Green Room

Vatican trying to reset expectations at consistory on the family

posted at 2:44 pm on February 21, 2014 by

Maybe you’ve heard that the Vatican has called a consistory — a board meeting, essentially — of cardinals this week, one with a focus on issues of dealing with difficult family issues and evangelizing in a time of confusion on the home front. Pope Francis has been quoted as espousing a more welcoming attitude to those outside of communion because of divorce and remarriage, but the world press has gotten a little ahead of the narrative … again. They’ve set the bar high and apparently expect doctrinal change on divorce as a result.

The Vatican is now pushing back a bit on expectations, as John Allen reports for the Boston Globe:

Hopes are running so high that some of the pontiff’s closest advisors seem concerned he’s being set up for a fall. If the eventual decision is that such a shift on divorce is inconsistent with traditional Catholic teaching, they fret, exhilaration over the new pope could turn sour.

As a result, these prelates appear to be trying to dial down expectations, insisting that few Biblical teachings are clearer than Christ’s famous words “What God has joined, let no one separate,” and therefore allowing divorced Catholics to return to the sacraments en masse isn’t in the cards.

The latest senior Catholic official to make that case is Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto, Canada, who spoke today in an interview with the Globe. Collins is currently in Rome for two days of meetings of most of the world’s cardinals with Francis on issues related to marriage and the family.

Those meetings are a prelude to a ceremony on Saturday, called a consistory, in which Francis will create 19 new cardinals, including the church’s first-ever cardinal from the impoverished nation of Haiti.

“Obviously there’s a concern for people who are divorced and remarried, because it’s a very painful situation for them and for their children,” Collins said.

“But there’s also a very clear teaching,” the 67-year-old Collins said. “The indissolubility of marriage doesn’t go back to a code of canon law, or a pope, or a council. If there’s anything that’s pretty clear in the teaching of Christ, it’s this.”

The “clear teaching” in this case would be best seen in Matthew 19:3-9 (Ignatius Bible):

3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 4He answered, “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, 5and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one’? 6So they are no longer two but one.  What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” 7They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” 8He said to them, “For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery; and he who marries a divorced woman, commits adultery.”

In the Catholic Church, marriages between two Catholics in church are presumed to be sacramental, and therefore indissoluble. Other formulations may carry less presumption (marriage between a Catholic and a non-Catholic or non-Christian), and there is such a thing as the “Pauline privilege,” where a marriage involving at least one unbaptized partner can be assumed to be non-sacramental. In order to overcome the presumption of a sacramental marriage, one has to demonstrate that there was a significant defect in the relationship at the time of marriage that prevented the union from being sacramental. Immaturity can be one of those defects, as well as material dishonesty (say, not sharing that one partner had no intent to have children, as just one example), and so on.

This requires an annulment, which always takes place after a civil divorce. They are not impossible to come by, either; my wife had her first marriage annulled before we met. In her case, it was easier to demonstrate the lack of sacrament because her first husband cooperated with the annulment process, and our diocese had a well-functioning system for dealing with it. It’s not automatic by any means, though, and many divorced Catholics find the process bruising and difficult, especially when the former spouse refuses to cooperate and dioceses don’t have the resources for efficient processing. Plus, former spouses fighting the annulment can appeal to the Vatican, which makes it even more difficult and time-consuming, and more than a few simply give up.

I’d expect this consistory to focus on making the annulment process less bruising and more efficient. They won’t change doctrine on divorce, remarriage, and the Eucharist, simply because the Scripture on this is clear and on point. They can, however, make it easier for the local dioceses to review and conclude annulment applications, and therefore reduce the pressure people feel to leave.

 

Recently in the Green Room:

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Thank you, Ed, for once again presenting clear, easy-to-follow explanations of what Catholic teaching actually is and what can and cannot come from this consistory or any other action of the Pope.

However, I hold out no home that the media will ever report the story correctly, because as with so many other things, their goal is not to report but to drive the process to a desired result, in this case the overall weakening of marriage by getting the Church to say that divorce and remarriage are just fine and dandy.

What the press will never grasp, because of their lack of faith, is that Catholic doctrine is unchangeable, even by a Pope. No Pope has ever changed Church doctrine and none ever will. Unfortunately, those writing the media narratives don’t accept this, and continue to foster the idea that the Pope could change Church teaching on divorce as easily as he could change rules on Friday abstinence.

Procedural changes are certainly do-able, and I completely agree with your assessment that the Church can and should address the annulment process. But procedural changes are not what the media is looking for. They are looking for doctrinal changes because of their hatred for the Church, and that is obviously not going to happen.

Shump on February 21, 2014 at 2:52 PM

I’m not trying to ignite a comment war, but I’ve always been…curious about how normally literal-interpreting Protestants justify divorce and remarriage.

As Ed indicates, there is literally nothing else in Scripture that Jesus was more direct and to the point about than the sinfullness of remarriage after divorce.

Nessuno on February 21, 2014 at 4:07 PM

On Tuesday I am talking about marriage at our local Catholic church. There are 2 aspects to God. Love and the Law. When you focus only on the love part, you get “well they love one another, isn’t that enough” or “God is a God of love and He wouldn’t discriminate against gay people because they love too”. But it isn’t just about love, it’s about the law too. Jesus in the quote above refers to “in the beginning it was not so … and the two became one”. Also in the beginning God created man and woman. It is clear, marriage is one man, and one woman. The church will never change that. As Ed said above, they can’t.

odannyboy on February 21, 2014 at 4:35 PM

They are looking for doctrinal changes because of their hatred for the Church, and that is obviously not going to happen.

