“Disputationes theologicae” – Replica of John Carr to criticism of Antonio Livi



I have said on many occasions that we do not know what the Holy Father will decide and that we must be available to maintain the current law that some its change. Conservatives say that the current law is not untouchable and innovators that dogma is not changeable. As is the case in the mystery of the incarnation, so it is in Christian morality and family: We must reduce the eternal in time, without eternizzare the storm and without temporalizzare the eternal.


Author John Cavalcoli OP
John Cavalcoli OP



John Cavalcoli breviary
the Pontifical academician John Carlson

.Monsignor Antonio Livi has published Apostolic Union website Faith and Reason [cf. WHO] an article entitled "In Defense of Catholic truth about marriage», in which I addressed many objections. The article was also reported by press agency Correspondence Romana [cf. WHO] and the online magazine Levied Christian [cf. WHO], and various other sites and blogs, several of which have been limited to only report the criticisms addressed to me, looking though the return my texts published with my answers, all of them available on’Patmos Island, accessed by thousands of visitors every day, and that suggests that many readers went definitely read what I've written really.

We review the quaestiones raised by Antonio Livi and give each answer.


1. I immediately replied that the pastoral and canonical consideration of divorced and remarried as of the faithful must get out of their "sinful State" cannot be considered contrary to the Magisterium and therefore theologically unfounded.


I have already explained elsewhere what you may refer to "State of sin". However I repeat. If by "State of sin" means that partners, under the single and simple situation, where there are, they are permanently and necessarily, twenty-four hours a day to fall short of the grace of God, as if they were damned souls of hell, almost under the pretence of scrutinizing the underwear of consciousness known only to God, Well, There is no doubt that this would be a rash judgment. If instead with that expression means the stable situation, that can be independent of the will of the two, in which they are taken easily to Sin, the expression may be acceptable, though it may seem ambiguous and may lead to understand it in the first meaning. Better to speak of "dangerous situation", or use the term "irregular Union legal" or that "unlawful" morale [cf. doc. CEI, 1979, on The pastoral care of marriage of the divorced and remarried and living in difficult or irregular situations, WHO, WHO].


2. According To Carlson, "sin is only a single act" which runs at the time it is committed and does not give rise to a "State" or permanent condition of the soul: but this is an unfounded theory.


I never said that SIN does not give rise to a permanent condition or in the soul. I argue just the opposite, that is what supports Antonio Livi. I simply said that sin is not to be confused with the situation resulting from the Sin itself, fault situation, that may be more or less durable. Partners can and must terminate voluntarily anytime this inner situation with repentance, While you can make it impossible to stop the coexistence. However, one of the two you can repent and the other does not.


3. There is an illogic semantics contained in the definition of sin as ' wanted, avoidable and winnable» (because what should be "winnable" not voluntary, but the disordered passion that pushes it the subject).


The will must not only win the passion, But even herself in the acts that run within the same will and does not involve a relationship with passion. Will can be evil in itself, without relation to the passions. In the event to, will must win herself. For instance, an intention of heresy, resides exclusively in the will. This, to return to the Orthodox intention, must win and eliminate the intention of will.


4. Carr thinks he can then say that the rules contained therein – starting with the one for which the divorced and remarried are excluded from Eucharistic communion – are only one possible application among the many possible pastoral care, making it perfectly plausible – he says – hope that actually are taken completely different standards.


Christ commands us to nourish his body. This is the divine law. But there are so many ways that it can be deployed or not. He entrusted to Peter [Mt 16, 19] the task of regulating, determine or establish in detail about, as, when, where is that, under what circumstances, under what circumstances and why allow or prohibit categories of believers access to Eucharistic communion. I don't see what's so strange about this practice, that the Church has always at its discretion to the same mandate of the Lord.


5. Carr believes the dogma is perfectly compatible with a new law under which, even when the sacramental forgiveness denied (because the penitent could not demonstrate at Minister of penance his sincere and effective decision to exit the State of sin), the faithful can access the Communion if God forgives him otherwise. But how does a Church law to predict the occurrence of this event of grace? The Church, at any level, can never become aware of when and how you can verify the justification of the sinner in the secret of his conscience and extrasacramentale. If the Church, aware of its limits, the new law proposed by Carlson, simply faithful councelling set conscientiously, in practice, it would return to the traditional Canon law, based on what was established by the Council of Trent: to access the faithful Communion must be certain in conscience about not being in mortal sin.


