Pope opens big week with sex, divorce on agenda

Cardinals will meet for two days behind closed doors to begin preparations for the October summit on family issues
Associated Press
Feb 17, 2014


Meetings this week between Pope Francis and his cardinals will deal with some of the thorniest issues facing the church, including the rejection by most Catholics of some of its core teaching on premarital sex, contraception, gays and divorce.

German Cardinal Walter Kasper, who has called for "changes and openings" in the church's treatment of divorced and remarried Catholics, will give the keynote speech Thursday to the pope and cardinals attending a preparatory meeting for an October summit on family issues.

The cardinals are in town for Saturday's ceremony to formally install 19 new "princes of the church," the first batch named by Francis to join the group of churchmen who will elect his successor. Saturday's ceremony is the high point of an intensive week of meetings presided over by Francis that include the first proposals to put the Vatican's financial house in order.

Ahead of Saturday's consistory, cardinals will meet for two days behind closed doors to begin preparations for the October summit on family issues.

Francis scheduled the summit last year and took the unusual step of sending bishops around the world a questionnaire for ordinary Catholics to fill out about how they understand and practice church teaching on marriage, sex and other issues related to the family.

The results, at least those reported by bishops in Europe and the United States, have been eye-opening. Bishops themselves reported that the church's core teachings on sexual morals, birth control, homosexuality, marriage and divorce are rejected as unrealistic and outdated by the vast majority of Catholics, who nevertheless said they were active in parish life and considered their faith vitally important.

"On the matter of artificial contraception the responses might be characterized by the saying, 'That train left the station long ago,'" Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Florida, recently wrote on his blog, summarizing his survey's findings. "Catholics have made up their minds and the sensus fidelium (sense of the faithful) suggests the rejection of church teaching on this subject."

German and Swiss bishops released similar survey results earlier this month. German bishops reported this: "The church's statements on premarital sexual relations, on homosexuality, on those divorced and remarried and on birth control ... are virtually never accepted, or are expressly rejected in the vast majority of cases."

The Swiss bishops went further, saying the church's very mission was being threatened by its insistence on such directives.

Kasper, who retired in 2010 after a decade as the Vatican's chief ecumenical officer, has for years held out hope that the Vatican might accommodate these remarried Catholics who are forbidden from participating fully in the church's sacraments unless they get an annulment.

"What is possible with God — namely forgiveness — we should be able to succeed within the church, too," he told Germany's Die Zeit in December.

Church teaching holds that unless that first marriage is annulled, or declared null and void by a church tribunal, Catholics who remarry cannot receive Communion because they are essentially living in sin and committing adultery. Such annulments are often impossible to get or can take years to process, a problem that has left generations of Catholics feeling shunned from their church.

Last year, the German diocese of Freiburg issued a set of guidelines explaining how such remarried Catholics could get around the rule. It said if certain criteria are met — if the spouses were trying to live according to the faith and acted with laudable motivation — they could receive Communion and other sacraments of the church.

The Vatican's chief doctrinal czar immediately shot down the initiative, insisting there is no way around the rule. Cardinal-elect Gerhard Mueller, like Kasper a German theologian, cited documents from popes past and his own office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in rejecting arguments that mercy should prevail over church rules or that people should follow their own consciences to decide if their first marriage was valid or not.

"It is not for the individuals concerned to decide on its validity, but rather for the church," he wrote in the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.

But Kasper has said the issue can and should be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Francis himself has made clear he wants to help these Catholics and that the annulment process itself must be reviewed because the church's tribunals currently are not able to deal with their caseload. He has said now was a "season of mercy."

Francis is a big fan of Kasper. During his first Sunday noon blessing as pope, Francis praised Kasper by name, saying he was a terrific theologian who had just written a great book on mercy.

American canon lawyer Edward Peters, who has written extensively on the American annulment process, said Monday that compromise is not possible on annulments themselves since that is the only way baptized Catholics can remarry. But in a blog post, he said the Vatican might consider some "process-smoothing provisions" that were approved for the U.S. church back in the 1970s, including the elimination of the mandatory appeal to Rome.



thinkagain's picture

The Catholic religion is just that, a religion. And when a religion accommodates culture, worldliness ensues.

I thank God that as a Christian, my identity is in Him, and He is the only one I will need to answer to.

Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.


When a culture accommodates a religion, tyranny ensues.


Re: "When (snip)"

A 'catchy' but largely meaningless phrase.

How about:

“The Church is the conscience of the state,” - ML King


“When government tramples inherent rights such as religious liberty, tyranny ensues."

Reminds me of portions of the ACA 'diktats' being shoved down the throats of those who disagree due to religious reasons.