Actually, many Catholics think that the penalty for getting remarried is unfair and the annulment process favors the rich and is the ultimate hypocrisy. It has nothing to do about the MSM wanting to destroy the Church. Frankly, ponder this.. Nancy Pelosi is a Catholic in good standing but guy who married his pregnant high school sweetheart, later got a divorce, and got remarried later isn’t. Unless the Church is going to require everyone to present a Confession card with the appropriate stamp to receive Communion then I think it would be nice if the Church stopped playing Communion police.

Ideally, the Catholic Church would stop playing Communion police on this one, but a small segment of the neo-traditionalist laity seems obsessed with other people’s failed marriages so I guess quickie annulments are the way to go. That process is messed up and can and is abused by people. We had a neighbor when I was growing up whose emotionally abusive husband used the process to torture her. I was actually shocked to learn that abuse isn’t grounds for a Catholic annulment and that the ex was allowed to use the process for such nefarious purposes. It seems like abuse victims, victims of adultery, etc. should have an easy time getting an annulment and that it should be done at the local parish level with the only appeal to the bishop. It should be much easier for average folks to get and much harder for rich politicians.

I’m not trying to ignite a comment war, but I’ve always been…curious about how normally literal-interpreting Protestants justify divorce and remarriage.

I’m assuming that many do see divorce as sinful, but they don’t see marriage as sacramental. Protestants only see Baptism and the Eucharist as Sacraments. They also don’t have any roadblocks to receiving the Eucharist put in place. I’m assuming that grave sinners can be kicked out of the church, but I think that even people not associated with that sect can receive the Eucharist at most Protestant churches.

Illinidiva on February 21, 2014 at 5:12 PM

Illinidiva on February 21, 2014 at 5:12 PM

Let me just address a couple of points here:

* My wife was flat broke and living only on a disability pension with a toddler when she got her annulment (thanks in part to the divorce, actually, which she didn’t want in the first place). It’s not just open to the “rich.”

* I’ve been an active Catholic for 25 years, and I’ve never seen the “Communion police.” The church teaches that to properly receive Communion, one has to be in a state of grace, but it doesn’t test people who come into the Communion line to make sure they’re in compliance. The only way Communion would be denied would be if the parishioner went out of their way to demonstrate to the priest that they were not in a state of grace — and even then, it’s mostly the laity that distribute the Eucharist these days. The teaching on the state of grace as a condition of proper Communion has been consistent for two millenia, and the entire Mass is ordered to it.

* In the Catholic Church, marriage IS a sacrament. That teaching is also extremely clear and goes back to the beginning. If people don’t believe that marriage is a sacrament and that a state of grace is needed before taking the body and blood of Our Lord into their bodies, then why would they attend a Catholic Church — and why should the Catholic Church change their doctrine to accommodate them?

Ed Morrissey on February 21, 2014 at 5:29 PM

Pope Francis has been quoted as espousing a more welcoming attitude to those outside of communion because of divorce and remarriage, but the world press has gotten a little ahead of the narrative … again. They’ve set the bar high and apparently expect doctrinal change on divorce as a result.

Yeah, but maybe THIS time the Pope won’t be Catholic!!

In the Catholic Church, marriages between two Catholics in church are presumed to be sacramental, and therefore indissoluble. Other formulations may carry less presumption (marriage between a Catholic and a non-Catholic or non-Christian), and there is such a thing as the “Pauline privilege,” where a marriage involving at least one unbaptized partner can be assumed to be non-sacramental. In order to overcome the presumption of a sacramental marriage, one has to demonstrate that there was a significant defect in the relationship at the time of marriage that prevented the union from being sacramental. Immaturity can be one of those defects, as well as material dishonesty (say, not sharing that one partner had no intent to have children, as just one example), and so on.

Catholic doctrine on marriage is a mess. I suppose it’s because of the attempt to name it a “sacrament.” That leads to drawing distinctions between marriages involving two good Catholics, and between a Catholic and non-Catholic, on the plausible proposition that a marriage between two faithful Catholics would probably be more sacramental.

That’s an unfortunate claim, though, because it effectively says some marriages are worth more than others. It’s certainly not justifiable from Scripture, which never taught any kind of marriage but one. And Jesus did not come up with new doctrine on marriage. He simply re-affirmed that it was God’s design from the beginning, and then answered the whole question of divorce with, “Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered [allowed] you to put away your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.”

Marriage was not instituted as part of the Christian faith, but as part of the Creation. And that’s why Jesus in His answer went straight back to the Creation of God, and God’s design. “From the beginning.”

There Goes the Neighborhood on February 21, 2014 at 5:31 PM

* In the Catholic Church, marriage IS a sacrament. That teaching is also extremely clear and goes back to the beginning. If people don’t believe that marriage is a sacrament and that a state of grace is needed before taking the body and blood of Our Lord into their bodies, then why would they attend a Catholic Church — and why should the Catholic Church change their doctrine to accommodate them?

Ed Morrissey on February 21, 2014 at 5:29 PM

I’ll dispute exactly one part of that, where you say it “goes back to the beginning.” And I dispute it not as Catholic doctrine, but because Jesus specifically said, “from the beginning” to refer to the Creation, and set that as the foundation of doctrine on marriage. The doctrine of marriage as a sacrament clearly was not established “from the beginning” in the same sense that Jesus said it.

