Pope Francis blesses new spouses with holy water while celebrating the marriage rite for 20 couples during a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on Sept. 14, 2014. Photo by Paul Haring, courtesy of Catholic News Service

Will the Catholic Church change its stand on marriage and divorce?

Pope Francis blesses new spouses with holy water while celebrating the marriage rite for 20 couples during a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on Sept. 14, 2014. Photo by Paul Haring, courtesy of Catholic News Service

Pope Francis blesses new spouses with holy water while celebrating the marriage rite for 20 couples during a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on Sunday (Sept. 14). Photo by Paul Haring, courtesy of Catholic News Service


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VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Francis made headlines this week when he officiated at the weddings of 20 couples, including  some who had been living together and a woman who has a daughter from a previous relationship.

It was the first time that the Argentine pontiff had presided over a marriage ceremony since his election and it may have also signaled a dramatic shift in Catholic Church doctrine.

Now five conservative cardinals appear to be hitting back.

In a new book to be released days before the world’s Catholic bishops gather at the Vatican for their October Synod, the hard-liners are challenging moves to moderate church doctrine on marriage and offer Communion to divorced Catholics who remarry.

The book, “Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church,” will be published in five languages, including English and Italian, on Oct. 1.

Contributors to the book include German Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, head of the Vatican body responsible for church doctrine, and U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke, head of the Vatican’s top court.

Cardinal Raymond Burke, former archbishop of St. Louis has quietly become an influential player in Rome. RNS photo by David Gibson

U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke, head of the Vatican’s top court. Religion News Service photo by David Gibson


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The cardinals were unwilling to discuss details Wednesday (Sept. 17) and left comments to the book’s editor, the Rev. Robert Dodaro, president of the Patristicum Augustinianum Institute in Rome.

“The authors of this volume are united in firmly supporting the New Testament that shows Christ prohibiting any ambiguity on divorce and successive marriages,” Dodaro said.

Dodaro, a theologian, said the cardinals were not offended by the pope's participation in Sunday's marriage rites and were more concerned by any move to relax church doctrine. Specifically, they oppose any move to offer Communion for those who remarry after divorce.

And the book's contributors make no secret of their desire to counter Cardinal Walter Kasper's recent call for greater mercy from the church toward those who are divorced and remarried.

“Sin is nothing new in the Catholic Church,” Dodaro said. “Jesus encountered irregular marriages. We are talking about a change of doctrine which has a totally different magnitude.”

The changing nature of relationships -- from marriage to divorce, cohabitation and gay unions -- will top the agenda at the global Synod and also figure prominently at next year's World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.

A series of recent developments are renewing questions about the Catholic bishops' alignment with the Republican Party, with much of the attention focusing on comments by Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput, who said he ?certainly can?t vote for somebody who?s either pro-choice or pro-abortion.? RNS photo courtesy Archdiocese of Philadelphia

“We are going to deal with realistic issues,” Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput told a media conference at the Vatican on Tuesday (Sept. 16). “The issues of family life will be part of this.” RNS photo courtesy of Archdiocese of Philadelphia


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“We are going to deal with realistic issues,” Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput told a media conference at the Vatican on Tuesday.  “The issues of family life will be part of this.”

Francis, the first non-European pope in 1,300 years, has expressed tolerance on a range of issues, famously asking "Who am I to judge?" about gay relationships.

In a worldwide survey earlier this year, bishops showed they were looking for new ways to deal with unmarried couples, divorced people and single parents disillusioned with the church, while opposing same-sex unions and abortion.

The first survey of 114 bishops’ conferences on family issues said many Christians “have difficulty” accepting church teachings on key issues such as birth control, divorce, homosexuality and cohabitation.

But for many Catholics, the question of Communion for the divorced remains the key issue and there is plenty of division even among conservatives.

Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin told his diocese he doesn’t know what the answer is but said any change should be adopted at a global level to stem the tide of Catholics abandoning the church.

“I often think about and truly agonize over the many divorced Catholics who have ‘dropped-out’ of the church completely, as well as those who attend Mass faithfully every Sunday, sometimes for years, without receiving the consolation and joy of the Holy Eucharist,” Tobin says on his diocese site.

