The first part of this article considered how at the beginning of the Second Vatican Council, a schema “On Chastity, Marriage, the Family and Virginity” was rejected and, with it, a cornerstone of the moral law. The second part examined how the disordering of the ends of marriage during the Council became crucial to the attacks on marriage and the family from within the Church. The final part of this article considers how the inversion of the ends of marriage has contributed to the crisis we are witnessing today.Vatican II “Draft of a Dogmatic Constitution on Chastity, Marriage, the Family and Virginity”: a schema that should have never been rejected (Part III) – Voice of the Family
by Maria Madise
The first part of this article considered how at the beginning of the Second Vatican Council, a schema “On Chastity, Marriage, the Family and Virginity” was rejected and, with it, a cornerstone of the moral law. The second part examined how the disordering of the ends of marriage during the Council became crucial to the attacks on marriage and the family from within the Church. The final part of this article considers how the inversion of the ends of marriage has contributed to the crisis we are witnessing today.
“By their fruits you shall know them” (Mt 7:16). The moral and liturgical reforms, which came hand in hand in the wake of the Council, have engendered a radical decline in both belief and practice. There has been a significant decrease in baptisms (both infant and adult) and in Catholic marriages, as well as a catastrophic drop in ordinations, enrolment of seminarians and vocations to the religious life. Already in 1982, The New York Times reported that “available church records show that 34,484 American annulment cases were decided in 1980, as against 448 in 1968”.1 Today, two-thirds of American Catholics allegedly do not believe in the Real Presence.2 Similarly, the numbers of Catholics who see nothing wrong with birth control and same-sex unions are reportedly very high.
After the decades-long systematic disordering of marriage and the family, we should not be surprised when the fruits of the new morality reach maturity. Divorce, birth control, infidelity, sexual abuse, homosexuality and so forth certainly were not unknown among Catholics before the Council. However, all of these were recognised as evils and, as such, regarded as incompatible with life in the Church. Today, few churchmen are either willing or able to recognise, as Paul VI did in 1972, that “the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God” and has been suffocating the Catholic family ever since.
When we consider today’s scandal-ridden Church, we may question whether abandoning the bulwark of the traditional liturgy was not in fact an invitation for the enemy to strengthen his offensive. Similarly, since rejecting the clarity of traditional teaching on chastity and marriage, parents struggle as never before with the moral formation of their children, while large Catholic families have become signs of contradiction in society and even, increasingly in the Church.
Voice of the Family’s analysis of the final report of the Synod on the Family in October 2015 stated:
“By striving towards bringing Catholic moral teaching in line with the norms prevailing in the modern world, the report pursues an approach that runs contrary to divine revelation and the natural moral law.”3
The analysis drew attention to numerous problems in the Synod’s final report, including an anthropocentric understanding of the gospel, which alleges, for example, that the gospel is about “the dignity of the person, his/her freedom and respect for his/her rights”; the omission of any discussion of the fundamental vocation of the family with regards to man’s final end, which is union with God in heaven; the omission of any discussion of the natural law, undermining the principle that moral principles are immutable. Ultimately, the final report gravely endangered the most vulnerable members of the human family, through its omissions and distortions of Catholic doctrine. More particularly, the Synod’s final report:
- endorsed “gender theory” by asserting that biological sex can be distinguished from socio-cultural “gender”;
- threatened the rights of parents as the primary educators of their children by asserting that the family “cannot be the only place for formation in matters of sexuality”;
- further undermined the teaching on the nature of marriage by using ambiguous language;
- paved the way for “divorced and remarried” Catholics to receive Holy Communion by distorting Church teaching on the nature and effects of mortal sin;
- undermined Church teaching on contraception by presenting a confused exposition of the nature of conscience;
- undermined the Church’s teaching on such practices by failing to restate that the primary objection to artificial contraception is the separation of the procreative and unitive ends of marriage.
This snapshot of the discussions of the Synod of Bishops in 2015 demonstrates the extent of the battle over marriage and the family raging within the Church. Statements and actions of the Church’s hierarchy scandalising Catholics today, are mere symptoms of decades of fake moral reform pursuing its logical conclusions.
Consider that the Pontifical Academy for Life (PAV), founded to defend human life against abortion, contraception and IVF, now equates these evils with problems arising from immigration and poverty. When the PAV’s mandate was changed, all its founding members were suspended and replaced. Among its new members are scholars who reject the Catholic teaching on life, marriage and the family, such as Prof Nigel Biggar, an Anglican theologian who advocates for abortion in certain circumstances.4
Consider the litany of population-control advocates, who are now regular guests of the Holy See; chief among them, Prof Jeffrey Sachs, the architect of the UN’s anti-life and anti-family Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and special advisor to Pope Francis on sustainable development, who was appointed as an ordinary member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences last October. Sachs associated the adoption of the SDGs, which include the goal of securing worldwide access to contraception and abortion by 2030, with Pope Francis’ call on the world leaders to adopt a common plan in September 2015.5 In addition to Sachs, Archbishop Sánchez Sorondo, the Chancellor of the Pontifical Academies of Science and Social Sciences, has also invited Paul Ehrlich, whose book Population Bomb launched the whole population control agenda, as well as Bernie Sanders, the US abortion advocate and former presidential candidate, to speak at events at the Vatican. Archbishop Sorondo himself has said that education helps women have smaller families with “maybe one child, maybe two children, no more.”6
Consider the Pope’s approval of contraception in certain cases of the Zika virus7 or his comment that Catholics should not “breed like rabbits”.8 Instead of Catholic generosity in welcoming children, following God’s command to “increase and multiply”, the thinking of the Holy See now seems guided by the UN’s warning of ecological crisis and overpopulation.
