Pope Benedict XVI has launched today News.va, the all-new portal of the Vatican created to integrate various Vatican communication activities. A link has been already provided for your convenience under Links (Catholic).
By clicking you’ll find easy access to news from the Osservatore Romano (this is very impressive: it is now 7pm in the UK and there is a beautiful .pdf version of Tomorrow’s “Osservatore” that you can read online, for free), from the news agency Fides, from the Press Office of the Vatican and from other media and information sources. You can even click and listen directly to the Vatican radio, in several languages.
Even a layman like me notices that this is not something patched together in an approximate way. Wherever you click, the format remains the same, the information seamlessly integrated in the site whilst at the same time giving you the possibility to access the relevant media (to listen to the radio, to read the newspaper, to go to the “Osservatore Romano”‘s site instead of reading from the news.va platform).
You can share everything at your heart’s content of course, and in a sign of the times the Pope has sent the news of the start of the service with a tweet (another sign of the times being that he has done so from an iPad; Steve Jobs sends his greetings and if I were him, the relevant image would go in the ads planetwide… ).
It all works fine, and makes a good impression to this layman. It is easy to use and very convenient in the possibilities it opens. For example, I had never thought of listening to the Vatican Radio on the internet; but now it is only a couple of clicks away, in my language of choice.
If Pope Benedict wanted to give himself some nice toy for his sixtieth anniversary of ordination, I must say he has chosen a beautiful and perfectly useful one.
Ad multos annos!
Find here the announcement from the Stop Western Mass page that the Western Mass has been, in fact, cancelled.
In my blog post of some days ago I had written to invite to action so that Cardinal Schoenborn “either sees the light, or get a well-deserved slap from Rome”.
I doubt that the first has happened and am more inclined to believe in the second, though the Cardinal might have thought that such a mess every year must not be good for his chances to get the Big Job when it becomes vacant.
Be it as it may, the mass is now cancelled and the Austrian clergy has received – from the very top – a well-deserved lesson.
On the page I have linked there is a form to send your thanks to Cardinal Schoenborn. I suggest that you do it not because he be particularly deserving of praise (he obviously isn’t), but to show him in a polite way the growing numbers of serious Catholics.
We can pat ourselves in the back today. Nothing against Bratwurst of course, but that was sacrilegious in the highest degree.
In view of tomorrow’s beatification, I re-post what I wrote in January.
And so it is out: the beatification of JP II will take place on the 1st May.
I am, as no reader of this blog can avoid noticing, no great fan of the man as a Pope. I think that his contribution to the fall of Communism is vastly, vastly exaggerated (the one who did it for communism was clearly the Gipper; George Walker Bush and Pope John Paul II only reaped the benefits afterwards and the liberal press would commit suicide rather than give Reagan his due) and I find it frankly extraordinary that a Pope should be praised for…. being opposed to Communism.
As far as his work as Pope is concerned, I personally think that the only redeeming feature of his too long Pontificate is the fact that he came (excluding the short weeks of what could have been a wonderful Pope, Albino Luciani) after Paul VI, the undisputed Jimmy Carter of the Church. JP II’s actions against the problems of his time (say: the Dutch Schism, Liberation Theology, the rampant “spirit of Vatican II”-mentality) can be considered in a halfway positive manner only in the light of Paul VI’s tragic impotence, but were slow and contributing to the confusion of Catholics by every other modern standard. In his appointment of Bishops, JP II will probably prove one of the most disastrous Popes of all times as he is the main responsible for the appointment of an entire generation of bad shepherds, who have almost completely given away Catholicism and will now continue to afflict the Church for a couple of decades to come.
A further problems of JP II’s pontificate is, in my eyes, the stubborn refusal to deal in an exemplary manner with people clearly responsible for grave misconduct. Cardinal Law’s treatment, or Cardinal Groer’s, are in my eyes great stains on his pontificate as they show an attitude towards grave problems by which the desire to avoid scandal and public admission of fault comes before the desire to send clear signals as to how the Church is led and what behaviour is expected from the men at the top.
