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The Truth Is Always Pastoral
The Catholic Thing ^ | February 5, 2014 | J.D. Flynn

Posted on 02/05/2014 10:39:39 AM PST by NYer

Canon lawyers are fascinated by the Samaritan woman at the well. The moment we hear about her five husbands, and her consort, we start thinking about how her case might be handled at the marriage tribunal. But the most instructive part of the story is how Jesus relates to her: he is kind to her, and respectful, but he is unabashed about telling her the truth.

Over the past few months, an ecclesial dialogue about pastoral care has been played out in the media as if it were the precursor to a monumental doctrinal split among the Church’s leadership. The question is about the reception of Holy Communion by those divorced and remarried without the benefit of a declaration of nullity, or annulment.

Of course, ecclesiastical leaders know that second, and third, and fourth marriages not preceded by annulment are presumed to be invalid; that a presumably valid first marriage is presumed valid until proven otherwise. This is a basic component of Catholic sacramental theology, and hardly a matter of dispute.

What may be in dispute is how to care for the divorced and remarried: How to invite those living conjugally, but outside the bonds of marriage, to the communion of the Church. The question is a pastoral one. And it needn’t be a source of ambiguity or division.

Like all pastoral questions, the solution is found in the action of Jesus himself. As at the Samaritan well, the pastoral solution for the divorced and remarried involves something very simple: telling the truth.

Jesus Christ desires all of us to receive him at the Eucharistic table. His blood was shed, his body pierced and crucified, as a universal invitation to participate in the Eucharist, and in Christ’s divine life. What’s required is a heroic commitment to virtue and fidelity of Christian life.

May the divorced and remarried be invited to the Eucharist? Yes. But like all of us, to receive the Eucharist with integrity they must live heroically in accord with the truth.


       Christ and the Woman of Samaria by George Richmond, 1828

The Church has always taught that living in a sexual relationship outside of a valid marriage is an impediment to Holy Communion. She teaches that still. And when the divorced and remarried present themselves to their pastors, she must teach the truth then. But it is never an adequate pastoral solution to simply tell the divorced and remarried to refrain from Holy Communion, to remain in the pew, and to maintain the status quo.

The pastoral solution is to invite men and women to a heroic kind of conversion. In 1994, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith clarified that the divorced and remarried may receive the Eucharist if they “take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples.”

Under ordinary circumstances, such couples should physically separate. But the Church recognizes that separation may be impossible: that couples may be raising children together, or financially dependent, or caring for one another in ill health. Separation might be ideal, but what is necessary is a commitment to living continently: to living in accord with the truth.

The issue of scandal is a serious one. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith says that couples living continently must be “respect the obligation to avoid giving scandal.” The Catechism says that scandal is “an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil.”  To keep others from scandal, those living continently should take care not to imply that their relationship is inappropriate – if their invalid marriage is unknown, they could remain private. If their invalid marriage is well known, they could be forthcoming about their choice to live in accord with truth. A flood of candor can mitigate the trickle of scandal.

Each of us is invited to the Eucharistic table. We need only repent, and commit to greatness. Too often, the pastoral solution is perceived as the unchallenging solution, the accepting solution. Too often, pastors and tribunal ministers hesitate to call the divorced and remarried to conversion. We’re afraid that continence seems too hard, and too dispassionate. We’re afraid that truth will be inimical to a pastoral relationship.

But the truth is always pastoral. And calling Christians to discomfort, and challenge, is evangelical. Conversations about continence are uncomfortable. But as Pope Benedict XVI has said, none of us were “made for comfort. [We] were made for greatness.

At the well in Samaria, Jesus Christ was pastoral. He invited the Samaritan woman to repent, and to live heroically. He invited her, from her sinfulness, to greatness. If the Church today will invite men and women to greatness, to virtue, and to communion with Jesus Christ, we will have found the “pastoral solution.”


TOPICS: Catholic; Ministry/Outreach; Religion & Culture; Theology
KEYWORDS: annulment; divorce; marriage; sacraments

1 posted on 02/05/2014 10:39:40 AM PST by NYer
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To: Tax-chick; GregB; Berlin_Freeper; SumProVita; narses; bboop; SevenofNine; Ronaldus Magnus; tiki; ...

Ping!


2 posted on 02/05/2014 10:39:58 AM PST by NYer ("The wise man is the one who can save his soul. - St. Nimatullah Al-Hardini)
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To: NYer

Our church refused to let my niece join once because she was born out of wedlock. Now is that her fault or something?


3 posted on 02/05/2014 11:11:47 AM PST by Telepathic Intruder (The only thing the Left has learned from the failures of socialism is not to call it that)
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To: NYer
As at the Samaritan well, the pastoral solution for the divorced and remarried involves something very simple: telling the truth.

