Part II: The Development of Mr. Walford’s Errors

October 18, 2018 (Steven O’Reilly) –  This article is part II of a three part reply and rebuttal of Stephen Walford’s recently published book Pope Francis, The Family and Divorce. The first article in this series (The Errors of Mr. Walford’s ‘Pope Francis, The Family and Divorce’) addressed Mr. Walford’s moral theology argument favoring communion for the divorced and remarried in certain circumstances. In this reply, we turn our attention to Mr. Walford’s discussion of the development of doctrine. Part III, as currently planned, will touch upon dissent and the Magisterium as they relate to communion for public adulterers. The intended outline of the three part reply to Pope Francis, The Family and Divorce is as follows:

  1. Good intentions and the Firm Purpose of Amendment (here)
  2. Doctrinal Development?
  3. Questions regarding Dissent and the Magisterium of the Church

As before, I will do my best to reply to Mr. Walford  – at no cost to you but your time – relying on the Magisterium of the Church, Sacred Scripture, papal teaching, St.Thomas Aquinas, the Catholic Catechism and common sense. Though these rebuttals are lengthy, they do not pretend to be a comprehensive, point by point rebuttal of all things said by Mr. Walford in his book which runs 207 pages. Therefore, I have chosen to select a few key points to address – but even so, this project of mine which was first envisioned as a brief reply has expanded significantly – far beyond what I first imagined. I do hope those who might happen upon Mr. Walford’s book or arguments – – and who have the time and patience to read my replies — might benefit from these articles. Part I is complete. Now on to part II below.


I. “Time is Greater than Space” and Francis is Greater than Both?

Before embarking on this journey through the fairy tale land which is Mr. Walford’s commentary on doctrinal development, it would do well first to recall briefly what is at issue. Let us briefly recall from Part I the ‘starting line’ of the traditional teaching of the Church so that readers might best judge for themselves whether Mr. Walford has met his burden by the ‘finish line,’ i.e., demonstrating he describes a true development of a doctrine rather than an alteration of one.

As affirmed in Part I, what is ultimately at stake is the teaching of Pope John Paul II reaffirming that the divorced and remarried cannot be admitted to Eucharistic Communion (cf Familiaris Consortio 84) unless they have first repented. John Paul II reiterated this teaching in Reconciliatio et Paenitentia 34, and Pope Benedict taught the same in (Sacramentum Caritatis 29). This same teaching was reaffirmed by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith as “a constant and universal practice of the Church” which is  “binding” (Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church Concerning the Reception of Holy Communion by the Divorced and Remarried Members of the Faithful).  The teaching also appears in the Catholic Catechism 1650.

As we saw in Part I, the author of Pope Francis, The Family and Divorce attempted to argue that public adultery could, in certain circumstances, be a venial sin – thus allowing sacramental confession and absolution without a firm purpose of amendment, and thus admittance to Holy Communion. However, such an argument runs afoul of the Divine Law which commands  “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14), and “But he that is an adulterer, for the folly of his heart shall destroy his own soul” (Proverbs 6:32). In the New Testament, we have the words of the Lord again affirming “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery” (Luke 16:18), while St. Paul states categorically “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-10).

As if Sacred Scripture was not clear enough, St. Thomas Aquinas taught (emphasis added): “It is written (Tobit 4:13): ‘Take heed to keep thyself . . . from all fornication, and beside thy wife never endure to know a crime.’ Now crime denotes a mortal sin. Therefore fornication and all intercourse with other than one’s wife is a mortal sin” (Summa Theologica II-II, Q 154, A 2). Pope John Paul II taught “For mortal sin exists also when a person knowingly and willingly, for whatever reason, chooses something gravely disordered” (Reconciliatio et Paenitentia 17). The Church’s constant and universal practice has been to deny communion to manifest grave sinners (cf Familiaris Consortio 84, Canon 915), while the Angelic Doctor also expressed himself stating: “Therefore Holy Communion ought not to be given to open sinners when they ask for it” (Summa Theologica III, Q 80, A 6).

Although mention of supposed doctrinal development in relation to communion for the divorced and remarried is peppered throughout Pope Francis, The Family and Divorce, Mr. Walford devotes the entire sixth chapter of his book to doctrinal development. In this chapter – entitled “Doctrinal Development: Time is Greater than Space” – our author sets out to briefly review doctrinal development as taught by St. Vincent of Lerins (d. 454) and Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman (d. 1890). Mr. Walford quotes some sections from St. Vincent’s Commonitorium, and touches upon the seven notes of true doctrinal development outlined by Blessed John Henry Newman, i.e., Preservation of Type, Continuity of Principle, Power of Assimilation, Logical Sequence, Anticipation of its Future, Conservative Action upon it Past and Chronic Vigor (see pages 119-120). One can read Newman’s essay on the development of doctrine for more detail.

Having thus introduced and provided a brief overview of these illustrious defenders of true doctrinal development, Mr. Walford pauses here as it seems “appropriate to look at the thinking of Pope Francis in terms of doctrinal development, to see if his approach bears any similarity to St. Vincent of Lerins and Blessed John Henry Newman…” (p. 120). I will not trouble the reader with going into great detail here with regard to the author’s “look” – because he does not provide much detail. Suffice it to say he wants you to agree with him that the approach of Pope Francis bears such a similarity. However, in my view, Mr. Walford provides no real or sufficient demonstration of this in his book, but he clearly believes it. He says (emphasis added):

“It is quite obvious from our deliberations that Pope Francis envisages a calm, patient, and above all pastoral approach to the presentation and progression of doctrine. At no stage does he suggest doctrines can be reversed or watered down — contrary to the claims of some over excitable souls.” (p.124-125)