There Goes the Neighborhood on February 21, 2014 at 5:37 PM

That’s an unfortunate claim, though, because it effectively says some marriages are worth more than others. It’s certainly not justifiable from Scripture, which never taught any kind of marriage but one.

The Pauline privilege comes directly from Scripture, actually. It’s found in 1 Corinthians 7:10-15, and talks about dissolution of marriages between a believer and a non-believer. The bar is much higher for annulments (today, I mean) between two believers, and usually has to rest on some sort of pathology or intentional dishonesty prior to the marriage.

Ed Morrissey on February 21, 2014 at 5:38 PM

Ideally, the Catholic Church would stop playing Communion police on this one, but a small segment of the neo-traditionalist laity seems obsessed with other people’s failed marriages so I guess quickie annulments are the way to go.

Illinidiva on February 21, 2014 at 5:12 PM

Really? You really think it is “neo-traditionalist laity”? The withholding of Holy Communion is in Scripture (1 Corinthians 12, to be exact), when St. Paul commands those not in a disposition to receive the Body and Blood of Christ to refrain, lest they “eat and drink condemnation on themselves”. The Church has ALWAYS held Paul to be referring to living in manifest grave sin (which remarriage after divorce is: adultery) to NOT being in a disposition to receive Communion. In fact, in the Early Church, adultery was held in the same light as murder, abortion, and apostasy: all needed a public confession and recanting of their past life prior to reception of Holy Communion.

If you think it a “hard teaching” you wouldn’t be alone. Yet Christ never said it’d be easy.

mrteachersir on February 21, 2014 at 5:42 PM

There Goes the Neighborhood on February 21, 2014 at 5:37 PM

And yet all of the apostolic churches — Catholic and the Orthodox religions — consider marriage a sacrament. At the very least, that would make the teaching at least a thousand years old.

In the Catholic teaching, sacraments are ” efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions.” Jesus himself spoke about the divine nature of marriage (as you also note), which is what makes it a sign of grace and reinstituted in its original intended form by His teaching.

Ed Morrissey on February 21, 2014 at 5:42 PM

As I indicated above, I have no problem with the Church’s teachings on marriage. But I do think the issue of withholding the Eucharist is more problematic.

In response to what Ed said above, I’d say that priests withholding communion does, on very rare occasion, happen. But it takes a courageous priest and usually a rather reckless parishioner.

The fact is, that while the remarriage might have been sinful, I find it impossible to believe that the only way a man could come back into communion with God and the Church would be to abandon his new wife and possibly children.

We Catholics also have the sacrament of reconciliation, which is incredibly powerful. We ought to also believe that a genuine confession of the sin of remarriage can be forgiven, even if the marriage itself is ongoing. In essence, the sin was the marriage, not the on-going relationship.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Vatican came back with this sort of clarification.

Nessuno on February 21, 2014 at 6:34 PM

I think it’s worth pointing out here that a priest withholding Communion from a person at Mass is not only rare, but practically forbidden, in all but the most extreme circumstances.

As Ed pointed out, there are no “Communion police” deciding who can come up to receive. For the most part, anyone who presents themselves will be given Communion. Heck, even a non-Catholic could go up and wouldn’t be turned away. We don’t have to show our magic “Catholic ID card” to receive.

Even if a priest knows that a particular person is not properly disposed to receive Communion, they are generally not to refuse Communion at Mass but are to counsel the person privately, lest they run the risk of creating scandal. The sins of an individual are not the business of the parish community, hence the inviolable sanctity of the confessional.

The only time Communion could ever be justly denied is if the person’s sins were so widely known and publicized that the act of receiving Communion would, in itself, be scandalous. And that is the grounds on which many feel politicians such as Nancy Pelosi should be denied. But as we’ve seen, even then, pastors and bishops are hesitant to deny Communion.

No, in the Catholic Church, the practice is most definitely to err on the side of giving Communion in all but the most serious of cases.

Shump on February 21, 2014 at 6:59 PM

We Catholics also have the sacrament of reconciliation, which is incredibly powerful. We ought to also believe that a genuine confession of the sin of remarriage can be forgiven, even if the marriage itself is ongoing. In essence, the sin was the marriage, not the on-going relationship.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Vatican came back with this sort of clarification.

Nessuno on February 21, 2014 at 6:34 PM

The on-going relationship is adultery, unless the first marriage has been declared invalid through the annulment process. Because without an annulment, you are still married to your first spouse! There is simply no way that the Church can declare that is “okay.” It would fly in the face of the fundamental Catholic beliefs on marriage that come straight from Scripture.

Shump on February 21, 2014 at 7:02 PM

It would fly in the face of the fundamental Catholic beliefs on marriage that come straight from Scripture.

You assume too much of the Scripture.

The Gospels all agree that getting married is itself the adultery.

Nessuno on February 21, 2014 at 7:16 PM

I’m not trying to ignite a comment war, but I’ve always been…curious about how normally literal-interpreting Protestants justify divorce and remarriage.

As Ed indicates, there is literally nothing else in Scripture that Jesus was more direct and to the point about than the sinfullness of remarriage after divorce.

Nessuno on February 21, 2014 at 4:07 PM

See this part of the verse: 9And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery; and he who marries a divorced woman, commits adultery.”

When a wife leaves her husband and takes up with someone else and refuses to come back, a man is free to divorce and remarry. Direct and to the point, isn’t it. Should a man be forced by a faithless wife to remain alone?

