Divorce and remarriage among Catholics: Theology, canon law, and Church teaching count…

 

During the past summer, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Gerhard Müller, wrote two articles concerning Church teaching as it relates to divorce and remarriage among Catholics in a German journal. A slightly reworked text was later published in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.

Then, on his return flight to Rome from Rio de Janeiro, Pope Francis casually mentioned—in off-the-cuff remarks to reporters—that the Church might consider the Orthodox approach, looking toward divine economy (God’s mercy) to resolve the pastoral problem posed by divorce among Catholics. When that comment hit the press, it set off a flurry of speculation that the Church might admit divorced and remarried Catholics to the sacraments.

An office of the Archdiocese of Freiburg ran with the idea, formulating a 14-page pastoral policy and program that would pave the way for remarried Catholics to receive the sacraments.

That policy proposal earned a rebuke from Archbishop Müller. In a recent letter to the German bishops’ conference, Müller stated that if divorced and remarried Catholics are to receive the sacraments, they must conform to Catholic doctrine regarding the indissolubility of marriage. Müller specifically ruled out the Orthodox option implied in the Freiburg document, namely, a second marriage that is not “crowned,” because this option doesn’t conform to Catholic teaching.

Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller
Prefect, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

While The Motley Monk would hope that a theological and canonical solution to the problem raised by divorce and remarriage among Catholics can be formulated—after all, it isn’t just liberal Catholics who have this hope—the recent pastoral solution proposed in Germany involves an important issue—call it a “head tax”—that liberal Catholics in the United States seem not to consider when advocating the adoption of a pastoral policy.

In Germany, the State collects a tax from every Catholic that is returned to the Church for the upkeep, maintenance, and running of its institutions. Many German Catholics who are in irregular marriages and can’t receive Holy Communion decide to stop participating in the life of the Church. As a result, the Church doesn’t receive the income it would otherwise receive from the State. If those marriages could just be regularized, the Church would reap the financial benefits.

This well-intentioned “pastoral” solution is, in part, a “financial” solution to the cost of maintaining the Church’s institutions in Germany. Archbishop Müller knows that and isn’t going to allow Church teaching to be compromised by financial gain.

Just to make sure everyone understands the Church’s position clearly, the Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, had this to say about the Freiburg policy:

Nothing changes, there is no news for the divorced who remarry. The document comes in fact from a local pastoral office and does not touch the responsibility of the bishop. Therefore, it has jumped the gun, and is not the official expression of diocesan authorities.

There is no doubt that this pastoral problem is one Pope Benedict XVI wanted to resolve and Pope Francis seems bent on resolving. The problem with the many policies that have been floated for decades—each attempting to “thread the needle” by calling marriage “indissoluble” while allowing it to be “dissoluble”—don’t work theologically or canonically. Likewise, with the Orthodox solution proposed in off-the-cuff remarks by Pope Francis.

Marriage either is or is not dissoluble, with one exception, the Pauline privilege. And that fact presents problems for those who want it both ways.

That said, this story may have taken a wrong turn.

According to an article by Andrea Tornielli in La Stampa, the Archbishop of Munich, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, has criticized Archbishop Müller’s article, writing: “The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith cannot stop the discussions.” Marx also described Archbishop Müller’s as putting a “fence” around Pope Francis’ “field hospital” of mercy.”

Why “a wrong turn?”

Cardinal Marx is a member of Pope Francis’ eight-member advisory Council of Cardinals whose task is to reform the Curia. It may be that the Holy Father has appointed a group of cardinals who may share his vision of the Church’s first duty towards those in society (and especially Catholics) who are wounded by evil. In the name of divine economy, this group may decide to treat and bind up old wounds irrespective of the problems that doing so presents.

At least, that’s what many liberal Catholics hope. Why should theology or canon law—or even, Church teaching—get in the way of how they feel?

