Monday, October 6, 2014
THE CHURCH NEEDS A COGENT PASTORAL THEOLOGY AND PERHAPS A DEFINED DOCTRINE OF PASTORAL THEOLOGY
The hysteria or euphoria, depending on your ideology, concerning Pope Francis and the Synod on the family revolves around the perception that the Synod on the Family will change Catholic doctrine as it concerns the indissolubility of marriage.
Vatican Radio gives a predominant place on its website to Cardinal Burke with an interview with him. You can read it by pressing HERE.
Cardinal Burke was also one of several contributors to a book, entitled Remaining in the Truth of Christ, intended to help the Synod and the Pope as they work to renew the Church’s commitment to the pastoral care of families.
Listen to the interview:
Folks, this is the pastoral reality today, like it or not:
1. Many Catholics today feel that the Church is irrelevant to their lives especially when it comes to sex. Like it or not, the prevailing non-Catholic ideologies concerning sex and its purpose influence Catholics more than what the Church teaches based on Scripture, Tradition and Natural Law.
2. Thus, these Catholics come to Mass sporadically or not at all.
3. Because of cafeteria Catholicism, many Catholics who come to Mass feel they must receive Holy Communion no matter what. There is no real personal understanding of mortal sin or what the impediments are that would prevent them from receiving Holy Communion.
4. Even Protestants today are offended when they are not invited to receive Holy Communion at a Catholic Mass.
5. Many Catholics who are in irregular marriages feel their irregular marriage is better than their original marriage. These Catholics who attend Mass and otherwise take their Catholic Faith seriously choose to receive Holy Communion. Often priests are not aware of their irregularity.
6. The greater problem for me as a pastor has to do with non-Catholics who want to become Catholic who themselves may have been married only once but their spouse who does not want to become Catholic has a previous marriage to them. The non-interested party has no intention of participating in an annulment procedure.
7. Sometimes non-Catholics who want to become Catholic may have entered a first marriage at a young age and divorced rather quickly. Some 25 or more years later they are in a happy second marriage; have no idea where their first spouse is and have no interest in contacting that person. How can we ask them to go through a full-blown annulment?
What happens is that many priests make it up as they go. We either ignore these irregular situations or we improvise and leave it in the hands of God and the individual consciences of the people involved.
Some priests will validate an irregular marriage without the benefit of an annulment. This is clearly wrong and could lead to that priest's suspension.
Isn't it time for a more cogent and defined pastoral doctrine for situations such as these that does not call into question what actual sin is or gives people the belief that their actual sins really don't matter and they don't need to repent and make a firm purpose of amendment in order to worthily receive Holy Communion.
Will relaxing the annulment procedure in some circumstances in order to allow non-Catholics to become Catholic or Catholics who can't get an annulment for technical reasons lead to a further loss of the sense of actual sin, especially mortal sin?
Should Catholic priests or worse yet, rank and file lay Catholics act as policemen and actually prevent those in mortal sin from receiving Holy Communion or should we teach that each adult Catholic will have to answer to God for their sins and having received our Lord in a state of disgrace? No one is barred from Holy Communion unless publicly excommunicated by the pope or the local bishop?
Do we need a pastoral theology that is elevated to a doctrine and will Pope Francis through the Synods on the Family (remember this first one only sets the agenda for next year's synod) which is based on the pastoral practice of the Church, practiced from the earliest times?