Mr. Walford says of Pope Francis that “at no stage does he suggest doctrines can be reversed or watered down — contrary to the claims of some over excitable souls.” However, the issue is not so much as to whether Pope Francis suggests doctrine can be reversed as if by some explicit admission he is doing this, but whether this is simply done by some alteration which has this effect (NB: A silent Pope Francis has yet to answer the Dubia – and thus we do not have specifics as to what he “suggests” beyond Amoris Laetitia – hence our need to address Mr. Walford). In my introduction, we have already reviewed a brief summary of proofs from Sacred Scripture, Tradition and St. Thomas on the question of mortal sin and communion for public adulterers. To these we add St. Vincent of Lerins who wrote that while there can be development of doctrine, it is “…on condition that it be real progress, not alteration of the faith. For progress requires that the subject be enlarged in itself, alteration, that it be transformed into something else” (St. Vincent of Lerins, Commonitorium Chapter 24). To “suggest” an absolute denial of the admission of public adulterers to communion can become allowing exceptions, is to suggest an alteration or transformation of one thing into something else entirely – the very thing Mr. Walford denies doing.  Pressing on, we continue with Mr. Walford’s commentary where we left off above (emphasis added):

His (Pope Francis’) modus operandi–based on his pastoral work in the trenches of Buenos Aires–is to meet people where they are, avoiding rash judgments and say, “Let’s walk together on this journey of faith, let’s allow grace to lead the way. The Holy Spirit will take your goodwill as a stepping stone for future growth.” The Pope of realism knows that you don’t feed babies steak and roast potatoes; you give them what their stomach can take.  The spiritual life is similar, especially for those bruised and hurting from serious sin. Doctrines must be presented in such a way as to invigorate the soul; to show them a clear way forward, much in the same way an expert in debt management would. First, make clear the lowest point has been reached and thus things can improve little by little. That is the only way despair can be dealt with, and surely the way God desires it.” (p.124-125)

Our author assures us that Francis’ way “is the only way despair can be dealt with, and surely the way God desires it.” One cannot help but roll ones eyes as he fawns over Francis’ work “in the trenches” as if Francis is utterly unique, the veritable proto-trench worker among all bishops or even among the successors of St. Peter over the last two thousand years — whether it be John Paul II dealing as an Archbishop with communistic thugs in Warsaw, or early popes ministering to Christians in the midst of bloody Roman persecutions. Mr. Walford does not provide a true argument for the development of doctrine, but instead treats us to the sort of hagiographic nonsense one is accustomed to see in his many articles on Pope Francis, such as when he describes Francis as a “prophet in the truest sense of the word” and raves over the “unprecedented…nature of the Pontiff’s charism of mercy” (see source here and my reply). 

Yet, unfortunately, such over-the-top treatment of Francis is not unique or rare. It is rather common among those associated with this Pontificate. Fr. Thomas Rosica CSB wrote that “Pope Francis breaks Catholic traditions whenever he wants...”, and “Our Church has indeed entered a new phase: with the advent of this first Jesuit pope, it is openly ruled by an individual rather than by the authority of Scripture alone or even its own dictates of tradition plus Scripture” (see here). Thus, by the time one reaches Mr. Walford’s sixth chapter wherein he tries to explain Pope Francis’ bizarre saying that “Time is greater than space” as an essential part of the Bergoglian theory of doctrinal development, one cannot help but wonder if what is really thought by Francis’ devotees is not so much that “Time is Greater than Space” but rather “Francis is greater than both of them” — or that for them “Francis transcends time and space!” Hearing such hagiographic praises sung about Francis, the ordinary faithful Catholic may rightly wonder whether Mr. Walford and company believe Pope Francis is even constrained by the First Vatican Council’s teaching on Papal Infallibility, which says in part (emphasis added): “For the Holy Spirit was promised to the successors of Peter not so that they might, by his revelation, make known some new doctrine, but that, by his assistance, they might religiously guard and faithfully expound the revelation or deposit of faith transmitted by the apostles” (Pastor Aeturnus, IV, 6).

Mr. Walford does provide a few passages from St. Vincent of Lerins along the way on true doctrinal development. However, he never comes close to convincingly or sufficiently demonstrating that these passages are consistent with the specific doctrinal development he is attempting to prove to his reader. In fact, his difficulty in doing so — if not his failure to do so — is something he appears forced to admit. He writes (emphasis added):

“Now that we have studied the theology behind doctrinal development, the question remains: How does it actually work in concrete situations? It would be not surprise if for some, there will remain the nagging suspicion that this is nothing more than an exercise in sophistry, a deliberate attempt to do exacty what St. Vincent of Lerins said must not be one.” (p. 125)

Mr. Walford recognizes his evidence, or lack of it, may leave “nagging suspicions.” It is precisely at this moment Mr. Walford gets tantalizingly close to seeing his argument as being the “exercise in sophistry” it truly is, but – regrettably – he draws back. Our author bravely conducts a brief survey of various doctrinal developments (e.g., Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus,  the Pauline Privilege, the Petrine Privilege, Millenarianism), apparently attempting an argument by analogy – as if to say, as these are, Amoris Laetitia is too. Mr. Walford writes, and then quotes Pope Francis:

To begin with, the most obvious development concerns moral theology, and as we have already analyzed that particular issue, we don’t need to add too much more here. Suffice it to say, we can perceive that the Holy Father has taken the entire doctrinal development on subjective guilt and applied it to some of these individual cases: “Hence it is can no longer be said that all those in any ‘irregular situation’ are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace.” Perhaps the most interesting  development though concerns the role of conscience:

Yet conscience can do more than recognize that a given situation does not correspond objectively to the overall demands of the Gospel. It can also recognize with sincerity and honesty what for now is the most generous response which can be given to God, and come to see with a certain moral security that it is what God himself is asking amid  the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while yet not fully the objective ideal.  In any event, let us recall that this discernment is dynamic; it must remain ever open to new stages of growth and to new decisions which can enable the ideal to me more fully realized. (p. 130, Walford quoting Francis)

Mr. Walford’s “most obvious development” concerning moral theology was addressed in Part I of my reply. What is striking in our author’s book is the real lack of evidence in establishing his case for Bergoglian development of doctrine. He fails to produce much if any scripture or Tradition to defend his thesis. Rare are the references to a Church Father who might demonstrate his case, or a Church council, etc. Thus, it comes as no real surprise when Mr. Walford must make another startling admission regarding Pope Francis’ comments on conscience in Amoris Laetita (emphasis added):

