This time, coming from a source that will break your heart:
“I think the time for mercy has come as John Paul II predicted by introducing the Feast of Divine Mercy. Divorced people can take communion, it is those who have divorced and remarried that cannot. Here I must add that the Orthodox follow the theology of economics and allow second marriages. When the commission of eight cardinals meets at the beginning of October we will discuss how to proceed. The Church is taking a very close look at pastoral initiatives for marriage. My predecessor in Buenos Aires, Cardinal Quarracino always used to say: ‘I consider half of today’s marriages to be invalid because people get married without realising it means forever. They do it out of social convenience, etc. …’ The issue of invalidity needs to be looked into as well.”
Yesterday’s news about the Holy Father’s crackdown on Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate was devastating enough, but these words have my blood running cold. Pope Francis is clearly hinting that permission for the divorced and remarried to receive communion is imminent because “the time for mercy has come”. He is considering the Eastern Orthodox practice of allowing second (and third!) marriages. He openly suggests that half of today’s marriages may be invalid and therefore should be more easily annulled. Etc.
With all due respect to the Holy Father, are we to understand that the Church’s perennial discipline with respect to divorce and remarriage is unmerciful? On the contrary, it is the highest possible mercy! Countless marriages have been saved because of it. Countless children have been saved because of it. Countless millions have learned how to love because of it. I daresay that countless souls have been saved from hell because of it! There is nothing merciful about making it easy to deprive children of married parents, or liberating married people from solemn vows made before God, or eliminating the challenge of loving as Christ loves. Changing this discipline would be an absolute disaster for marriage and for the Church.
For every “yes” there is a corresponding “no”. To say “yes” to communion for the divorced and remarried is to say “no” to perseverance in marriage, “no” to marital love, and “no” to marriage as an image of Christ and the Church.
There may be some truth to the claim that many Catholics today “marry without realizing it means forever” or marry “out of social convenience”, but if that is the case, the blame lies squarely at the feet of a post-conciliar hierarchy that has failed to catechize for going on five decades. Even so, in order to safeguard marriage there must always be a “presumption of validity”. Canon 1060 reads:
“Marriage possesses the favor of law; therefore, in case of doubt, the validity of a marriage must be upheld until the contrary is proven”.
This safeguard is necessary for obvious reasons. Persons who are unhappily married, and who may therefore be subject to intense emotions, are dangerously susceptible to rationalizing their own specious grounds for annulment. Without the Church’s legal presumption of validity many would act on their own authority and do further damage to a marriage that may, in fact, be completely valid – perhaps making reconciliation all but impossible. The solution to the problem of poor catechesis on marriage is not to abolish the Church’s discipline, but to restore orthodox catechesis, and furthermore to restore the traditional ideals of Catholic spirituality which have been all but jettisoned in recent decades. Please pray for Pope Francis, Holy Mother Church, and the restoration of Christian marriage.