I don't think her story is particularly applicable to Catholics who have divorced and remarried.

Jesus did not say she was divorced, even improperly. He said she had had five husbands, and the man she was living with at the time was not married to her. For all we know, her five husbands had all died.

In any case, at the time the Law was still in effect, giving husbands (though not wives) the right of divorce at will, much as with sharia today. If she had been divorced five times according to the Law, it was perfectly legal.

Now Jesus, according to Catholics, established a much higher standard for marriage and divorce than that of the Law. But He himself stated many times that the Law was still in effect while He was on earth.

4 posted on 02/05/2014 11:15:26 AM PST by Sherman Logan
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To: Telepathic Intruder

Under the Law, it was, at least in certain circumstances. The Talmud expanded on those who were excluded based on their birth.

I find it difficult to see how any “Christian” church could try to justify this scripturally.

Particularly since, technically speaking, Jesus himself was conceived out of wedlock.


5 posted on 02/05/2014 11:18:25 AM PST by Sherman Logan
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To: NYer

It is heartening to see that some of the commenters at the site have already noted that pro-abortion politicians are treated as exempt from the Church’s law with respect to Holy Communion and grave sin.

Canon 915 is NOT about marriage. It is not part of the Church’s marriage law.

It is also NOT a penal canon. This is important, because Cardinal Wuerl has repeatedly lied and said that it is. He lies about this so that he can pretend that he has the right to exercise “discretion” about whether to “apply” the “penalty” of denial of Communion. In fact, all he is doing is disobeying a MANDATE in canon law.

When Cardinal of the Church lie and lie and lie, and openly defy Canon Law, and the Pope does nothing—no wonder the Church continues to collapse in chaos, unable to resist Obama’s persecution.

http://tinyurl.com/canon915


6 posted on 02/05/2014 11:31:03 AM PST by Arthur McGowan
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To: Sherman Logan

The funny thing is, they probably would have let her father join even though he left her and her mother after she refused to get an abortion.


7 posted on 02/05/2014 11:31:05 AM PST by Telepathic Intruder (The only thing the Left has learned from the failures of socialism is not to call it that)
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To: Telepathic Intruder

That’s a very sad story.


8 posted on 02/05/2014 11:55:36 AM PST by Sherman Logan
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To: Telepathic Intruder
Our church refused to let my niece join once because she was born out of wedlock.

Join what, the church? Was this a Catholic parish?

9 posted on 02/05/2014 1:28:21 PM PST by SuziQ
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To: SuziQ

Yes, it’s Catholic. With a little talking they actually changed their minds about it, but then she refused anyway because they still wouldn’t let her mother join. But it’s not like they won’t let her go to church or anything.


10 posted on 02/05/2014 1:42:56 PM PST by Telepathic Intruder (The only thing the Left has learned from the failures of socialism is not to call it that)
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To: Telepathic Intruder

How did they not let her ‘join’? How old was she? Was she baptized? Confirmed? Ask to go to RCIA?


11 posted on 02/05/2014 3:19:22 PM PST by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
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To: D-fendr

I don’t really have all the details, this was quite a few years ago. Of course anyone can attend church services, but there were other services in which you had to be a member of the church. My sister’s first wedding was in fact at that church, but both her and my niece have moved away by now so I don’t know if the situation was resolved or not before they left.


12 posted on 02/05/2014 3:35:37 PM PST by Telepathic Intruder (The only thing the Left has learned from the failures of socialism is not to call it that)
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To: Telepathic Intruder

Something doesn’t sound right about the report of not allowing to ‘join’.


13 posted on 02/05/2014 3:54:53 PM PST by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
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To: D-fendr

I don’t really understand it myself, but so I was told. I think I’m still a member of that church because it’s also a school. They teach children as well as older people through separate study classes at night.


14 posted on 02/05/2014 4:00:26 PM PST by Telepathic Intruder (The only thing the Left has learned from the failures of socialism is not to call it that)
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To: Telepathic Intruder

I think somebody told you wrong. Doesn’t pass the smell test.


15 posted on 02/05/2014 4:03:29 PM PST by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
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To: D-fendr

I’m not exactly sure about my sister’s involvement but I know my niece had some trouble, anyway. It wasn’t really that big of a deal, as I recall. Anyway, I probably shouldn’t have volunteered information that they might not want public, so I might have erred there. But since you don’t know me or them, probably doesn’t matter.


16 posted on 02/05/2014 4:06:53 PM PST by Telepathic Intruder (The only thing the Left has learned from the failures of socialism is not to call it that)
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To: Telepathic Intruder

No, I think you’re safe.

I joined the Church very late in life, and a raucous life it was, through RCIA. I was incredibly welcomed. So, I find it hard to believe when I’m told someone was not allowed to join.