 

 

To read the official Vatican transcript of Pope Francis’ off-the-cuff comments, click on the following link:http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/speeches/2013/july/documents/papa-francesco_20130728_gmg-conferenza-stampa_en.html

To read Archbishop Müller’s letter to the German bishops’ conference, click on the following link:http://www.kath.net/news/43656

To read Andrea Torinelli’s article in La Stampa, click on the following link:
http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/the-vatican/detail/articolo/muller-divorziati-divorciado-divorced-29616/

To learn about the Pauline privilege, click on the following link:
http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?id=7272

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:
http://www.richard-jacobs-blog.com/omnibus.html

29 Responses to Divorce and remarriage among Catholics: Theology, canon law, and Church teaching count…

  • I must admit I am disturbed by this. Particularly that Cardinal Ratzinger supports this. I get that there are people in difficult situations, but marriage is for life. If the marriage is not valid, there is a process to address that. But marriage is for life. If you make bad choices, you have to live with them. It’s that way in the secular world. To do otherwise will encourage people to make bad choices and find themselves in situations where they don’t wish to be married anymore. Then they take the easy way out, and the Church lets them. It really boils down to whether the Church will give people “permission” to sin. They shouldn’t do that under any circumstances. I say this as a man whose wife spent his college tuition money twice, stayed out all night drinking and smoking pot after having three children, and ultimately got her act together and converted to Catholicism. Had I taken the easy road and divorced her, the last part would have never happened. Only the first part would have occurred. She cost me my shot at medical school, which I was a shoo-in to get accepted and finish. I chose to love her above all else. I’m glad for that choice. She makes me happy. If we allow divorce and remarriage, then that sort of story will become exceedingly rare. We will choose pride and self-love over humility and love of neighbor. A spouse is certainly one’s closest neighbor. If we don’t love our closest neighbor, what neighbor will we love? The whole “pastoral solution” thing is a red herring. There is a mechanism to be forgiven for sin. That’s repentance and the confessional. We shouldn’t accept cheap substitutes. They won’t work.

  • i am fed up with people telling me that i am condemned to hell just because i divorced and remarried…excuse me but who are people to judge me???…that is up to God to judge….what about people like Nancy Pelosi and others who claim to be Catholic yet support abortion and all sort of evil and yet still are allowed to receive communion???….does it not say in the bible that those who condemn are themselves condemned???….God is my judge and if i have done wrong in Gods eyes then let God condemn me…i believe my sin is a lesser sin as at least i do not support abortion or so called “same sex marriage” or other evils…but again i say…LET GOD JUDGE ME!!!

  • another thing i would like to point out is the fact that i have a child out of wedlock due to a date rape….so again….is it up to the people to condemn me because of this????…also….the first marriage i had was a joke….i didn’t even understand the concept of marriage as i was married young…my husband at the time spent more time with his friends than with me….we were only married for 8 months…so i believe this divorce was valid and i don’t see any reason for people to condemn me or anybody else…i guess it all depends on the circumstances…but i would NEVER tell somebody that they are condemned because they have remarried…that is just EVIL…look yourself in the mirror and count all your sins before you go and judge somebody else on theirs….”he who is without sin let him cast the first stone”…

  • In the two responses posted above by Alphatron and J.A.C we have two real examples why the Church really needs to promote marriage (between one man and one woman for life) and really support and care for couples preparing for, living the mystery of marriage (see Ephesians 5), and for those who have gone through divorce and in some cases remarriage.

    Alphatron your story is nothing less than heroic ( there is no critical innuendo here). What struck me even beyond your actual story is your comment ” if we don’t love our closest neighbor, what neighbor will we love?” That is a very powerful statement, very powerful. In your story, we see why the Church must continue and increase defense of and promoting the full meaning of the unitive dimension of marriage along with its life-giving dimension.

    J.A.C., as you are aware, while your story is deeply personal it is sadly not unique. In the midst of your story I hear some real good and substantial choices on your part; choosing life for your child despite circumstances which would drive many to choose abortion; believing in marriage even now, although it has been, to say the least a tough road to really get to that point. Last but not least, still hanging in there with the Church, even while interpreting the Church as condemning you – after all, you are very aware of the Church’s teaching on abortion ( mention of Nancy Pelosi) and on marriage only for man and woman, and you are here at a Catholic blog. All that says a lot- to your credit. To be brief, while the Church attempts to be faithful to Christ’s own prohibition of divorce and remarriage, your story reveals the real profound need to expand and deepen the Church’s pastoral response for Catholics in situations like yours. Jesus, while upholding the teaching on marriage did not condemn the Samaritan woman at the well who had several husbands. Jesus while upholding the teaching on marriage did not condemn the woman “caught in adultery”. In His mercy-ing He drew them to Himself and through Him to the truth of their situation

