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Demolishing the claims that Nicea endorsed divorce and remarriage February 11, 2014

Posted by Tantumblogo in abdication of duty, Basics, catachesis, Christendom, episcopate, error, foolishness, General Catholic, history, horror, Sacraments, sadness, scandals, secularism, self-serving, Society.

I saw a week or so ago Rorate’s coverage of an article put out by the generally reliable Sandro Magister, claiming that “new research” had found that the Council of Nicea endorsed letting Catholics who had divorced and remarried to receive the Blessed Sacrament after a suitable period of penance.  I suspected at the time that this claim was highly dubious, since it seemed to come out of the blue and was unsupported by any research or history that I’ve seen.  It also seemed just too conveniently timed, given the huge push in the Germanic countries to formally repudiate a constant Dogma.

So, today, Rorate posted a refutation of this “new research,” that shows it’s not new at all, and has already been thoroughly debunked.  This is an extremely important post, because I suspect it was planned to hinge arguments at the upcoming Synod on the family on this totally discredited source.  Note also in the last paragraph the author’s niceea-1st-cunderstanding of how the progressives are essentially prevaricating and in general using unseemly, even immoral tactics, to make their one last great push to finish their insurrectionist revolution against the Church (Rorate text in italics, I add emphasis and comments):

The First Council of Nicaea was the most important and venerable council in the history of the Catholic Church, since it was responsible for solemnly defining the full divinity of Christ. How could its admission of the remarried to communion have gone unnoticed at both the time and in subsequent ages – since the Church discipline before, during and after this council was for those who had married after parting with their previous spouse to be condemned as adulterers and excluded from communion?  [Indeed, one can find such condemnations throughout Jurgen’s Faith of the Early Fathers series]

This surprise is quickly dispelled by a closer look at Cereti’s case. Magister asserts that attention has ‘recently’ been called to this issue by Cereti’s work – while admitting that the work in question is simply a republication of a book originally published in 1977. Even the uninitiated might ask why Cereti’s thesis has not come to be generally accepted, if it is in fact well established and has been around since 1977. The answer to this question can be discovered by looking at the criticisms of Cereti’s book by the great patristic scholar Henri Crouzel S.J. Fr. Crouzel was the author of the standard work on the position of the early church on divorce; [1]  it should be noted that he himself supported the idea of a relaxation of Church discipline with respect to the admission of the divorced and “remarried” to the sacraments,[2]  and hence was not trying to make a historical case for his own theological position. In two review nicaea-sistine-e1314325248224articles in the journal Augustinianum, Crouzel showed that Cereti’s position was a travesty of the facts.[3]

As Magister asserts, the centrepiece of Cereti’s study is canon 8 of the council of Nicaea, which was directed against the Novationists, and required them to accept into communion those who contracted second marriages. Cereti’s whole case in connection with this canon depends on understanding it as referring to people who marry again while their first spouse is still alive. In fact, however, the canon is talking about those who claim that remarriage after the death of one’s first spouse is forbidden. [Yes!  That’s what I could not remember when I first read Magister’s article.  I knew this opposition to rigorism was being radically misrepresented. It had nothing to do with those seeking to be bigamists, remarrying with their first spouse still alive, but had ALL to do with those who were widowed.  And that was a very big contention, because the Donatists and other rigorists basically looked on marriage as something only for the week and deficient, something that could be tolerated once at best. That was the rigorist error of that time, but it had nothing to do with divorce and remarriage!]  This claim was made by the heretical Montanists and even by some rigorists among the Fathers of the Church, such as Athenagoras. Crouzel establishes that the Novationists made precisely this claim, which means that the condemnation of canon 8 must be understood as directed against excommunication of those who marry after being widowed. [And thus, the entire progressivist argument in favor of divorce and remarriage is destroyed at a shot.  I knew it was utterly impossible that Nicaea would have endorsed a practice so obviously counter to Christ’s own dictates]

Even this condemnation must be modified if its context is examined; it was understood in the early Church that priests who are widowed must not remarry, so the condemnation is only of those who would excommunicate the laity who marry again after the death of their spouse. This understanding of the canon is in fact the only one that can make sense, in the light of the universal condemnation of remarriage after divorce by all the other Fathers and canons of the early Church. We do therefore see a mean between rigour and laxity in the discipline of the early Church, as Magister claims, but it is not a mean between holding marriage to be First_Council_of_Niceaindissoluble and permitting it to be dissolved under easy conditions. It is a mean between the rigour of insisting – for the laity – that only one marriage is permitted in one’s lifetime, regardless of whether or not one’s spouse is still living, and the laxity of permitting remarriage during the lifetime of one’s previous spouse.……. [Great, brilliant.  Thank you Professor Lamont!]

………The relaunch of Cereti’s book is an interesting sign of the times. In one way it is a characteristic feature of the current pontificate; old radicals from the 1970s judge that their hour has come at last, and go on to the offensive again. The antiquity of their positions can even be an advantage, because the refutations offered when they were first put forward have long been forgotten – who now knows about Crouzel and his criticisms?  [In short, they tried to sneak in a fast one.  What worries me is that Magister is a creature of the Italian bishops conference, meaning it was someone there floating this foolishness. Does that mean most Italian bishops are ready to do the unthinkable and attempt to either radically undermine or destroy a constant practice of the Faith – a Dogma – at the upcoming Synod?  Pray not!] But their views are not simply the revival of a past age. Their success has been prepared by a long campaign aimed at softening up their opponents, by the classic methods of constant propaganda and successful framing of the issue. One basic victory has been the very introduction of the term ‘remarriage’ into the debate. In the case of people who marry civilly when they have a spouse alive, it is not a case of remarriage; it is a case of bigamy. Once Catholics can be made to face up to the fact that the current debate is about allowing bigamists to receive communion, a proper resolution of it can be hoped for. Until that happens, though, we are fated to endure more recycling of dated bogus scholarship like that of Cereti.

————–End Quote————–

Yes, quite.  I, too, have fallen for the progressive’s propaganda and used the clumsy and unworkable “Communion for divorced and remarried (but not annulled)” line.  No more, from now on, I’m referring to them as bigamists.

Difficult times.  Please pray for the upcoming synod to hold fast in the Faith!

What the Germans are arguing for will make a mockery of the Sacrament of Matrimony.



1. skeinster - February 11, 2014

Remember back in the ’90’s, Andrew Sullivan’s discovery of “gay marriage’ liturgies in the medieval Church? This reminds me of that.
Pretzel logic to fit the agenda.

2. discipleofthedumbox - February 11, 2014

Heh. I never knew this was a problem…ah, well…

3. Kim - February 11, 2014

Gee maybe I went through all that mannulment angst

Kim - February 11, 2014

Correction: maybe I went through all that months long annulment angst while attending RCIA classes for nothing.

tantamergo - February 11, 2014

No, you didn’t. But I can imagine how you will feel if something is done that undermines the reasoning behind all you went through.

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