ScottG on February 21, 2014 at 9:03 PM

How silly. The wedding is not the sin, which you seem to be asserting. Surely you understand that having sex with someone who is not one’s spouse is adultery? This is hardly a new or Catholic definition.

The 2nd wedding and the 2nd marriage are invalid on its face, because there is an indissoluble existing marriage. Ipso facto, one is not lawfully married to the second partner, and still lawfully married to the first. It makes no difference whether the lawful spouse is simply abandoned for a whole parade of new sex partners, or whether one goes through a ceremony and cleaves solely to the newer partner. The sin of adultery is contingent on the act (not the intention) of the offender in going outside lawful marriage for sex.

Only when the first marriage is proved to have been so flawed at its inception can it be annulled or made to have never been a marriage at all.

Its a tough and unsentimental part of Scripture, but only your own desire to close your eyes to it make it obscure to you.

Pless1foEngrish on February 21, 2014 at 9:06 PM

Oops.

You assume too much of the Scripture.

The Gospels all agree that getting married is itself the adultery.

Nessuno on February 21, 2014 at 7:16 PM

How silly. The wedding is not the sin, which you seem to be asserting. Surely you understand that having sex with someone who is not one’s spouse is adultery. This is hardly a new or Catholic definition.

The 2nd wedding and the 2nd marriage are invalid on its face, because there is an indissoluble existing marriage. Ipso facto, one is not lawfully married to the second partner, and still lawfully married to the first. It makes no difference whether the lawful spouse is simply abandoned for a whole parade of new sex partners, or whether one goes through a ceremony and cleaves to the newer partner. The sin of adultery is contingent on the act (not the intention) of the offender in going outside lawful marriage for sex.

Only when the first marriage is proved to have been so flawed at its inception can it be annulled or made to have never been a marriage at all.

Its a tough and unsentimental part of Scripture, but only your own desire to close your eyes to it make it obscure to you.

Pless1foEngrish on February 21, 2014 at 9:07 PM

I see that my post has caused a bit of a ruckus so let me respond to all

1. I am aware that cost shouldn’t be a deterrent in the annulment process. However, the perception among many Catholics that money does help. And the truth is that Church justice is influenced by money as much as civil justice is. Newt Gingrich, the Kennedys, etc. probably pay canon lawyers for their cases and have lots of help. Gingrich was able to get two marriages annulled. I don’t think that if he was an insurance salesman in Georgia that his case would have had the same outcome. It was complicated and probably take more money to get a favorable outcome than most middle class Americans can spend.

Moreover, I think that we’re looking at it from a suburban American perspective. An annulment probably is out of reach for many Catholics in poorer countries. I don’t think many people living in the Rio favelas are getting annulments.

2. By communion police, I’m speaking on the conservative types who seem to populate every orthodox Catholic website, message board, etc. I have reached a breaking point with websites like National Catholic Register and EWTN as well as Patheos. They all seem to attract a specific type of laity who spend their time as the “communion police” and trying to turn the Catholic Church into an arm for the Tea Party. (Which means denying Communion to people in sexual relationships we don’t like and Democratic politicians). A long with plenty of whining about how the priest violates the literary rubrics or how Frozen is totally an evil movie that will turn their children gay. Are these people for real? Do they really tattle to the priest if a remarried acquaintance takes Communion or write letters to the diocese about the priest’s music selections?

I’ve never heard anyone denied communion either but I was just wondering if this is for real.

3. With the Sacrament, I was trying to discuss why Protestants see marriage differently than Catholics. It isn’t sacramental to them. Additionally, I believe that Protestants approach the Eucharist differently. I don’t need to be a Methodist to participate in a Methodist Communion service

Illinidiva on February 21, 2014 at 9:12 PM

Illinidiva, you should be educated enough to know that Catholics view the transubstantiated Eucharist as the actual Body and Blood- Protestants do not.
To them, the Communion is only symbolic of the Last Supper, and partaking is an occasional part of their service. Everyone welcome to share in the symbol.

For Catholics (you do know this, correct? you claim to be Catholic) Communion is serious stuff. Only after a church member is prepared by Baptism and education will the Church administer the Sacrament of First Holy Communion. During that preparation, all are taught that one should partake of the Eucharist free of grave sin; adultery or supporting abortion or enabling slavery or child abuse is definitely in the realm of of mortal sin, wouldn’t you agree?

If you are a Catholic who disbelieves in the Real Presence, then probably you are also unhappy with those “arm of the Tea Party” types who feel brazen sinners (you understand what makes a brazen sinner, correct? Like Nancy Pelosi called abortion rights sacred ground?) should not be so uncaring and careless as to share our supreme sacrament with unbelief.

Of course you’ve never actually seen any of these “communion Police”, but you do appear to worry about them.

And as for your point that Protestants see marriage differently than Catholics? Plenty of Evangelicals and Pentecostals take a Scriptural view and hold marriage to be sacramental and a lifelong covenant as any Catholic.
Mainline Prots are much like cafeteria Catholics- don’t want to be inflicted with all that sin and repentance stuff.

Pless1foEngrish on February 21, 2014 at 10:00 PM

For Catholics (you do know this, correct? you claim to be Catholic) Communion is serious stuff. Only after a church member is prepared by Baptism and education will the Church administer the Sacrament of First Holy Communion. During that preparation, all are taught that one should partake of the Eucharist free of grave sin; adultery or supporting abortion or enabling slavery or child abuse is definitely in the realm of of mortal sin, wouldn’t you agree?