    While the Law is good it can only condemn those who fail to keep it. Jesus has come fulfilling the Law and the Prophets, upholding the truth of the Law concerning marriage, but giving His grace to those who live marriage and His forgiving grace to those whose marriages have failed

  • JAC, I feel for you. Have you tried to get an annulment? With your story, I am sure that it wouldn’t be difficult to get one. I’m sorry that you feel condemned, but if it is a burden for you, then I’d recommend annulment. It will heal you. Suffering here on earth is better than suffering in Purgatory. Ask for God’s mercy, rather than His condemnation. It might do you well to read stories of the Holy Souls in Purgatory.
    When I was young, I was married to a guy that I had dated for 4 years & was engaged to for 2 (yes, 6 years we were together). I thought he was “the one.” He came from a big family, and my dream was to have a big family. He said & did all the right things while we were dating. After we were married (big Catholic wedding), everything about our dating life turned out to be a sham. We never went out like we used to. He didn’t want kids. I stayed in that marriage for less than 2 years, all the while trying to make it work & praying for help. The annulment took 2 years to get, but I was able to get one. He didn’t want one… he was a “suffer the consequences” type person. After that marriage was over, I didn’t make all the right choices, but God still blessed me with a wonderful (new) husband, and we have 3 kids.
    I’m sharing this with you because somehow you feel judged, but you might actually be the only one doing the judging (you sound angry in your post), but you do have a remedy. And I apologize for my forwardness, especially if you did try to get an annulment & it wasn’t accepted. I know people who’ve tried 3-4 times before the tribunal would say yes. And I know someone else who’s tried 5 times, and they keep saying no.
    God bless you.

  • Why should a divorced-remarried person engaging in adultery get the privilege of receiving the Eucharist and not the single person engaging in fornication? Seriously, I should just go out and have sex and continue to receive Communion at Mass.

  • KED,

    Jesus’ teaching on marriage between man and woman without divorce and remarriage (see Matthew 5 and Matthew 19) is very clear just as His commandment not to judge ( read: condemn) others ( Matthew 6). Saint Paul’s exhortation/warning not to receive the Eucharist is equally clear. To answer what I believe is your rhetorical question, a single person engaging in fornication should not receive thevEucharist (without renal repentance and the sacrament of penance) any more than a divorced and remarried person who de facto are indeed committing adultery (Jesus’ words: Matthew 5)

    Yet the question remains, what does the Church need to do further, for those Catholics caught, entangled in these real situations? How can the Church be faithful to the Lord’s very clear and high teaching on marriage and be faithful to the same Lord Who calls sinners to Himself, refused to condemn and met each sinner coming to Him with mercy?

    If we are honest with ourselves, we all tend to divide these two aspects of Christ’s teaching on many subjects. We tend to divide the clear teaching.( truth) from His mercy-love He shows to sinners. Having divided the two we then tend to choose and emphasize one over the other: emphasizing the truth over mercy or emphasizing the mercy over the truth.

    The Catholic response (Catholic means ‘whole’ as well as ‘universal’) is first not to divide truth and love ( it is not ” either/ or” but ” both/and”). Then the Church moves forward keeping both truth and love in Her pastoral response

  • An excellent comment, Botolph. This is precisely the issue that has to be dealt with. A “pastoral” solution cannot trump theology or canon law but must respond in truth and love to sin. The Anglican communion provides an object lesson about how “pastoral” solutions which trump theology and canon law lead to the dissolution of the faith.

