Monday, April 11, 2016

Thoughts on the Apostolic Exhortation "Amoris Laetitia"

1) Here's one thing that people forget in all this divorce/remarriage/Communion discussion - I've had the hard conversations with people and explained to them the Church’s teachings on these things.  I’ve also explained to them that if they are remarried, have children, etc. - if they live as brother and sister and are not sexually active, they can take Communion.

But here’s the deal, if they come forward at Communion time, am I supposed to ask them, in the Communion line - "Remember what we talked about...are you and your partner sexually active? I just want to check before I give you Communion"???

 If that were the path forward, then I guess we priests should interview everyone that comes up. Perhaps a 200 question examination of conscience for each person taking Communion?



2) To those who think annulments are pharisaical bureaucracy - Chesterton basically said (paraphrasing here) "The Church is often described as being about rules and hell and damnation while Jesus is thought of in popular lore as being a hippie pacifist, when, in actuality, Jesus talks a lot about rules, hell and damnation, while the evidence shows that it is the Church that is often trying to help soften the blow"

Jesus says if you are divorced and remarry, then sexual activity with this new person is adultery.
The Church, then, is just trying to help soften the blow of Christ's words through the annulment process (which, as a person who works with annulments all the time is beautifully in line with Christ's teaching above.)

If you don't like the annulment process, or think the Church invented it, and you decide to remarry after a divorce without getting an annulment, just make sure you're ready to square that decision with Christ because He speaks quite clearly on the subject.

Side note: how Biblically literal Protestants overlook Jesus' teaching on this subject will always baffle me



3) I’ve seen some traditional Catholics lamenting any mention of pastoral nuance and the messiness of life that Pope Francis mentions in “Amoris Laetitia.”  I don’t hear Pope Francis saying anything about getting rid of annulments whatsoever, nor do I hear him saying that as priests we can handle divorce and remarriage in the confessional.

As a rebuttal to these traditional Catholics, I would ask them to imagine that they are a pastor of a parish with 2,000 families.  Tell us priests how to do it!  How would you ensure that no one who is in an invalid marriage takes Communion ever at your parish?

Don't say "preach against divorce" because I do that and so does Pope Francis and every priest I know

Don't say "preach against contraception" because I already do. And so does Pope Francis and every priest I know

Don't say "do better marriage prep" because I meet with them 6 times myself, require a retreat and a psych eval. So do my priest friends.

Don't say "work on annulments with the people" because I DO work with them myself from beginning to end. So do most of the novus ordo priests that I'm friends with.

The only thing I could do is announce, before Communion at every Mass - "if you're divorced and remarried, don't take Communion" but then again that's not in the missal so if I did say that I'd be a crazy liberal doing something NOT in the missal.



4) I remember being in the seminary and I had those 4-5 homilies I couldn't wait to give because I thought it would change everyone and everything. I preached those homilies and they didn't change everything. They helped. But they didn't change the world. Most traddies think that one homily or even 20 homilies will change a parish. It doesn't. I wish every lay person could preach for a year and see how little impact it makes compared to what they think it will.  That goes for Progressive Catholics as well.  The homilies you think the world needs to hear…it doesn’t change things like you think it will.

5) Am I saying the preaching can't get much better, and much more orthodox...definitely not. Preaching in the Church has a LONG way to go. But if people think that this "divorced and remarried" thing will go away if you preach on it, then you're deceiving yourselves. It's a DEEP issue.