Yes. I am aware of the Catholic teachings on Communion. And I am also aware that most people break those teachings. What is amusing to me is that the extra special, neo-trad Communion police (who know oh-so-much more about Canon Law and Church doctrine than the priests) only whine online about social conservative causes. It is either denying Democratic politicians Communion or denying people who aren’t living like Leave It to Beaver Communion. For instance, I don’t think that if a liberal priest decided to deny politicians who voted for cuts to public aid, that would go over very well in National Catholic Register land. There would be much shrieking about that because the Catholic Church is one with the Tea Party.. sarc off. (No, Catholic social justice teaching is quasi-socialist.) So let’s just let God sort this one out.

Illinidiva on February 21, 2014 at 10:42 PM

Yes. I am aware of the Catholic teachings on Communion. And I am also aware that most people break those teachings

Because people (Most? Really?) break clear Church doctrine …you believe- what? The teachings are faulty?

That’s an odd belief for a Catholic, and certainly unscriptural. But not surprising from a cultural rather than a committed Catholic.

Scripture is tough- Christianity is paradoxical. Its why so many people retreat to a warm-fuzzy Kumbaya kind of religious belief, I guess. I’m OK, You’re OK, I mean well so God loves me (just don’t make me change my life, OK God?).

I’ll include you in my prayers.

Pless1foEngrish on February 21, 2014 at 11:19 PM

I’m not trying to ignite a comment war, but I’ve always been…curious about how normally literal-interpreting Protestants justify divorce and remarriage.

As Ed indicates, there is literally nothing else in Scripture that Jesus was more direct and to the point about than the sinfullness of remarriage after divorce.

Nessuno on February 21, 2014 at 4:07 PM

First, it’s important to differentiate that marriage is viewed differently by Protestants. In Catholicism, marriage is a sacrament, on par with Holy Communion and Baptism, whereas in the Protestant tradition, marriage is a rite — still a sacred event, but not of the same caliber as Communion and Baptism. Hence, the process for Catholicism requires much more involvement than does Protestantism.

Second, it’s important to recognize that Protestants do not justify divorce and remarriage, any more than Catholics do. Neither faith sees divorce as desirable and counsels people to avoid it if at all possible. Remarriage is only countenanced in the context of Luther’s famous statement, “Marriage is good, virginity is better, but purity of heart is best” — in other words, people have needs, and if yours is not the gift of virginity or chastity, it is better for you to be married than to fornicate.

The basic problem is that liberals and the Obama Party see marriage as a benefits package, not a lifetime commitment, and thus can’t understand why these churches are so adamantly against something that they view purely as a matter of convenience. For Obama supporters and liberals, marriage is like a car lease; if you don’t like it after a few months, you pay the fine and get a new one. Liberals find incomprehensible the thought that marriage indicates commitment, responsibility, fidelity, or willingness to share goals; for them, it’s simply a matter of convenience, and they’ll stick around as long as it’s convenient for them.

northdallasthirty on February 22, 2014 at 12:12 AM

For instance, I don’t think that if a liberal priest decided to deny politicians who voted for cuts to public aid, that would go over very well in National Catholic Register land.

Probably not.

Mainly because one could simply point to the numerous passages in the Bible in which Jesus makes clear that charity is the individual’s and the church’s responsibility, not the government’s. Indeed, the parable of the talents makes clear that those who choose not to be productive are to be punished, not to be rewarded with Obamacare and free health insurance.

And I thought this was interesting:

What is amusing to me is that the extra special, neo-trad Communion police (who know oh-so-much more about Canon Law and Church doctrine than the priests) only whine online about social conservative causes. It is either denying Democratic politicians Communion or denying people who aren’t living like Leave It to Beaver Communion.

I generally find it interesting that people who are so down on Catholicism are so desperate to have Communion given to them.

I would simply turn them to 1 Corinthians 11:27-31.

So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment.

In short, if you are banned from Communion because of something you are doing, the priest is PROTECTING you from bringing worse down upon yourself.

northdallasthirty on February 22, 2014 at 12:29 AM

There Goes the Neighborhood on February 21, 2014 at 5:37 PM

And yet all of the apostolic churches — Catholic and the Orthodox religions — consider marriage a sacrament. At the very least, that would make the teaching at least a thousand years old.

In the Catholic teaching, sacraments are ” efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions.” Jesus himself spoke about the divine nature of marriage (as you also note), which is what makes it a sign of grace and reinstituted in its original intended form by His teaching.

Ed Morrissey on February 21, 2014 at 5:42 PM

If I understand your meaning as Catholic and Greek or Russian Orthodox, then you’re basically talking about a single institution that divided along political lines when the Western and Eastern Roman Empires split up. So yes, it’s not surprising that they would have similar doctrine.

But when Jesus spoke of marriage, he went straight back to the creation.

I think this is a perfect illustration of why Catholics tend to see marriage as a religious institution specifically, when according to the simpler statement of Jesus quoted, it was given to all mankind from the beginning.

From my non-Catholic viewpoint, calling marriage a sacrament is a mistake. Marriage has nothing to do with salvation, which is a gift of grace. Living rightly affects marriage, of course, but it affects everything else.

But then, I’m not one of those hoping the Pope will try to change Catholic doctrine.

