Friday, 8 April 2016

"The Joy of Love Experienced by Families"

I'm reading as fast as I can. But I sure wish B.A. was at home to listen to me wail when I get to the parts I really do not like. As usual with this pontificate, there are the swipes at unnamed unpastoral Christian bogeymen. However, if you read Paragraphs 36, 37 and 38, you will probably see at once who THAT particularly bogeyman is.  Sw. Jan Paweł II, módl się za nami!

Still, I'm not done reading, so I cannot make any conclusions as yet.  The experience of reading is rather painful although it is clear that the intended reader is anyone with an elementary school education. This, however, may say more about me than the text. I can easily imagine various Jesuit pals reading the document with tears in their eyes, shouting "YES!" and "This is truly consoling."

I wonder what they are making of the non-Christian "specific pastoral care" mentioned in 45. Personally, I object to having the idea of preaching Islam to the Islamic with the idea of keeping Christians in the Middle East in the same paragraph. On the one hand, say what, and on the other, imagine saying in 1939 that efforts should be made to keep Jews in Germany.

Still, same-sex marriage is ruled out, and although it is strongly hinted that the Germans can do whatever they want and that birth control is up to the individual conscience, at least after it has already had a baby or two (42) ... Well, same-sex marriage is still ruled out. And I must keep thinking about my dear old profs saying "This is truly consoling" and striving to see why they would say that.

Update: Very good stuff in the 80s. Despite Paras 3 & 37, clear fidelity to Humanae Vitae, thank heaven.

Update 2: Very good stuff in the 90s, too. Don't like the word "equality" here, but otherwise good sermon on 1 Corinthians 13. Priests at weddings could save themselves some  work and just read  this. Like everything else, it's written at a non-specialized level, so if it finished Grade 8,  the congregation wouldn't be lost.

Update 3: Apparently it's being reported that Francis says birth control is "up to the conscience." Anyone who reads Para 3 and 37 can be forgiven for thinking that. However, Para 80, people. Para 80.

Update 4: Para 129 cites Babette's Feast. That will make for interesting articles.

Update 5: Excellent marital/family advice. Francis appears to be much more at home in pastoral theology than in dogmatics, which he seems at times to think is at war with pastoral theology.

Update 6: Okay, there is so much attributed to Saint John Paul II in this document, that 36-38 surely cannot be a deliberate insult to him. It looks like one, but the more I read the more exhortation, the more unlikely that seems.

Update 7: Regulating births up to conscience of couple & nobody else in 222 without repeating injunction of Para 80 although NFP "should be promoted."

Update 8: Apropos mixed marriage: 228.
In some cases, one of the spouses is not baptized or does not want to practice the faith. This can make the other’s desire to live and grow in the Christian life difficult and at times painful. Still, some common values can be found and these can be shared and relished. In any event, showing love for a spouse who is not a believer, bestowing happiness, soothing hurts and sharing life together represents a true path of sanctification. Love is always a gift of God. Wherever it is poured out, it makes its transforming presence felt, often in mysterious ways, even to the point that “the unbelieving husband is consecrated through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is consecrated through her husband" (1 Cor. 7-14) Good stuff.

Update 9: Uh oh. Here we go at 243. Francis says the divorced in new unions are "not excommunicated." What does that mean?  Can they receive or not? Can they receive or not? If they can, are they not in an objective state of mortal sin if they willingly have sex outside of sacramental marriage? And if they aren't, which extramarital sexual acts are mortal sins and which aren't? Is receiving the Eucharist when in a state of mortal sin a mortal sin or not? Have we scrapped the whole concept of mortal sin? Come on, come on. The pastoral theology is great, but dogmatic theology comes with the office. This is where it gets tough, Holy Father.  No skin off my nose, but there are souls at risk here. Unless, of course, there's no hell after all. The interesting thing about dogmatics is that it's all connected. Unravel a thread, and there goes your cosmic cardigan.