    -TMM

  • The problem is that people cannot stay the course, they cannot be committed to the higher calling. Being a cradle Catholic that was a Christmas/Easter Catholic I believed what most liberal Catholics believe on this subject that marriage is not a heavenly bond of a man and woman but seeing my parents and grandparents endure many years of marriage through thick and thin I was committed to my marriage. My wife however was not and allowed herself to be lured away. When I found of course I was devastated but I believe God opened my eyes that day, because instead of focusing on my pain I saw her pain, I saw the pain that our divorce would cause in our children and our families. So I forgave her, it was not easy but as I prayed to God for the first time in my life He gave me peace to understand that I need to carry this burden but with His help. I guess what I am trying to say is that God has always kept His promise to us even though we all stray from the light and no matter how much damage we do He forgives. We need to forgive and move on and understand that our lives are not about ourselves but where we fit in the plan. We need to be strong in our commitment to God’s plan. Too many marriages fail because people cannot get past the little things or they don’t think they love their spouse any more. Well then they were never in love in the first place.

    As for my wife and I we have never been happier, she knew she was wrong and she has to pick up her cross and carry it also and hers is way heavier then mine so I help her to carry her cross as God helps us both. We are more in love now then we ever were. Her sins are hers and mine are mine we all stray from the light but He will always shine His grace upon us and all we have to do is ask.

  • J.A.C:

    I would advise you to speak to a priest about your situation. It sounds to me like you could certainly get an annulment and have your marriage blessed by the Church. I don’t think anyone condemns you. We are all sinners. But the Church should stand for the truth that it teaches. Don’t be angry at the Church. It’s nobody’s fault what happened with your first attempt at marriage. It sounds to me like you made a mistake out of innocence, and it can be made right again. And kudos to you for bringing your child into the world. You are a hero for taking care of a child forced on you by a rapist. You’re not to be condemned for that. You have shown incredible love. The Church is about forgiveness. Forgiveness does not gloss over truth. It confronts the truth, and proposes a solution. Not everyone is in the same situation as you. Had I divorced my wife and remarried, I would be an adulterer because both of us went into the marriage with full knowledge and consent. Your situation is different. Out of a lack of knowledge and faulty consent, you found yourself in a difficult situation and you made the best of it. The Church can recognize a valid marriage in this case if presented with the facts and allowed to engage in its processes. But if we don’t look at the facts and go through the process, then people like my younger self would be encouraged to do the wrong thing.

  • Honestly, I would to see some of the very real and personal stories that are being shared on this particular post to somehow find their way into the packet of documents that the bishops meeting at the Extraordinary Synod in 2014 on marriage and the family. In case anybody is worrying about this, I certainly have no ability to see that this happens. Nevertheless, I would love to see it. I believe that this precisely what Pope Francis meant when he said, we need to listen to the whole Churc.

    WEB, your journey from being a Christmas/Easter Catholic (identify.oneself as a Catholic, but little or no real encounter with Christ and His Bride, the Church) , being given the real witness of your grandparents and parents living marriage in love and fidelity through thick and thin and experiencing the great wound, pain of the infidelity of your own spouse brought you to a clear existential moment in your life. As you state it, God opened your eyes that day ( the experience of the disciples on the road to Emmaus: ” and their eyes were opened”); instead of focusing on your own pain, He enabled you to see her pain ( what a grace!); you became able to see the pain a divorce would cause your children and families (more grace!). Even more, you forgave her! ( This is heroic grace!) none of this was easy, but, as you share your story, the best is yet to come: you (really) prayed to God for the first time in your life. You Opened yourself to an encounter with the Living God Who hears the cries of His beloved sons and daughters and draws infinitely close to them in Christ, to be with them and to save them/us in our deepest existential need-with the grace of His Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit you experienced is the inner peace and understanding that you needed to carry this particular and personal cross-with His help!

    As you came to realize, God is faithful, even when we are unfaithful (Paul to Timothy). God is faithful, merciful, constantly seeking us out and calling, “Where are you?” as The Lord God did in the Garden seeking the first couple hiding in their nakedness an sin (Genesis3), and as the Prodigal Father did going out and seeking his two wayward and very confused sons ( Luke 15)

    What a grace you have received precisely in receiving and accepting this cross and being faithful and merciful yourself. You now have discovered that God is indeed love.

  • “Yet the question remains, what does the Church need to do further, for those Catholics caught, entangled in these real situations? How can the Church be faithful to the Lord’s very clear and high teaching on marriage and be faithful to the same Lord Who calls sinners to Himself, refused to condemn and met each sinner coming to Him with mercy?”

