Monday, April 27, 2015

Ratzinger-Cafarra Assessments

The Ratzinger and Cafarra Interventions – April 27, 2015

Ratzinger’s Theological Intervention

In his address  at the Vatican Press Office, March 25, 2014,  Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, recalled that “Pope Emeritus Benedict, in his homily at the Opening Mass of the Synod on New Evangelization, said that there is a clear link between the crisis in faith and the crisis in marriage….In 1998, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the same Pope emeritus as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger remarked that “further study is required… concerning the question of whether non-believing Christians – baptized persons who never or  who no longer believe in God – can truly enter into a sacramental marriage. In other words, it needs to be clarified whether every marriage between two baptized persons is ipso facto a sacramental marriage. In fact, the Code states that only a ‘valid’ marriage between baptized per sons is at the same time a sacrament (cf. CIC, can. 1055, par. 3). Faith belongs to the essence of the sacrament; what remains to be clarified is the juridical question of what evidence of the ‘absence of faith’ would have as a consequence that the sacrament does not come into being.”[7]

                Theological Evaluation on Matrimony: Given the state of affairs of a world culture that is turned back on self as a “structure of sin” and trapped in a global economic ideology of self where the bottom line is profit and not gift; and given that faith in truth is an habitual state of being turned away from self as gift to Other, the real question is not so much trying to see where there may be “an absence of faith”  but where in fact, it may be present and  validating matrimony as a sacrament.

And since the true exercise of faith may be scarce, the real import of the pope’s enquiry into the possibility of communion for the divorced and remarried is to go deeply enough into discerning   the real state of validity to confront the fact that the entire ascetical culture of the Church must change. That it is not enough to “beef up” pre-Cana as entre into marriage, but the entire orientation of the Church toward sanctity in ordinary life must go through conversion.  That is, failure to approach matrimony as the ordinary way to achieve sanctity from baptism through family, classroom, pulpit, confessional, spiritual direction and pre-Cana will leave the sacrament invalidly administered because the attitude of the spousal-ministers was self, superficial, bourgeois and banal.                                                                    

Cafarra Intervention
To go yet a step further: Cardinal Carlo Cafarra suggests[1] there may be a more radical problem after the demolition of “natural marriage” in contemporary culture: for those who are asking for sacramental marriage, he asks, are they capable of natural marriage? Has there been such devastation, not of their faith but of their humanity, that they are no longer capable of marriage? Attention must certainly be paid to canons 1096 [of the 1983 Code of Canon Law] (“For matrimonial consent to exist, the contracting parties must at least not be ignorant that marriage is a permanent partnership between a man and a woman ordered to the procreation of offspring”) and 1099.”

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I, blogger, take this to mean that a person can be so dumbed-down in his capacity to make the gift of self to another, i.e. so self-referential – so selfish -  that he is not capable of the level  of generosity necessary to be self-gift.  This would not be strange in a secularized culture of individuals who have lived only for self.  The natural language of love is gift of self to death, which is obviously the same in a Christian culture where  martyrdom for the love of Christ is the denoument of Christian life. In a word, sanctity. This is for all, Christian or not. The difference is that Christian culture and sacramental order empower s the person to achieve in fact and deed who he is as created image. The background to this is the revelation that man has been created in the image and likeness of the divine Person of the Son, and therefore, has the “natural” ontological tendency  to self gift to the Father .

Cafarra adds to this that the total gift of self demands that the intelligence be informed by absolute truth. At the moment, as Benedict XVI remarked in 2005, world culture is dominated by a relativist dictatorship. The Church, however, has in its arsenal the Magisterium of John Paul II, the Theology of the Body, which places the Truth that is the Person of Jesus Christ as the incarnate Absolute that can inform, theoretically and practically, the conjugal under taking.

[1] Inside the Vatican, April 2015, 33-35.

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