And then there’s the media orgy. JP II’s pontificate can be remembered as the age of the dumbing down of everything Catholic, the search for popularity at all costs, the media circus, the desire to sink towards common people aspirations and conveniences instead of drawing them to aspire higher to Christ. From the unspeakable rock concerts (in which Catholicism had to witness the head of Catholicism being publicly scolded by rock singers; Pope Pius XII must have cried from Heaven), to the interconfessional/ecumenical/heretical events in Assisi, Fatima and elsewhere, to the in itself obviously heretical kissing of the Koran, to the relentless seeking for TV time in his pursuit to travel in the furthest corners of the globe whilst Vatican work was clearly neglected (cue the inefficiency and indecisiveness in tackling the problems of the Church, like the evident issue of rampant homosexuality in the seminaries), John Paul II’s years have diluted and banalised the Catholic message. The most dramatic example of this sad development was seen in his last days, with a huge media happening and a vast attention from a mass of individuals obviously not caring in the least for Catholicism and merely attracted by the next media-pumped collective hysteria in purest Lady Diana style. When he died, JP II had successfully transformed himself in the Che Guevara of our times, a man whose face is on millions of t-shirts carried by people who don’t even know who he was and what he wanted, but find the projected image someway cool. In the meantime, a generation of Catholics was raised without even the basis of proper Catholic instruction but hey, there were 500,000 people when he went out of the aeroplane so we are doing fine.
One of the least palatable aspects of this attitude was the late Pope’s desire to please the masses by sending ambiguous messages which, whilst not openly contradicting the Church’s teaching, were meant to give them a varnish of political correctness and make their distorted perception popular when the real ones clearly aren’t. He formally abolished the capital punishment in the Vatican, but conveniently forgot to remind the faithful that the legitimacy of capital punishment is integral part of Catholic doctrine and as such not modifiable and not negotiable. He asked for forgiveness for the atrocities committed during the Crusades, but conveniently forgot to remind the faithful of the saintliness of their cause and of the glorious page represented by the Crusades themselves. He was personally contrary to every conflict happening in his time, but conveniently forgot to remind the faithful that the Doctrine of War is also integral part of Catholic teaching. As a result of this, Pope John Paul was vastly perceived – particularly by poorly instructed Catholics, let alone by non-catholics – as a white-clothed pacifist opposed to capital punishment and ashamed for the Crusades. I am not aware of any effort he made to counter this widespread popular impression and no, this is not good.
Allow me here to also remind my readers of the Lefebvre affair. From the information I have found and read, it seems to me that a clash of egos (it happens among the saintliest men; it’s human nature) played a more than secondary role in the events but that at the root of the mess was JP II’s refusal to understand when things have gone too far and it is time to stop being stubborn and to start being reasonable. Hand on heart, I thank God for Lefebvre’s courage and determination on that occasion. To use an admittedly strong image, when the father is drunk the son who refuses to obey him is not going against the family and his father’s authority, but respecting and upholding them and the values they represent. The SSPX’s affair is, if you ask me, just another of the many avoidable blunders of John Paul II’s pontificate.
Still, behind the Pope there was the man. A deeply religious, pious, spiritual, sincere, kind man of God. A man whose mistakes were certainly never made in bad faith and whose first desire was to protect the Church and to win new souls to Christ. A man in front of whose deep spirituality and pious nature most of us (and certainly yours truly) must hang their head in shame. A man of whom you can criticise everything, but not the pure heart and the honesty of his intentions.
Whenever Catholics criticise the many mistakes of his pontificate (as they, if you ask me, should do far more often and much more vocally in order to avoid another pontificate like his to be ever repeated), they should remember – and should remind the enemies of the Church – of the purest of hearts behind those mistakes and of the example which John Paul II continues to give as a saintly man.
A saintly man is not necessarily a good Pope and a good Pope is not necessarily a saintly man. Much as we would like to see both qualities together, this is by far not always the case.
When we are blessed with a saintly Pope, I can’t see why we shouldn’t – whatever the shortcomings of his Pontificate – draw strength and inspiration from his saintliness.
Blessed John Paul II, pray for us.
A parallelism has been made from some quarters between the usual strong opposition of the liberals to everything Vatican and justified with the “spirit of Vatican II” on the one side, and the fact that the new translation of the Mass will be implemented without major traumas (or better said, without overt opposition: how many priests will implement the new mass perfectly on time is another cup of tea) on the other side. The implication here is that the “spirit of Vatican II” is slowly going out of fashion.
I would like to comment on this as follows:
1) I so wish journalists would refrain from the temptation of seeing “trends” everywhere, or inflating things out of proportion for the sake or an article, or of a headline.
