Thursday, November 17, 2016
THE ATTEMPT AT PASTORAL THEOLOGY DURING THE 1970'S WAS WELL MEANING AND NEEDED BUT WHEN PASTORAL THEOLOGY BECOME DOCTRINE OR DOGMA, IT BECOMES A DESTRUCTIVE STEROID TO THE MORAL LAW
I enjoyed and appreciated some of the pastoral theology, that we needed to know our people, understand their sufferings as well as their temptation and the messiness of their lives. Most who were in irregular situations chose between the lesser of two evils and were trying to make the best of the imperfect way of life they had chosen.
Sometimes canon law could not help couples in so-called "adulterous relationship" which civil law had given an air of respectability. When I would listen to their stories, how it was they came to be married the first time and how it ended in a divorce and a second "civil union/civil marriage" I could understand well how the Church could help them to make regular an irregular and seeming sinful lifestyle. Sometimes shot-gun weddings could not be proven especially if pregnancy was at a very young age and they were forced to marry and this was 40 years ago and the spouse seeking an annulment doesn't know where the previous spouse is any longer. No contact in 40 years!
So in these instances discernment with the one seeking to return to Holy Communion is prudential and based upon their understanding of why their first marriage wasn't valid. After exhausting the external forum or running into road blocks with it, one determines that the Church cannot say one way or another that the marriage was valid or invalid. In this case the internal forum of Confession allows the person to make a decision of conscience and if no grave scandal is given to the Faithful, they may return to Holy Communion, but the civil marriage cannot be validated by any bishop, priest or deacon.
Pope Francis has streamlined the annulment procedure and I applaud His Holiness for it. But His Holiness is ambiguous about the internal forum and when it can be used and the codicils that come with it. It is here that I agree His Holiness is sowing confusion not only in the press as it reports its, but in the minds of clergy and laity alike.
While I disagree with the public nature of the four cardinals demand of Pope Francis at clarification, I do agree with most of what their concerns are. If you say that divorced Catholics who are now in an adulterous relations can go to Holy Communion cart blanch, then anyone in a state of mortal sin can do so without any repentance whatsoever. Thus the moral law is destroyed and we eventually embrace the death dealing liberal theology of liberal Protestantism, allowing all sorts of sexual activity that goes against the moral law to include same sex marriage and all the gender ideology we experience today. It will weaken and diminish the Church, divide her and eventually neutralize her as it has done for the Episcopal Church and other liberal branches of Protestantism.
Bottom line, no matter what the outcome of the four cardinals initiative, I will never seperate from the Vicar of Christ no matter how flawed his papal magisterium is.I will simply pray for His Holiness and offer it up for the poor souls in purgatory.