    The Church definitely needs to tightened the ship on catechism (in the younger years), marriage prep, NFP promotion, making the annulment process clear and efficient, etc. But…at the end of the day, people need to stop sinning. It can’t be just all up to the Church to “be merciful,” but the people in question are okay to go along, doing as they want or what is of immediate convenience to them. People can’t simply get divorced, “remarried”, and expect to be admitted the Communion as if things are just fine. Things aren’t fine. The couple is living in adultery (if one accepts what Christ said). Adultery is a mortal sin (just like fornication.) That isn’t me that is saying that. That is the Church, who is passing on Christ’s very clear teaching on it. It isn’t up to us, no matter how much we would like it otherwise (most of us, including me, would like to sweep this issue under the rug I am sure). I don’t even think the Disciples much liked this teaching.

    I imagine (and this is me) the couple, at minimum, would have to live “as brother and sister” (no marital embrace) and go to Confession before going to Communion. There is also the “annulment process.” People should be encouraged to go, but they also need to be prepared to accept the results if it doesn’t turn out the way they wish. (They may have to remain as “brother and sister” for a very long time.)

    Yes, Christ was merciful (and still is!), but he admonished people to “go and sin no more.” Christ told people the truth–which, while often harsh, is probably the most merciful thing to do.

  • Yes, D.J. Hesselius, I agree of course with what you are saying. I believe we need to start with the very beginning of the Gospel as witnessed in Mark 1. 15-16. After Jesus had conquered the forces of Satan in the wilderness, He went into Galilee, proclaiming the Gospel ( Evangelion) of God: this the time of fulfillment, the Reign/kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe the Gospel”

    Notice D.J. That His Gospel was distinct from John the Baptist’s. John preached repentance of sin to prepare for the coming of the Lord, to repent in order to enter His Kingdom. John’s message was the ultimate expression of the prophetic tradition- until Jesus came! Jesus’ proclamation was the coming and presence of the Reign/Rule/Kingdom of God in Himself. In other words, the whole thrust of the Old Testament Law and the Prophets which ultimately was the revelation of God’s mercy and salvation, is now being fulfilled, made present in Jesus Christ Himself. He is fundamentally God’s faithful and merciful love in the flesh, Who loves with an everlasting and merciful love. It iss only in light of this astounding saving truth Who is Jesus Christ Himself, that one then ” repents and believes”. These are fundamental and necessary, but only as our response to Jesus Christ

    What you have said is indeed true of someone who has really encountered Jesus Christ in the Church. If someone in this existential state sins, they do indeed need to repent, sin no more and return to Christ and His Church. However, now look at the vast numbers of humanity who have never really heard of never mind know Christ- what is their greatest need? Look at the vast numbers of Christians, one billion of them, who have heard of Christ, perhaps even encountering Him ( they might speak of this as being ‘ born again ‘) but have not yet come to recognize Him united with His Bride the Church. Now thin of the over 1 billion Catholics, who belong to the Church, have received the sacraments but have not yet really been evangelized or fully catechized- have not encountered Christ in His Church at a deep, existential level. The first message all of these need to hear is this profound Gospel of God, Jesus Christ, Himself, Who draws close to every person in their deepest need of salvation, Who died for them and rose to bring them new life in the Spirit within the Church-. Encountering Christ at this deep level they actually will have an existential inability to do otherwise than ” repent, believe the Gospel,” and to follow Christ.

  • Botolph, thank you. My comment is to say: we all struggle with chastity in life. Why are divorced-remarried people so special? Why should they be allowed to continue in their sexual sin yet receive the Eucharist? Truly, if this is the case, then there is no reason why a single person, or homosexual person, or cohabitating persons need to be faithful to Church teaching. If there is a “pastoral solution” for divorced-remarried, then there is an incentive for the rest of us to indulge in sexual sin and expect a ” pastoral solution” for ourselves, if not now, then maybe at the pearly gates. Perhaps the Church can promote true friendship. Love and intimacy are possible without marriage. Love and intimacy do not have to be sexualized. Let us honor and include those relationships and maybe the unmarried will experience, truly, a place in the Church.