The law or the licence or permit that can be hoped for communion for divorced and remarried persons in special cases, Let the faithful recognize if he is in a State of grace necessary to access Communion. It is obvious that it is always the obligation of the Council of Trent, given that actually is based on the words of Saint Paul. Except that in our case the Church would allow for divorced and remarried persons to check themselves each time, How should you do any good faithful, whether or not the inner conditions suitable to receive communion. At this point, It is clear that the Church could and should give them even the sacramental confession.


6. But how does – at present – a divorced remarried to have the certainty that God has granted him in the secret of his conscience that forgiveness and that return to the grace of God the Church denied him in the celebration of the sacrament of penance, because they lack the qualifications required to demonstrate a genuine repentance?


If the Church deny the sacraments for divorced and remarried persons, It has no power on the grace extrasacramentale, God only to the mysterious designs of his mercy. It is not necessary for the divorced remarried show confessor repentance: just that God manifests them. However, in the case that the Church would grant Fellowship, should also grant the confession.


7. Many theologians (with which seems to agree Cavalcoli) envisage what the final document of the Synod calls, in a rather vague, however,, «accompaniment and discernment ". But also here: What kind of discernment may have a extrasacramentale priest who serves as a spiritual counselor, a parish priest or the Bishop of the diocese? And based on what knowledge of the action of grace in the soul of that single penitent and discernment tools they may allow the faithful to receive Communion?


It is necessary and sufficient that the priest checks if the subject has repented, If it is correct, If you want to improve, If it follows its guidelines, If she wishes to do penance, If participates in the ecclesial and civil life, If the care work, family and friends. Can then propose an ad hoc spiritual journey, you use the gifts God has given him his human qualities and service to others and the Church. As the Bishop, can possibly prepare a manual that, under the general laws of the Church for these situations, provides guidelines and recommendations, especially for the most difficult cases, confessors, spiritual guides, teachers, educators, the parishes, families, the Diocesan institutions on how to conduct themselves with these people, How to accommodate their human contribution and faith, How to help them and correct them fraternally.


8. What is not possible is precisely what Carr thinks we should do and that is expected, i.e. establish that some local authorities (bishop, Pastor, Chaplain) they can judge me "from outside" that a person who is not able to receive sacramental absolution is back in "State of grace" (and then can approach the Communion) an intimate Act of repentance (that would be ineffective, that is not enough to obtain sacramental absolution) and a grace assolutoria extrasacramentale type.


The Confessor has the faculty to discern and judge If the penitent exist or no goodwill, based on the way to accuse of sins and signs giving of repentance and faith in God's mercy. And the penitent himself, enlightened by his faith, After an appropriate examination of conscience, According to the testimony of a good conscience, is qualified to declare anyone fearlessly their innocence before God, putting, following the example of the Apostle, Divine judgment, who searches the hearts. How to repent, It is effective, even without sacramental absolution, because God shall forgive him. It is hoped therefore that the Church let sacramental confession.


9. Carr's speech doesn't fit with logic. The law of the Church concerning the "State of grace" to be admitted to communion appeals to the discernment of the subject itself that is responsible for examination of conscience (eventually, with the prudent advice of a confessor "in foro interno"), as already established by the Council of Trent teaches that when the faithful must discern for themselves, in consciousness, If you find it or not in mortal sin. This means that, logically, a human moral law waiver to provide all types of specific cases in which a person can be sure that you are not obliged to observe. Therefore, If the new pastoral Praxis asked by some of the Synod Fathers (and father Carr) you configure how a law that expressly provides for certain types of exception to the rule, then one cannot speak of a different application of the same theological criterion possible of previous law. In conclusion, the truth is that with this proposal the Familiaris consortio is abolished, as its explicit doctrine is largely contradicted by another doctrine, albeit implied. The go repeating, How does Carr, that it is just a different application of the same prudential practice doctrine is a mere rhetorical device.