It is hard to imagine that a teaching such as this on conscience would be found in earlier magisterial documents; until now, the focus has been centered on the two opposite possibilities for conscience to decipher: something being either right or wrong.  (p. 131)

As with Mr. Walford’s earlier admission of “nagging suspicions,” he has failed St. Vincent’s test of true doctrinal development and instead presented us with an alteration.  As our author grudgingly admits: “It is hard to imagine that a teaching such as this on conscience would be found in earlier magisterial documents…” (p. 131)! The reasoning for this statement is odd, as Mr. Walford says this is so because “until now, the focus has been centered on the two opposite possibilities for conscience to decipher: something being either right or wrong.”  This is an odd statement because focusing on whether an act is right or wrong is precisely what conscience does, as the Catholic Catechism teaches: “Moral conscience, present at the heart of the person, enjoins him at the appropriate moment to do good and to avoid evil. It also judges particular choices, approving those that are good and denouncing those that are evil” (CCC 1777). Is Mr. Walford suggesting a third category of choices, beyond right or wrong? It is hard to say. But, it is at this point that our author returns us to the Bergoglian concept of “time is greater than space” which our author unconvincingly assures us “appears to be at play here.” We pick up Mr. Walford’s narrative again (emphasis added):

Pope Francis has nevertheless taught that “moral certainty” can be had when certain circumstance don’t allow for the full objective ideal to be realized. In essence, this means that even if the sinfulness of an act remains, God will take into account our intention, and the other factors that affect a decision made in good conscience; again, the principle of “time is greater than space” would appear to be at play here. As long as the conscience is not closed off to seeking the truth–with God’s grace and patience–spiritual growth can certainly be made.  We may recall Blessed Cardinal Newman’s gradual acceptance of Catholicism as a prime  example of this. It is within this context that the doctrinal development of the “law of gradualness” applies–originally taught by St. John Paul II–and reaffirmed by Pope Francis inAmoris Laetitia 295.” (p. 131)

Mr. Walford wants to apply the “law of gradualness” as taught by Pope John Paul II to the divorced and remarried in “certain circumstances.” He even suggests “Blessed Cardinal Newman’s gradual acceptance of Catholicism” as a fitting analogy of this application to the divorced and remarried in an adulterous marriage. These divorced and remarried in Mr. Walford’s mind, as we saw in Part I, might only be in venial sin – due to their “good intentions” and complex circumstances – and thus may receive absolution and receive Holy Communion even as they continue acts of adultery as they gradually come to understand over the passage of an unspecified period of time the ideal of the Lord’s Commandment “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Only at the end this indeterminate span of time do (might) these adulterers bring their lives eventually into conformity with the Lord’s commandment. This seems to be quite clearly what Mr. Walford believes based on his writing, but this is not the “law of gradualness.” In words that should have stopped Mr. Walford,  John Paul II explains the difference between the “law of gradualness” which he did teach and its corruption “the gradualness of the law” which he did not (emphasis added):

Married people too are called upon to progress unceasingly in their moral life, with the support of a sincere and active desire to gain ever better knowledge of the values enshrined in and fostered by the law of God. They must also be supported by an upright and generous willingness to embody these values in their concrete decisions. They cannot however look on the law as merely an ideal to be achieved in the future: they must consider it as a command of Christ the Lord to overcome difficulties with constancy. “And so what is known as ‘the law of gradualness’ or step-by-step advance cannot be identified with ‘gradualness of the law,’ as if there were different degrees or forms of precept in God’s law for different individuals and situations. In God’s plan, all husbands and wives are called in marriage to holiness, and this lofty vocation is fulfilled to the extent that the human person is able to respond to God’s command with serene confidence in God’s grace and in his or her own will.”(Familiaris Consortio 34)

Pope John Paul II’s “law of gradualness” is not a step-by-step advance “as if there were different degrees or forms of precept in God’s law for different individuals and situations.” However, that is exactly what Mr. Walford is suggesting by sophistries involving “good intentions” and particular “circumstances” and “doctrinal development” which in effect allow the divorced and remarried in certain cases to commit adulterous acts – which contrary to Scripture and the Angelic Doctor — our author declares only venial sins in “certain circumstances” as they gradually conform themselves more perfectly to the Divine Commandment (“Thou shalt not commit adultery”). Mr. Walford is really suggesting the unacceptable notion of “gradualness of the law.” But, in direct contradiction of Mr. Walford, Pope John Paul II said one “cannot not “look on the law as merely an ideal to be achieved in the future” but instead “must consider it as a command of Christ the Lord to overcome difficulties with constancy.” As John Paul II’s Pontifical Council of the Family taught: “The pastoral ‘law of gradualness’, not to be confused with the ‘gradualness of the law’ which would tend to diminish the demands it places on us, consists of requiring a decisive break with sin together with a progressive path towards total union with the will of God and with his loving demands” (Pontifical Council of the Family. Vademecum for Confessors Concerning Some aspects of the Morality of Conjugal Life, 3:9).  

Thus, the individual or couple in such situations must make a “decisive break with sin” – which is hardly what Mr. Walford is arguing (NB: I have refuted the same argument made by Mr. Walford elsewhere with regard to contraception, see Walford waffles, again, on exceptionless norms). The “progress” John Paul II is speaking of involves the recognition that individuals or couples, though making a “decisive break” with sin, may repeatedly fall back into the same sin subsequently. Thus the Pontifical Council of the Family in guidelines to confessors stated “Sacramental absolution is not to be denied to those who, repentant after having gravely sinned against conjugal chastity, demonstrate the desire to strive to abstain from sinning again, notwithstanding relapses(Pontifical Council of the Family. Vademecum for Confessors Concerning Some aspects of the Morality of Conjugal Life, 3:11).

In summary, the “law of gradualness” is not something to be understood as recognizing, even if only grudgingly, a gradual movement toward future compliance that still admits an intended and ongoing noncompliance with Divine Law both in the present moment and into the foreseeable future (see Mr. Walford’s example discussed in Part I). Rather, the “law of gradualness” requires a “decisive break from sin” — i.e., now! — while mercifully recognizing the difficulties of breaking “habitual sin” and thus does not deny absolution to the individuals who “demonstrate the desire to strive to abstain from sinning again, notwithstanding relapses.”

