We converted to the Catholic Church 20 Years Ago, but We Weren’t Asked if We’d Been Married Before

A reader of this blog submitted the following in response to my post “RCIA and Prior Marriages: Waiting for the Sacraments“:

My husband and I converted to the catholic faith twenty years ago. We were not asked if we’d been married before. We’ve been very devoted and active in our church. However, upon our daughter’S decision to convert, annulment came to the forefront. She was married before. Total fear has gripped me as I realized my husband and I were married to others. We have been married for over thirty years. I was married once to an abusive alcoholic who physically beat me and my children. I eventually left him. My husband was married three times before. The first lasting eleven years the second two lasting less than a year. He was mixed up. His first wife is now dead. We have no idea where any of these people are and the pain and effort to try to find them would be horrendous. So, now what. We leave the church? This is scary and upsetting. My husband and I are very much in love and both feel very, very blessed to have found each other after the pain we went through.

First, I want to urge you not to even THINK of “leaving the church” as you and your husband belong to the Church and she belongs to you.

However, all the same, this is a serious situation. Since you say you’ve been very devoted and active in your parish, a good starting point would be for both of you to go and visit your current pastor and explain what has come to light. Make sure he understands that when you were going through RCIA (or the equivalent) you were never asked about prior marriages, and had you been asked (or had you understood the significance of a prior marriage) you would have given forthright and truthful answers (Jesus knows this already).

As I wrote in my post, we ask about prior marriages before people come into the Church exactly so that this does not happen, but I do not know the correct approach twenty years after the fact. It will depend — to a large extent — on your pastor and what he counsels is prudent for you to do. I know that’s not a very excellent “Canon Law” sort of answer, but for us laypeople it is important to listen to our pastors, who are responsible for our spiritual well being, and rely upon their judgments and decisions. When we do this (give obedience to the Church’s lawful ministers) it becomes the pastor’s issue if he’s off the mark, not ours (see Luke 17:2). Only when we know that our pastor is flat out wrong is it appropriate to “go over Father’s head”.

I am not the right person to answer all the marital “ins and outs” — as in whether this marriage or that marriage was actually valid. The facts aren’t complete enough anyway. Most likely, your husband’s first marriage is a non-issue because his first wife has died. If his first wife was living when he married his second and third wives, those marriages may never have been valid either. The fact of your first husband’s abuse and alcoholism is very sad and I’m very sorry, but may not have much to do with whether that marriage was valid or not; more facts are needed to answer that question.

Do not despair, as you are Home and no one has a right to ask you to leave. The hardest part will be to approach your pastor and begin the discussion, but it will not be nearly as painful or impossible as you have come to fear. Remember that Our Lord is already walking this path with you, and has you and your husband safely in His Most Sacred Heart.

Please be assured of my prayers during this time, and let me know if I can be of any further assistance.

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Another Vasectomy Question

From a commenter to my post, Vasectomy and the Catholic Church: Search Engine Q&A:

My wife has had repeated miscarriages since she has gotten older (seven so far). We have been abstaining to avoid another miscarriage. I believe it would be acceptable in God’s eyes for one of us to have a procedure that would make it impossible for her to become pregnant, but she does not. What does The Church say?

My response:

Dear ___________:

I received your question concerning the situation with your wife having had a number of miscarriages. As someone who has experienced (as a husband and father) two miscarriages myself, I am very sorry that you and your wife have had to go through this. Depending on how far along into a pregnancy the miscarriage occurs, it can be very traumatic and painful.

I’d suggest that you first go to a priest who you know and trust and talk to him about this situation. Since you earnestly asked the question, I assume you want to find answers that are authentic reflections of what the Church actually teaches. On occasion priests can be found who will put a “rubber stamp” on things that are pretty questionable. Such priests actually make things worse. If you don’t have a “go-to” priest, maybe begin by asking a trusted friend who he or she would see about this concern.

Please understand that *I* am not an authority on official Church teaching. But I can tell you that my *understanding* is that the Church’s view on “having a procedure that would make it impossible” for your wife to become pregnant would not be favorable.

This is because, first, there are other NON-PERMANENT things that you and your wife can do that don’t affect either your or your wife’s reproductive capacity. For example, many Catholic couples, for a variety of reasons, practice Natural Family Planning, which allows the couple to observe the wife’s cycle and determine which days she might be fertile or ovulating. The rest of the times during the cycle the couple need not abstain. There may also be other options that could be discussed further with a trustworthy priest.

