Rigorists On Their Heels

Do they Suffice it to say this sort of wind would never have blown through the Church in the period 1991-2013. People are openly questioning the administration of the sacraments to another group of public sinners, and suddenly, two millennia of theology is out that window somebody opened.

Exhibit one.

It would be unjust, unmerciful even, for me to pretend that your current situation isn’t a complete contradiction of everything I tried to teach you. And what would the neighbors think? They might imagine I approve of prostitution and improvidence.

Matthew Boudray’s takedown of the rigorists (’cause it certainly wasn’t Luke 15 in the winepress) should poke. And I’m sure it does.

The Last Judgment hasn’t escaped gentle parody, as I’ve seen once or twice on the internet:

I was … a stranger and you welcomed made provision for me …

I think it is good Catholics are wrestling with questions and practice on these points. It shows that many more of us have more work to do on the front of virtue. It suggests that laws were made for people, not people for laws. Monogamy may be written into human nature.  But we are also products of a Fall, and we make errors.

In the Garden state, there was Eve and Adam and nobody else. Sometimes there is tragically little assistance before, during, and after a marriage. Does the community share some of that blame? Priests who make little notes in a marriage file when they know this relationship has no future. Older couples in a parish who decline to get involved with engaged couples because they’re too busy with their own thing. Twentysomethings in love who have little better example than what they see on tv. Bishops who are afraid of the curia. Priests who are afraid of the Temple Police.

Perhaps it’s a miracle so many marriages last as long as they do: the power of love tossed in contemporary tempests, and eventually some of us lose our grip on our beloved. I’d like to think that as an advocate of both marital love and marital sacramentality, that perhaps we are doing pretty well, all things considered. If it was all about arranged marriages, as it was in the past, or if the Church declined sacramental presence in the couple, or if adult mortality were still high, maybe we would be doing even worse with broken marriages.

That said, from the lay viewpoint, a lot of people are their own worst enemies in relationships. Do they need more rigor? Do they need genuine mercy? And I don’t mean the mercy in the looking-glass world of many elder siblings.

That the institution and its rigorists choose to do nothing, give no reasonable and loving alternatives to those in second marriages makes me think the elder sibling position is untenable. And to be clear, we are talking about how to manage the practice of mercy, not about a change in the grounding of theology.

In a day or two, we’ll start a look at the synod document–the one with vote totals. It will take us about two months.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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2 Responses to Rigorists On Their Heels

  1. Pingback: Pope Francis and the Latest Media Report (USA Today & Drudge) | therasberrypalace

  2. Liam says:

    Perhaps the brothers’ sister(s) might have something to say, too.

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