  • Botolph: you are bringing up some significant issues, but not really the one being discussed: Should divorced/remarried Catholics (who haven’t received a Declaration of Nullity) be admitted to Holy Eucharist or not?

  • KED,

    Thanks for responding. I realize even more now, that your response was really a “cry” of singles to the Church for singles for assistance in the chaste life-which each baptized person is called and to which each baptized person commits themselves.

    My first comment is that, as Paul teaches us, the Holy Spirit Who is poured out into our hearts “produces” fruit in our lives ( see Galatians 5.22). The last of the fruits Paul mentions is “chastity”. Some translations use the term “self-control” which of course “chastity” is, however I prefer “chastity” given the sexual revolution our Western culture has undergone.

    You might also take a look at what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to teach about the Ninth Commandment. It really is Illuminating speaking of a whole formation, growth in chastity with the goal being “pure of heart”. In other words the Catechism recognizes and teaches that our lives are sexual or if we prefer affective. It shows that simply keeping the commandment “DON’T” is very important, not to be broken, but in of itself not enough to help human beings whose most fundamental need is to be loved and to love. We need formation in chastity, growth in chastity, or to put it another way, on going conversion affective conversion.

    As you note, ” maybe the Church can promote true friendship”. We have in our Tradition the witness of real Christian friendship, between men, between women, and between men and women. In our hyper sexualized atmosphere many jump to the conclusion that these were more than friendships. The worst of these interpretations concern Our Lord Himself with His close friends, Mary Magdalen and Saint John. However let not the terrible misinterpretations eclipse exactly what they are: examples of truly graced, affectively mature, chaste friendships. The numbers of saints also reveal close, mature chaste friendships- far more than one might think. Sometimes these friendships were not only between men and women but also different generations, such as Francis and Claire or Theresa of Avila and John of the Cross. Others were between saints of t,he same gender: David and Jonathan, Perpetua and Felicity, Basil and Gregory of Nazianzen. The friendship that opened my eyes to this reality was between a Catholic bishop and a widowed mother. Can you just imagine what some people would make of that? Yet Saint Francis. DeSales and Saint Jane De Chantal reveal in their personal correspondence the depths, and beauty of true chaste friendship.

    If you want further reading, take up Saint Aelred of Riveaulx’s treatise on ” Spiritual Friendship ” which he wrote for his own monks to assist them in growth and perseverance in chastity. His monastery was not a den of sin. It was however filled with men who needed to continue to grow in chastity and achieve affective maturity. He knew that the Ninth and Sixth Commandments were necessary foundations, but only the foundation. He knew that the vow of celibacy was very much like marriage itself and that while remaining faithful to their vow, the vowed person needs to grow throughout their lives with the joy and suffering, high points and low points of life.

    Finally if you are a bit more theological, Pope Benedict’s first encyclical Deus Caritas Est treats the Catholic understanding of Eros, love seeking fulfillment.
    H

  • D.J.,

    Actually I was responding to the trajectory of your own post. The Church has traditionally maintained, and recently reaffirmed its ” position” that divorced and remarrieds ( without annulment) are not to be admitted to the Eucharist. In several of my previous responses in this list, I have myself reiterated this, especially in emphasizing the need to maintain the unity of truth ( teaching) and mercy ( pastoral response). Perhaps you didn’t read through all the responses. It sometimes happens. However I was keeping to what was being discussed

  • How about the Kennedy Clan? They can all buy their annulments. I like Pope Francis when he says not to judge. Who knows why a person got married in the first place and why they got divorced. Only the person and God knows the truth and we
    don’t need humans (men) judging them. I was married for 46 years and wish I hadn’t been. But I was a “good” Catholic. There are so many judgments put out by men who never had an idea of what it’s like to live in a marriage gone ill.

  • “I like Pope Francis when he says not to judge.”

    The phrase judge not lest ye be judged has never been a license to sin. Bad marriages are terrible, but they get no better by people hoping that the Church will ignore the plain teaching of Christ. Since His apostles reacted with horror to His teaching about marriage, Christ’s statement about the indissolubility of marriage has been a tough one for people to accept. That is why the Church looks to see whether a marriage never took place and an annulment should be granted. This is an area loaded with moral land mines and human misery, but for the Church to simply say that people in second marriages may receive communion after the briefest contrition is to turn Christ’s teaching on its head. I do not think this is where the Pope is going, but it would be an unmitigated disaster for the Church if he did.