There is also a second serious problem that would arise with a permanent procedure, which is that sexual union between spouses is intended by God to reflect the “unitive, procreative, and donative” elements of marriage. “Unitive” is essentially what Jesus talks about in the Gospel when he refers to the two becoming “one flesh”. “Donative” is the free giving of self to one’s spouse, which isn’t entirely possible once one intentionally interrupts the part of oneself that leads to procreation. “Procreative” is the part that brings about children.

When we talk about these elements, we can’t give what we don’t possess, and sometimes that’s not our fault. If a person is born sterile, it doesn’t mean they can’t marry. But we aren’t free intentionally remove our own “faculties” either. Doing so is essentially a rejection of a gift from God. We are, in the moment, returning the thing that God gave us for our own good and happiness and choosing something else that God did not intend.

“Unitive, procreative, and donative” aspects of sexual expression also help us understand *why* sex is reserved for marriage. It simply isn’t possible to do what God intends for us in the sexual act with a partner outside marriage. We might be “having sex”, but at least one (if not all) of the elements intended to present in the act are missing.

When we turn one or more of these elements “off” within marriage, we run the risk of harming the marriage itself.

Please know that I will be praying for you and your wife, and wish you a very blessed Easter.

Pray for Your Children’s Spouses

On LifeNews.com there is an article about Ex-Planned Parenthood Director Abby Johnson, who says that every abortion performed by Planned Parenthood would earn $313.29, and that she was directed from on high to double the abortions performed at the facility where she was director.

Planned Parenthood’s public face is akin to Big Tobacco’s: we know our products kill, we like to pretend we don’t want you to buy, but we’re selling the hell out of what’s on offer. It’s been a long time since Big Tobacco had the type of government support that Planned Parenthood enjoys in this day and age. Wrapped up in Planned Parenthood’s messaging is rabid attempt to legitimize. Since Roe v. Wade, legality has replaced morality. 

This made me think about an interesting conversation with the two older boys last Sunday. We began talking about growing in virtue and enduring the teenage years. For one of them, this time is just around the corner. We are called to chastity whenever we live outside the married state, and no time of life can be more difficult for remaining chaste than when we are young and experiencing these feelings for the first time. Urges for young people are new, and strong.

Then we started talking a bit about how chastity is designed to make us aware that sex has consequences, that the natural result of sexual activity is pregnancy, but that our culture has decided to elevate sex as a good into itself, a “good” which would only be possible because of artificial contraception. We can’t pretend to oppose abortion or same-sex marriage or divorce without acknowledging that artificial contraception has more to do with these things than nearly anything else.

Then came this question for me: “What if your wife doesn’t tell you the truth, and uses contraception or gets an abortion? Would having sex be a sin?”

I paused. Wow.

What impressed me about this question was that these boys are already seeing themselves not as male sexual actors but as potential fathers with a role in the lives of their future children. They are already inclined to express care and concern, and exhibit a willingness to act in protection of the life in their care.

But they worry that a future spouse may not see things the same way. In my mind, such a worry is well-founded, considering the state of catechesis among Catholics, not to mention the general sexual ethic throughout the West.

So we talked at some length about how since marriage is a permanent and lifelong commitment, we must take the time to get to know a future wife or husband. It is important to have these discussions before leaping into bed, before marriage. It is important to know that you can trust your spouse with your children. 

As a parent, I’m grateful to have the opportunity to have these discussions. It’s part of the beauty of getting to be here with them all the time, and getting to teach them in homeschool. Where would they go, who would they talk to, if not us?

But what of their future spouses? Will they come to marriage having received the same upbringing and understanding about life, marriage, and sex?

Because of these questions, every parent should pray for the future spouses of their children. Pray fervently — not just that each child receives a spouse (who wants one) — but that God supplies the grace to both future spouses in each marriage so that they can jointly answer his call to marriage. 

Twenty Years Ago Today…..

My life irrevocably changed. I fell in love with Mrs. Q, at the exact place where I write this:

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Apart from Our Lord and His Mother, there isn’t a single person to whom I am more indebted. Thank you, for 15 years of marriage. Thank you, for 20 years of love and support. Thank you for our precious children. Thank you for every gratuitous, undeserved kindness. You are my light of Eärendil. Without hesitation, I would marry you again today. (In fact, I think that happened! Thank you, Fr. A!).

