On The “Brother And Sister Thingy” Again


The nine Kennedy siblings. Notice the total absence of sexual attraction.

I have already published a blog post about the talk given by Bishop Athanasius Schneider on the 5th of December. 

Bishop Schneider states the following:

 A pastoral accompaniment and discernment that does not communicate to the adulterous person, the so-called divorced and remarried, the divinely-established obligation to live in continence as a sine qua non condition for admission to the sacraments, exposes itself in reality as an arrogant clericalism, as there does not exist any clericalism so pharisaical as that which arrogates to itself rights reserved to God.

We see here a theme mentioned very often: that what is clearly a scandalous adulterous relationship is fine if continence is given (and, I add, necessarily made public). 

I always found such affirmations “off”, and – perhaps because of the times we live in – more than a tad stinking of Vatican II. According to this thinking, it appears that two old people could live together in what appears to be, for all the world, an adulterous relationship, with the addition of the obvious fact that they have no sex and they, duh, admit it. But you see, I though the adultery consists in the way of life, not in the accidental circumstance than one or both the adulterers happen to be impotent, or not interested in sex. This, leaving aside what must be, in very many cases, the obvious provocation of the couple who is in an age where sexual activity is to be assumed but tell you the “brother and sister thingy” because hey, we don’t want to give scandal, do we now?  

I have asked before, and ask again, help from my readers in finding statements supporting this “brother and sister thingy” before the age of Vatican II. I never could find any, hence my detecting the pungent smell of V II.  

Interestingly, in the already linked interview Bishop Schneider also states the following: 

One of the most ancient and unequivocal testimonies of the immutable practice of the Roman Church of rejecting adulterous unions by way of the sacramental discipline–unions of members of the faithful who are still linked to a legitimate spouse in a matrimonial bond—is the author of a penitential catechesis known by the pseudonymous title of the Shepherd of Hermas. The catechesis was written, in all probability, by a Roman priest at the beginning of the second century, as indicated by the literary form of an “apocalypse” or account of a vision.

The second dialogue between Hermas and the angel of penance who appears to him in the form of a shepherd, demonstrates with admirable clarity the immutable doctrine and practice of the Catholic Church in this area: “What, O lord, will the husband do if his wife persists in this lust of adultery?” “Separate from her and the husband remains on his own. If after having left his wife he marries another woman, he also commits adultery.” “If, O lord, the wife, after she has been abandoned, repents and wishes to return to her husband, will she not be restored?” “Yes, he says, and if the husband does not receive her he sins and becomes guilty of a great fault. He should, instead, receive the one who has sinned and has repented. . . . Because of the possibility of such repentance, the husband should not remarry. This directive applies both to the wife and to the husband. Not only is there adultery if one corrupts one’s own flesh, but also the one who acts similarly to the pagans is an adulterer. . . .  For that reason it was ordained that one remain alone, for both the woman and the man. One can repent . . . but he who has sinned must not sin again” (Shepherd of Hermas, Fourth Commandment, 1).

See? Second century, and no brother and sister thingy to be seen absolutely anywhere. “Remain alone” cannot mean anything else than “remain alone”. The point is also forcefully made that every spouse must be ready to readmit the other in the family life. It seems difficult to reconcile this with what we hear today: the children would be oh so horribly traumatised, and the like. Did they not have children in the Second Century?

It seems clear to me that what is required is that no alternative family is created, period. No “brother and sister” thingy, and no “let’s think of the children” thingy. It is not clear to me what part of

 For that reason it was ordained that one remain alone, for both the woman and the man

I have not understood. 

Once again, I am grateful for every authoritative statement in this regard from pre-Vatican II times. As it stands now, it seems to me that the matter is not being appropriately dealt with, and that it was exactly this “brother and sister thingy”, together with the bringing of children into the equation, that created the slippery slope that ends up with…

Kasper and Francis.



Posted on December 11, 2016, in Traditional Catholicism and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. Yes. I sensed that Abp. S is trying to get away from the “b/s thingy” altogether.

    And it would appear that Card. Burke is on side. He must have authorized the lecture beforehand.

    Bigger picture, I agree with Hilary White that Bergoglio is a “blessing in disguise”. After he is through, no one will be able to put the VII toothpaste back into the tube.

  2. Mundy.Brother and sister sort of thing is ,what is called,an occasion of sin which is close to being a Mortal sin itself!I have often read these purile utterances from the Vatican concerning adulterers living with someone other than ones wife, as living as brother and sister being the -right-thing to do!They should leave the floosy at once.The Vatican is infested with the Devil and Modernism.

  3. If the VII masses are (sort of) valid, aren’t VII tribunal decisions (sort of) binding?

    • What’s your point?

    • The whole scenario of VII, the new mass and rites, the redefinition of marriage and annulment, NFP, and the “brother/sister thingy” will all need to be re-assessed in an environment of sanity and orthodoxy, probably not soon, but someday, if our posterity is so blessed.
      Meanwhile, this is what we have to work with, and many sincere people have already made life and family choices based upon what our post-VII popes, tribunals, and catechisms have asserted. Some of those choices can’t be reversed, and the hierarchy will have to answer for them.
      “Be ye not many masters (teachers), my brethren, knowing that you receive the greater judgment.” – James 3:1

    • I would not mix the “easy annulment” scenario with concubinage. An annulment is an annulment, and the world outside should recognise it as sanctioned by the Church. If there has been abuse God will punish it, but it is situation much different from the brother and sister concubines.