  • Botolph: Admittedly, I do have trouble reading longer comments. I haven’t figured out how to put in paragraph breaks in the comboxes (is that the correct term?) I appear to be in good company though. When paragraphs are lacking, comments become difficult to read and interpret–hence my last comment/question: Should divorced/remarried Catholics (who haven’t received a Declaration of Nullity, or agree to be “brother/sister”) be admitted to Holy Eucharist or not? It is a simple Yes or No question.

  • BOTOLPH’s comment on 11/15 at 7 AM makes the most sense of any comment on here. I am instinctively a very conservative Christian but we have to make room for Love and Forgiveness. WE ALL make mistakes and sin, even those of us who are busy condemning others for theirs. WE ALL need forgiveness. And I love how we have our favorite sins (that we don’t do, of course) that we can use to condemn others while being completely blind to the sins we do commit because they aren’t the fashionable ones like adultery that makes it so easy to point fingers. Christ forgave- he admonished not to do it again-but He FORGAVE. How many of us lust in our hearts ever so slightly yet nobody knows? That is ADULTRY folks. How many of us have heard, or better yet read, that we are to love on another. You know that that means? It means loving EVERYBODY as Christ loves all of us…no matter the sin, no matter how horrible, mean, nasty, evil somebody appears to be, we are to love them unconditionally. HOW MANY OF US LIVE UP TO THAT ONE? Yet not following that is a sin!!!!! But we can rationalize that away, can’t we, that that is a sin we can do without any consequences, not like those adultery/ divorce sins. Yet sin is sin, and whomever does the least is guilty of them all! So why don’t we all put the rocks down against the divorced Catholics and show a little more mercy, love, and forgiveness. No, Jesus does not want us to divorce, but we are all human, we ALL sin and make mistakes which is why Christ came in the first place, to save us from OURSELVES. The Church should not be viewed as the reward of entitlement for the “perfect” few, but the source of healing for the imperfect majority who seek God’s Grace for forgiveness, repentence, healing, and LOVE.

  • “Christ forgave- he admonished not to do it again-but He FORGAVE.”

    Actually it was a command: Go and sin no more. That is precisely the problem in this area. A second marriage without an annulment is continual adultery unless the parties agree to live as brother and sister.

  • Keep truth ( in this case on marriage) and mercy-love (forgiveness) together: what God has joined together let no man put asunder :-)

  • John, no matter how many words you capitalize, you’re only telling half of the story. Of course we all sin, and we are constantly in need of God’s grace and mercy. No one would dispute that, and few of us would have the temerity to pronounce judgment on the state of another person’s soul. We do not have licence, however, to engage obstinately and openly in sin with no sign of being remotely penitential.

    No, we cannot shun the remarried Catholic. We don’t need to plaster a scarlet D or A or RM on their chest. But we also need to get over our Oprah-ized ideal of what it means to love. Pretending that the behavior is okay isn’t love. Offering them the sacraments isn’t love. We need to make room for the remarried Catholic in our hearts and do all that we can to be signs of God’s love to them, but we can’t make excuses for their behavior nor can we alter the teachings of our Church.

  • Paul Zummo, I hear what your saying but I don’t think I’m telling half the story. We Catholics are OBSESSED (yes, I capitalized) with divorce and adultery…oh, and murder. I, nor do I believe most divorced Catholics, believe that sexual promiscuity and divorce is OK. In a perfect world where there was no need for Christ, there would be none. But we don’t live in a perfect world and it is full of imperfect humans who make mistakes. If nobody made wrong judgements then there would have been no need for Christ. Christ came, not to have us dwell in the dark cloud of our sins forever, but to have that cloud lifted away so we can go forward with a new spirit and the burden lifted and the sin… erased.

