Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Cardinal Napier: Calling Divorce / Remarriage "Adultery" is More Harmful to the Children than Divorce Itself

H/t Jane Royal.

For reasons best known to himself and perhaps Pope Francis, Cardinal Wilfrid Napier has recently become one of the Pope's chief lobbyists for Amoris Laetitia. This has led him to say some strange things.

The seven remaining Catholics in the world who haven't yet been blocked by the cardinal managed to smuggle this out into the general twitter stream:

Note that the cardinal didn't say that calling divorce/remariage "adultery" is merely a sometimes bad thing or even a usually bad thing, but rather that declaring it so (in any context or the sum of all contexts or whatever) has actually been more harmful to children than the grave sin of divorce/remarriage itself.

The Amoris Laetitia shocks are coming more and more frequently now. And the whole thing is not only exposing the perfidy of long-recognized hacks such as Austen Ivereigh or Antonio Spadaro but also corrupting those who may have previously seemed to be good priests or bishops.

I want to make three quick points, one obvious:

The obvious point is that the recent Catholic Catechism explicitly labels divorce and remarriage "adultery."
2384 Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death. Divorce does injury to the covenant of salvation, of which sacramental marriage is the sign. Contracting a new union, even if it is recognized by civil law, adds to the gravity of the rupture: the remarried spouse is then in a situation of public and permanent adultery[.]
The catechism then adds to that declaration this quote from St. Basil:
If a husband, separated from his wife, approaches another woman, he is an adulterer because he makes that woman commit adultery, and the woman who lives with him is an adulteress, because she has drawn another's husband to herself.
On the logic of Napier's argument, you should go to your Catechism right now and snip that section out, lest a child of divorced and remarried parents ever see it. Don't worry about the online version. Spadaro already has that deletion job covered.

The second less obvious point is this: During the Second Synod on the Family, the 2015 Cardinal Napier had explicitly and precisely condemned what the 2016 Cardinal Napier would end up doing - approving the watering down or censoring of Catholic language so as not to seem mean or offend: 
There's been a lot of emphasis on using language that doesn't offend, politically correct, if you like, language. I'm not sure that that's the best way to be prophetic. 
When we look at the problems that we've been studying during this three weeks, there are two possibilities: the one is to look at it from the pastoral point of view, where you're trying to reach out to people and to administer to them. The other one which has been, I would say, has been de-emphasized at this time, even at the Synod last year, is the prophetic, where, like John the Baptist, you say you got to repent, and these are the sins and you name them as they are. I think that's the difference.
Finally, there is the emergence of what seems to be new and original argument for Amoris Laetitia or at least the Pope's decision not to answer the dubia: Doubts (especially and presumably unanswered doubts) are a good thing! Isn't that what the "mystery of faith" is all about?

With stuff like this, the previously respected cardinal is becoming a laughingstock. Why is he doing it?  

What did Bergoglio promise the cardinal and/or threaten him with?


  1. Honestly? I just don't think the good cardinal is all that bright. My guess is that he stumbled unawares into a firestorm and found himself offside with the pope after he made his (perfectly orthodox) comments at the 2014 Synod, and has been trying to get back in the good books ever since.

    1. I have to admit I feel like I don't really understand this sort of thing. What precisely does Napier "get" by repairing his perceived quasi-rupture with the Pope?

    2. You and me both, Oakes. But then we don't move in the lofty circles of power, and it seems that the rarefied air up in those parts tends to lead to a certain type of derangement (cf. Spirit Cooking).

      Who knows? A man might have an eye on a dicastery of his own, or might figure that his papability chances will be increased if he stays in the good graces of the regime.

      Or perhaps the current episcopal selection process in the Catholic Church has a particular genius for elevating company men who tack whichever way the wind blows from the top? It's honestly a mystery to me too.

    3. After talking with my wife (who knows all) about it, I suspect this: Napier wants to be pope and thinks he has a shot at it. And he believes that the Francis cardinals are now in the ascendent so he feels like he has to suck up to them.

  2. First, it's not usually the parents who are being accused of living in adultery, it's Mum & her new bloke. Second, if there are things that hurt children more than divorce, doctrinal clarity ain't one of them. Third, a Cardinal is tweeting replies to someone calling themselves "Catholic Jedi Academy". I have nothing more to say.

  3. Some of us got into it with this scourge on Twitter not long ago.

    If something dramatic doesn't happen soon the Church is going to be for the outside world indistinguishable from the Anglican Communion w/ some believing this and some teaching that, some affirming this doctrine while others deny that.

    The sweeping public change that has occurred in the Catholic Church since Bergoglio was elected is really quite remarkable.

    1. Yes. It unfortunately recalls the Anglican 1930 Lambeth conference where contraception was allowed in "certain very rare cases."

  4. Remember the insult of Kasper quoted by Edward Pentin? The Africans can't tell us what to do. Or something to that effect. Some would take that as a badge of honor. Perhaps Cdl Napier takes it as a challenge to make himself more mainstream. And perhaps despised by those of us hoping for clarity from the princes of the Church.

  5. I've asked His Eminence if he thinks Our Lord was being hurtful to children by stating that those who remaŕry after divorce commit adultery (Mt 19:9; Mk 10:11,12; Lk 16:18). It will be interesting to see shat response (if any) he offers.

  6. I went to the Vatican website, found the CCC in English - which includes 2384 - but when I try to access the Latin version all I get is the index. If I try to modify the address (by removing evryting referring to the index) I get a page which tells me I need a password to access the Latin version. What's up ?