2) Priests will implement the new Mass just because they have to, open refusal to obey leading to serious consequences for their livelihood. As (supposed) martyrdom has never been a speciality of the liberal priest, there is no overt opposition to be awaited.
3) The “spirit of Vatican II” is being taken care of by the professional category of the undertakers. Their action will become more and more incisive in the years to come, but I can’t notice old sixty-eighters becoming any less sixty-eighters or just more tired of being obnoxious morons, let alone rediscovering the beauty of a reverent Mass.
Such “movements” usually end because they land in the same place as their promoters: six feet under.
4) If anything, the British clergy is more heretical today than it was twenty or thirty years ago. No English bishop would have, decades ago, publicly declared that he “doesn’t know” whether the Church will accept the “reality of gay partnerships” and no bishop would have dreamt of ever saying that he is “nuanced” and does not oppose civil partnership. Actually not even people in open revolt to the authority of Rome like Henry VIII would have ever dreamt of saying such absurdities.
Nowadays even an Archbishop of Westminster is allowed to say such things and remain unpunished.
The “Spirit of Vatican II” is alive and kicking. It goes together with dissent or open heresy of all sorts and – in the absence of any strong action from the Vatican, nowhere to be seen at the time – it will die only as its proponents kick the bucket in increasingly larger numbers.
This is the sad (but encouraging in a sense, as the undertakers are clearly on our side) reality of the Church in England. Supposed trends out of thin air do not help to deal with the many, serious problems.
Egypt has recalled its ambassador to the Vatican after Egypt found itself in the exclusive lists of the countries singles out by the Holy Father for not doing enough to protect Christians (he forgot India and Pakistan, I would say; but perhaps he thought these last two go sans dire).
The Egyptians complain that the security of Christians in Egypt is an internal matter of the Egyptian government. This might well be, but the Pope hasn’t said that he wants to run the Egyptian security policy; he has merely said that they are not doing enough.
I think, though, that a great embarrassment hides behind this uncomfortable reaction. It is not advisable for any government (particularly if relying on massive transfers from the US to stay halfway afloat and last time I looked only Israel received more transfer from the US than Egypt) to be in the black list of the Vatican and to be branded as a country not doing enough to protect Christians. I doubt that even Iran would look without worry to a similar situation but whilst Iran doesn’t have to be worried about the effect on their purse of 70 millions US Catholics, Egypt does.
Let us, then, register this little diplomatic scuffle as a sure sign that the Pope’s move will force the Egyptian government to deal with the matter rather than limiting itself to the usual whining of third world (please substitute this with the politically correct expression) fake democracies (please do it again).
Beautiful blog post from the “Reluctant Sinner”.
Its author clearly does not put into question the orthodoxy of the Holy Father; nor does he believe that the Pontiff wanted to start a debate or change things in matters of contraception in any way. But he clearly points out to the fact that the words of “clarification” from the Pontiff (as reported by the never-so-very-safe Lombardi) add fuel to the controversy rather than putting an end to it.
The simple fact is that whilst even the new “explanations” as reported by Father Lombardi do not change anything in the Catholic teaching (or in the Pope’s thinking, come to that) about the matter, this bad habit of reporting single phrases without a context is not doing anyone (particularly the Holy Father, let alone the many confused Catholics) any favour.
The words were carelessly chosen first in the choice of the homosexual/condom scenario to explain that even an evil man can gradually, slowly develop first signs of moral awakening. Yes he can, but if the concept is expressed in this way it will be misunderstood. Then came the extraordinary initiative of the Osservatore Romano to break ranks and publish excerpts of the interview without context or comment, which made things much worse anyway and unleashed the mastiffs of the secular press. Thirdly came the “explanation”, which – whilst not unorthodox in the least – is still such that the untrained secular journalist could, perhaps even in good faith, think that the Holy Father really meant that the female prostitute is justified in using the condom.
It is now, I respectfully dare say, necessary that a carefully worded statement is issued – not by Lombardi but by the Pope himself – clearly saying what is what. This should be done not in order to explain to well-instructed Catholics what they already know, but in order to put some order among the ranks of the not-so-well informed Catholics (the vast majority, nowadays) who could easily be misled from what they think and read that he would have said.
The problem is, in its root, of Vatican making. No doubt about that.
Time to clear the mess once and for all, I think.