Consider that Italy’s leading proponent of abortion, Emma Bonino, who still proudly talks of the abortions she performed in her home in the sixties and of her work to legalise abortion in Italy, was hailed by Pope Francis as one of the nation’s “forgotten greats” for her work on immigration issues.9
Consider the pain of Catholic parents, struggling to convince their children of the value of chastity in today’s sex-saturated world, when Pope Francis suggested that cohabiting couples could receive the graces of a real marriage;10 or the anguish of couples, struggling to remain faithful to their marriage vow, learning from the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia that Catholics in “irregular unions” may in fact be admitted to the sacraments – as well as from the Pope’s letter to the Bishops of Buenos Aires, officially published in Acta Apostolicae Sedis, in which he approved their guidelines for giving Holy Communion to civilly divorced and “remarried” Catholics living in adultery.11
Consider the Pope’s endorsement of sex education in schools and the launching of a global education initiative, devoid of Catholic teaching, but seeking to partner with UN agencies and population control advocates.
These and countless other examples of dissimulation from the highest authorities in the Church are the fruit of disorder, in which upholding authentic Catholic teaching on life and the family seems optional or even inappropriate. Beyond the smokescreen of this disorder, we must remember Sr Lúcia’s warning that “a time will come when when the decisive battle between the kingdom of Christ and Satan will be over marriage and the family.”
The “Draft Constitution on Chastity, Marriage, the Family and Virginity” prepared for the Second Vatican Council acknowledged “how greatly the salvation of the Mystical Body of Christ depends on a right acknowledgment of the divine order with regard to marriage”. It refers to the “sources of divine Revelation”, in which “both the mystical union of Christ with the Church and other mysteries of religion are more than once presented under the analogies of marriage and the family”.
“By this very fact, the Holy Spirit is already intimating that marriage and family are not fleeting and changeable human inventions but proceed from God, the author of nature and of grace, ‘with whom there is no alteration or shadow of change’ (Jas. 1:17). For this reason, so that the institution, purpose, and functions of chaste marriage and of the Christian family may be known more clearly, that their importance, nobility, and beauty may shine more fully and may be more effectively defended from the shadows of errors arising everywhere, the Sacred Synod … intends to propose what God himself willed when he created man male and female and gave him a helpmate like himself (see Gen 1:27; 2:18-24 and 5:2; Mt 19:4) and what Jesus Christ, by restoring marriage and raising it to the dignity of a Sacrament, divinely entrusted to the Church as a basic and never changeable law.”
Attacks on human marriage are aimed at the mystical marriage. The “Draft Constitution on Chastity, Marriage, the Family and Virginity” prepared for the Second Vatican Council acknowledged “how greatly the salvation of the Mystical Body of Christ depends on a right acknowledgment of the divine order with regard to marriage”. In the complete organism of the Church, nothing works in isolation from the entire edifice of teaching and practice. Moral teaching is the doctrine that guides human conduct towards the good and every normative change entails a doctrinal change.
Don Pietro Leone also concludes that the attack on marriage and the family on the individual and social level draws its strength “not least from an attack yet more fundamental and deadly”:
“an attack against the Church herself and conducted within her bosom, particularly in her doctrine and liturgy, so that man obstructed from attaining the Truth and from adoring God, turns away from him towards man, whose features he no longer recognises.”12
All Catholics, whatever our state of life, have a duty to repel every attack on marriage and the family. Given their fundamental importance to our faith and their foundation in the salvific marriage between Christ and His Church, it is clear that everyone must fight this decisive battle over marriage and the family, whatever the cost.
In the message that came via Sr Lúcia to Cardinal Caffarra, Our Lady revealed: “Those who work for the sanctity of marriage and the family will always be fought and opposed in every way, because this is the decisive issue.” But, Sr Lucia’s letter concluded, “Do not be afraid, because Our Lady has already crushed his head.” In the end, the Immaculate Heart will triumph and only if we share in the fight shall we share in the joy of her triumph.
- “Catholics get record number of annulments”, New York Times, 6 January 1982.
- Pew Research Center, “Just one-third of U.S. Catholics agree with their church that Eucharist is body, blood of Christ”, 5 August 2019.
- Matthew McCusker, “Analysis of the final report of the Ordinary Synod on the Family”, Voice of the Family, 10 March 2016.
- Catholic News Agency, Philosopher who supports legal abortion joins Vatican pro-life academy,13 June 2017.
- Jeffrey Sachs, “To save our planet we must have the accountability of all for the Common Good”, speech at the International Meeting of Prayer for Peace promoted by the Community of Sant’Egidio “Peoples as Brothers, Future Earth. Religions and cultures in dialogue”, Rome, 6-7 October 2021.
- Stefano Gennarini, “What happened at the Vatican’s bio-extinction conference”, Catholic World Report, 21 September 2017.
- “Zika virus: Pope hints at relaxation of contraception ban”, British Broadcasting Corporation, 18 February 2016.
- Gerard O’Connell, Full Transcript of Pope’s Press Conference on Flight from Manila, America Magazine, 19 January 2015.
- Corriere della sera, I tre «grandi italiani» nel Pantheon di Papa Francesco, 8 February 2016.
- Francesco, Apertura del Convegno Ecclesiale della Diocesi di Roma con Papa Francesco nella Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano, 16 June 2016.
- Edward Pentin, “The Pope’s Endorsement of Argentina’s Amoris Guidelines: What It Means”, National Catholic Register, 13 December 2017.
- Don Pietro Leone, The Family Under Attack, Loreto Publications, Fitzwilliam (2005), p. 200.