“The status quo is unacceptable. For the spiritual well-being of the divorced and remarried members of our Catholic family, for the salvation of their souls, we’ve got to do something!”

YS/MG END MCKENNA

Comments

  1. Hmm … another book on how to …
    Maybe all this hoopla is to sell books …? RCC must be running low, possibly due to fewer marriages in the parishes?

    “The book, “Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church,” will be published in five languages, including English and Italian, on Oct. 1.”

    I wonder if the book comes in the Language of the Spirit 🙂

    Peace

  2. Jesus gave communion to a man who would deny him and even a man who would betray him to the Romans so the notion that you have to be absolutely perfect and free of sin to take communion is unbiblical and absurd.

  3. Rev. Robert Dodaro, president of the Patristicum Augustinianum Institute in Rome, “Sin is nothing new in the Catholic Church,”
    Perhaps the most honest thing I’ve read coming from a representative of this criminal organization.

    They publicly struggle with petty issues like if divorce is permitted by their interpretation of a man man book, while offering empty lip service and legal wranglings about the rape of children and the facilitation of these crimes by their “men of god”.
    I agree Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin, “The status quo is unacceptable”.

  4. Since divorce is a sin that can be repented of there is no reason they shouldn’t.

  5. Frank, doesn’t murder, rape, pedophilia, and a host of other inhuman acts also fit that category?

  6. Frank,
    So in your gods heaven you may spend eternity beside others who have committed all sorts of atrocities against other humans, even one who has raped your wife, children, and grandchildren, then killed your entire family here on earth, but have afterwards repented, and gone through the steps your god commands to become saved.

    However in your gods heaven you will not spend eternity besides others who have committed all sorts of good deeds for other humans, even one who has helped your wife, children, and grandchildren, then saved them from dying in some tragic manner here on earth, but has never repented, and gone through the steps your god commands to become saved. Rather your god will cast them into eternal torture.

    Wow, your god does sounds great.

  7. E,

    This is one reason so many do not believe in “God.” Religionists have painted a very misconstrued picture on the reality of what is Spiritual Healing. I have shared in SPIR, and a little here in these RNS articles that religious teaching, such as Purgatory, for instance, gives no choice, for after this life, what “good” is one in loving his neighbor as himself? What “good” is loving the Lord your God with mind, heart, soul and strength if your religion teaches you that you will be “purified” or “perfected” after the flesh life? It makes NO SPIRITUAL SENSE if one UNDERSTANDS what it means for Spirit filtered through Human hands. Religious incorrectly assume a prayer to God , or even mere belief in God, erases all his offenses. This is why so many religious continue in unhealed mindset, and persist in ignorance on WHAT IS NECESSARY FOR TRANSFORMING of the mind. They create for themselves a wordy avenue of self-forgiveness that perpetuates ignorance—an UNWILLING character on Spiritual Growth. John KIimacus illustrates a process in the THE LADDER OF DIVINE ASCENT in the stages of renewal. But what is even more to the advent in the illustration of the Christ Way, is the SACRIFICING of this “self” … and more often this is a call for the believer having been ‘privileged,’ to move beyond his pew and praise of self-conviction through misunderstood TEACHINGS … and COME INTO his Worth. Very often this is an invitation for him to take the place of one, in humility. There are back stories on each and every individual. If you look, you see patterns. I shared a story in the article on a woman abused, and why so many women have stayed with abusive partners. What I cannot share is the back story in this, and the developments at present. A priest has been involved in this story of a young woman abused by her ex husband. There are children involved, and it is a very serious situation. The priest has stepped up to the plate, and I, not living anywhere near where this is going on, have encouraged my friend to call upon this priest, as he has shown a willingness, through genuine concern, to help protect these children (and the woman too, but situations have pushed her into making bad choices). His “boots on the ground” help is going to make a difference for all. This is what I call WORTH in the Advent of Humanity. What we are really looking at, E, is a move into HUMANIZING mankind. Once the priests/pastors begin to HEAR this invitation … there will a tremendous shift, and focus on religion, or religious doctrine, will become less a mediator. Truth Mediators are those who hear—see—and act as “shape shifters” through their ART, but they must know that God allows choice, and must have understanding in the process. There is never a push. There are signs, warnings … as people are used to share in these changes, and if religious are too focused on the “old world religious” methodologies, and unwilling to move … they get exactly what they perpetrate. As the KJV of the bible says:

    You reap what you sow.