Any new law should not expect "all types of specific cases in which a person can be sure that you are not obliged to observe it". That would be actually impossible. Nor should "make explicit provision for certain types of exception to the rule". The new law, instead, could keep the current exclusion from the sacraments, just give a few examples of possible cases of exception to the law, but in a mere indicative value, website not, without pretending to exhaust all possible cases, but giving space to the work of careful discernment of the Confessor or the Bishop. If a Church law it contradicts another, Don't be alarmed. You may indicate a thousand examples of this in the history of ecclesiastical legislation. Just think of the prohibition made to women for thousands of years to serve at the altar, that prohibition has been overtaken by grant to proclaim the readings of the mass or distribute communion to the faithful. So don't be scandalized or do a drama, If on this point Family company will be changed. How many reform laws implemented by the Second Vatican Council abolished or changed, Since it is not divine and ecclesiastical laws. I have already discussed the difference between these two kinds of laws in recent articles on’Patmos Island [cf. WHO, WHO, WHO], so I'm not going back above.


10. The doctrine of Carr is incorrect: consists in attributing to the Magisterium prior knowledge of cases in which the divine grace, providing exceptionally to the saving action guaranteed by it in the ordinary way by the administration of the sacraments. But is this the only ordinary way that the Magisterium may know because he knows – not for human science or private revelation but only for public disclosure – that Christ has entrusted him to establish his Church. A new moral law that abolished the indissolubility?


No way. What does the indissolubility? This is not, I repeat for the umpteenth time, "moral law", which, as contained in divine revelation, for us Christians is divine law: but Church law, that ultimately, as dictated by prudence and sum descended from dogma, still remains a positive human law, changing how all human laws. "To attribute to the Magisterium prior knowledge of cases in which the divine grace, providing exceptionally to the saving action guaranteed by it in the ordinary way by the administration of the sacraments, a priori knowledge of cases in which the divine grace, providing exceptionally to the saving action guaranteed by it in the ordinary way by the administration of the sacraments "? This is absolutely not at this, like I said, This is not program the freedom of the Holy Spirit, but to put in place a flexible and supernatural prudence, as well as a charity lit, worthy of the heart of Christ, that put us in listening to the needs of souls and make us wise discernment assess the diversity of cases and situations, in order to bring the law of the Gospel and the scent of eternal life.


11. Carr suggests that Pope's intentions are clear and binding, in the sense of wanting just what he's proposing with such ardor dialectic, that is a standard specification "" which puts the bishops the right to evaluate "in foro interno" grant opportunities, case by case, access to communion for the divorced and remarried. Dominican theologian does not mention, but you should know that in the debate on the family on the occasion of the Synod many proposed a new ecclesiastical law, on the basis of a new doctrine, abolish the Familiaris consortio, and with it the principle of the indissolubility of marriage.


I have said on many occasions that we do not know what the Holy Father will decide and that we must be available to maintain the current law that some its change. Conservatives say that the current law is not untouchable and innovators that dogma is not changeable. As is the case in the mystery of the incarnation, so it is in Christian morality and family: We must reduce the eternal in time, without eternizzare the storm and without temporalizzare the eternal.



Varazze, 29 October 2015






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10 thoughts on "“Disputationes theologicae” – Replica of John Carr to criticism of Antonio Livi

  1. Father Cavalcoli, if you ask me: "How's son?"I would answer the: "Discreetly bad, thank you". I just read his counter-response to Bishop. Livi after reading the response of those in Fides et Ratio.
    There I no longer raccapezzo: she has to be right in his way of being wrong or Mons. Livi to be wrong in his way of being right? Praised be Jesus Christ.

    1. Always praise!

      Dear Richard.

      Says Jesus Christ: “Why not judge with your head what is right?”. God has given each of us a reason and a conscience, with which, enlightened and educated by the Magisterium of the Church, we can find in a theological dispute, who's right.

      Therefore, and no loss of souls, make the brain work, exploiting his notions of faith, have confidence in the strength of his intelligence, ask light from the Holy Spirit, compare and weigh calmly and wisely opinioini and accept the one that seems true.

  2. Esteemed Father John,about the phrase “Conservatives say that the current law is not untouchable and innovators that dogma is not changeable” Remember a little’ sophism that nice that my brother occasionally uses to elicit a smile, allor when – in response to his question whether the work done as soon as it was easy – I reply:.. well ... yes,… easy, but it is not difficult! “.. And he repeated ” but how do you mean ” easy, but not difficult!!! “.. Or is it easy or difficult is!.. And down laughing… Do you understand?..