Not true. But Christian Fundamentalism, Catholicism, and Islamism all try to shove their dogma down everyone else's throats.

thinkagain's picture

Not true. But Liberal Homosexualism shove their dogma down everybody else's throats, including indoctrinating students in public school.

Pterocarya frax...

What have you had shoved down your throat? And did you like it?

The Big Dog's back



Re: "dogma,"

More like the forced progressive-socialist "dogma" of statism.

Gotta luv it how the big bad Obama admin. was suing a small group of 'evil' nuns.


1st Amend.

Haven't been forced to go to a church, temple or mosque as yet. Have you?


sex and divorce. throw in some illegal drugs & it sounds like my weekly agenda..

Ned Mandingo

How can these weirdos decide on matters most of them don't even understand.

Josh31's picture

Just like how you can comment on something you don't even understand

Ned Mandingo

I understand that this church is responsible for millions of deaths over the years, countless sexual assaults, and in my opinion brainwashes its members with rituals and beliefs so it can extort money from them.
Any person who does a little research can easily figure out that the christian religion is not a true story. There is nothing in history that even mentioned him ever being alive. except the bible. Dec 25th is when the sun starts its move back north on the horizon, being reborn. The three wise men is a constellation of stars that point to where the sun will rise on that day. The story goes on and on. Jesus was not the first profit with these stories, he was actually the 25th or so. It is a astrology story.
Knowing all these facts, it is hard to give any credibility to the largest church that exploits these beliefs. In my opinion they are a bunch of weirdos who exploit vulnerable people who need something to follow and belong to.

John Harville

Good points Ned. From the moment each of us emerges from the warm, dark watery depths to that blinding light and the first swat on the seat of our understanding, we begin a lifelong search to understand how and why we are here.
From that moment, others in the midst of their own searches begin telling us what, how, who to believe.
Unfortunately, most of them are intent on having/making us accept their views on life. When any one tends to diverge, s/he is threatened with Hell, hair on the palms, shunning, and rules. Always rules.
Since it was Christ's first, the Catholic Church made the most rules - and the most awful punishments - and worked diligently to keep the unwashed in line by denying them opportunity to read the Book of Rules to begin discernment.
It's all about Public Relations - and Abraham had the best agent. Did anyone independently hear 'God' speak to the Bible.

John Harville

"The results, at least those reported by bishops in Europe and the United States, have been eye-opening. Bishops themselves reported that the church's core teachings on sexual morals, birth control, homosexuality, marriage and divorce are rejected as UNREALISTIC and OUTDATED by the vast majority of Catholics, who nevertheless said they were active in parish life and considered their faith vitally important."

We only can hope LOCAL CATHOLICS are reading this before it's too late.


Perfect example of why you should not ALLOW other people to make life choices for you. Why should MEN of a religion get to make a choices that affects you and your health, family, lifestyle, etc. These MEN do not get married, divorce, have sex, give birth, use birth control (for any reason). NOONE makes these decisions for ME, but ME. Yes, some decisions are made together with my husband. But he guides me, holds my hand and supports me. He doesn't tell me I will burn in hell for my choice.


Re: "Pope opens big week with sex, divorce on agenda,"

WOW! Reads like a party at the Vatican!

The RCC sure has changed with this new pope.

They'll probably get a lot more converts and fallen away Catholics with this changed format.

Looking forward to "Buddy Christ":



I presume that "The Church" is more powerful in poorer & less educated countries.
That said - I am curious to know if the "child molesting scandals" that have ravaged the U.S. also is taking place currently in 2nd & 3rd world countries where "poor children & families" have less rights, knowledge, legal recourse & media to take on such a Goliath and perpetrated as "The Church." Just asking. Or is child molesting only native to priests in the United States or is it systematic & needs to be cut out like cancer.

Truth or Dare

Hey LegalizeFreewill: That power is all over the world, as are the sexual scandals! The Church has more power both religiously and politically then God and right here on Capitol Hill. Far too many politicians and religious orgs. have kissed the ring of the Pope and contribute millions lobbying in Washington, forcing personal matters into law that effects all!

The sexual scandals, the raping and molesting of children going unchecked, unreported, unprosecuted for centuries not decades is enough to keep me away! A true deal breaker! For many whose faith has been shaken to the core and still do believe, their is no man, no principality that can separate them, except their selves.

P.S.: The molesting of children isn't only native to priests in the U.S., let alone just priests. It's the sick, perverted mind of a Pedophile, a crime of power and yes, needs to be cut out like cancer!

Stop It

Watch the movie, "Dogma". It will all make sense. lol.