Interesting times all over again

On the Twitterverse this morning, I came across this article in the National Catholic Register: No Scandal Here: The 20 Couples Married by Pope Francis Were Legit. Basically, they say exactly what I said in the previous post and com-thread. I was somewhat amused that they used a headline reminiscent of Faz’s “Nothing to see – Move along” line.

In the mean-time, Cardinal Pell has poured cold water on the idea that there could be any change in Catholic teaching or discipline in regard to admitting civilly remarried persons to the sacrament while their legitimate spouse is living. His words come in a new book that is about to be published by Ignatius Press, upping the ante in the quarrel between cardinals over the matter.

And Rorate Coeli reports that a French newspaper reports that a “source close to the Pope” thinks that the Pope “would be” irritated by the publication of such a volume. Those getting in a tither over rumours that Cardinal Burke may have a change of portfolio in the Curia are adding this as extra fuel to their current fire. Fr Z says “Stay calm, keep the faith and keep on praying”.

And over at Crux, John L. Allen is saying the good money is on some improvement of process at the tribunal level in dioceses around the world. (BTW, can I say how much I am enjoying the coverage and journalism on Cruxnow.com? It’s what I would have hoped for had they ever made John L. Allen the editor of National Catholic Reporter…)

Also at Crux is this very honest and to-the-point article by ex-Legionary priest who is now married to the mother of his disabled child conceived while he was still a priest under vows. I like that he makes a distinction between the situation of a priest dispensed from his vows and the case of someone in a second marriage. The priestly vow of celibacy can be dispensed if a priest ceases to exercise his priesthood; it is not his vow of celibacy that constitutes his priesthood. On the other hand marriage vows actually constitute marriage, and cannot be dispensed. The two cases are not analogous. He writes:

Moreover, the central thrust of the synod won’t be how to make it easier to get out of a bad marriage. The Church will want to send a message to young people that she still believes in marriage and that lifetime commitment — with God’s help — is still possible.

Meanwhile, Cardinal Dolan has defended his recent actions in regard to the New York St Patrick’s Day parade. Can’t say I disagree with his defense. As Fr Duffy says, “His post exudes charity”. It is to be noted that Cardinal Dolan is one of the those cardinals who, like Cardinal Pell and the other authors of “The Gospel of the Family”, believes that the Church is not able to change her interpretation of scripture and apostolic tradition on the matter of divorce and remarriage. The word “hardliner” doesn’t really apply.

So many interesting things going on at the moment. One is reminded of the old curse “May you live in interesting times”… One suspects things will only get more interesting over the next month or two as the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops meets and then over the next twelve months before the Ordinary Synod meets in October 2015. Many of us didn’t live in or have experience of the “interesting times” in the 1960’s and 1970’s before things settled down for a bit under Popes Saint John Paul II and Benedict XVI, but I expect that we are just getting a taste for how it must have been back under the papacy of (soon to be) Blessed Pope Paul VI. It is by such toing and froing that the Holy Spirit moves the Church onward in history.

About Schütz

I am Catholic, married to Cathy, father of Maddy & Mia. Since 2002, I have been the Executive Officer of the Ecumenical & Interfaith Commission of the Archdiocese of Melbourne. I was once a Lutheran pastor, but a "year of grace" and soul-searching led me into the Catholic Church. It was a bumpy ride, but with the support of my (still Lutheran) wife, I was finally confirmed on June 16, 2003.
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One Response to Interesting times all over again

  1. Faz says:

    David, I’ve tried to post this response a number of times without success.

    In my case, my ordination to the priesthood was valid, and I will always be a priest in the eyes of the Church. But I will not be actively practicing my priestly ministry. The Church has dispensed me from my vow of celibacy and so I will no longer present myself as a priest or administer the sacraments, but I still am, in essence, a priest.

    This a great example of the kind of mental gymnastics the church gets into!

    Like a married couple, a candidate for the priesthood makes a solemn promise before God and and the people of God that is for life.

    But he can be ‘dispensed’ from that promise, not on the grounds that is was ‘invalid’ at the time, but because he asks to. As a married ‘in-essence-a-priest’ he can then enjoy the full participation in the sacraments that any other lay person is entitled to.

    When you take away the cloak of technical language it’s one rule for one solemn vow of life-long commitment and another rule for the other.

    Moreover, the central thrust of the synod won’t be how to make it easier to get out of a bad marriage. The Church will want to send a message to young people that she still believes in marriage and that lifetime commitment — with God’s help — is still possible.

    I invite you to contrast to the tone — the ‘getting out of’ tone — with the much more sympathetic and compassionate tone afforded to Williams here: Legion priest seeks to leave ministry to care for child. There is no sense that Williams is looking for an ‘easy out’. It is a difficult decision treated with compassion and forgiveness.

    When you consider what he did and how long it took him to ‘fess up’, it’s pretty forgiving!

    To illustrate the point, let’s change the quote text above just slightly:

    Moreover, the central thrust of the synod won’t be how to make it easier to get out of a bad priesthood. The Church will want to send a message to young men that she still believes in priesthood and that lifetime commitment — with God’s help — is still possible.

    Or turn the tables in another way: consider a married man in a ‘valid’ childless, marriage. He has an affair with another woman and father’s a child with disabilities. Would he be given expedited treatment for the sake of the child? Would he be ‘dispensed’ from his solemn promises? Would the need for him to be a father to the child and a husband to the mother, trump his actions and his promises? No. There’s no mechanism for it.

    On the matter of +Pell’s intervention two things come to mind. Firstly, I’d be tempted to give him as much ‘weight’ as this ‘ere blog gave to +Kasper. Secondly, +Pell is an example of church leader who ‘talks the talk’ but has been found spectacularly wanting when he had the chance to ‘walk the walk’. It’s a different issue, I know, but to be a moral beacon you have to shine yourself.

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