II. What an Infallible Doctrine Might Look Like

In Chapter One of the Pope Francis, The Family and Divorce, Mr. Walford sets out to accomplish the following task (emphasis added):

“I would like to trace the development of the Church’s attitude toward the divorced and remarried over the past century or so, and to see how we have arrived at the new situation whereby sacramental discipline has been altered for the divorce and remarried in certain cases. This will allow us to appreciate how organic growth inspired by the Holy Spirit has led to greater understanding and awareness–especially in moral theology–of individual cases.” (p.5)

Mr. Walford claims only a sacramental discipline has been altered and not a doctrine. This section of my reply will examine the truth of this claim, that is whether the sacramental discipline in question is in fact only a discipline – perhaps something that could be altered; or whether it is something more, which cannot. I intend to progress in chronological order in parallel to Mr. Walford’s presentation, as he takes us from the 1970s up to the end of the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI.

Mr. Walford describes various pastoral practices that were adopted here or there in the 1900s to handle divorced and remarrieds, particularly with regard to “good faith” cases, i.e., where “the couple are not aware of the gravity of their situation canonically and morally” (p. 7). Mr. Walford cites the example and praxis of Bishop Bernard Ganter of Beaumont, Texas who issued a pastoral letter in October of 1978 offering the so-called “internal forum solutions.” This pastoral solution allowed the divorced and remarried in certain cases to receive communion. Our author, Mr. Walford, tells us that “Bishop Ganter’s Pastoral Letter was one of the first examples of how the internal forum solution could work in practice” and that Ganter “…recognizes the reality that many people even back in the 1970s were struggling to come to terms with ponderous annulment procedure and the problem of believing in conscience that their first marriage was never valid–even though it could be proved canonically and judicially” (p. 11)

It is beyond the scope of this reply — which has already grown far larger than I originally expected — to go into great detail with regard to the  historical outline presented in the book, or the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith’s (CDF) interventions in the 1970s which are described by Mr. Walford. However, while it may be admitted these CDF responses are not the shining examples of clarity for which one might hope, they are not inconsistent with the teaching later reaffirmed by Pope John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio 84 which denies communion to the divorce and remarried. For example, the CDF in 1975 wrote that “These couples [divorced and remarried] may be allowed to receive the sacraments on two conditions, that they try to live according to the demands of Christian moral principles and that they receive the sacraments in church in which they are not known so that they will no create any scandal” (p.9, CDF in 1975 as quoted by Mr. Walford).

Whatever errant practices might have existed at the time, such as allowed by Bishop Ganter, these soon collided head on with Pope John Paul II, who following the Synod in 1980, prepared and issued an Apostolic Exhortation entitled Familiaris Consortio (FC). In this exhortation, Pope John Paul II absolutely excluded the possibility of communion for the divorced and remarried – unless they live as brother and sister. He wrote (emphasis added):

However, the Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage.

Reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons, such as for example the children’s upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they “take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples.”

Similarly, the respect due to the sacrament of Matrimony, to the couples themselves and their families, and also to the community of the faithful, forbids any pastor, for whatever reason or pretext even of a pastoral nature, to perform ceremonies of any kind for divorced people who remarry. Such ceremonies would give the impression of the celebration of a new sacramentally valid marriage, and would thus lead people into error concerning the indissolubility of a validly contracted marriage.

By acting in this way, the Church professes her own fidelity to Christ and to His truth.

With firm confidence she believes that those who have rejected the Lord’s command and are still living in this state will be able to obtain from God the grace of conversion and salvation, provided that they have persevered in prayer, penance and charity. (Familiaris Consortio 84)

A number of things are noteworthy from the passage above. A few of them are:

  1. Pope John Paul II declared that “the Church reaffirms” an existing practice which is “based on Sacred Scripture.” Thus, the practice’s origin is linked to a source of revelation.
  2. It is taught the divorced and remarried are unable to receive communion because “their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist.” That is, the discipline is linked specifically to the teaching on the indissolubility of marriage (Mark 10:11-12).
  3. In reaffirming this Eucharistic ban, Pope John II makes no reference to the divorced and remarried’s subjective state of sin, i.e., whether the individual or couple are in mortal or venial sin. As the ban references an “objective” situation of sin only, it applies to all the divorced and remarried. Thus, even if one could conceive of a ‘Walfordian‘ exceptional cases not involving a subjective state of mortal sin (i.e., due to “good intentions” and or “circumstances”), the ban would still apply because of their objective situation. Thus, Mr. Walford’s judgment the ban is a “general norm” that might admit exception, is erroneous – it is a universal one in scope.
  4. Pope John Paul II clearly teaches these divorced and remarrieds in all circumstances must (1) repent of their adulterous acts, (2) have a firm purpose of amendment not repeat the same sin and (3) only then receive absolution and communion. All three of these things are denied by Mr. Walford – at least in terms of the divorce and remarried in “certain circumstances” (see Part I).
  5. Pope John Paul II clearly teaches that by “acting in this way” – i.e., by doing and believing these practices indicated in FC 84- the Churchprofesses her own fidelity to Christ and his truth.” Thus, throughout FC 84, Pope John Paul II is speaking as to what the Church believes and does, i.e., it is not matter of opinion. The Church is faithful to Christ whenever it “acts in this way,” and conversely, it would be unfaithful to Christ wherever it does not.

While John Paul II is not expressing himself in the terms of Vatican I’s definition of an extraordinary intervention of papal infallibility; by unequivocally linking the practice to a source of revelation (i.e., Sacred Scripture) and teaching the Church is professing fidelity to Christ and his Truth in the very practice itself, it is arguably the case, if not clearly so, that Pope John Paul II is expressing by means of his ordinary Magisterium an infallible teaching contained in the practice itself.  If the argument outlined above is correct, the Eucharistic ban cannot be altered without being unfaithful to Christ and his truth.