    Why then, accordance with reasoning similar to his sentence, It would be the equivalent to saying :we say to the Conservatives” that the law on the red light is not untouchable. (But how? What the hell taught me then the rules of the road?! And if finding myself near an intersection he ran a red light, what do I do ? I stop or do not stop? It is allowed or prohibited? ).. and innovators that despite all the red(.. the dogma) Congressman color remains at park.

    So I take back – according to the logic I should stop at a red light!

    Dice – yes yes in theory, but then in practice, sai.. We have to see whether to go…

    1. Dear Alexander.

      My speech is very simple, logical and clear. The I expose in 4 points, changing a bit’ the words, in the hope of being understood:

      1. The laws of God are unchangeable; those of the Church are changing;

      2. false “Traditionalists” would make the current immutable law of the Church on the divorced and remarried, invoking the immutable value of divine law.

      3. The modernists would like to change the law of the Church based on their evolutionary historicist conception of divine law.

      4. The Catholics admit the mutability of Church law and respect the sanctity of the divine law, It can not change.

      1. Dear father Cavalcoli,

        Meanwhile, thanks for the interesting ideas that it gives us, in other articles.
        Correct me if I'm wrong, but the point of contention with Bishop. Livi seems to be the second in the list. At this point, indeed, There is the implication that he could not approach the Eucharist for the divorced and remarried is not divine law, but both ecclesiastical discipline.

        In Familiaris Consortio 84 but reads:
        “The Church, however, It reiterates its practices, based on Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced and remarried. ” In following is the objective reason exclusion.
        So the Church (Teaching), It reiterates practice (Tradition), based on Scripture (Revelation). Now, the presence of these three elements is not exactly objective index of divine law?
        So much so that after, in the same paragraph, to this principle ne another is approached, that is, yes, explicitly presented as a pastoral: or, the fact that you could generate confusion among the faithful.
        I can not understand how you can get around this statement.

        1. Dear Alessio.

          Surely Father John Cavalcoli will respond as soon as possible, but in the meantime we do note that the answer to the question she poses, It is contained in the latest articles sueoi, in particular in the article that speaks to the Familiarsi company.

  3. Certainly Father John, some.
    Now I understand better its position. And I also agree with Father Ariel that respect for the moral law can not be compared autovelox (beautiful image!) according legalistic criteria spersonalizzano humanity of the people. But now I ask myself this question:not also believe that the pastoral solution of “case by case” , would end in time to lower (progressively)the alert level: such as to induce “motorists” to shape the law on the basis of one's experiences? And maybe even their whims? In essence,if the law (practical application of the dogma), instead of being the same for all, We adapt to the needs of each, what of the universality of the law? And above all, it can still be said law? That perception would dell'imutabilità of dogma, if entry into force of the above pastoral?Thanks for the attention.


    1. Perhaps behind the question posed by Alexander there is another issue: Sometimes we forget that the Church desired by Christ behind the "pastoral" there are "shepherds", and without the shepherds the ministry can not be applied. The pastoral norms and doctrine hardly alone lead the Christian to sanctification: the aid is necessary that Our Lord wanted to give to the Church, chief among them the Holy Spirit, whose action can take place (and it takes place) even outside the visible boundaries of the Church. Christians who want to water down the Gospel there have always been. As the pastoral guidelines can be perfect, if there is honesty and good will of the individuals concerned they are useless. A Christian who, for various reasons, He decides to fake what Revelation calls from his consciousness, It is a fool and, if you do not repent in time, gets what is the reward reserved for fools; also the dissatisfaction with one wrong lifestyle is not slow to manifest itself. The task of true believers is to bring, with their lives and with individual acts, the light of faith, and humbly ask God humbly, wisdom and discernment.

    2. Dear Alexander.

      Exceptions to the law

      The law is equal for all, e chi, being able, He does not want to observe, and sin must be punished. For this there is the judiciary in the State and the Church. Here plays justice.

