Monday, February 6, 2017
THAT DARN LITTLE FOOTNOTE AND THE LOGICAL PROGRESSION OF LOGIC
Over the years, if you have read this wildly popular blog, you know that I am very sympathetic to the development of the "Internal Forum" within the context of the Sacrament of Penance.
Let me place the parameters upon it that I feel are important and in fact I borrow as well as I can remember from our now deceased retired bishop, Bishop Raymond W. Lessard:
1. The External Forum for someone in an illicit second union must first be exhausted with no decision rendered because of technicalities such as no witnesses to corroborate what the petitioner and respondent have testified.
2. Thus the petitioner or respondent are in limbo because no definitive decision can be rendered in favor of the Sacramental nature of the marriage that has ended in a civil divorce. Let me be clear, if the External Forum states that the Sacramental nature of the marriage that has ended in a civil divorce is in fact a Sacrament, case close--the person cannot be admitted to Holy Communion while carrying on the marital act with someone who isn't their spouse. The only way toward full integration into the Sacramental life of the Church is for the illicit union to end or for the couple to live as brother and sister ceasing and resisting in the bogus marital act.
3. However, if no decision can be rendered in the External Forum, then the person who feels in good conscience that their presumably illicit union is a valid marriage (legally as it concerns Church Law) then in the context of Confession which the penitent has initiated, not the priest, seeks an internal solution where the person without interference from the priest makes a decision of conscience to return to Holy Communion after seeking the advice of the priest who then gives the person absolution and counsels them to receive Holy Communion where no scandal will be given to others. However, the priest should also caution the penitent that the priest isn't given them permission but the penitent is taking things into their own hands and will be the one to face their maker at their death and personal judgement. In other words, the priest divests himself of the wrath of God at his death and judgement.
4. The priest is not allowed to blessed what is presumed an illicit union.
BUT WHAT DOES AMORIS LAETITIA'S CHAPTER 8 AND FOOTNOTE IMPLY LOGICALLY?
What distresses me about Chapter 8 is that it doesn't insist on the External Forum first and the internal forum as I describe above. It seems that the person in an illicit union and their spiritual director, a priest or bishop, can come up with a decision to return to Holy Communion solely on a decision of conscience. Absolution is given without recourse first to the External Forum.
Logically then, and no one is even talking about this, is if a person can return to the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion without the procedure I describe above (which I admit is not codified in Canon Law but has been a pastoral solution for decades) then why in the name of God can't the priest "validate, (convalidate)" that illicit union? If one can receive Holy Communion without moral repercussions, why not the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony for that outwardly illicit and thus adulterous civil union?
And if the logic is that the penitent not the priest and thus the institutional Church, is the one to decide on the morality of their acts and in good conscience decides to receive Holy Communion, such as those in civilly recognized same sex unions, why then can't the Church bless those as the Sacramental of Holy Matrimony? Just asking.