Synod And The Elephant: Tackle or Tickle?

For the first time, the synod addressed the issue that has been driving Catholic rigorists crazy, sacramental life for those who have remarried after a divorce.

In the first part, therefore, the Assembly continued its reflection on the matter of access to the sacrament of the Eucharist for divorced and remarried persons. Firstly, it re-emphasised the indissoluble nature of marriage, without compromise, based on the fact that the sacramental bond is an objective reality, the work of Christ in the Church. Such a value must be defended and cared for through adequate pre-matrimonial catechesis, so that engaged couples are fully aware of the sacramental character of the bond and its vocational nature.

Sure. I suppose it had to be stated. I think it must also be stated that the tussle among churchfolk is not between those who favor total laxity, but rather the middle way versus the rigorists. We’ve done it the rigorist way for a long time now. Some would say for two millennia, but I think that diagnosis is more wishful thinking than rooted in actual practice.

I suppose we also had to bring up the canard of catechesis.

Pastoral accompaniment for couples following marriage would also be useful.

You think?

Way too much of what the Church has to say focuses on the beginning and the end of marriage. Far too small a slice for what happens in between.

Second to the plate was the camp of the middle way, and those of mercy:

At the same time, it was said that it is necessary to look at individual cases and real-life situations, even those involving great suffering, distinguishing for example between those who abandon their spouse and those who are abandoned. The problem exists – this was repeated several times in the Assembly – and the Church does not neglect it. Pastoral care must not be exclusive, of an “all or nothing” type but must instead be merciful, as the mystery of the Church is a mystery of consolation.

In my life, I’ve heard complaints, great and deep, for those who have been abandoned by their spouse. I’ve also heard the broken record lamenting no-fault divorce in society. But not so much on the blanket no-mercy approach of canon law. Civil law and practice may have much that needs criticizing. But let’s not be hypocrites about it.

I have yet to be convinced the institutional Church does not neglect Marriage. I think our clergy and bishops are very selective in their approach.

It was in any case recalled that for divorced and remarried persons, the fact of not having access to the Eucharist does not mean that they are not members of the ecclesial community; on the contrary, it is to be taken into consideration that there exist various responsibilities that may be exercised. Furthermore, the need to simplify and speed up the procedures for the declaration of marriage nullity was underlined.

And it is interesting that the synod bishops speak of the responsibilities of those who do not have access to the sacraments. And the first solution they adopt here is a canonical one. Not one of ministry, mercy, or even the self-improvement of knowledge and discernment.

It’s a good day to keep praying for the bishops. The more I read this week, the more convinced I am that the bishops need us married laity more than we need them.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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