So, how does Mr. Walford treat FC 84 in in book? While Mr. Walford does provide a brief summary (p. 14) of the Eucharistic ban, he only quotes the last sentence of FC 84 verbatim (emphasis added):

He (John Paul II) concluded his teaching on the divorced and remarried by giving a message of great hope to those involved: “With firm confidence she [the Church] believes that those who have rejected the Lord’s command and are still living in this state will be able to obtain from God the grace of conversion and salvation, provided that they have persevered to prayer, penance and charity.” (Walford, p. 14 citing Familiaris Consortio 84)

Mr. Walford provides a very limited portion of the key section in question – one sentence and the last of section 84 of FC! – skipping the rest, no doubt, because it explicitly demolishes his argument. Our author seems to want to surgically remove the sentence from all else in FC 84, and read it in isolation as a “message of hope,” perhaps insinuating a hope of doctrinal development? Regardless, this is ridiculous. It is evident Pope John Paul II wrote what he did with the whole teaching on the Eucharistic ban in mind. It is unfortunate Mr. Walford does not address FC 84 in greater detail. This much is clear though. Had Mr. Walford found in any of his cherry-picked passages or documents any expression lending magisterial weight to his argument – such as “the Church reaffirms”, the “Church professes in fidelity to Christ and his truth,” “based on Sacred Scripture” which are all found in opposition to him in FC 84 – you may be certain he would have provided them to us. Thus, the absence of such declarations is noteworthy.

In 1984 Pope John Paul II — following another synod –issued another Apostolic Exhortation entitled Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, which renewed his teaching regarding the divorced and remarried (emphasis added):

 “Numerous interventions during the synod, expressing the general thought of the fathers, emphasized the coexistence and mutual influence of two equally important principles in relation to these cases. The first principle is that of compassion and mercy, whereby the church, as the continuer in history of Christ’s presence and work, not wishing the death of the sinner but that the sinner should be converted and live, and careful not to break the bruised reed or to quench the dimly burning wick, ever seeks to offer, as far as possible, the path of return to God and of reconciliation with him. The other principle is that of truth and consistency, whereby the church does not agree to call good evil and evil good. Basing herself on these two complementary principles, the church can only invite her children who find themselves in these painful situations to approach the divine mercy by other ways, not however through the sacraments of penance and the eucharist until such time as they have attained the required dispositions. (Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, 34)

In Reconciliatio et Paenitentia 34 – speaking with regard to cases of individuals who cannot participate in the sacraments, e.g., those in ‘irregular unions’ — Pope John Paul II teaches that while the Church recognizes the principle of “compassion and mercy,” at the same time “the Church does agree to call good evil and evil good.” Thus, continues Pope John Paul II: “the Church can only invite her children” in these irregular union or situations to approach “divine mercy by other ways, not however through the sacraments of penance and the Eucharist” without the required dispositions.” Here again, as with FC 84, Pope John Paul II expresses what the “Church” does. The Church does not agree to call good evil and evil good, and thus cannot allow the divorced and remarried either absolution or the Eucharist without the “required dispositions.” Therefore, by clear logical force and implication of Pope John Paul II’s teaching, if the Church were to allow such a thing – the Church would be agreeing to call evil good.  Consequently, the communion ban is something the Church must continue to enforce, being inextricably linked, as shown before, to fidelity to Christ and his truth.

Following the reaffirmation of the teaching above, John Paul II in 1992 included the same teaching in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (cf CCC 1650). In 1993, Pope John Paul II issued his encyclical Veritatis Splendor, which contained papal teaching relevant to the question of adultery. In this encyclical, Pope John Paul II taught (emphasis added):

In teaching the existence of intrinsically evil acts, the Church accepts the teaching of Sacred Scripture. The Apostle Paul emphatically states: “Do not be deceived: neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the Kingdom of God” (1 Cor 6:9-10).

If acts are intrinsically evil, a good intention or particular circumstances can diminish their evil, but they cannot remove it. They remain “irremediably” evil acts; per se and in themselves they are not capable of being ordered to God and to the good of the person. “As for acts which are themselves sins (cum iam opera ipsa peccata sunt), Saint Augustine writes, like theft, fornication, blasphemy, who would dare affirm that, by doing them for good motives (causis bonis), they would no longer be sins, or, what is even more absurd, that they would be sins that are justified?”

Consequently, circumstances or intentions can never transform an act intrinsically evil by virtue of its object into an act “subjectively” good or defensible as a choice. (Veritatis Splendor 81)

The above excerpt from Veritatis Splendor was cited in Part I of this rebuttal and is included here for its relevance to the purpose of our timeline. I will not linger long on it again, other than to point out Pope John Paul II taught “circumstances or intentions can never transform an act intrinsically evil by virtue of its object into an act “subjectively” good or defensible as a choice.However, it seems to me, that this is precisely what is being suggested by Mr. Walford. That is, those in ‘irregular unions’ can have a subjectively “good intention” of one day giving up adultery in the future — though continuing adulterous acts in the present — or being so constrained by “particular circumstances” that an intrinsically evil act by virtue of its object, is transformed into an act either “subjectively” good or at least “defensible as a choice.” In fairness, Mr. Walford denies he in fact does this, writing (emphasis added):

The teaching of the Church is that a good intention can never transform an intrinsically evil act into something this is good morally defensible; thus a “Robin Hood” style stealing from the rich to give to the poor is still wrong, regardless of the intention of aiding the needy. However, in the case of a confessor discerning levels o f guilty, Blessed Paul VI did state that “sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or in order to promote a greater good.” That doesn’t alter the fact that it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it; in the face of constant criticism from some conservative and traditionalist quarters, it must be reaffirmed that at no time does Amoris Laetitia suggest that adultery is no longer wrong in certain cases, or that it possess some moral good. What we come back to is the influences and circumstances that mitigate the guilt to such an extent that in some cases it is no longer present. St. John Paul II state in Veritatis Splendor stated in Veritatis Spendor: “It is possible that the evil done as a result of invincible ignorance or a non-culpable error of judgment may not be imputable to the agent.” (p. 96-97).

