1. Question1a: Describe how the Catholic Church’s teachings on the value of the family contained in the Bible, Gaudium et Spes, Familiaris Consortio and other documents of the post-conciliar Magisterium is understood by people today? What formation is given to our people on the Church’s teaching on family life?
In the Old Testament, the Bible gives a very curious view of the family, condoning incest, adultery and prostitution.
The New Testament gives a different view, that is usually misunderstood as most people take it literally.
Gaudium et Spes is of little help to those educated in spirituality as its first chapter begs a question: “The Church certainly understands these problems. Endowed with light from God, she can offer solutions to them, so that man’s true situation can be portrayed and his defects explained, while at the same time his dignity and destiny are justly acknowledged.”
How is a church, so detached from the spiritual message of its origins, “endowed with light from God“. This is not only a false premise, it denies the church’s own history: the light was stamped out from the time of Emperor Justinian, wherever it flickered the “Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith” as it called itself, put the spiritual light out.
Familiaris Consortio starts to sound as though maybe the family is in with a chance after the fiasco that I remember as a young parent following Vatican II — when all my four friends in seminaries left the priesthood or the church.
We are encouraged to know that the Magisterium recognises: “The Need To Understand the Situation.” We are disappointed to see that it has made no progress by the end of Part 1: “So that the goal of this journey might be clear and consequently the way plainly indicated, the Synod was right to begin by considering in depth the original design of God for marriage and the family: it “went back to the beginning,” in deference to the teaching of Christ.(19)”
In other words, Familiaris Consortio can still be translated as a fellowship of slaves. The church doesn’t want us to make spiritual progress on our own, it wants to reaffirm its presumed right to tell us what to do.
Other documents — how long have you got?
“What formation is given to our people on the Church’s teaching on family life?” None, it isn’t a formation process, it’s a take it or leave it one.
Never once was I given a spiritual reason for celibate priests. I had to find it for myself: By the sixth century, the pope had decided that married priests posed a threat to church property. He introduced laws that stopped newly ordained priests from passing their property on to their children.
Pope Gregory later declared all sons of priests illegitimate (daughters couldn’t inherit). In 1022 Pope Benedict VIII banned marriages and mistresses and in 1139 Pope Innocent II made all marriages invalid and new priests had to get divorced.
Ironic when you think that the enemies of the 12th century church were the ones with prohibitions on sex: Much of this was seen to be instigated by the Gnostic thinking of groups like the Cathars, who thought that sexuality weakened you spiritually. Sects like the Cathars and Bogomils led an ascetic life and had had a significant impact on spiritual thinking.
The Bogomils did not reject sex, but thought that reproduction was spiritually counter–productive: the more children that were born, the more souls there were and so it would take longer for every soul to make its way back to God and reunite.
Bernard of Clairvaux and the Knights Templar were particularly influenced by the Cathars and the Templars were the Pope’s banker, so the ‘spiritual’ influence could well have come from them.
By the time of the French Revolution things started to turn the other way and in 1789 the state confiscated all church property. Disillusioned priests and nuns, relieved to be free of Rome’s restrictive control, were glad to be told by the french government they must marry!
My next question: why does the Church say you can’t marry a none Catholic? No help on that either. So I found out for myself.
Marriage didn’t have much significance to the Church until 12th century. It wasn’t until the 12th century that a priest would witness a marriage ceremony, and it would take another hundred years before the ceremony was actually performed by a priest. So marriage, as far as the Church was concerned, was to do with the inheritance of property, controlling the rules of primogenitor, and how property changed hands when someone married.
Nice one Church, how’s God feeling about all this?
At least the thing that has changed is the threats, if you disregard what the Church dictates and make your own educated mind up, you don’t feel guilty and feel that you have let God or the church down.
Thank God that the Church taught us that our conscience is the final arbiter of what is right.
- Pope Francis’s ‘modern life’ survey is a monumental waste of time. Here’s a taster… (blogs.telegraph.co.uk)
- New Poll: ‘Faithful Catholics’ an Endangered Species (religiondispatches.org)
- Bishops consult Catholics on divorce, same-sex marriage and contraception in online survey (catholicherald.co.uk)