Update 10: B.A. has come home spitting mad about "the confessional should not be a torture chamber." Yeah, I hope ISIS don't read that thought aloud to the next crowd of Christians they behead/machine gun/set on fire. The confessional should not be a torture chamber. Popes should not stuff chickpeas up their noses. Babies should not float about the room on pink clouds.

Update 11: I'm at Chapter 8--really very tired--and yet I suspect this is where one has to be most clear-headed. I think I should take a LONG break and have dinner and read a Polish storybook or two and then go back to it. Voice of the Family is freaking. I think they are overly harsh in places. The right to life of the unborn is clearly and firmly stated

Update 12. I have made a lemon Victoria sponge cake and Umbrian lentils are burbling on the stove.  My Quebec niece and nephew have just received their Easter present from Scotland.  I am full of domestic virtue and family joy. I just wish Pope Francis had written two separate documents: 1. the cool pastoral stuff that I can't find much fault with and 2: a terse outline of what he has decided. How hard could that have been?

Update 13. 301 "Hence it is can no longer simply be said that all those in any “irregular” situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace." I'd have sent this to a proofreader, myself. If you're going to translate something that outrageous, it's best not to i can haz stutter.

Update 14. More 301. "More is involved here than mere ignorance of the rule. A subject may know full well the rule, yet have great difficulty in understanding “its inherent values”,or be in a concrete situation which does not allow him or her to act differently and decide otherwise without further sin." I'd leave her or marry her except it would, um, be a sin! I see he tries to get St. Thomas Aquinas on side. As if.

Update 15. Stones again. Chair of Moses again. Listen, Moses was the one a-okay with divorce. 305.
"For this reason, a pastor cannot feel that it is enough simply to apply moral laws to those living in “irregular” situations, as if they were stones to throw at people’s lives. This would bespeak the closed heart of one used to hiding behind the Church’s teachings, “sitting on the chair of Moses and judging at times with superiority and superficiality difficult cases and wounded families”."  Yeah, because for $30,000 a year (max), that's what it's all about for parish priests.

Update 16. 311. "The teaching of moral theology should not fail to incorporate these considerations, for although it is quite true that concern must be shown for the integrity of the Church’s moral teaching, special care should always be shown to emphasize and encourage the highest and most--" Ah, integrity, inshegrity. Oh no. There's a NINTH chapter!

Update 17.  END. The Chapter 9 is okay and no doubt I would have found it deeply consoling (etc.) if not for the explosions of Chapter 8. Now all I have left to do is count how many times the Holy Father cited himself (and the Relatio) in the footnotes.

My initial conclusion is that I would feel really worried if my husband read Chapter 8 over and over again and talked about how merciful and tender it was. As Francis points out several times, people age and cease to be sexually attractive. He kindly didn't mention that women seem to age much more unattractively then men do. One imagines several devout, merciful and tender men chucking their aged wives for hot and tender young colleagues, knowing that after a few years of deeply meaningful accompaniment with their parish priest that they'll be permitted to receive communion again--none of that boring annulment stuff necessary.

Naturally I have amused myself by imagining what other "irregular" situations  one might bring to one's parish priest, e.g. chap's bisexual wife will leave him if does not accept her new girlfriend, chap also sleeps with new girlfriend, chap feels a bit uneasy about  it all. I pick this example as I went to the wedding of this couple. Fortunately for any parish priest around, none of them were Catholics. At least, the couple wasn't. Maybe the girlfriend was. Or how about: Muslim guy has three wives, and they all convert to Catholicism. Are they all still married? What happens to his two least favourites?

But no doubt polygamy can be left for another day because it's an African worry, and this document was clearly for the Germans. Jawohl, mein Kardinal!

Update 18. Ann B's going ape over the Aquinas stuff in 304. I admit I didn't find it too convincing, but I'm too tired to get the ST off the shelf.