However, following Mr. Walford’s argument in his book, it is quite evident — or so it appears to me — that while he affirms a “good intention” can never transform an intrinsically evil act into a good one, his protestations it is not “defensible as a choice” (VS 81) ring hollow. After all, the point of his book in effect is to defend the notion that the divorced and remarried can choose to commit adultery in “certain circumstances” and still receive Holy Communion. Methinks Mr.Walford doth protest too much. In terms of Mr. Walford’s reference above to Pope Paul VI, the cited passage in Humanae Vitae, more fully quoted, is this:

“Though it is true that sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or in order to promote a greater good,” it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it—in other words, to intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order, and which must therefore be judged unworthy of man, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family or of society in general. Consequently, it is a serious error to think that a whole married life of otherwise normal relations can justify sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive and so intrinsically wrong.” (Humanae Vitae 14)

Though Mr. Walford adopts Pope Paul VI’s argument regarding the use of contraceptives in married life to support his own argument, he again cherry-picks commentary he wants and leaves the rest on the cutting room floor. If he had continued the quotation through the underlined portion above, it would have been clear to his reader that Pope Paul VI taught it would be a “serious error to think a whole married life of otherwise normal relations can justify sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive and so intrinsically wrong.” That is, the reader would see the same moral principle applies to the divorced and remarried and acts of adultery, i.e., adultery, like contraception, cannot be justified at any time either! However, in as much as Mr. Walford suggests the divorced and remarried in certain circumstances can commit adulterous acts and only be in a state of venial sin, he is ‘justifying’ the acts as a “defensible choice” within the broader context of the individual’s ‘married’ life and particular circumstances, per his example in Part I.

We have thus far briefly reviewed the teaching of Familiaris Consortio, Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, and Veritatis Splendor – and even touched upon Humanae Vitae as it relates to the discussion of adultery. Yet, despite all the signposts suggesting an infallible teaching here, Mr. Walford still attempts to desperately look to and analyze his scrapbook of cherry-picked papal quotes to find something he might use – or rather misuse for his argument. Thus, incomprehensibly, Mr. Walford claims at one point that “What should be stated categorically is that St. John Paul II instigated on magisterial level a new path and a new openness to the divorced and remarried” (p. 15). He ignores the clear Eucharistic ban reaffirmed by Pope John Paul II, but chooses where he perceives John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio “advocated careful discernment for individual cases“, etc. The honest Catholic can only read such statements and shake their head in disbelief.  I have not the time to address every inanity in Mr. Walford’s book, and will not tarry long over this latest one, other than to say that whatever John Paul II says about “individual cases” it assuredly proves not one iota of the case Mr. Walford hopes to make.

Returning to our timeline, Mr. Walford brings his readers up to 1993, writing:

“Until the early 1990s, most of the discussion relating to the pastoral care of those in irregular situations was confined to theological journals. Nevertheless, by 1993 the question was back at the heart of Catholic debate, for on July 10th of that year, three bishops of the Upper Rhine region of Germany issued a joint pastoral letter in which they called for dialogue with the divorced and remarried, with the intention of discerning whether the general ban on access to the Sacraments could allow for exceptions.  What made the Letter particularly significant was that its authors included two theologians of international repute:  Walter Kaspar of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, and Karl Lehmann of Mainz_both future cardinals.  The third author, Archbishop Oskar Saier of Frieburg, was a canon lawyer, and vice-president of the German Bishops Conference.

The letter restates the official teaching of the Church that remarriage is an objective contradiction to the Sacrament of marriage, and that anyone who follows this path acts “contrary to the order of the Church.” However, the Bishops went on to suggest that although Canon Law can provide a generally valid sacramental discipline, it cannot cover the variety of complex and highly individual cases.  In order to arrive at the correct conclusion for each case, the Bishops proposed an internal forum solution “in which the situation is thoroughly, candidly, and objectively brought to light.”  (p. 15-16)

The reader will, no doubt, recognize the name of Walter Kaspar among the names of German bishops who advocated for Walfordian exceptions to the communion ban found in Familiaris Consortio 84. These German bishops follow the same tactic as our author — i.e., professing adherence to a Catholic truth (e.g., indissolubility of marriage) while at the same time proposing exceptions to the Eucharistic ban for a “variety of complex and highly individual cases.”

In response to this German letter, Pope John II directed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) to prepare a response which he approved. In this response, the Cardinal Prefect of the CDF, Joseph Ratzinger, wrote the following (emphasis added): 

Even if analogous pastoral solutions have been proposed by a few Fathers of the Church and in some measure were practiced, nevertheless these never attained the consensus of the Fathers and in no way came to constitute the common doctrine of the Church nor to determine her discipline. It falls to the universal Magisterium, in fidelity to Sacred Scripture and Tradition, to teach and to interpret authentically the depositum fidei.

With respect to the aforementioned new pastoral proposals, this Congregation deems itself obliged therefore to recall the doctrine and discipline of the Church in this matter. In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ, the Church affirms that a new union cannot be recognised as valid if the preceding marriage was valid. If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law. Consequently, they cannot receive Holy Communion as long as this situation persists.(Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church Concerning the Reception of Holy Communion by the Divorced and Remarried Members of the Faithful. September 14, 1994, 4)

In this first excerpt from the CDF’s letter, Cardinal Ratzinger rejects the German pastoral solutions as never attaining the “the consensus of the Fathers,” thus rejecting any claim  for the authority of Tradition as a support for an argument from the development of doctrine. Having done this, the CDF response — which participates in the Magisterium of the Pope (cf Donum Veritatis 18) — states that “It falls to the universal Magisterium, in fidelity to Sacred Scripture and Tradition, to teach and to interpret authentically the depositum fidei.”  That is to say, we will now teach and interpret the depositum fidei for you, so listen up German Bishops!

