Thursday 20 March 2014
‘Pastoral Considerations’ -The Devil’s Work?
There is no doubt that we need to find ways of encouraging those who struggle in irregular situations; that we need to show them as much warmth and valuing as we can. We need to find the kind of pastoral care that puts souls first; one that is done in Truth, since we are always to “do the truth in charity” (Eph.4v15). Any ‘Pastoral Considerations’ ('arrangements') which are inconsistent with Truth but rather enable a life to be lived in concrete (practical) opposition to Truth (Christ) are not good pastoral care. They may, no matter how well intentioned, be described as the work of the father of lies, who is ever seeking to lure souls from Christ. Satan can achieve his aim if he is able to have us put a person’s feelings, their emotional pain, before their souls; he can do it if he can influence minds into thinking we can hold to defined teaching on marriage while making ‘Pastoral Arrangements’ which circumvent that doctrine. Such arrangements only aid people in avoiding the practical application of the Ten Commandments to their lives, placing them in a situation which lacks in spiritual integrity: believing one thing, doing another. We need then, to be be discerning and find ways of helping that show the pastoral care of Christ rather than simple 'pastoral considerations' inspired by the enemy.
To claim Vatican II’s “pastoral orientation” as the basis for making pastoral changes regarding admission to Holy Communion for those in irregular situations is to accuse the Bishops and priests of the pre-Vatican II Church of lacking in pastoral care. Not so; they simply modelled themselves on the Lord. When He, the Supreme Pastor of souls, was confronted with the woman caught in adultery He was not afraid to end their encounter with the injunction “Go, and sin no more”.Sadly -alarmingly- many clergy cannot emulate Him; their call for ‘pastoral considerations’ amount to a ‘pastoral escape clause’ being added to His injunction “Go and sin no more”. That clause is “unless it is too difficult or too painful for you, at which time we will fashion a way around the Commandment for you”. It is a clause which inherently seeks to dispense from Divine Law (which is beyond all authority in the Church no matter what colour cassock one wears) and transforms the Ten Commandments into ‘Ten Ideals’: “You shall not commit adultery unless your situation is too difficult/painful for you...”; “You shall not kill unless your situation is too difficult/painful for you....”. The first of these allows for all kinds of sexual irregularity; the second for the mass slaughter of unborn babies and the terminally ill. These two Commandments form the bedrock of Christ’s Culture of Life; dispensations from them would positively provide for Satan’s Culture of Death.
Those who call for ‘Pastoral Considerations’ do not seem to realise that they are in danger of abandoning the very Council they claim to be implementing, since to abandon moral disciplines in the living of the Christian life is to abandon the Council’s call to holiness, replacing it with a call to compromise. There is a tremendous need today for re-learning true pastoral care; the kind of care where souls are shepherded without enabling them to abandon the Truth (Christ) in their concrete, daily lives.
So while we must find ways which help those in irregular situations to live in hope, we must do so in accord with Truth. Such folk need the warm support of the community; they need to be assured that they can (and should) still plead for grace with the rest of us at the foot of the Cross in Mass; should still seek Pastoral Counselling from their priest that they might live out the fullness of the Faith; should still take their place on the roster for Eucharistic Adoration; still engage in charitable works, attend parish social events and take their part in the care of parish property. Even membership of the Finance Committee can be open to them since this is not a ministerial or catechetical task (such tasks oblige them to teach one thing while living another). All in all, a great deal is open to those in irregular situations, and pastors at all levels must help them to see, value and access what is open to them, rather than erroneously concretise a lifestyle which is in opposition to Truth and which cannot, therefore, be the work of the Holy Spirit, who is not a spirit of contradiction.