There Goes the Neighborhood on February 22, 2014 at 12:31 AM

My Cistercian high school teacher said that denial of the Eucharist was a matter for the recipient, not the minister of the Eucharist. To deny someone Communion at Mass in front of a congregation would invite the sin of scandal, which would outweigh a sinner receiving the Body of Christ.

DarthBrooks on February 22, 2014 at 12:34 AM

I’m not trying to ignite a comment war, but I’ve always been…curious about how normally literal-interpreting Protestants justify divorce and remarriage.

As Ed indicates, there is literally nothing else in Scripture that Jesus was more direct and to the point about than the sinfullness of remarriage after divorce.

Nessuno on February 21, 2014 at 4:07 PM

To be honest, I think most non-Catholics consider the Catholic doctrine of annulment to be basically a rationalization to grant a divorce by claiming the marriage was never valid. So the people you’re referring to would see annulment and divorce as the same thing, and accept neither.

Granted, this may be an over-generalization, but I think it’s basically accurate.

northdallasthirty on February 22, 2014 at 12:12 AM

Well put.

There Goes the Neighborhood on February 22, 2014 at 12:51 AM

Because people (Most? Really?) break clear Church doctrine …you believe- what? The teachings are faulty?

That’s an odd belief for a Catholic, and certainly unscriptural. But not surprising from a cultural rather than a committed Catholic.

Yeah.. Most Catholics I know don’t go to Confession and they all take Communion. In fact, the only people who don’t go to Communion weekly are Latinos, which I’m sure will make someone with your screen name shudder in horror. (I press 2 for Spanish every Sunday and attend Spanish Mass. I cannot bring myself to deal with the butchery of the English language that is the new translation.)

Scripture is tough- Christianity is paradoxical. Its why so many people retreat to a warm-fuzzy Kumbaya kind of religious belief, I guess. I’m OK, You’re OK, I mean well so God loves me (just don’t make me change my life, OK God?).

You must really hate Pope Francis’ idea of Catholicism. And no, the idea of mercy isn’t.. I’m okay, you’re okay. It is acknowledging God’s love and forgiveness. Conservative Catholics have such an ugly, Old Testament version of God. They have more in common with Calvinists than they would like to admit.

Illinidiva on February 22, 2014 at 7:29 AM

Years ago, in Ireland, attending church on the feat of Corpus Christi, the priest talked about who should receive communion. His take was that unless you had committed a mortal sin and had not yet repented, you should come up. If we were planning to climb a mountain, we would make sure to be well fed before and as we climbed. We are all sinners, and communion is the food which helps us climb towards our better selves (because no-one living is truly sinless).

As for communion itself, I was a Vatican II baby, born in ’61. I didn’t even hear the word transubstantiation until I was 16 or 17, and I went to school with the nuns for the last two years. In college in Dublin, we had a group meeting for several weeks discussing a document which had come out of a meeting of Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran theologians, looking at what we had in common, and where we differed. That was where I found out what Catholics believe happens at communion, and also that because of how I had been taught (or rather not taught, they NEVER talked about it) during years of Sunday School, my understanding was perfectly described by Luther’s iron and fire analogy. I’m sure I’m not the only person raised Catholic in the last half century was was essentially taught, or allowed to understand, incorrect doctrine. We spent so much time on generic Christian doctrine and also Jewish history and customs, that I have always said that the Catholic Church raised a really good Jewish Protestant.

LibraryGryffon on February 22, 2014 at 10:54 AM

If this consistory doesn’t make it harder for guys like Bill O’Reilly and half the male members of the Kennedy clan to screw over their wives, it will have accomplished nothing of importance.

gryphon202 on February 22, 2014 at 12:25 PM

Man, you guys get down in the weeds and lose me more than not. From a point of view of one looking in from the outside…….I think……

The church is an institution founded for humans on direct instructions/principles from God. If God is perfect, then the rules He sat down are perfect, thus there is no basis for change. Or am I missing a point and God can become more perfect over time?

Thus if the Church changes doctrine over time to exist in the present, it would no longer be a Church of God’s design, but a social organization now designed by man.

I know I butt into these conversations, but I am just trying to form a foundation to understand you guys.

HonestLib on February 22, 2014 at 1:02 PM

Or am I missing a point and God can become more perfect over time?

HonestLib on February 22, 2014 at 1:02 PM

God exists outside of time.

DarkCurrent on February 22, 2014 at 1:51 PM

God exists outside of time.

DarkCurrent on February 22, 2014 at 1:51 PM

Well, that came out of left field….in a good way. My feeble mind is struggling to understand your statement. The only correlation I can explain my thinking is that science exists outside of time. The truths of science have always existed, or do you believe they came from God?…..but in any case the facts/truths of science are what they are and it is our understanding and misunderstand of scientific truths that change over time.

Am I even close?

HonestLib on February 22, 2014 at 2:24 PM

…do you believe they came from God?

HonestLib on February 22, 2014 at 2:24 PM

I’m a Buddhist, so atheist.

How could science exist outside of time? How could anything exist outside of time? Even dreams exist within time.

DarkCurrent on February 22, 2014 at 2:36 PM

Hmmm, me thinks I have become the mouse being set up by the cat. Last time I played cat and mouse was with things with wings.