Recalling the “doctrine and discipline of the Church,” Cardinal Ratzinger states in fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ that (1) the Church cannot affirm a new union as valid if a prior one was valid, and (2) if the divorced are remarried civilly, they objectively contravene God’s law and therefore (3) they cannot receive Holy Communion. Thus, the Eucharistic ban follows logically and necessarily from this fidelity to the words of Christ – and thus cannot be altered. The CDF response continued (emphasis added):

“At the same time it (i.e., Familiaris Consortioconfirms and indicates the reasons for the constant and universal practice, “founded on Sacred Scripture, of not admitting the divorced and remarried to Holy Communion”. The structure of the Exhortation and the tenor of its words give clearly to understand that this practice, which is presented as binding, cannot be modified because of different situations.  (Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church Concerning the Reception of Holy Communion by the Divorced and Remarried Members of the Faithful. September 14, 1994)

Here too, the force and clarity of the teaching is undeniable. A CDF document approved by John Paul II – again, which participates in his Magisterium – confirms this teaching is a “constant and universal practice” that is “founded on Sacred Scripture.” The CDF says this practice “is presented as binding” by the Pope and “cannot be modified because of different situations.” All these points directly undermine Mr. Walford’s argument, thus it will come as no surprise that he attempts to downplay the doctrinal argument, which the clear import of these words support, writing for example:

By examining these facts, we are able to see that it is not correct to claim that the Church has always maintained the exact same sacramental discipline for divorced and remarried. What we can say, is that in the external forum it has remained unchanged, but that is only one arm of the power of the governance entrusted to the Church by the Lord. The historical facts prove beyond any doubt that the internal forum has had at least the tacit blessing of the Church to decide on matters that cannot be adequately dealt with externally.  Why is this important? Because it tells us that even if the official practice of the Church has been constant since the birth of the Church, there is more to the truth than that. This issue cannot be considered the same a constant tradition applying to the ordination for men only, or the evil of contraception. It is far more nuanced when we take into account moral theology and subjective guilt  as we have already seen. Even the words of Jesus on adultery (see Mk. 10:11-12) that were used by St. John Paul II as the basis for the ban in 1981 do not actually allude to Holy Communion anyway; they simply refer to the truth of marriage and the grave sin of adultery. On this basis alone, the implication cannot be correct that states two thousand years of Catholic teaching have been jettisoned.” (p. 168-169)

Though Mr. Walford may insist the doctrine is maintained even if the discipline is altered to allow exceptions, it is clear to anyone with eyes that can see this cannot be so. The discipline reaffirmed by John Paul II and the CDF is inextricably linked to a revealed truth of Sacred Scripture, i.e., the indissolubility of marriage. As the union of love between  Christ to his Bride — the Church — “is signified and effected by the Eucharist” (cf FC 84), public adulterers – whose status objectively contradicts this union – cannot be admitted to Holy Communion because the Eucharist signifies and effects this union. This doctrine cannot be upheld with a Eucharistic discipline that admits exceptions for public adultery. It should also be noted that CDF commentary supports the view a discipline can be an expression of an infallible teaching:

“It should be noted that the infallible teaching of the ordinary and universal Magisterium is not only set forth with an explicit declaration of a doctrine to be believed or held definitively, but is also expressed by a doctrine implicitly contained in a practice of the Church’s faith, derived from revelation or, in any case, necessary for eternal salvation, and attested to by the uninterrupted Tradition: such an infallible teaching is thus objectively set forth by the whole episcopal body, understood in a diachronic and not necessarily merely synchronic sense. (Doctrinal Commentary on the Concluding Formula of the Professio fidei. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, June 29 1998. (n. 17).  Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith [emphasis added]) [1]

The CDF guidance above participates in the Magisterium of the Pope. This CDF commentary states infallible teaching are also expressed by “doctrine implicitly contained in a practice of the Church, derived from revelation or, in any case, necessary for eternal salvation, and attested to by the uninterrupted Tradition.” The Eucharistic ban, as we have already seen, meets the marks of such a practice.  It is said to be “derived from revelation” (“based on Sacred Scripture” per John Paul II). It is said to be “attested by interrupted Tradition” (“a constant and universal practice” per the CDF, approved by John Paul II) and it has been “presented as binding” (per the CDF, approved by John Paul II). Consequently, this sacramental discipline reaffirmed in Familiaris Consortio 84 is an example of an infallible teaching “expressed by a doctrine implicitly contained in a practice of the Church’s faith, derived from revelation.” It cannot be altered.


III. Mr. Walford’s Desperate Appeals to the Internal Forum

Mr. Walford in the seventh chapter of his book entitled The internal Forum: The Heart Speaks to Heart states he would like to “briefly look at the recent historical usage of the internal forum in matters pertaining to the divorced and remarried” arguing that “contrary to the arguments of those claims that what Pope Francis has allowed is a rupture with the past…” (p. 165).  He raises again the commentary of the CDF in the 1970s, but I have commented on this earlier in this reply to the effect that nothing in these letters demonstrate Mr. Walford’s argument.

One sign of our author’s desperation to find evidence is that he cites Cardinal Schonborn’s 2016 reference to a conversation he allegedly had with Cardinal Ratzinger in 1994. In Mr. Walford’s narrative, Schonborn alleges he questioned the then Cardinal Ratzinger “concerning the use of the internal forum for discerning the possibility of the divorced and remarried receiving the Sacraments” (p. 166).  According to Schonborn’s recollection, Cardinal Ratzinger replied to the effect “The general norm is very clear; and it is equally clear that it cannot cover all the cases exhaustively” (p. 167). Perhaps needless to say, but Schonborn’s account of a conversation over twenty years before, without any documentation or confirmation from Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) is hardly convincing. Even if one were to credit the accuracy of the account, all that matters with regard to Ratzinger in an argument over what is official doctrine and discipline is ultimately the official acts of Pope John Paul II or of Cardinal Ratzinger as prefect of the CDF or later as Pope Benedict XVI on the subject at hand. These clearly indicate that the official answer to Schonborn is the same as it was to the German Bishops in 1994:  no exceptions!