      But there are those who can not make it to observe it, ie does not have the virtue or sufficient force or compelling reasons to put it into practice or is not in the subjective or objective conditions or in appropriate situations to be able to observe. who, then, I might not sin against mercy, We must make intrvenire tolerance, equity, the indulgence, the comprehension, clemency, compassion, the condescension, mercy.

      Here are valid exceptions to compliance with the law. Typical example of this is the suspension of the Sabbath law in some cases by Christ. To expect too, uniquely, rigorously, and relentlessly keeping the law by those who do it as to those who can not make it, It is not at all zealous for the law, nor is it true application of the principle that the law is equal for all, is not genuine love for souls and for the rectitude of morals, but pharisaism, It is an unjustified harshness and rigidity of mind, which can border on cruelty.

      The law – any applicable law, even the divine law – obliges when one knows and is able or is able to observe. Otherwise, one is exempt from that requirement. Ad impossibilia nemo tenetur.

      The non-observance of the law is guilty when the law is consciously and voluntarily transgressed, not when it is ignored in good faith or is impraticabie righteous or exceptional reasons or sufficient apology.

      In which case, We were exempted or dismissed or excused dall'osservarla one is and one is innocent. Blame themselves in this case, is a fool and blame scruples is abominable cruelty.

      Admitting therefore cases, in which it is exempt from obeying the law, It does not necessarily mean despise or infringe the universality of its obligation, create privileged or make sense of people or encourage smart or act to whim or emotional impulse.

      The pretext of special case to evade the law fraud and scam only when there are no reasonable grounds which justify or higher.

      Being able to discern however the cases right, and decide accordingly, always keeping an eye on the law, it is wisdom, Justice and Charity, and means on the one hand want the good of the people and, other, have a sense of the circumstances, bear in mind the possibility of each, ask each the maximum commitment, consistent to what we can do, foster in all the moral growth.

      One must always distinguish between the law itself from the concrete possibility to observe it. The case histories and determined wisely esaminta, which enables or allows the pantry or modification or mitigation by law, Law itself compulsory for all, it's not a wound allla law, It does not open a hole in the universality and obligatoriness of the law, but refers to the particular conditions of certain officers persons incapable or incapacitated for serious reasons to comply in whole or in part the wording of the law.

      The law is not upheld in a case where you can not observe it. The dispensation granted by law in some cases does not dispute the content or the value of the law, which remains unchanged, but it refers only to the possibility or impossibility objective and insuperable, duly sifted and verified, to observe it by the subject to the law.

      Regarding, for instance, the question of the sacraments to divorced and remarried, one thing is the situation of couples who are able to be able to stop living together and one thing is the situation of those who can not or can not or are objectively prevented from doing so.

      And’ therefore clear that in the field, for instance, sexual temperance, You can not be required by the latter couples the virtue that instead must practice those pairs that can interrupt the coexistence.

      The law, in general, is a rational practical and beneficial, in reality aimed at obtaining a certain result, conforms to the essence and the needs of the given reality.

      There are absolute laws, everlasting, indispensable, immutable, needed, Universal, that apply always and everywhere, in all cases and under all circumstances, without admitting any derogation, suspension or exception. They are the divine laws, the natural moral law, the physical laws, logical and mathematical.

      But human laws, civil and ecclesiastical, civil law and canon law, having the task to determine and apply depending on the circumstances, of contingencies and contingent or local situations, the dictates of the moral law and divine nature, they are special, locals, mutable, fallibili, contingent, conventional, discretionary, prudential (in the Church are called “pastoral”) and admit pantry, derogation, mitigation, suspension or exception.

      The current rule of exclusion from the sacraments of the divorced and remarried, though undoubtedly it founded on divine law, has with it an absolute and necessary bond, as some believe, but only affordable, and then quota; for which a law of this type can be, in principle, changed or expanded or restricted or suspended or omitted by the competent authorities, in this case the Pope, without offense to the divine law.

      The authority issuing the law, It has the power to change the law and to establish generic cases, in which you can make an exception to the law. Instead, moral or local spiritual leader can, at its discretion and caution, identify concrete cases, where you can suspend the application of the law.

      This type of law belongs to the above second kind of laws, positive human laws, civil or ecclesiastical, for which there may be circumstances, in which the subject can prudently be exempted from the observance of the law, in the name of law suporiore, this absolutely essential, of mercy and charity.

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