We are now informed of the following statement from our beloved Lombardi:
I personally asked the pope if there was a serious, important problem in the choice of the masculine over the feminine,” Lombardi said. “He told me no.. The problem is this … It’s the first step of taking responsibility, of taking into consideration the risk of the life of another with whom you have a relationship.
This is if you’re a woman, a man, or a transsexual. We’re at the same point, Lombardi said…
Now from this we learn as follows:
1) What here is all about is: the taking of responsibility towards human life. A chap went around totally not caring whether he would kill himself and many others in the process, but in what might be the first step towards taking responsibility he continues to do what is evil, but at least avoids killing an undetermined number of people.
2) If this is true of a man, it must be true of a woman too as it is not the case that a male prostitute at risk of aids would kill an army of homos, but a female prostitute at risk of aids wouldn’t kill an army of heteros. Makes sense.
3) What the Pope (or Lombardi, come to that) still hasn’t said is:
a) that the use of condom is endorsed or justified in any way;
b) that there is a general principle by which the Church says that whenever you are going to put someone in danger, you may use a condom;
c) that Church teaching has been modified in any way.
I am, therefore, at a loss to understand the following:
1) why the fact that the example would apply also to a female prostitute should change anything of what the Pope wanted to say.
2) On which ground this new distinction should be seen as “compassionate” toward the person using the condom. The Church is still saying that the sinner has not to sin. This is compassionate!
Let us make no mistake here: the Church is still saying to the homosexual what She has been saying from the start: repent, and sin no more. To say anything else like: “use a condom, because now I am compassionate” would be to become accessory of the sodomite’s sin.
Let us say it once again: the moral law is not concerned about suggesting ways by which sinning can be made less harmful. The church doesn’t say “if you really, really have to have an abortion, at least avoid using dangerous poisons”. The Church doesn’t say “if you really, really have to have premarital sex, at least be sexually faithful to your girlfriend”, & Co. What the Church does is saying an emphatic “no” to sodomy, to abortion, and to premarital sex.
That as a matter of fact the prostitute sodomite in question might start using condoms as a consequence of a first awakening to the value of human life doesn’t make his use of condom justified. Not in the least. Sodomy is not justified and the Church doesn’t suggest “justified” or “endorsed” ways to deal with what is not justified.
P.s. the continued discussion only enlightens how inappropriate the example was.
It would appear that soon the Vatican is going to give us more details as to how the UK Ordinariate is supposed to work and be organised. I can imagine that savage speculations are going to mount in the next days (or weeks) as to who will lead it, how it will be funded, what provision might be offered to those Anglican clergy thinking of conversion but also mindful of a family to feed, etc.
Personally, I hope that the following will happen:
1) The British hierarchy is going to be kept out of the entire affair. If the Holy Father lets them in from the door, orthodoxy will soon go out of the window. I hope that the Ordinariate will be not only factually autonomous from the Bishops (bar a technical cooperation where unavoidable; it is not that they have to ignore each other’s existence), but that they will also be seen as such.
2) I so much wish (though I am sure that I will be disappointed) that the Ordinariate could be led by a person of undoubted, uncompromising orthodoxy. One able to explain to everyone (to the press; to the Anglicans thinking about conversion; to the other British Catholics who might see in a staunchly orthodox Ordinariate a good alternative to a Novus Ordo Mass) that the Ordinariates are not the Anglican version of the Catholic Church, but the Only Church organised in a slightly different way.
From what I have read up to now, none of the so-called Anglican bishops who have announced their intention to convert is up to the task. From what I could see to date, it is fair to be afraid that they would stress how “Anglican” the new outfit is, not how Catholic; how little things would change for the Anglican converts, not how much; what a continuity there would be between the heretical shop they leave and the authentical one they enter, not what a radical change this represents. My impression up to now (as seen on this very blog) is rather that they would accuse of being “uncharitable” or even “unchristian” everyone pointing out to the obvious shortcomings (nay: cowardice; nay: utter bad faith) of such an approach.
I see a clear danger that what could be created here is a body largely constituted of people who think that their cultural specificity authorises them to be at variance with the Church; a body seeing itself as composed of Catholics who have the right to be different in their Catholicism (just to make some example: in thinking that it is fully OK to be an Anglican; or in thinking themselves Catholics because they believe in the existence of Transubstantiation in an Anglican Mass) rather than in the way their Catholicism is organised.
A bit of healthy cynicism will make us aware that conversion to Catholicism can be wished because one desires the Truth or because one has a sacrilegious desire to continue to believe in the same old lies, but without bishopettes around.
