Amoris Laetitia 248-249: Disparity

amoris laetitia memeThese two sections consist of quotes from the final document of the synod bishops. In the United States, we might think we have problems, but Christians in other parts of the world have more serious concerns:

248. “Marriages involving disparity of cult represent a privileged place for interreligious dialogue in everyday life… They involve special difficulties regarding both the Christian identity of the family and the religious upbringing of the children… The number of households with married couples with disparity of cult, on the rise in mission territories, and even in countries of long Christian tradition, urgently requires providing a differentiated pastoral care according to various social and cultural contexts. In some countries where freedom of religion does not exist, the Christian spouse is obliged to convert to another religion in order to marry, and, therefore, cannot celebrate a canonical marriage involving disparity of cult or baptize the children. We must therefore reiterate the necessity that the religious freedom of all be respected”. (Relatio Finalis, 73) 

“Disparity” of cult is difficult enough. What of disparity in discipleship?

“Attention needs to be given to the persons who enter such marriages, not only in the period before the wedding. Unique challenges face couples and families in which one partner is Catholic and the other is a non-believer. In such cases, bearing witness to the ability of the Gospel to immerse itself in these situations will make possible the upbringing of their children in the Christian faith”.(Relatio Finalis, 74)

And the challenge for many RCIA ministers in the US and elsewhere:

249. “Particular problems arise when persons in a complex marital situation wish to be baptized. These persons contracted a stable marriage at a time when at least one of them did not know the Christian faith. In such cases, bishops are called to exercise a pastoral discernment which is commensurate with their spiritual good”.(Relatio Finalis, 75)

Indeed, what happens when a person in an irregular marriage situation wishes to be baptized or to align with the Catholic Church? I’m not sure leaving it to the canon lawyers is nearly as fruitful a course as encouraging pastors to exercise their gifts of discernment. Your thoughts, readers?

For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

About catholicsensibility

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