I agree with nearly everything (Except the Title)

Brantly Millegan writes a piece for Aleteia entitled “Why We’re Losing”:

Why have activists for homosexuality been so successful over such a short period of time, while pro-life activists have been unable to make significant progress?

The answer is complex, of course, and entails many factors. There is one factor, though, that is seldom discussed publicly, yet is essential to a full explanation of the difference: the ubiquitous acceptance and use of contraception.
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So if the use of contraception is acceptable, its implications are clear: sex need not be ordered to procreation; nor need it be a full, physical gift of self that would imply the life-long commitment and unity of marriage; and sexual difference and the integrity of our bodies need not be respected. With this view of sex, people are free to have a series of sexual partners and varying kinds of sexual relationships.

Read the rest here.

The argument that much of what plagues the pro-life movement involves the contraceptive mentality is sound. The premise that we’re losing isn’t really necessary to the article, and isn’t supported apart from citing to inherently flawed polling data, which points not to decline but stagnation, which is more like not winning rather than losing, if that’s not a distinction without a difference (good luck unwinding all the double negatives).

Vasectomy and the Catholic Church: Search Engine Q&A

This blog’s platform provides access to some basic statistics regarding traffic on qmbarque.com. One of the more interesting features (to the voyeur) is that you can see some of the search strings that people enter into search engines that bring them here.

It seems, based upon the frequency of searches related to the Church and vasectomies, that this is an issue for some folks. There are questions that my original post on the topic did not cover.

Vasectomy-catholicQuestion #1: “Can Catholics get vasectomies?” Answer: Well, “can” is a loaded word. I’m Catholic. If I go to a doctor for a vasectomy, I can do that in the sense that no one is going to prevent me from doing it.

But the Church is clear: faithful Catholics are bound to follow Church teaching. The intended outcome of vasectomies and tubal ligations is to render a person permanently infertile. It is an objective sin, and likely an actual mortal sin for anyone with a well-formed conscience. In the context of marriage, where sex between husband and wife is promoted as a positive good, vasectomy constitutes the removal of the life-giving capacity of sexual expression, which is an essential element of God’s plan for marriage, and sex.

Vasectomy-wifeQuestion #2: “Wife won’t be intimate unless I get vasectomy, but Catholic faith forbids it.” Answer: If you have this question, your conscience is sufficiently well-formed such that you already know you shouldn’t get a vasectomy. Without knowing a wife’s specific reasons for wanting a husband to get a vasectomy, we are confined to the most common issues that cause married couples to seek this option.

There’s the money. Kids are expensive. Sometimes, depending on your financial circumstances, they are oppressively expensive. Perhaps, even bankruptcy expensive. In any case, it may feel this way.

There’s the stress. Kids cause a lot of stress. You have to worry about them. You have to take care of them (I wonder how many wives want their husbands to get vasectomies in part because the husband doesn’t help very much with childrearing; if this is the case, you need to step it up, husband!).

There’s everything else. Contracepting sex is a hassle, and not fool-proof. After a couple kids, you need a new car. A three-bedroom house only holds so many. People keep asking if you’re done already. They eat all your food. They break your stuff. They cry and whine during mass. Diapers. And diapers. And diapers. Poop and pee. Crust all over surfaces. And snot and vomit.

All of these things are what the world says should matter, but they don’t matter to God. None of this is insurmountable when we place our trust in God. He works miracles, and He will do so here if you permit Him. 

Bottom line answer: Be a man. Educate yourself and take responsibility. A wife who wants a husband to get a vasetomy is essentially saying, “For whatever reason, I don’t trust God (or you) in this matter.” She either doesn’t realize (or doesn’t care about) what comes from intentionally removing the life-giving potential of marriage and how it will harm the relationship of husband and wife. She thinks life would be better without more of her offspring walking around. Ask God to help you be what she needs so she can feel safe to trust that His will be done.

Vasectomy-acceptedQuestion #3: “Can I still be accepted as a Catholic through RCIA if I had a vasectomy years ago?” Answer: Yes. Everyone sins. Whether or not we’ve made poor decisions in our past is not in itself something that prevents us from becoming Catholic. In choosing to follow Christ, we must repent of our past lives and resolve not to sin in the future, with Christ’s help. If you’ve already been baptized in another Christian denomination when you enter the Church, then you need to go to confession before being received and receiving communion for the first time. If you’ve never been baptized, then the fact that you had a vasectomy in the past is forgiven along with all of your other sins.

