, to live authentic relationships with others, to yearn for truth and justice in the huge family of humanity; qualities of humility, of forgiveness and of compassion for those who are weaker and in need; in short to seek the wisdom of the heart.

There is also a huge evolution as people from different religions begin to meet. All the religious leaders of our world met in Assisi in 1986 under the inspiration and the invitation of Pope John Paul II. A new vision was being created and opened up the road towards collaborating for peace. Those who had for a long time been fighting each other on religious issues, began to meet each other and to listen to each other. It is not just a question of dialogue between religions, but essentially a meeting of people from different religions.

With this wisdom we learn to meet as human beings. The horrors of Auschwitz and of the atomic bomb at Hiroshima have been a wakeup call. The cry is for no more war. No more treating people as evil or just to be pushed away as having no value. We must start to meet: people must meet people; we are all human beings. Before being Christians or Jews or Muslims, before being Americans or Russians or Africans, before being generals or priests, rabbis or imams, before having visible or invisible disabilities, we are all human beings with hearts capable of loving.

It is here that I want to speak of what we have learned in L'Arche and Faith and Light. As you know, people with intellectual disabilities are not able to assume important roles of power and of efficacy. They are essentially people of the heart. When they meet others they do not have a hidden agenda for power or for success. Their cry, their fundamental cry, is for a relationship, a meeting heart to heart. It is this meeting that awakens them, opens them up to life, and calls them forth to love in great simplicity, freedom and openness. When those ingrained in a culture of winning and of individual success really meet them, and enter into friendship with them, something amazing and wonderful happens. They too are opened up to love and even to God. They are changed at a very deep level. They are transformed and become more fundamentally human.

Let me [tell] you about Pauline. She came to our community in 1970, hemiplegic, epileptic, one leg and one arm paralyzed, filled with violence and rage. It was not easy to live in one of our small homes with her. Our psychiatrist gave us good insight and advice: her violence was a cry for friendship. For so long she had been humiliated, seen as hardly human, having no value, handicapped. What was important was that the assistants take time to be with her, listen to her and show their appreciation for her. Little by little she evolved and became more peaceful and responded to their love. Her violence disappeared. She didn’t particularly like to work in our workshops, but she loved to sing and to dance. When she was quite a bit older I would go and visit her. Sometimes she would put her good arm on my head and she would say “poor old man”. It takes a long time to move from violence to tenderness. The assistants who saw her initially as a very difficult person, began to discover who she was under her violence and under her disabilities. They also began to change. They discovered that for a person, growth was not primarily climbing the ladder of power and success, but of learning to love people as they are. Love, in the words of St Paul, is to be patient, to serve, to bear all, to believe all, and to hope all.

Isn’t it vital that the culture of winning so common in our societies today, be transformed? This culture of winning means that few people win, and many lose. Those who cannot win are shoved aside, and very quickly society becomes divided. On one side are those who are gaining and producing money and goods, and on the other, those who need to be looked after. A terrible rift is created between winners and losers, between the so-called normal and the so-called abnormal, between the rich and the poor.

The social difficulties then become enormous. The winners must look after, in every way and in particular financially, all the losers. With medical advances, more fragile people live, lifespans lengthen, and the losers increase in number. Many young people, disillusioned in the face of societies built for winners, take to drugs and alcohol because of their sense of not making it. So we find large numbers of people of all ages and abilities or disabilities in need, and few winners willing to support them. Very quickly people entertain talk of eliminating the weakest to “solve the problems”. We risk moving towards a philosophy of a perfect race, instead of welcoming the poorest and weakest among us, who transforms us.

For peace, people must meet across differences. I say to meet people, not just to send them money and offer better professionals. All need to change. Fear must be changed into openness. Those on the rich side need to change and open their hearts to those on the other side. Those on the needy side also need to change; from anger, anguish, depression and a sense of being victims of a society, they must become agents of hope and of love. They too need to be awoken to love.

It is only as we meet and share together person to person, eye to eye, and heart to heart that we discover what it means to be human and to discover the joy of being together, working together towards a common mission of peace and unity. It is only moving from winning and loneliness to collaboration, and from hostility to seeing enemies as friends, that we discover the real meaning of peace.

L’Arche and Faith and Light are like an immense laboratory. They are places of healing of rifts and of hearts where all become more human. There are now other forms of community developing, like ours, where people in need are living with people from so-called normal society. There are communities where people from the streets are now living in apartments with volunteers who desire to live with them; the same is happening with people who are mentally sick, with people who are old and in the fog of Alzheimer’s, as well as with men and women from prisons seeking rehabilitation.

What is important in all these communities is not simply to have good professionals and to do things for people in need. Neither is it just through material aid or through new technology that people can be helped, though these can be useful. People are healed and become more human as they enter into real relationships with others. They then discover that under all the feelings of stress, rejection and humiliation, that they are someone! Those in need and those who come to help are all being healed, and are all, together, becoming more human. Our society will really become human as we discover that the strong need the weak, just as the weak need the strong. We are all together working for the common good.

My dream for this magnificent prize you have given me, and through me to L'Arche and Faith & Light, is for us to create spaces and opportunities for such meetings, meetings which transform hearts. Places where those caught up in the world of success and normality, and those who are in need, but who are also teachers of love and of simplicity, come together. Places where they can share together, eat together, laugh and celebrate together, weep and pray together; where the hearts of those who carry power in our society can be melted and rest; and where all together we may become a sign of peace.

Peace and love to you.