Sunday, 30 March 2014
The Wrong Remedy
Divorce is a terribly painful experience for many people. However, given the consistent teaching of the Church that “He who divorces and marries again commits adultery”, we need to remember that we cannot eradicate the objective sinfulness of a situation by giving approval via reception of Holy Communion.
Supporters seek to be pastoral to the divorced and civilly re-married by admitting them to Holy Communion, but there are some harmful pastoral effects to be considered if we do, such as insensitivity toward the abandoned spouse and the example given to the children. Consider how the abandoned woman might feel if her husband –who divorced her to civilly ‘re-marry’ the lady who used to sit three rows in front of them at Mass- were to be publicly ‘affirmed’ with Holy Communion every Sunday. Consider too the example of commitment given to young men and women; how dependable or secure can they be in entering marriage when the example before them is that the home and children can be abandoned without spiritual consequence? Also to be considered is the scandal and example given to the parish, not to mention what it would say about the Church as a trustworthy guide in the spiritual life if She were to simply accept sins we have difficulty avoiding. Too many dangers are opened up in the rush to be [inauthentically] ‘pastoral’.
The idea that we can admit those in non-sacramental ‘re-marriages’ to Holy Communion reminds me of the priest who publicly advised a young person on an internet forum that instead of struggling and praying for the graces to overcome masturbation, the questioner should just thank God for the pleasure it brought. We wouldn't advise someone with a persistent cough to simply thank God for having the reflex and ignore the problem, so why fail in charity in care of the soul? True love (Christian charity) puts the salvation of souls before all else; before being applauded as a politically correct community; before being liked personally. In the interests of safeguarding all that is holy (the Sacraments and our children’s souls) we need to be clear that what is not in accord with the Gospel is to be avoided rather than ways sought to accommodate it. The Sacrament needed by those in objectively sinful situations is not Holy Communion but Confession, with a supportive community helping them to remain faithful to the Gospel. If a person feels too lonely to continue after a divorce, we Catholics have some culpability for failing them. God's treatment for weakness is grace; for loneliness it's us - we are to live the Works of Mercy.