Vasectomy-confessQuestion #4: “If a vasectomy is confessed is it okay to have sex with wife?” Answer: Ask your confessor. The answer is likely yes, but I can’t say so absolutely, because you and your confessor would need to look at the circumstances of your particular situation.

If we’ve learned anything from Pope Francis, it’s that the Church should be about mercy, and the Sacrament of Reconciliation is the sacrament of mercy. The Church has the right, for our own good, to regulate the requirements for dispensing mercy, but it does not withhold mercy or make obtaining it highly impracticable or impossible.

For example, if you honestly and truly did not know that it is an objective sin to undergo a vasectomy, then in confessing it and receiving absolution, you would not automatically be bound to abstain from sex with your wife.

I have heard confessors assign as penance that a couple abstain from sex during what would have been the “fertile” days of the month, according to the wife’s cycle. This is something you learn to do as a matter of course in Natural Family Planning.

According to the circumstances, your confessor might assign a heavier penance. Perhaps it’s possible for you to attempt to reverse the vasectomy, if it is within your budget and not exceedingly risky to your life or health. A confessor might suggest this to you, but likely would not insist upon it as penance, unless there were a specific reason.

Just go to confession and do the penance, which will be much easier than living with a mortal sin on the soul. After all, a penance does not “make it all right”; only God does that, for us, through our Lord Jesus Christ. And look into NFP.

Pope’s Phone Call: the Murmuring Continues…..

It’s Friday, and speaking of substance, we know nothing more than we did 24, or 48 hours ago, yet the murmuring continues. The Vatican (Fr. Lombardi) admitted that Pope Francis did call Ms. Lisbona, and told us, in VatiSpeak, that the content of the conversation was a private pastoral matter and has nothing whatever to do with making a change to the Church’s teachings.

Pat Archbold on Creative Minority Report lauds himself for waiting a whole two days before commenting:

We know that the phone call took place and the topic was divorce/remarriage and communion since that is the topic of the letter that prompted the call. [We know the phone call took place. We know what Ms. Lisbona and her husband said it was about. That’s it.]

We know what the woman alleges that the Pope said, namely that it is OK for her to return to Communion. [We know what the woman alleges. Every allegation commands a response from the Supreme Legislator? I missed the part where he owes us an explanation.]

We know that as a result, many many people now think, rightly or wrongly, that the Pope has signaled that it is legitimate for the divorced and remarried to return to communion. [We know that many people are idiots, and many others are hellbent on mischaracterizing the Church and its leaders at every turn. Shall we conform our conduct to combat this reality? Even our Lord, who could have opened every heart and mind with one word, sometimes declined to explain Himself. Seems to me that prudential judgment is available to His vicar, too. Wait for the Synod.]

We know that the Holy See knows this and we know that the Holy See refuses to comment, to confirm or deny, the context of the situation thus leaving in place suppositions of many as a result of the call. [This is pure surmise, and indicative of an attitude of presupposition. The Holy See is not a “normal” “person”. We have no right to think that further comment is owed by the Holy Father to us. The pope isn’t responsible for dissuading us from our suppositions. God gives us an intellect for that. Wait for the Synod.]

We know that the Holy See has done nothing to re-iterate in anyway the Church’s doctrine on this matter in the wake of the scandal caused by the reporting on the call. [One idea — somewhere between rejecting a rumor out of hand and treating it as imminently trustworthy — is to simply admit the truth of the fact that *nothing* has been verified or confirmed. Two people (one of whom admitted he was not a participant in the call) have given their version. What someone says the pope said does not automatically constitute a scandal; rather, the real scandal is to hype rumor at the expense of the Holy Father. Wait for the Synod.]

We know that at the invitation of the Pope, Cardinal Kasper proposed just such a solution to the consistory. [More surmise, which seeks to create the appearance of Francis agreeing with Kasper’s proposal simply because the Pope invited Kasper to articulate it and explain the bases for it. How easily we forget that Eusebius of Nicomedia attended (and probably gave the welcoming address) at the Council of Nicaea. Wait for the Synod.]

