Category Archives: Family

Guidance for Raymond Card. Burke On Amoris Laetitia

 

Pope Francis Greets Raymond Card Burke

Pope Francis greets Raymond Card. Burke with a gesture of authority.

Raymond Card. Burke is very anxious about Pope Francis and Amoris Laetitia (AL).  Is it possible that by saying there is much confusion amongst pastors regarding the Pope’s writings about the “irregular situations” and reception of Holy Communion for the divorced and illicitly remarried that he is really projecting his own confusion and reservations about he Pope’s intentions onto them?

 

In speaking about Amoris Laetitia (AL), he skips over this qualification which Pope St. John Paul made very clear in Familiaris Consortio #84, before reminding all of the Church’s long tradition of not admitting the divorced and invalidly remarried to Holy Communion:

“Pastors must know that for the sake of truth they are obliged to exercise careful discernment of situations. There is, in fact, a difference between those who have sincerely tried to save their first marriage and have been unjustly abandoned and those who, through their own grave fault, have destroyed a canonically valid marriage…”

Pope Francis now writes in AL about the reality that there are cases requiring discernment where a deep spiritual understanding of both justice and mercy is required, and which the rigorist, controlling personality may be unwilling to accept: the type of the “unjustly abandoned.”

St. John Paul already allowed the divorced and remarried (in cases when best for the children) to Holy Communion when they agree to live as brother and sister. So, the Church admits that there can be cases of adultery (defined as being divorced and invalidly remarried) which are not strong enough to be considered mortal sin and inadmissible to Holy Communion – in this case, living as a civilly-married couple but not engaging in conjugal relations.

So now, Pope Francis takes us further along into discernment to find those who have been egregiously abandoned but who, for the good of the children, engage in activities available to them to safeguard the children. This is the case where the husband runs off abandoning his family, remarries a wealthy woman for the allure of her money, and has another family with this wealthy woman, leaving his valid wife and three children alone on a farm deep in the Amazon, without access to priests, where such husbandless families are vulnerable to evil. A good, non-Catholic man comes along, and having love and compassion for her and her family, and desiring children with her in addition to her own and being a man of great virtue, marries her and protects the family. Is this adultery? I might consider that it could even be a lesser grade of adultery than that which still exists in the divorced and invalidly remarried who are living as brother and sister as a civilly-married couple, in a safe and modern urban city with access to many priests and services, for the sake of the children, but who are no longer having conjugal relations.

And so, I think Raymond Card. Burke is missing out on understanding scenarios like this one.  Where the Blessed Sacrament helps the civilly-married, non-conjugating couple keep from falling into mortal sin for love of Jesus, the same could help the abandoned wife and mother, who is called in her heart to metanoia, strive for perfection and obtain a non-conjugal agreement later when her children are older.  This process might speed along if by her attachment to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, who never abandoned her, she also converts her husband to the Faith, and he then desires to become obedient.

Just like violating the commandment not to kill can have cases where killing is not a mortal sin [self defense, “just cause” military action], there might be be cases, IMHO, where what the Church defines as adultery may not necessarily be mortal sin. Yes, it is adultery, but is it venial instead of mortal if the intention of the second marriage was the securing of a bond required for the defense or protection of her children? This requires Magisterial discernment.

This, I believe, is Pope Francis’ rendering of the wishes of the Holy Spirit in Amoris Laetitia .  Not that the divorced and remarried may be admitted, as a new rule, to Holy Communion.  No!  But that the abandoned may not also be abandoned by the Church and by Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament when she, in her abandonment, dire fear and defense of her children,  needed Him the most.

Call for New Sacrament of Reconciliation: For Marriage

Holy Matrimony in the Presence of the LORD Jesus Christ Who bestows His Grace on their union.

Holy Matrimony in the Presence of the LORD Jesus Christ Who bestows His Grace on their union.

I propose a new form be added to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but for the help of marriages.

There is the Sacrament of Matrimony in which the husband and wife make a covenant to give themselves to each other for their earthly life and in which Grace is given to help the spouses live out their marriage in accordance with God’s plan.

However, there is absolutely no documented sacramental form or means directly available for the reconciliation and strengthening of that matrimonial bond when it has come under attack leading to the loss of Grace and making possible the deconstruction of a marriage which was meant to prosper and bear earthly fruit for the Kingdom of God.

The Baptized go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation for their reconciliation with God and for the healing of their individual souls, but marriages are relegated to the general help of the wisdom and support of other couples (sinners who are not ordained ministers) in the parish community.

CHURCH: WAITING UNTIL IT IS TOO LATE TO HELP THE COUPLE?

Why aren’t waning marriages handled through a Sacrament of Reconciliation for Marriages?

Why does the Church, in some cases, ill-prepare couples and then wait until the “shipwreck” of the marriage, stepping in late in a reactionary way (instead of proactive way) with programs like Retrouvaille and the long and painful process of deconstructing what was thought to be an irrevocable marriage bond through the canonical Annulment process?!  Far too much damage has been done by this time.

Where is the proactive help which works with young, married couples as they build and strengthen their commitments together – throughout their marriages?  Where do couples go to refresh their matrimonial bonds?

LET THE LORD GIVE THE CHURCH A NEW HELP:  SACRAMENT OF RECONCILIATION AND REJUVENATION OF MARRIAGE

I propose a draft outline for the new Matter/Form the married couple, to be added within the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Rejuvenation of Marriage.  I do not propose a new Sacrament, but a new form for the healing and strengthening of marriages:

Matter

  1. Sins against the gift of marital unity
  2. Sins against the gift of marital fidelity
  3. Sins against the gift of marital fertility

Form

  1. Act of Contrition unique to the Marriage Covenant and what it means for eternal salvation.
  2. Absolution for sins committed.
  3. Mutual recommitment of the couple to their original marriage covenant, witnessed by a priest.
  4. Blessing of the restatement of the marriage covenant.

Means

  1. Grace which strengthens the desire for the gift and attainment of deeper marital unity in which the two indeed become one in Christ.
  2. Grace which heals damage to the gift of the irrevocable marital / conjugal bond.
  3. Grace which strengthens the prudent and temperate desire for the gift of marital fertility.

Credit for picture:  Catholic Harbor of Faith and Morals, http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/