  1. Re #9 - if it says excommunication - and I've seen others say mortal sin - then it's a strawman. Divorced and remarrieds were never excommunicated. I don't know if some pastors in who-knows-where were pushing this thought, but it's a ridiculous statement.

    1. Well... The Third Plenary Council of Baltimore (1884) established excommunication as penalty incurred latae sententiae for American Catholics who attempted marriage after divorce (without a declaration of nullity, obviously). The penalty was lifted by Pope Paul VI in 1977 at the request of the US bishops (a plenary council has a much higher legislative scope than a mere episcopal conference, and so only the Supreme Authority could abrogate the particular law).

      After nearly a century, that penalty may well have resulted in the reflexive thought (in the USA, at least at least) that remarriage after divorce results in an 'excommunication.'

  2. Praying for Pope Francis! Mercy must be tempered by accurate but gentle & truthful telling of the truth of the faith. Hope that emerges from this Exhortation.

    And of course we have the trust that God won't let any human derail his Church and faith :)


  3. Re: #9, divorced people, or even divorced-and-remarried, have never been excommunicated, right? But there's certainly a popular idea that you "can't be Catholic" if divorced and remarried or that the church will "kick you out," which is sort of a layman's understanding of excommunication.
    I am not a theologian, but I think the term "mortal sin" is actually really important here. Remarriage after divorce (and without an annulment) is still a serious sin, but only the consent/knowledge of the individual makes it a mortal sin. Therefore, outsiders shouldn't assume that a divorced and remarried person is living in a state of mortal sin. Whether or not a divorced and remarried person should receive communion will depend on their conscience, which should be well-formed by dialogue with a priest.

    1. I can definitely see what you are saying, but wouldn't dialogue with a priest help clear up the issue of ignorance? (Or at least, one would hope!) Wouldn't talking to a priest help them to discover that the situation they are in is wrong and should be rectified? I can see someone getting divorced and remarried without realizing that they should get an annulment and then receiving Holy Communion without being seriously culpable. But once you know that what you are doing is sinful, you are culpable if you continue in that sin.
      I’m honestly baffled by the idea that dialogue with a priest could lead to the decision that a divorced and remarried person can receive the sacraments without any intention to rectify the situation?
      I understand there are incredibly difficult situations out there, and I am absolutely all for mercy, gentleness and compassion when it comes to dealing with people who are in difficult situations and honestly don’t understand things. But it seems to me that education is the solution, not encouraging people to follow everything their badly-formed consciences tell them to do.

    2. What you have said is beautifully expressed, and succinctly summarises the problem, booklover!

      Charity, mercy & forgiveness are wonderful, but once we are told we are committing a mortal sin, what *dialogue* can alter that state of mortal sin so the couple can receive communion? (of course they could take action to change their state of sin, but the whole point is Pope Francis seems to think that is too hard for people. Whereas Jesus just people to their face to 'go and do not sin').

      And I'm not chucking stones at people in adulterous situations - I'm all too aware of how much of God's mercy I have to tap into all the time ;)


  4. My husband and I read much of the passage in the 90's last night: very good fodder for thought

    From my understanding, I agree with Jessica about mortal sin. It seems like what he wrote is not technically incorrect or straying from Church teaching as many who are divorced and remarried are not aware of it being a mortal sin. But I am left to wonder, why did he write it??? Those people take communion anyway; no priest in any country I've been to is stopping them. Shouldn't we help them form their conscience and live more virtuously?

    As for the stuff about NFP and promoting it, I am glad he wrote that. There's a movement here in the US to say that NFP is only for, like, the mother dying or something, and part of this is to be able to judge the spacing of other people's children! The friends I have who come closest to this attitude (actually hold it? not sure) naturally seem to have babies a little over two years apart, while at least the husband judges other friends who use it just to get to like 18 months apart... and I think in some countries that's the dominant mentality.

  5. Just back from Girl Guide camp! Has the internet been going crazy in my absence? I haven't read Ed Peters' stuff yet....