The person appointed to lead the UK Ordinariate will have to make this very clear; he will have to be a champion of orthodoxy for the entire British Catholicism. If this is not the case, the risk for the Ordinariate to fail spectacularly and to be remembered as a source of strife rather than reconciliation will be very real.
One gets a bit tired of reporting of another escursion into the popular land of heterodoxy from a member of the Catholic clergy; still, oportet ut scandala eveniant and it is at least a consolation to see that whilst members of the clergy do everything possible to pander to the secular mentality, courageous laymen have no problems in telling it straight.
The last example are the contradictory declarations of Mgr. Carrasco, Head of the Pontifical Academy for Life about the recent and controversial announcement of the Nobel Prize for Dr. Edwards, the inventor of in vitro fertilisation.
Mgr. Carrasco appears not to be entirely bad and his official declarations, on several occasions, have struck the right tones; still he seems -like many others – unable to resist the temptation of making compromises with his interlocutor when representing an unpopular position and as a consequence ends up talking nonsense. Let us read his words again :
[Dr. Edwards] “ushered in a new and important chapter in the field of human reproduction in which the best results are visible to everyone, beginning with Louise Brown.”
“New and important chapter?” “Best results?” What is this, Christopher Hitchens talking the Church down? And this, from the Head of the Pontifical Academy for Life? It truly sounds like a spoof, but unfortunately it isn’t…
Thankfully, the Vatican has immediately recognised the blunder and has rapidly corrected the imprudent Monsignor, promptly stating that Carrasco’s declaration was in answer to a journalist’s question (read: he was imprudent and wrong, but without malice) and does not represent the opinion of the Pontifical Academy for Life. I do think that he was the victim of the “agree-itis” so typical of these times; of a mentality in which no one wants to say it straight, lest he appears rude and no one dares to deny some kudos to his opponent, lest he is considered a bigot.
No one? Well, apparently not. It would appear that there are people out there who don’t tarnish their criticism of Dr Edwards with …….. a resounding praise of how good his work was.
The International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations does not leave any merit to Dr. Edwards’ work. They merely recognise as factual the joy given to the misguided parents, but clearly criticise the work of Dr. Warner in itself. No trace of “new and important chapters” here….
Harder still is Lucio Romano, the president of the Italian association Science and Life. Romano’s remarks are extremely damning as whilst he recognises that Edwards was a pioneer of the application of livestock methods to human beings, he also clearly says that this is no progress for humanity, at all.
Basically, what he is saying (though not with such words) is that every Nazi doctor can be said to have been trying to achieve some progress, but he was forgetting an elementary sense of humanity in the process. Dr. Josef Mengele was involved in seminal medical work, too.
None of the statements of the laymen organisations can be called unorthodox in the least. The words of the clergyman in charge of the matter had to be hastily corrected.
These are the times we live in.
The Vatican spokesman has an obvious desire to feel beautiful and to let all the world see that he is.
In doing so, he
1) goes against 2000 years of Catholic teaching, and
2) contributes to the nonsense about the new and “improved humanity” so typical of the “Spirit of V-II” crowd.
Father Lombardi is not very shy. He tells us what he wants. Being Italian, he must know that the word “want” is more emotionally charged in Italian than in, say, English.
In Italy it is considered rather aggressive and in real life you do not use such words among adults because of his strong content. Even in Republican times, every child is taught that “l’erba voglio non cresce nemmeno nel giardino del Re” (or: “The “I Will”-grass doesn’t even grow in the King’s garden”).
But no, Father Lombardi doesn’t care of Catholic teaching or of “I Will”-grass. He simply wants. “Beata gioventu’ “, one would say if the chap were young and naively revolutionary. But he isn’t, so one doesn’t.
We have two phenomena here: the proclamation of “Humanity2.0″, obviously improved from the 1.0 version, and the reaction with the installation of Catholicism 2.0.
“I don’t want it in any country, in any of its forms, for any person or in any circumstance”, says our chap openly insulting the million of devout Catholics, certainly more orthodox than he himself is, at a stroke. But it is not only a matter of being rude.
This is in open contrast with the Church Teaching, the equivalent of telling oneself a pacifist in relation to the doctrine of war. This is in obvious contrast with centuries of tradition not only in all (as in: all) Christian countries, but even in the Pontifical State, who had and applied the death penalty with regularity. This was also, until 2000, official rule of the Vatican City, until an obviously senile JP II (desirous to make himself beautiful, no doubt) decided to abolish it.
