Apologia pro Marcel Lefebvre
Volume 3, Chapter XLIII

The 1980 Bishops’ Synod

Its Conclusion
The Remnant – 17 November 1980

The following report is one which must bring satisfaction to all traditional Catholics and reflects great credit upon Pope John Paul II for the manner in which he upheld the traditional teaching on marriage in the face of considerable pressure from national hierarches to modify it for so-called pastoral reasons, i.e., to bring the Church into line with the permissive society. This is one more of the many instances of the manner in which the Vatican has upheld fundamental teachings on faith and morals while failing to implements its teaching at diocesan and parochial levels.

Synod Ends
Marriage is Indissoluble, Pope says

Last week Pope John Paul II brought the Bishop’s Synod to a formal close by reminding the assembly that the Church’s traditional teaching on marriage remains unchanged.

Speaking in Latin to the synod participants in the Sistine Chapel, the Pope said that the only divorced and remarried Catholics who may receive the Eucharist are those who refrain from sexual relations with their second spouse.

He had strong words of praise for the Synod’s affirmation of “the validity and clear truth of the prophetic message contained in the encyclical Humanæ Vitæ (of Human Life).”

Church teachings on contraception and re-marriage after divorce have been major topics of discussion during the Synod which opened Sept. 26, on "The Role Christian Family in the World Today."

Archbishop Jozef Tomki, secretary general of the Synod, read the Synod’s “Message to Christian Families in opposition to the use of artificial means of contraception, and divorce, but expressed compassion for couples who “although they sincerely want to observe the moral norms taught by the Church, find themselves unequal to the task.”

Pope John Paul gave his own reflection in the message and on the 43 propositions which had been presented to him but not made public. He said divorced and remarried Catholics should “not be considered separate from the Church” but cannot be admitted to the Eucharist unless they “take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from acts in which only married couples can engage.”

The Synod stressed the urgent need of greater preparedness prior to marriage by Catholic couples.

Here is a summary of what the Synod concluded on some of the key issues discussed:

  • On artificial birth prevention: the Synod “firmly holds to what was set forth in the Second Vatican Council and subsequently in the encyclical Humanæ Vitæ, and specifically that conjugal love must be fully human, exclusive and open to new life."
  • Any pressure exercised by government or public authorities "for sterilization or contraception and the procurement of abortion must be completely condemned and rejected."
  • In order to make the Church's teaching on artificial birth control more understood and accepted, the Synod "invites theologians to work, joining their forces with the hierarchical Magisterium (the Church's teaching authority), so that the biblical foundations and personalist grounds of this doctrine might be brought to light more fully.”
  • The prohibition on artificial birth control is normative, not just an ideal.
  • On divorce and re-marriage: those Catholics who are divorced and remarried cannot be admitted to the Eucharist, but they “can and must participate in the life of the church. They should hear the word of God, frequent the Sacrifice of the Mass, devote themselves to prayer, engage in promoting charity and justice in the community, educating their children in the Christian Faith.”

Chapter 42

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