    Peace and Love.

  8. Don’t bother me while I’m trying to prove my preconceived ideas!

  9. Pope Francis to the Catholic Church: ” I am here in Jesus’ name. It is time to put down the stones that we have, for too long, used to bludgeon those who are divorced. Who among you is without sin? The Catholic Church has been predicated on “controlling the message.” This is done, on the one hand with fear of damnation, and on the other hand, by forgiveness through their teachings, to gain eternal life. Pope Francis seeks to take away from those who see the Church enforcing a myriad of rules and regulations by which only they, like a judge at a trial, determines one’s innocence. A Catholic priest who I know said, “Jesus’ last name would be spelled in four words; those are L – O – V – E . He said, unequivocallty, “I would give the Holy Eucharist to everyone who asks for it.” “Why?” I asked. “Because the Host represents the Body and the Blood of Jesus!” When Jesus walked this earth, in body and blood, His mission was to treat everyone equally, including the tax collectors, the prostitutes, the lepers, the thieves, the murderers, the Roman soldiers. He gave His healing powers, His love, His hope of salvation to all those in sin or without. The Host has been held up for too long as a weapon to be used against those who have sinned. It is not a prize; it is a Gift for us sinners. All of us are sinners. Jesus reprimanded many times his disciples who said to him,” These people are unclean. They are children undeserving of even being close to You.” Pope Francis seeks to tell those in his Church, like Jesus did, “Even sinners are My children who I love.” Pope Francis, remind those around you once again, in your metaphor of a field hospital, that the Church is here to serve everyone. We do not limit our love only to the perceived pious.. Jesus treats all equally in healing their wounds through His Body and Blood. He died on the cross, not for a few, but for all.

  10. PS A footnote to above: Please note I am not above the fray. When I said that the Bible was written for ignorant people, I include myself. I have studied diligently for 10 years with a person who I would consider a Master of the Bible Readings. I would do my best to tear holes, not only in what he believed, but also in what I was taught. The more I tore away the man-made falsehoods, the more I realized there is something very special or there is nothing. I have seen and felt powers that cannot be explained by man’s limited intelligence. I only know that my intelligence is like a speck of sand on the beach, compared to the Power that is all.

  11. God created the world and everything init tha include us MEN. The first created man and woman had sinned against the Creator who is God. But because God so loved the world and everything in it He made a promise that He will send a Dalvation to Redeem us all. So God sent His only begotten Son to save evrthing in this world by dying on the Cross. So His only Son saved us all and every himan being who will be born in the future.So we can see from this story of the world and God that He love us all Sinners or Saints kust repent. And one more John the Baptist born without sin also into this world zhead of Jesus to prepare His path cpming to this world for Gof really want to be sure that the 100 sheeps being pasteured in the meadow will be back in full number still 100 and if one missing God went to find that one who became astray. So we see here again how much God lo e us all and will.never rest until He gather us all together. Is there any kind of loveime this you can find from any created man. NONE isn’t it? Why because we are flesh and flesh is weak easily tempted.. So I am saying that no ody is free from sin as long as we are in flesh. But Jesus left us a CURE that is Penance and Repentance. He knows how to in a flesh becausr He Himsrlf when in flesh was tempted by the devil. So e erybidy hzs a chance to be united with our creator Sinners or Saints alike God is waiting for everyone of us at the end of time. Soet us do PENANCE and try to keep clean without blemish until the day He come ack into this World.Remember we have a CURE for the sins we have committed ….. God less us all…..Amen.

  12. As I undersrand it, I would have to go through a lengthy annulment process, including advising my abusive ex-husband of this. He almost killed our oldest son and was a violent alcoholic. He is still the same belligerant man I divorced years ago. If he were advised of this annulment a whole new round of overreaction would result probably aimed at the son he doesn’t remember throwing out of a second floor window . I was raised Catholic and would like to return to a less punitive church. I have not felt welcome since my divorce over 30 years ago. Battered and abused women would not feel comfortable advising batterers and I am one of them.

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