    Everybody sins, and it isn’t just adultery. Nobody is condoning it, but we do need to forgive, heal, and move on. I’m not saying that sin is OK, but it is OK to forgive and that is what seems to be so lacking- and forgiveness and acceptance of the sinner is not the same thing as condoning the sin and justifying the behavior. But, trust me, none of us can walk out the door without committing one sin or another in God’s eyes, yet we can sanctimoniously point out someone elses sins and how THEY (sorry, couldn’t help myself :) ) should get in line with Church teachings while completely ignoring our own failings in not coming close to living up to Church teachings, which is a fault among all of us. Too easliy though, our own failings are often hidden, maybe not really emphasized by Priesthood, easily rationalized and maybe even condoned, yet we are just as guilty as the adulterer that we are so obsessed with making sure tows the Church line. How convenient that nobody calls us out and tells us to get in line with the Church under threat of not receiving Sacraments for our hidden sins, yet we are out of line, just the same. I guess that’s my point.

    Christ’s teachings are an ideal that none can ever hope to come close to achieving, no matter how much some of us might think we have. When Christ spoke about pointing out the speck in someone’s eye while ignoring the log in our own, heck, I know I’m carrying around the whole dog gone tree!! And I have a hunch I’m not the only one. Sometimes, I just wish I read more about forgiveness and healing than about how certain people broke a certain rule and must be kicked out (while keeping them in our prayers, of course) because they aren’t perfect, like us (the Church says so). It is so easy to point out an “adulterer” who shouldn’t receive sacraments, yet look at all of the people in line for communion carrying around their own logs of unforgiven sins (which is also against Church teachings) and, amaizingly, one never hears condemnation about that. And yet, isn’t that just as bad?

  • I would like to know why we don’t have any priests who perform Exorcism. I think in todays would where so much evil and cultist activities are going on. I once tried to
    find an exorcist for someone and it could not be done. If a person is possessed and under the influence of the devil or demons they need one and WHERE CAN YOU FIND AN EXORCIST. Noone seems to know or care. Did you know that the satonic headquarters is in Newtown, CT?

  • Rita,

    Each diocese has at least one priest delegated to investigate and perform the full rite of exorcism. Any case brought to the attention of the Church concerning the need for an exorcism first needs to be investigated. Many physical, psychological and mental maladies could lead someone to think someone needs an exorcism, but the person really needs professional medical, or psychiatric care. It would be a tremendous injustice not to give that person the care they need.

    At the same time, there really is an increase in the spread of evil ( which cannot be explained away as mental or emotional problems) people, even Christians are dabbling with seances, fortune tellers, astrology, ouija boards etc. These are not harmless games or past times. Further, involvement with cults, the occult is.more not less common. The biggest lie is that Satan and his minions do not exist

    Saint Peter tells us, ” Be sober, be watchful, your adversary the Devil goes about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour” ( 1 Peter). He is telling us to do two things. First, be sober: don’ t go around half crazed thinking Satan is under every rock or behind every tree. He also tells us to be watchful: the Devil is real and is very active in the world-but realize the battle between Good and evil is not an even match. God is God. Jesus Christ is the Son of God. The Devil is a creature, an angel- no matter how twisted or bad.

    What can the average Catholic do? Pray the Saint Michael prayer, have holy water in our homes, along with blessed salt and blessed beeswax candles.. Remain in full communion with the Church, in the state of grace with the sacrament of confession and Mass and Holy Communion. Further, read and pray over the spiritual weapons Saint Paul speaks of in Ephesians 6. Finally, do not be afraid, the Spirit of the One within us is greater than the spirit of the one in the world

  • John:

    No one here has condemned the divorced and remarried, as you claim. Rather, they have simply reiterated the teaching of the Church. Pointing that out Church teaching is not condemnation. From the tone of your posts, I think if you’re feeling condemned it’s not by us. It’s by yourself, although you remain conflicted about it. On the one hand you know the teaching is true. On the other hand, you find it difficult to live with (as did the apostles). And so you cast blame elsewhere by claiming a lack of forgiveness, and that others sin too. In doing so, you are engaging in the same condemnation that you accuse others of. Yes, we all sin. The fact that others sin is no reason for me to excuse my own sin. Nor is it reason for you to excuse your own sin. I don’t think you’re going to find peace by pointing out the perceived reactions of others. I think you’re going to find peace by addressing your own reaction, and determining why it is you feel conflicted, and what you need to do about it.

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