HonestLib on February 22, 2014 at 2:41 PM

On the one hand, seeing a church take marriage seriously is good. But I think the way annulment is handled in some dioceses seems more legalistic than others and I don’t understand why. It’s also hard to fathom why a couple that lives together in a long term relationship, has kids, then breaks up is off scot-free when they wouldn’t be if they’d have married. Yes I understand the legal differences but again, that gets into legalism. I’m not one of those “Jesus is my bff” people but I don’t think He was as rejecting of people as the Church (or the Pharisees, which the Church sometimes seems to emulate).

Shay on February 22, 2014 at 2:56 PM

You must really hate Pope Francis’ idea of Catholicism. And no, the idea of mercy isn’t.. I’m okay, you’re okay. It is acknowledging God’s love and forgiveness. Conservative Catholics have such an ugly, Old Testament version of God. They have more in common with Calvinists than they would like to admit.

Illinidiva on February 22, 2014 at 7:29 AM

LOL.

Your statement underscores the importance of good parenting in understanding God and religious belief.

Children raised by good parents understand that love encompasses both giving and saying no.

Children raised by worthless liberal parents equate love with getting their way in everything all the time.

Pope Francis’s beliefs cover the former. Yours fall in the latter.

northdallasthirty on February 22, 2014 at 10:30 PM

Heck, even a non-Catholic could go up and wouldn’t be turned away. We don’t have to show our magic “Catholic ID card” to receive.

Shump…if the priest knows it is a non Catholic approaching for communion he should turn them away…and as far as the Illinidiva goes, others have pointed out her shallow understanding of Catholic doctrine. She represents the doomed rearguard of the “progressive” Catholics who can’t stand to admit the the American leadership’s hijacking of Vatican II has led to 30 years of decline in the Church.

ironmarshal on February 23, 2014 at 10:54 AM

LOL.

Your statement underscores the importance of good parenting in understanding God and religious belief.

Children raised by good parents understand that love encompasses both giving and saying no.

Children raised by worthless liberal parents equate love with getting their way in everything all the time.

Pope Francis’s beliefs cover the former. Yours fall in the latter.

northdallasthirty on February 22, 2014 at 10:30 PM

Actually, I never got my own way when I was growing up.. as in ever. My father was especially very frugal. I’m quite horrified by what kids today get away with because this would have never been tolerated in my house growing up. However, there was also a great sense that my parents loved me and were willing to help me out.

I think that with the Catholic Church, there has been a sense of only boundaries and limits and no forgiveness and mercy. There was no tenderness in the Catholic Church that I grew up with.. only boundaries and harsh scolding. The Catholic Church that I grew up in was an “exclusive club” where only the perfect were allowed and everyone else was turned away. None of the priests and nuns I’ve met has ever really cared for me as a person; I didn’t feel that they were rooting for me to succeed. They were concerned about protecting their own little fiefdoms and pointing out that they were better than the laity. The nuns were especially bitter. Just take one example.. Confession. When I was in Catholic school, the sisters used to threaten the “naughty” children with Confession; it was a form of punishment to us like missing recess. Pope Francis’ version of Confession is much nicer. I can give you more? I was very hurt by my experiences with the Catholic Church growing up.

I think that the conservative Catholics’ version of the Church is one of harsh scoldings and boundaries and no mercy or forgiveness. In fact, I know it is. I’ve read news sites and forums like National Catholic Register and EWTN and that really is how the commentators, the “pure elect” view things. I think that they think that God will strike them down with a lightening bolt if the altar isn’t set up correctly. They seem to revel in the fact that everyone is going to Hell (except of course them) and they won’t have to with the yucky people who aren’t married suburban Americans with a white picket fence and at least six kids. Oh, and they cannot be bothered to help their neighbors because it is so easy to judge and so hard to accept and love. I think that their view of God is as a narrow-minded and bigoted as they are.

Illinidiva on February 23, 2014 at 11:53 AM

Shump…if the priest knows it is a non Catholic approaching for communion he should turn them away…and as far as the Illinidiva goes, others have pointed out her shallow understanding of Catholic doctrine. She represents the doomed rearguard of the “progressive” Catholics who can’t stand to admit the the American leadership’s hijacking of Vatican II has led to 30 years of decline in the Church.

ironmarshal on February 23, 2014 at 10:54 AM

Yes.. I’m really tired of the more Catholic than the pope types. Please leave and join the SSPX.

Illinidiva on February 23, 2014 at 11:55 AM

In the Catholic Church, marriages between two Catholics in church are presumed to be sacramental, and therefore indissoluble. Other formulations may carry less presumption

Ed, you might be interested in knowing the LDS position, in my understanding.
Marriage is extremely important in the Mormon Church.
However, there are two types:
(1) Civil / ecclesiastical marriages contracted “for time” which are man-made, whether or not a Mormon bishop is officiating as an agent of the state, and need not be between two Mormons even if he is;
(2) Temple marriages sealed “for eternity” which are God-made, officiated by men holding delegated authority from the President of the Church as an agent of Christ, and both parties must be LDS.

Those who are joined by man can be un-joined likewise (divorced), and there is no impediment to forming another marriage.
Those who are joined by God have to get permission from the First Presidency to have their temple marriages annulled (to be un-sealed) before they can be sealed to someone else in the temple; they can also be re-married civilly after divorce without annulling the sealing (many Mormons who have outlived a beloved spouse do so).

As others have said, I really appreciate the clarity you bring to understanding the Catholic doctrine and practice.