Still, JP II’s decision might have had (though obviously wrong, because obviously sending the wrong signal) a practical justification. The Vatican City is rather not what you’d call a hotbed of criminality and when they renounced to exercise jurisdiction in the only case where it would have found application (Ali Agca, of course) it was obvious that the rule was meant never to be applied in practice anyway.
But this with Fr. Lombardi is different. This is at variance with the teaching of the Church. Lombardi calls this “a step further”. With this mentality, priestesses are “a step further” compared to male priesthood.
This nonsense comes from the usual mentality of the Sixties, that humanity be now oh so improved. Methinks, it is the same mentality which “helped” the one or other bishop to consider depraved priests as merely having a need for psychological treatment.
Already the CCC on the matter is extremely questionable, because – even without being openly heretical – it flirts with heresy to please the crowds (in pure JP II-style, must be said). But this is truly senseless.
And the man is not even King.
The address to which to send your protest is, as usual:
First casualty and first headlines ahead of the visit. Cardinal Kasper, a man well-known for not being very liked (ecumenism Taliban, no friend of the Ordinariates and in general: far too left) makes some very politically incorrect observations and as a result either gets gout, or “is advised” by the doctor not to travel (must be a capricious thing, gout) or is excluded from the visit to avoid worse trouble.
Let us see his affirmations to see what is there in them:
1) The UK is “marked by a new and aggressive atheism”.
Very true. Can’t see how anyone could deny this. I hope the Holy Father will say pretty much the same thing in the next days. Unfortunately, I ‘m afraid he’ll say that in a way that does not offend anyone, that is: that does not get at the heart of the matter. Kudos to the Cardinal for having said what must be said out loud.
2) “when you land at Heathrow you think at times you have landed in a Third World country”
I don’t know about that. This is one of the biggest and busiest airports of the planet. Logistics and security must be a nightmare. Still, on the many occasions I have been there I must say that I never felt in danger, nor has anything ever been stolen, nor have I had to endure any particular discomfort not due to the exaggerated security mania of our times. Yes, I have seen cleaner airports perhaps (and more beautiful, modern ones without the “perhaps”); but “third world” seems to me vastly exaggerated.
If he compares with Fiumicino in Rome, he knows Heathrow has nothing to be ashamed of and if he compares with Frankfurt in Germany, well you should never compare with Germany…
3) BA discriminates against you when you wear a cross.
Absolutely true. BA allow their Muslim employees to wear a head scarf, but suspend their Christian ones if they wear a visible cross. Anti-Christian fanatics, period.
I am not a friend of the man. It seems to me that he incarnates if not the worst, certainly much of the bad come out of Vatican II. But I must say, this time I can’t avoid siding with him. To 66% at least.
What immediately takes the attention of the reader is the political incorrectness of this booklet, more so today than it was at the time for sure. This is rather natural as the booklet is a popularised synopsis of Casti Connubii, Pius XI’s encyclical letter on marriage.
All the “uncomfortable” parts are considered without embarrassment, in encouraging but rather clear words: mixed marriages, abortion, divorce, the respective roles of the parents, the difference to a christian education dealing with marriage and “sex education”. One sees that the problem of those times where largely the problems of our times (poverty, for example, or the surprising fact that apparently there was already a certain number of single mothers).
By reading the rather slender booklet, you’ll discover a view of marriage certainly not taught for the last forty years at least, and still very powerful so many years later, as if these booklet had been written to help us recover Catholic values rather than to help past generations to keep them. Shocking as it may seem to many a modern reader, this booklet makes – as all of Catholic teaching – deep sense and he who spends some times pondering the truths herein contained has spent his time wisely.
Just a curiosity: the reference to the Italian state adopting the law of the Church for the regulation of marriages is literally true. The “Patti Lateranensi” between the Fascist Government and the newly-constituted “State of The Vatican City” established the rule that Canon Law would rule Italian marriages, with e.g. the consequence that marriages could only be annulled if the Sacra Rota (the Church’s tribunal) said so and the Italian government had – unbelievably from a secular perspective – no saying in the matter.
One wouldn’t necessarily advocate for 2010’s Britain the same rules applied in 1930’s Italy. Still, this booklet shows how much can be improved or, better, restored.