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Cardinal Ennio Antonelli

ROME, June 16, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – A cardinal who once served as the pope’s top advisor on the family is taking a strong stand against Cardinal Walter Kasper’s proposal to open Communion for couples in adulterous relationships, and warning that adopting it would weaken the credibility of the pope and bishops.

Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for the Family, recently delivered a lecture entitled “The Marriage Crisis and the Eucharist.” Through this lecture, Cardinal Antonelli has added himself to the growing number of cardinals and bishops who want to prevent the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October 2015 from attempting to change the Church’s traditional teachings and practices concerning the truth about sacramental marriage, and its importance in our world.

Cardinal Antonelli joins other princes of the Church who have taken a public stand against apparent attempts to change Church practices by permitting sacramentally married Catholics who have divorced and remarried outside of the Church to receive the Holy Eucharist.  Other Cardinals who have spoken out against such changes include Cardinal Raymond Burke, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, and Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, C.S.

Cardinal Antonelli’s lecture includes a section that reviews the traditional teachings of the Church called, “Doctrinal and disciplinary standpoints currently in force.”  Cardinal Antonelli quotes Canon Law, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Famailiaris Consortio, and Reconciliatio Poenitentia by Pope John Paul II, and Sacramentum Caritatis by Pope Benedict XVI, to make the strong case that it cannot be right to give permission to those who violate the Church’s teaching on sacramental marriage, to receive the Holy Eucharist. 

The traditional teaching of the Church states the sacramental marriage bond cannot be dissolved.  It is a permanent bond of one man to one woman in Christ in a mystical way. 

St. Mark recorded the words of Our Lord that God put man and woman together in marriage, and that what God has done cannot be undone by human courts in divorce:

[6] But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female. [7] For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother; and shall cleave to his wife. [8] And they two shall be in one flesh. Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. [9] What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Therefore, the Church teaches, if a married couple gets a civil divorce, they are still married in the eyes of God, and His Church.  If they attempt to remarry outside the Church, they are violating God’s institution, and fall outside of the state of grace.  

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If anyone is outside of the state of grace and then receives Holy Communion that person commits a sacrilege against the Holy Body of Christ.  This sacrilege is a mortal sin, and places that soul in peril of damnation.  Therefore the Church, in an act of mercy, denies that person the permission to receive Holy Communion, to prevent that mortal sin.

St. Paul addressed this sin of sacrilege in his First Letter to the Corinthians:

[26] For as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come. [27] Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. [28] But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. [29] For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord. 

In section three of his lecture, Cardinal Antonelli considers the “perfectibility” of the Church’s current practice concerning “… the Church’s doctrine and discipline of remarried divorcees and those who cohabit…” He clearly states that the current practices are “solidly based in Scripture and Tradition,” which he calls “… the wise directives of the Magisterium.”

The cardinal summarizes “the innovative proposals” being considered by some of the synod fathers, and firmly rejects them. He objects that these proposals would “revolutionize the Church’s practice,” thus “compromising the credibility of Papal Magisterium,” and that this would weaken the authority of the entire Catholic episcopate.  He also insists that if implemented, the proposals would create a “separation between mercy and conversion, which does not seem consistent with the Gospel.”

Cardinal Antonelli then addresses the issue from the point of view of “Truth and Responsibility,” and the “Indissolubility of sacramental marriage,” which is a long section of the lecture covering the traditional teachings of the Church.

He concludes with the fact that the Church has been assigned by Christ the mission to teach the world the truth about faith and morals, and what is necessary for salvation.  The Church must not compromise with the whims of the world to water down that truth for sentimental reasons, he says.

The entire text of this lecture can be found on the web site of the Pontifical Council for the Family here. The lecture is available in Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese.