Mr Allen cites the meeting as a turning point, but the pivot seems to have already happened, at least in the minds of many. Some Catholics are dipping their toes in the water of the cafeteria, and others are crowing, and best of all, it seems people are making their way back to church.
Of most concern to my pastoral ministry to resident parishioners at my parish is hope on the frontier of divorce and remarriage:
During his press conference on the papal plane, Francis said he wanted a deeper reflection on the church’s pastoral approach to marriage, and also wanted to “revisit” the legal questions surrounding annulments. He also hinted that he would be open to the Orthodox practice of permitting believers in a second marriage to receive the sacraments and otherwise participate fully in the life of the church.
I think it’s possible to have some measure of compassion for people in broken marriages without having weathered such things oneself. I see people trying to make good on marriage number two on the fringes of the Church without benefit of any of the pastoral care that might (or might not) be available to other married couples in the community. Not to mention any grace from a marriage at least sent into the world with some sort of blessing.
Pope Francis seems on target with marriage. This tweeted today:
Every marriage has difficult moments. But these experiences of the Cross can make the path of love even stronger.
I do hope the octocards and the pope consider beefing up pastoral ministry across the board, from long before popping the question to the twilight years of life. When it comes to translating meeting results on the ground, we would all benefit from sharing and discerning best practices from around the world. Despite high divorce rates, marriages today are lasting longer, on average, than they were in the days of childbirth deaths and other aspects of the stone age of medical care. So how is the Church addressing that?