Having failed to use Cardinal Ratzinger on hearsay testimony, Mr. Walford next attempts to draft Cardinal Ratzinger’s written words to his cause. Mr. Walford writes (emphasis added):

In a 1998 Letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger acknowledges in the early Church even though officially  Holy Communion was not allow for the divorced and remarried, there were certain exceptions of a pastoral nature: “It is true, however, that the Church did not always rigorously revoke concessions in certain territories, even when there were identified as not in agreement with her doctrine and discipline. It also seems true that individual Fathers, Leo the Great being among them, sought pastoral solutions for rare borderline cases.” (Walford, p. 167)(Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith”Concerning Some Objections to the Church’s Teaching on the Reception of Holy Communion by Divorced and Remarried Members of the Faithful” 1998)

Here, Mr. Walford attempts to make the most out of any concession he can find in documents that otherwise decisively reject his thesis. While Cardinal Ratzinger may admit the rare exception to the practice in ancient times, that is certainly no proof there ought to be or even are valid exceptions. One may find errant practices or beliefs at times in the writings of the Church Fathers, but such instances do not establish such exceptions to practice or belief to be licit, such as the ancient controversy over re-baptism. Instead of focusing on this one section of Cardinal Ratzinger’s commentary, it would have been more instructive for the reader had Mr. Walford both quoted and commented on what Ratzinger had said in the same letter after reviewing all the evidence (emphasis added):

Epikeia and aequitas canonica exist in the sphere of human and purely ecclesiastical norms of great significance, but cannot be applied to those norms over which the Church has no discretionary authority. The indissoluble nature of marriage is one of these norms which goes back to Christ Himself and is thus identified as a norm of divine law. The Church cannot sanction pastoral practices – for example, sacramental pastoral practices – which contradict the clear instruction of the Lord.

In other words, if the prior marriage of two divorced and remarried members of the faithful was valid, under no circumstances can their new union be considered lawful and therefore reception of the sacraments is intrinsically impossible. The conscience of the individual is bound to this norm without exception.” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.  Concerning Some Objections to the Church’s Teaching on the Reception of Holy Communion by Divorced and Remarried Members of the Faithful 1998)

Cardinal Ratzinger says the Church has no discretionary authority to allow any exceptions:  “The Church cannot sanction pastoral practices – for example, sacramental pastoral practices – which contradict the clear instruction of the Lord.”

I will leave the reader with one final example of the selective quoting which, I believe, fails to benefit the reader of The Pope, The Family and Divorce.  Mr. Walford writes:

“With Pope Benedict XVI, we also discover a significant doctrinal progression related to these families. Acutely aware of their trials he states: “I am convinced that their suffering, if truly accepted from within, is a gift to the Church. They need to know this, to realize this is their way of serving the Church, that they are in the heart of the Church.” (p. 131) (Pope Benedict, “Address at the Evening Witness for the World Meeting of Families,” June 2, 2012)

Mr. Walford says with Pope Benedict XVI we “discover” some sort of “significant doctrinal progression related to these families” (i.e., divorced and remarried in new civil unions). Yes, Pope Benedict XVI in his homily comments on their suffering, etc. But, this is yet another case of Mr. Walford skipping over a teaching or commentary that does not fit the magisterial argument he wishes to make. A reader might be left with the impression that Benedict XVI, consciously or not, is somehow heading toward admitting such couples to Holy Communion or that his words by logical extension tend toward that end – why else would Mr. Walford suggest they are a “doctrinal progression?” However, while Pope Benedict XVI sympathizes with the suffering of such families, he nonetheless states unequivocally (emphasis added):

“As regards these people – as you have said – the Church loves them, but it is important they should see and feel this love. I see here a great task for a parish, a Catholic community, to do whatever is possible to help them to feel loved and accepted, to feel that they are not “excluded” even though they cannot receive absolution or the Eucharist; they should see that, in this state too, they are fully a part of the Church. Perhaps, even if it is not possible to receive absolution in Confession, they can nevertheless have ongoing contact with a priest, with a spiritual guide.” This is very important, so that they see that they are accompanied and guided. Then it is also very important that they truly realize they are participating in the Eucharist if they enter into a real communion with the Body of Christ. Even without “corporal” reception of the sacrament, they can be spiritually united to Christ in his Body.”  (Pope Benedict, “Address at the Evening Witness for the World Meeting of Families,” June 2, 2012)

Pope Benedict does sympathize with the divorced and remarried as a matter of simple charity, but this can hardly be said to be a “doctrinal progression.”  Much less can it be cited as a piece of the “doctrinal development” puzzle which is Amoris Laetitia. Clearly, while empathizing with the suffering of these divorced and remarried couples, Pope Benedict XVI decisively reiterates above the Church’s teaching – as we have seen – that the divorced and remarried cannot receive absolution and the Eucharist without first repenting and having a firm purpose of amendment. Nothing can be more obvious in the writings of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI.


Conclusion of Part II

We have seen in Mr. Walford’s Pope Francis, The Family and Divorce that he seems to display a sort of theological pareidolia – i.e., seeing things in papal documents and or theological commentaries which really are not there, or at least do not have the meaning he ascribes to them – but that he perceives as somehow supporting his argument. I have cited some examples along the way of such texts in which, all the while, he neglects the fact the same source explicitly and directly contradicts him – often in the same passage.

Mr. Walford frequently says that there is no change to Church doctrine, whether it be to the indissolubility of marriage, the sacraments, to mortal sin, or whatever. However,  despite these repeated assurances, the implications of his arguments in Pope Francis, The Family and Divorce — I have attempted to demonstrate in my replies — are an alteration of doctrine, whether Mr. Walford understands that or not. The Church professes fidelity to Christ and his truth by the practice in question. As then Cardinal Ratzinger said, the Church cannot allow “pastoral practices – for example, sacramental pastoral practices – which contradict the clear instruction of the Lord.” 

So ends my rebuttal of Mr. Walford’s argument for doctrinal development with regard to the admission of manifest adulterers to Holy Communion in “certain cases.” In the coming part III of my reply to the book Pope Francis The Family and Divorce, I will address Mr. Walford’s commentary on dissent and the Magisterium.

Steven O’Reilly is a graduate of the University of Dallas and the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is married to Margaret O’Reilly.  He lives near Atlanta with his family. He has written apologetic articles and is working on a historical-adventure trilogy, set during the time of the Arian crisis. He asks for your prayers for his intentions.  He can be contacted at (or follow on Twitter: @S_OReilly_USA).


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