Monday, October 13, 2014

Catholics look to Orthodox for guidance on divorce

(Crux) As summer turns to autumn, the most compelling storyline in Rome is a highly anticipated summit of Catholic bishops from around the world, which shapes up as a key test of how much the status quo in the Church has been upended by a charismatic pope from a foreign land who’s taken the world by storm.

Called a “Synod of Bishops”, the meeting seems destined to grapple with the contentious issue of the Church’s ban on divorced and remarried Catholics receiving Communion. Although the Vatican’s German doctrinal czar warns no change is possible, his admonition does little to stifle the debate.

A cardinal considered a lion of liberal European Catholicism uses a platform in Rome to argue for a more compassionate approach, based on the Orthodox model of penance after a first marriage breaks down. More conservative prelates insist that any liberalization would run afoul of a teaching that comes from Jesus himself: “What God has joined, let no one separate.”

As anyone who’s been paying attention knows, those lines fit like a glove in the run-up to this year’s Synod of Bishops on the family in Rome Oct. 5-19, convened by Pope Francis.

In fact, however, they date to October 1999 and that year’s Synod of Bishops on Europe, called by Pope John Paul II. At the time, luminaries of the left such as Cardinals Godfried Danneels of Brussels and Carlo Maria Martini of Milan were pushing to re-open a question that John Paul’s Vatican had declared closed five years before.

In 1993, three German bishops had put out a pastoral letter addressed to Catholics who divorce and remarry without obtaining an annulment, a declaration from a church court that a marriage never existed because it didn’t meet one of the tests for validity, such as informed consent. The bishops said if such Catholics decide in conscience their first marriage was invalid, with the counsel of a priest, they can receive communion...
Complete article here.

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