We know the Pope effusively praised Cardinal Kasper for his proposals. [No, we don’t. Thanking a Cardinal for outlining a proposal which, for the record, received a generally unfavorable response from other Cardinals, many of whom have spoken out against Card. Kasper, does not seem to be anything other than that: a thank you for taking an unpopular position, not an imprimatur on the position itself. Wait for the Synod.]

…..The image of God is the married couple: the man and the woman; not only the man, not only the woman, but both of them together. This is the image of God: love, God’s covenant with us is represented in that covenant between man and woman. And this is very beautiful! We are created in order to love, as a reflection of God and his love. And in the marital union man and woman fulfil this vocation through their mutual reciprocity and their full and definitive communion of life.

1. When a man and woman celebrate the Sacrament of Matrimony God as it were “is mirrored” in them; he impresses in them his own features and the indelible character of his love. Marriage is the icon of God’s love for us. Indeed, God is communion too: the three Persons of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit live eternally in perfect unity. And this is precisely the mystery of Matrimony: God makes of the two spouses one single life. The Bible uses a powerful expression and says “one flesh”, so intimate is the union between man and woman in marriage. And this is precisely the mystery of marriage: the love of God which is reflected in the couple that decides to live together. Therefore a man leaves his home, the home of his parents, and goes to live with his wife and unites himself so strongly to her that the two become — the Bible says — one flesh.

2. St Paul, in the Letter to the Ephesians, emphasizes that a great mystery is reflected in Christian spouses: the relationship established by Christ with the Church, a nuptial relationship (cf. Eph 5:21-33). The Church is the bride of Christ. This is their relationship. This means that Matrimony responds to a specific vocation and must be considered as a consecration (cf. Gaudium et Spes, n. 48: Familiaris Consortio, n. 56). It is a consecration: the man and woman are consecrated in their love. The spouses, in fact, in virtue of the Sacrament, are invested with a true and proper mission, so that starting with the simple ordinary things of life they may make visible the love with which Christ loves His Church, by continuing to give his life for her in fidelity and service.

3. There is a truly marvellous design inherent in the Sacrament of Matrimony! And it unfolds in the simplicity and frailty of the human condition. We are well aware of how many difficulties two spouses experience…. The important thing it to keep alive their bond with God, who stands as the foundation of the marital bond. And the true bond is always the Lord. When the family prays, the bond is preserved. When the husband prays for his wife and the wife prays for her husband, that bond becomes strong; one praying for the other. It is true that there are so many difficulties in married life, so many, when there is insufficient work or money, when the children have problems. So much to contend with. And many times the husband and wife become a little fractious and argue between themselves. They argue, this is how it is, there is always arguing in marriage, sometimes the plates even fly. Yet we must not become saddened by this, this is the human condition. The secret is that love is stronger than the moment when there is arguing, and therefore I always advise spouses: do not let a day when you have argued end without making peace. Always! And to make peace it isn’t necessary to call the United Nations to come to the house and make peace. A little gesture is sufficient, a caress, and then let it be! Until tomorrow! And tomorrow begin again. And this is life, carrying on, carrying on with courage and the desire to live together. And this is truly great, it is beautiful! Married life is such a beautiful thing and we must treasure it always, treasure the children. On other occasions in this Square I have mentioned something else which is so helpful for marriage. There are three words that always need to be said, three words that need to be said at home: may I, thank you, and sorry. The three magic words. May I: so as not to be intrusive in the life of the spouses. May I, but how does it seem to you? May I, please allow me. Thank you: to thank one’s spouse; thank you for what you did for me, thank you for this. That beauty of giving thanks! And since we all make mistakes, that other word which is a bit hard to say but which needs to be said: sorry. Please, thank you, and sorry. With these three words, with the prayer of the husband for the wife and vice versa, by always making peace before the day comes to an end, marriage will go forward. The three magic words, prayer and always making peace. May the Lord bless you, and pray for me.

Wait for the Synod. The Barque has Her Captain.


“The holiness and indissolubility of Christian matrimony, often disintegrating under tremendous pressure from the secular world, must be deepened by clear doctrine and supported by the witness of committed married couples,” Pope Francis said.

“Christian matrimony is a lifelong covenant of love between one man and one woman; it entails real sacrifices in order to turn away from illusory notions of sexual freedom and in order to foster conjugal fidelity.”

