Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Posts Tagged ‘Canon Law’

“Resisting”, Canon 212, and Galatians

February 16th, 2015, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Rather than imposing a VERY long comment on the thread regarding Cardinal Burke’s “I will resist,” it seemed better to begin a new post, focused more toward the sphere in which we can and sometimes must resist. Such discussion is perhaps one reason why St. Paul says we work out our salvation with fear and trembling, in Philippians 2:12

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling….”

While we begin with, and always embrace, the Assent of Faith, nevertheless we work out our salvation one step at a time. There are limitations on our obedience to hierarchy when such obedience would contravene the moral law, for example.  We would not steal in order to keep a parish community solvent, would we?  Even if commanded to do so? What parent would send his or her child to a Religious Education class with a known or even suspected sexual predator in order that the child might be admitted to Holy Communion?

One thing that we learned from the sexual abuse scandal was that members of the Church hierarchy are also human, sinners who are working out their own salvation “with fear and trembling.”  We rightfully castigate leadership that covered up sexual crimes, moved predators from parish to parish, and did not protect the flock. Actually, the laity has been very “light” in the criticism of brother priests of those predators, who knew or suspected and remained silent. And they were ‘light’ on a number of prelates on whose watch the abuse occurred, without even asking what might have been done earlier to ferret out the abuse?  Only God will know who failed and how much.  And only God will know how much the priest sexual abuse scandal has been (or will be) turned to effecting the good of more involvement in matters which endanger the faith of the laity; i.e. resisting revision of Doctrine, no matter who promulgates the changes.  Did God work, to the good, even the great scandal of the 20th century to prepare us for one that could be imminent?

Cardinal Burke 5Why is Cardinal Burke’s involvement now so important?  If prelates of high rank and influence had gone public years earlier in the sexual abuse matter, even in a general way, would much suffering have been avoided? Would the image of the Church now be more able to influence  today’s secular world for the good?  Is the threatened abandonment of Doctrine (through the mechanism of a Synod, e.g.) such an approaching wolf, that one shepherd, at least, must get lay attention by crying out, at his own risk: “I will resist”?  Will his own fear and trembling be echoed in our own fear and trembling as we don’t run or hide, but rather engage in our own prudent response, given sufficient warning?

The best defense is, of course, always prayer and discernment of what we are called to do.  We pray that we are not called to enter into ‘the test.’  Everyone can pray; not everyone will have the clarity and courage to undertake a prominent resistance, whatever that will mean.  But all are called to resist sin, in whatever form it appears.   Another key element of our own protection is being well-catechized, and continuing to deepen in the Faith.  The support as well as the correction by our brothers and sisters in the Faith is key to our own endurance.  Hence, even discussing these matters together, as we are doing here, is vital to working out our own role “in fear and trembling.”

The following is Canon 212, copied from the website of The St. Joseph Foundation, Code of Canon Law Book Covera not-for-profit foundation which vindicates the rights of Catholics under the Law of the Church. The term “Christian Faithful” includes clergy as well as laity. Thus, Cardinal Burke would also seem to have rights herein.  Moreover, one might ask if it were not better for him to have publicly verbalized his concerns now, before he is possibly forbidden to do so and conflicted with demands of obedience, and encounters an even more difficult decision. Without limiting current discussion only to this Canon, it is also appropriate to mention that the person who should most know what Canon Law permits or prohibits is Cardinal Burke, having served for years as Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura.   Moreover, departure from his prior practice of more silence simply serves to elevate the importance with which he views what he is saying to us.

Canon 212

§1. Conscious of their own responsibility, the Christian faithful are bound to follow with Christian obedience those things which the sacred pastors, inasmuch as they represent Christ, declare as teachers of the faith or establish as rulers of the Church.

§2. The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.

§3. According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.

Note in particular that “opinion” in section 3 is modified by the requirement that the person expressing the opinion express it “according to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess.”  It does not convey a willy-nilly right to insist on our own ill-formed opinions, for example, or to create dissent for the sake of dissent. It assumes a certain level of catechesis, as well as good will.  But also note that it does not require only a one-on-one ‘up the ladder’ communication.  Some of our prior experience from years gone by would indicate much of such input was simply disregarded anyway.  Partly, that is because Canon 212 is missing the corresponding obligation on the part of hierarchy to respond; however, rights aren’t given without some expectation of response.  Nevertheless, there also is no obligation to express concerns just one time and let it go.  (St. Catherine of Siena didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer in asking the Pope to return to Rome, did she?) Moreover, section 3 is specific that we can make our opinions known “to the rest of the Christian Faithful”, as we do on this blog, e.g.  So too, apparently, can Cardinal Burke!


I have been particularly concerned about Cardinal Kasper’s hijacking of the word “Gospel” in his arguments regarding the “Gospel of the Family,”  and even more concerned about the repeated use of this term in the Relatios from the Synod.  While even Saint Pope John Paul II may have used the term as understandably illustrative, he never used it to introduce a departure from Gospel Teaching.  In one sense, there is no “Gospel of the Family” or ” Good News of the Family.”  The Relatios catalog more problems than good news.

We must be clear.  There are four Gospels that comprise Sacred Scripture, attested as divinely inspired: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  There is no other Gospel, and the not-so-subtle “language” by which Cardinal Kasper tries to legitimize his desperation is transparently in error, as evidenced by the attempt to permit those living in what Christ called “adultery” to commit the sacrilege of receiving Holy Communion.  We should be grateful that the error is so clear, flagrant, and easy to oppose with strong voice.  What I have most held onto during this period is St. Paul to the Galatians 1: 6-12.  It is worth memorizing:

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel–not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.  But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed. Am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ. For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Is it not ironic that at least part of the motivation to be more like the world, more like the Churches which do homage to the world, is indeed “pleasing men?”  St. Paul nailed it, giving us fair warning.

Cardinal Burke quoted: “I will resist….”

February 9th, 2015, Promulgated by Hopefull

I hardly know what to think on this matter.  Nothing I received in my Catholic education prepares me for such a scenario.  I greatly admire Cardinal Burke, and I am very concerned about the path being taken by Cardinal Kasper, the Synod, and what seems to be Pope Francis’s concurrence.  But, what is the guideline for how we are to act?  Where is the line between sin and conscience?  Looking for input and discussion.