17 posted on 02/05/2014 4:10:19 PM PST by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
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To: D-fendr

Having spent 3 years in a Catholic school, I know they tend to be a little strict and exclusive.


18 posted on 02/05/2014 4:20:05 PM PST by Telepathic Intruder (The only thing the Left has learned from the failures of socialism is not to call it that)
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To: Telepathic Intruder

Well, if they didn’t kick you out, they weren’t *that* exclusive.

:)


19 posted on 02/05/2014 4:21:52 PM PST by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
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To: D-fendr

I think I came very close at times.


20 posted on 02/05/2014 4:24:00 PM PST by Telepathic Intruder (The only thing the Left has learned from the failures of socialism is not to call it that)
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To: Telepathic Intruder

Kicked out of school? I did that in parochial school.

Did you mean Church? If so, for what?


21 posted on 02/05/2014 4:28:02 PM PST by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
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To: D-fendr
It was a Catholic school ajoined to a Church. I got into a fight or two in school, stole some straws from the lunch room (that right, straws, for which I was severly punished), and checked out an extra book from the library (again for which I was severely punished). Later in CCD classes (I never knew what CCD stood for) I was a bit of a trouble maker. Of course I regret all of that behavior now.
22 posted on 02/05/2014 4:38:36 PM PST by Telepathic Intruder (The only thing the Left has learned from the failures of socialism is not to call it that)
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To: D-fendr

Oh, and I forgot to mention the time I said “swine” because the teacher was asking everyone to say a foreign word. It’s the only one I could think of (I was severely punished). By the way, punishement usually took the form of some kind of public humiliation. When I said strict, I wasn’t kidding.


23 posted on 02/05/2014 4:45:05 PM PST by Telepathic Intruder (The only thing the Left has learned from the failures of socialism is not to call it that)
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To: Telepathic Intruder

I don’t understand what you mean about ‘join’. Are you saying they won’t let her join the RCIA program because she had a child out of wedlock? Or they wouldn’t let her join the Parish?
I don’t see how that can be. In my experience, a child out of wedlock isn’t a problem for belonging to a Parish. I had a niece who had a child out of wedlock, and she not only remained a Catholic, but had her baby baptized in the Church.


24 posted on 02/05/2014 6:36:50 PM PST by SuziQ
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To: SuziQ

As I said, I don’t really know all the details, I just remember being told these things quite a few years ago. I actually shouldn’t have said anything at all, but now it seems I’ve set off a fire storm. I don’t know if the term was actually “join”, actually. It may have been something else. I just recall that the church wouldn’t let them do certain things, I don’t remember what.


25 posted on 02/05/2014 6:43:01 PM PST by Telepathic Intruder (The only thing the Left has learned from the failures of socialism is not to call it that)
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To: Telepathic Intruder

OK, so it sounds like your niece wasn’t allowed to participate in the Sacraments, which makes sense, if she wasn’t Catholic. Anyone can attend Mass, but not everyone can receive Holy Communion, if they are not baptized Catholic, and have prepared for the reception of the Sacrament.


26 posted on 02/05/2014 6:43:43 PM PST by SuziQ
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To: SuziQ

I’m not really into such details. I do consider myself a Catholic, however, because EVERYONE in my family and extended families are Catholic, going back to the first generation Russian immigrants. I do happen to disagree with some Catholic doctrine, namely how the same things are repeated mechanically with each mass, with little attempt to establish their real meaning. There is also a socialist-like liberalness about many Catholics, and the Church itself takes no stance against it, and in fact often in support of it.


27 posted on 02/05/2014 6:52:08 PM PST by Telepathic Intruder (The only thing the Left has learned from the failures of socialism is not to call it that)
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To: Telepathic Intruder

The same things are repeated at each Mass, and if you get a good book explaining the Mass, you’ll understand why. Much of what happens, and many of the prayers, are based on Scripture, and some are based on those from the Shabbat service and the Passover Seder, which would have been important to the early Christians, as many were Jews. If you learn this history of the Mass, you’ll understand the beauty of the prayers, and saying them the same at each Mass will only deepen your appreciation for them.


28 posted on 02/05/2014 7:36:34 PM PST by SuziQ
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To: Telepathic Intruder

I’m old and in the South. “Strict” meant strict in my school.

So if you mean kicked out of school...

If you mean kicked out of Church, well, I think you’re saying that didn’t happen.


29 posted on 02/05/2014 8:33:00 PM PST by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
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To: Telepathic Intruder

I’m not demeaning your bad experiences in Catholic school; just making a couple of points:

It could be pretty darn rough in parochial schools also, and that’s quite different from being kicked out of Church.

The Church has been very good to me, so I apologize for my own bias.


30 posted on 02/05/2014 8:36:42 PM PST by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
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