An Update on that Pope Francis Call…..

I wrote about all the murmuring yesterday. Today, the Vatican Press Office (Fr. Federico Lombardi) issued a statement:

Several telephone calls have taken place in the context of Pope Francis’ personal pastoral relationships.

Since they do not in any way form part of the Pope’s public activities, no information or comments are to be expected from the Holy See Press Office.

That which has been communicated in relation to this matter, outside the scope of personal relationships, and the consequent media amplification, cannot be confirmed as reliable, and is a source of misunderstanding and confusion.

Therefore, consequences relating to the teaching of the Church are not to be inferred from these occurrences.

Exactly. This call was an example of a “personal pastoral relationship” established between the Holy Father and someone seeking his guidance. It also appears that Ms. Lisbona (who wrote to Francis) is not divorced herself; only her husband was previously divorced. This fact calls into question the original news reports which fail to take into account nuances in Church law concerning these issues (I do not understand all the nuances myself). Given what we know — and admitting that we don’t know very much (nor should we) — it would be a mistake to conclude that all of this is demonstrative of some change by Pope Francis concerning Church teaching on marriage.

The Catholic Blogosphere: Once Again Murmuring

The big juicy story of the day concerns a purported phone call between the Holy Father and a divorced Argentinian woman.

U.K. daily The Telegraph reports that Pope Francis called Jacqui Lisbona in response to a letter she wrote him months earlier, concerning the fact that her local parish priest refused to give her communion because she is divorced and civilly remarried.

According to the article, Francis purportedly told Ms. Lisbona that “A divorcee who takes communion is not doing anything wrong.”

There are a host of problems with the veracity of this story, but once again the self-appointed protectors of orthodoxy are keen to assail Pope Francis and what he purportedly told Ms. Lisbona. Nevermind that the story, on its face, is entirely incomplete and missing critical elements that would permit a reasonable conclusion.
In addition to the jumpers-to-conclusion, other folks — the benefit-of-the-doubters — don’t necessarily believe the truth of the story, but still attempt to impute a degree of blame to Francis; that this is “just desserts” and “what happens” when a pope makes unscripted and unofficial telephone calls to ordinary laypeople.

Francis is simply making it worse all the time by opening his mouth and saying things, and letting journalists misreport his words and what they truly mean. He should be more clear. He should know better. He’s foolish in the way he presents himself to the media, and therefore he’s also culpable.

I call that invincible ignorance. It pretends that there’s no motive on the part of nominals, seculars, and the MSM to “make” Pope Francis into what they want him to be. In the case of this most recent story, there are several indicators that tell me I am correct about this.

The story in The Telegraph is pure gossip (and what has Pope Francis said before regarding gossip?). Ms. Lisbona’s “husband” posted about the purported phone call on his Facebook page, ostensibly written in Spanish, which was then translated and embellished in English, and contains only hearsay recollection regarding what the Holy Father said.

I can only imagine that were I to receive a phone call from Pope Francis, I would struggle to accurately recount everything that was said. I would be highly emotional about such an interaction. Absent a recording that I could review after the fact, my recollection would undoubtedly contain inaccuracies, even if I lacked any intent to misstate what he told me.

But setting aside the gossip issue, what’s more troubling is all the murmuring about Pope Francis. Saying “I don’t think he said that, but I sure think he shouldn’t have made the call in the first place because of the all the confusion it’s caused” constitutes murmuring against our Holy Father. It’s a type of speculation that implicates our own particular prejudices.

What a pastor tells an individual, in confidence, applies to no one else outside the private exchange. To imply that this purported phone conversation means something else is to permit an unmerited belief of ownership over it, some right to have it explained when it was never intended for anyone else.

So, Stop murmuring (!):

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” (John 6:35). The Jews murmured about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven,” and they said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother? Then how can he say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Stop murmuring among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day.” (41-44). The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” (52-53). Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you?” (61-62). As a result of this, many [of] his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. (66).

The point: they also murmured about Jesus, and many left because they preferred the murmuring to hearing Truth.

To murmur is to withhold trust and charity from someone who deserves it. Pope Francis knows about the sanctity of marriage; he’s not interested in abrogating the Church’s teachings. He’s not the “get with the times” pope; he’s mentioned the Devil and Hell far too many times for that moniker. He knows that the way to mercy is not by whitewashing sin. Just let him do his thing.