  4. If it was taught before VII, I’m not aware of it. However, JPII in FC#84 largely restricts this provision to spouses who were abandoned in their sacramental marriage (“through no fault of their own”), and have now produced children in a second marriage. In other words, if the mission of the Church is the salvation of souls, then the Church cannot abandon someone who finds themselves in a scandalous situation and wishes to repent, especially when multiple souls (the children) are at stake. This we have a rather imperfect solution of the brother and sister option. It is a rather generous provision, but it is within the teaching authority of the Church. But obviously, what Francis is proposing in footnote 329 of AL is something wholly different from what we are talking about here, and he deliberately misconstrues FC84 and GS51. I tried to sum it up here: https://nonvenipacem.com/2016/04/10/fancy-footnotes-and-the-diabolical-inversion-of-truth/

    • It seems to me a triple salto, at the end of which your priest/bishop/Pope says:”see? Am I still within the teaching authority of the Church!”

  5. I noted the same exact thing in a comment I left on the Life Site News article on this statement from Bishop Schneider. Living as “brother and sister” A) is scandalous and B) presents a near occasion of sin and C) doesn’t support and encourage the possibility of the true spouse returning. The brother and sister thing reeks of Vatican II emotionalism and compromise with evil…it also is shallow and forgoes the distinctions mentioned above.

    And I agree with you…letting this nose in the tent caused the insanity that is the Kasper proposal. It needs to get tossed and clear boundaries restored. God bless~

  6. I spoke about this issue with my NO priest and said Pope Francis is basically saying that it’s ok to commit the mortal sin of adultery and still receive the Eucharist. He said that I was judging people and that the church needs to move forward. How am I judging when what PF is saying goes against what Jesus preached? This is insanity.

  7. This line of “reasoning” has also always bothered me too.

    “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her.” In all of Christ’s statements on this topic, not once have I seen anything about having or not having sex with the new “spouse”.

    I’ve always thought this was the camel’s nose.

  8. Concur, always seemed totally weird.

  9. Even with traditional support, the brother and sister argument falls flat because it expressly contradicts canon law at least thrice, probably more (canons 1056,1135, and 1136.)

  10. Mundabor,

    I asked a friend of mine who is 76 if she heard of the brother/sister thing before Vatican II, and she said an aunt of hers lived that way on the advice of a priest. We don’t know what authority he referred to.

    However, according to other acquaintances of mine who study this issue, too much emphasis is put on the brother/sister living arrangement and none on the fact that they are living in the near occasion of sin . Furthermore, there is no instruction on separating when the children are grown; after all, the children are the reason.

    In addition, in the U.S., priests commonly advise unhappy spouses to divorce and petition for nullity so they can have hope of finding fulfillment in another marriage. There is not a thought of the children in those cases unless it is to argue that they will be better off if Mom and Dad are happy. Which is a lie. The ones I know long for Mom and Dad to get back together.

    Bishop Athanasius’ reference to the Shepherd of Hermes is also ignored here in the U.S. Spouses who separate are obligated to live alone or reconcile when the reason for separation is resolved. Canon 1153. But that canon has been ignored since Vatican II and the new grounds for nullity were discovered which are basically lack of due discretion and psychological incapacity. Which grew out of canon 1095 and resulted in a 10,000 percent increase in declarations of nullity granted since the late 1070s.

    It’s all a scandal that has resulted in, as you say, Kaspar and Francis.


  11. A question I have always wondered: if the Church grants a nullity via tribunal that is obviously based on the emo grounds “found” after Vatican II, are those marriages actually null? Thus are all those 50K marriages here in the US, PER YEAR, that are miraculously found to be null, really null? Can a Church marriage tribunal issue a nullity on a sacramental marriage? Rome has called the US Marriage Tribunal abuses “scandalous” but has done nothing about them since 1990…pretty much letting 50K Catholics per year fall into hell via the sin of adultery with the Church’s stamp on it. Chaos…welcome to the Novus Ordo Church. God bless~

    • You should ask a good canonist, but my take is this:
      1. if the spouses have said nothing but the truth and the tribunal annul, the marriage is validly annulled and those responsible for it will answer to the Lord for it.
      2. if the spouses have lied forcing the situation, they will answer for their lies, but the new spouse cannot be expected to be made responsible for it.

    • Margaret,

      A good canonist answered this question in his 1992 article “Too many invalid annulments” available by Googling it. Msgr. Clarence Hettinger was a tribunal judge in Peoria, Illinois, for ten years and wrote on the issue of psychological incapacity and lack of due discretion. Those are the grounds “found” after Vatican II.

      He said: “It follows from too many affirmative decisions that a high percentage of declarations of nullity are themselves invalid.”

      This relates to the brother/sister thing in that marriages are declared null so that people can enter second unions. It is all based on happiness. Former Rotal judge Msgr. Edward Egan also wrote excellent explanations of what has happened in his articles available at marysadvocates.org. If we are not happy, we are not married. Period. But the casualties are miserable.


    • You still can”t make the equivalence. It would be like saying that you are the new sacra rota.

  12. Thanks everyone for the responses:+) It’s just that I have several people in my life who I know were sacramentally married…I knew them, was in their weddings etc. but went and got a “Catholic divorce” i.e. annulment, where if you bother to enter the process you have over a 95% chance of getting one.

    It’s insane really. And it’s destroying families left and right…and all with the official “stamp” of the Church as the scandal lives on.

    God bless~

    • Margaret,

      I have the same “reality” among those I know who got the “Catholic divorce.” The best we can do is not to accept those unjust declarations of nullity and treat those couples as if they are still married to their lawful spouses, which they are, until Francis and Co. are replaced.

      If I am my own sacra rota so be it. We have to be our own because Francis is stacking that sacred office with his kind as well as the rest of the church. He started with the head, Cardinal Burke.

    • I get what you’re saying. But you’ll agree it’s a slippery slope. Before you know you’ll decide who is a priest and a bishop, or a Pope.

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