AesopFan on February 23, 2014 at 4:41 PM

also be re-married civilly after divorce without annulling the sealing (or after being widowed — many Mormons who have outlived a beloved spouse do so).

clarification

AesopFan on February 23, 2014 at 4:43 PM

For the record, although this post didn’t enter the SSM maelstrom, here is the LDS position in an official press release:

As a church, our doctrinal position is clear: any sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong, and we define marriage as between a man and a woman. However, that should never, ever be used as justification for unkindness. Jesus Christ, whom we follow, was clear in His condemnation of sexual immorality, but never cruel. His interest was always to lift the individual, never to tear down.

Further, while the Church is strongly on the record as opposing same-sex marriage, it has openly supported other rights for gays and lesbians such as protections in housing or employment.

The Church’s doctrine is based on love. We believe that our purpose in life is to learn, grow and develop, and that God’s unreserved love enables each of us to reach our potential. None of us is limited by our feelings or inclinations. Ultimately, we are free to act for ourselves.

The Church recognizes that those of its members who are attracted to others of the same sex experience deep emotional, social and physical feelings. The Church distinguishes between feelings or inclinations on the one hand and behavior on the other. It’s not a sin to have feelings, only in yielding to temptation.

There is no question that this is difficult, but Church leaders and members are available to help lift, support and encourage fellow members who wish to follow Church doctrine. Their struggle is our struggle. Those in the Church who are attracted to someone of the same sex but stay faithful to the Church’s teachings can be happy during this life and perform meaningful service in the Church. They can enjoy full fellowship with other Church members, including attending and serving in temples, and ultimately receive all the blessings afforded to those who live the commandments of God.

AesopFan on February 23, 2014 at 4:50 PM

Illinidiva on February 21, 2014 at 5:12 PM

Never used to think it until the past several weeks of your posts. You’re ugly and no not in a physical way.

CWchangedhisNicagain on February 23, 2014 at 6:03 PM

Shump…if the priest knows it is a non Catholic approaching for communion he should turn them away…and as far as the Illinidiva goes, others have pointed out her shallow understanding of Catholic doctrine. She represents the doomed rearguard of the “progressive” Catholics who can’t stand to admit the the American leadership’s hijacking of Vatican II has led to 30 years of decline in the Church.

ironmarshal on February 23, 2014 at 10:54 AM

Oh, absolutely I agree that a known non-Catholic should be denied Communion. There would be no creation of scandal there, because the fact that they are not Catholic is public knowledge. It’s not like refusing someone Communion because the priest knows them to be in a state of mortal sin, and by doing so he makes their state of sin public knowledge.

My point to Illinidiva was that in most churches, a priest would assume anyone approaching for Communion was a Catholic and would simply give it to them. Therefore, a non-Catholic could generally come forward and not be noticed. Illinidiva seems to feel that there is some TSA-like set of screeners scrutinizing everyone who comes forward for Communion, which is of course not the case.

Regarding the rest of your post, I wholeheartedly agree.

Shump on February 23, 2014 at 6:16 PM

CWchangedhisNicagin

Why exactly… I’d like to know what is so uawful that I posted that made me an evil spoiled brat.

Illinidiva on February 23, 2014 at 6:27 PM

Illinidiva on February 21, 2014 at 5:12 PM

Never used to think it until the past several weeks of your posts. You’re ugly and no not in a physical way.

CWchangedhisNicagain on February 23, 2014 at 6:03 PM

That’s rich coming from you.

I did not see anything uncivil in illdiva’s posts.

lexhamfox on February 23, 2014 at 6:31 PM

Shump

I don’t think that. I think that the types at National Catholic Register apparently tattle about who can get Communion in their parish. I’m really getting tired of super pious laity acting as the guardians of the good. Geez… shut up and work on your own salvation.

Illinidiva on February 23, 2014 at 6:38 PM

I won’t despise any priest’s right to be the ‘communion police’ in his parish, but I do have one personal anecdote in that regard.

Our son had been baptized in the church, and after becoming engaged to his dear wifey, completed his confirmation and all other requirements to be married in her parish.
By that time, tho, hubby and I had left the Church, walking more along the road to our own personal relationships with the Lord, Himself, in another congregation.

When it came to the communion portion of their wedding mass, the priest gently described the requirements for those wishing to receive. We listened extremely closely, as we both wanted to share/receive, but when he said that one must have received the sacrament of reconciliation to then be considered in the necessary state of grace, we sadly did NOT go forward, since we knew that all of the others present would consider it sacrilegious of us to do so, not to mention how God Himself would view our rebellion.

Despite the hour in prayer at our hotel room, that morning, it did all boil down to the church’s view of our legitimacy, in their eyes.

I’m still reading all of your comments with great interest, but wanted to share that before having to sign off, soon.

pambi on February 23, 2014 at 8:24 PM

HonestLib on February 22, 2014 at 2:41 PM

I can hear the honesty in your inquiries .. fear not.
The more I learn from and OF Him, and through the scriptures, the more strongly I believe that ALL things exist IN HIM.
Yeah, tricky to wrap one’s mind around, but He gets us there, and you’re getting close.
He hears you, too. :-)

pambi on February 23, 2014 at 8:56 PM

Somewhat OT: remember that time you expressed concern in that one thread under a gay marriage article that, once the state began recognizing the unions, they’d start suing the churches to force them to marry The Gays ™?

And then remember how that SSM supporter scoffed at the notion, and said they would just find another church (the same way they “just find another” wedding photographer or “just find another” baker for their wedding cake)?

I don’t like being right. It only happens when appropriately ironic, or tragic.

The Schaef on February 24, 2014 at 10:35 AM