Thursday, September 11, 2014

Rumor mill: Francis says yes in pectore to Communion for divorced and remarried

More war on the church from within. Synod on the Family: Francis has a secret yes for Communion for divorced and remarried without annulments. No, the Bishop of Antwerp's a dissenter; very different.
It seems highly unlikely the Church would end up doing this, but, as with contraception, the seeds of doubt and confusion are already sown and it is whispered to confessors that they should "do the pastoral thing" and erroneous information is delivered to penitents as if it were truth, doing great damage to the faithful.
I'll say it's impossible: the church is indefectible, something some traditionalists forget, being carried away by emotion, just like the left. ("Benedict's really still Pope, canonizations we don't like are invalid," etc.) The worst that can happen is they'll make annulments easier to get.
I have said all along that outwardly nothing is going to appear to change. The left will continue to slide into its own pseudo-schism by liberal granting of annulments, winking at same-sex marriage (civil unions) and being oh so charitable. The right will fulminate in impotent fury and perhaps, go more and more into sede-ism.
Possible but sedevacantists will remain outliers. The liberals are aging and dying. Kids who don't believe just leave; they don't stay and bitch anymore. The only Massgoers left are conservatives.
That said, the Church also discussed artificial contraception prior to Humanae Vitae. So opening a discussion doesn't necessarily mean anything, of itself. If the Church held firm in the 1960s, with a much more liberal hierarchy than we have now, she will be able to withstand the synod.
I think secular (Protestant) society misunderstood or lied about the "discussion." Ultimately it was to explain why contraception's wrong. We can't change our teachings; we're not the Church of England or the Mormons. The Protestants think we're another denomination, changing teachings by decree or vote.
Opening the discussion on contraception led to massive dissent, despite the Church not changing its teaching. That is the problem with debating things that aren't debatable.
Trouble is that makes it look like the church has something to hide like it can't defend itself. It's never acted like that. You had the Catholic Evidence Guild speakers at Speaker's Corner in London's Hyde Park, anticipating and answering anybody's objections to what they thought the church teaches. Fulton Sheen: only a few hundred hate the church; millions hate what they think the church is. Vatican II was exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time: making it LOOK like the church caved, which is the story the media ran with.

We're not Episcopalians or Mormons. No can do. "The church that never changes," of the sultans and tsars, however... "Sometimes adultery is OK. Is mystery. Economy!" It changed. On contraception, mimicking the Anglicans from the '50s, just like evangelicals today: it's a matter between the couple and their minister.
The East has a long history about being legalistic about things like azymes, fasting, postures during the liturgy, etc. Now I don't think being legalistic is necessarily wrong ... simply pointing out that legalism is not limited to the West.
It's easy and fun to be legalistic about externals, especially if your main purpose is to prop up the state and/or tribe with things to set you apart, and blow off important stuff like being against contraception. Episcopalians do it all the time: show off that you know St. Pius X changed the breviary, by criticizing it, then accept women priests and gay marriage. To spite us, some Orthodox sound Pelagian about original sin and Lutheran about the Eucharist. Anything but admit they're Catholic; then they'd have to come back to us. Most of Orthodoxy's unworkable so American Orthodox make it up as they go along. Second marriage after divorce? Sure! Just pay the diocese to clear your first marriage. Contraception? "Yes — we're spiritual and pastoral, not like those Romans." Those fasting rules impossible for most non-monks? Fuhgeddaboudit. It ends up Talmudic — for every unwritten rule there's an unwritten counter-rule.

Catholicism is logic (Aquinas) and mysticism (also Aquinas!).


  1. Anonymous9:18 am

    I am no expert, but I have read that Eastern marriage rules descend from Roman / East Roman civil law. My guess is that the modern "hyper-economy" problem is a decayed application of an originally legitimate ancient system. But someone else may know better.

    Serious question - how it is that the Church can laicize priests but not break valid marriages? The Mystery of Orders would seem to leave a more permanent mark on the soul than marriage. I can see pragmatically how bad liberal marriage economy is for everyone involved, but I could use a better understanding of the mystical issues.

    1. I understand Eastern church divorce and remarriage were originally an economy so that the wronged party in a case of adultery or abandonment for example would literally survive.

      Good question about laicization. Both holy orders and matrimony have an indelible character for the soul. (And you can have both, as in the Christian East.) The church CAN'T erase valid holy orders any more than it can a valid marriage ("what God hath joined together, let no man put asunder" - no man can!). Annulment means sacramentally there was never a marriage but legally there was (so the children are legitimate). Laicization's the opposite: a laicized priest is still a priest - he simply no longer has the canonical (legal) status of a priest except in an emergency (a dying person needs absolution and anointing), in which case the church supplies legal authority, situationally reactivating him (he is obligated to hear your confession, etc.). "Laicization" is technically a misnomer: the man is almost a layman again, but isn't. I think laicized priests in a diocese get the chrism (holy oil) the regular priests do (blessed by the bishop at Mass Holy Thursday morning) for that reason; so someone who knew one told me.

    2. Perhaps it would be best to say that the priest who is laicized lives as a layman? He is still a priest and will be one until he dies.

      Annulment and divorce are abused but are really two different things. I know one Catholic who is divorced and another going through a divorce (both at the spouse's behest) who know that they are still bound to the other person and cannot remarry.

    3. That's what I was trying to say.

    4. I have never been able to inform myself historically on this issue as much as I might wish, but my understanding is that in the East, right down until the 8th century, marriage, even for Christians, was a civil matter, subsequently blessed by the Church (if the parties sought a church blessing, and only available for the first marriage), a blessing which was exclusively a church matter and was unrecognized by imperial law.. How parties to any subsequent marriages, whether after widowhood or divorce - and Roman law about divorce was rather "liberal" - were treated by the Church seems to have been largely a matter for their bishop to decide.

      The Emperor Leo III (the first iconoclast emperor) altered the law to permit the marriages of all O/orthodox Christians to take place in a church, even for purposes of legal recognition as marriage, as an alternative to the secular "marriage by contract." This brought up all sorts of issues - how many times might Christians marry (the previously dominant view was, once ideally, twice if "necessary," and three times in "extreme [and rare] circumstances") and what about marriage after divorce or desertion. At this point my knowledge becomes vague. The Emperor Leo IV (d. 912) appears to have made church marriage mandatory for O/orthodox Christians by his Novella 89. Subsequently, the "Tomos of Union" of 920, promulgated by a local council in Constantinople, limited the number of permissible marriages to three, and evidently made some provision for marriage after divorce in some circumstances - but, frustratingly, I have not been able (as yet) to find more specific details of its provisions, nor yet the text of the "Tomos" itself.



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