The Sacramentality of Second Marriage: Divine Mercy after Divorce?

This week, Catholics are listening attentively to the deliberations of the bishops gathered for the Synod in Rome. Throughout this year, Catholics have inquired whether or not the Orthodox Church might offer a perspective on the sacramentality of marriage by referring to the Orthodox rite of second marriage. In late May, the discussion intensified among some observers when a short essay by Nicola Bux titled “The Orthodox Church and Second Marriages” was distributed through social media.

In his essay, Bux claims that second marriages in Orthodoxy are akin to “sacramentals,” asserting that the replacement of communion with a common cup in the marriage ceremony “appears to be an attempt to ‘de-sacramentalize’ the marriage.” Bux suggests that second and third marriages caused  “growing embarrassment” that resulted in the “disappearance of Eucharistic communion from Byzantine marriage ceremonies,” because the second and third marriages had compromised the integrity of the Eucharist.

Liturgical scholarship on the rite of marriage demonstrates that the use of the cup in the Byzantine rite of marriage is of domestic origins, not a remnant of the Eucharist (Peter Galadza and most recently, Gabriel Radle). For Orthodox theology, authentic sacramentality does not depend on identifying particular ritual actions as epicletic (such as sharing the cup or participating in the rite of crowning). The integrity of divine action depends on the rite as a whole, and I believe that a strong case can be made for the sacramentality of the rite of second marriage.

The rite of second marriage certainly has a penitential character. In Orthodoxy, the pastoral application of the rite varies by diocese for the rites of marriage and second marriage, so for the purposes of this post, I will refer to the guidelines and text of the rite published in English by the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

The guidelines state that the bride’s gown may not be white, her father may not give her away, there is to be no bridal procession, and the clergy are not to attend the dinner. From the outset, a sense of gravitas permeates the entire celebration. The distinctive character of the rite of second marriage occurs with the prayers on pages 4-5. The prayers petition God to forgive the couple of their sins, referring to the forgiveness God granted Rahab, the Publican, and the thief on the cross. The second prayer refers to Paul’s sentence on the benefit of marriage in 1 Corinthians 7:9: “it is better to marry in the Lord than to burn.” Clearly, these two prayers were composed to establish that the parties seeking marriage needed to repent before entering into the covenant of marriage for the second, or even third time.

Despite the emphasis on repentance and the gravitas of second marriage we see in the Antiochian Archdiocese’s guidelines that diminish the ornamentation of the rite, the couple still receives the fullness of the sacrament. They are betrothed by the exchange of rings; they receive divine forgiveness; and then they participate in the rite of crowning in its fullness, including the sharing of the common cup. The position of the prayers of repentance is of central importance: the couple repents before they receive the rite of crowning, suggesting a parallel with the practice of receiving the sacrament of penance before partaking of holy communion.

My own take on the rite of second marriage is that it honors an anamnesis of divine mercy: despite failures, men and women whose marriages have failed can enter into the holy covenant again. The rite functions as a rehearsal for their second marriage: the Church beckons them to repent so that this repentance would permeate the elements of their shared daily life. The placement of repentance before crowning demonstrates that there is no deprivation of full participation in the communities of marriage and the Church once the couple has repented.

I see something very healthy in this rite, a reminder that marriage itself is Paschal, a daily rehearsal in preparation for life in God’s kingdom. Most priests require couples who have been divorced to receive marriage through this rite, though there are exceptions (some priests omit the penitential portions, depending on the circumstances of the first marriage). I simply cannot see anything in the rite of second marriage that would lead one to reduce its sacramentality or compare it unfavorably with the rite of marriage. I also think that this rite offers lessons informative for all Christians; let the reader decide.

39 comments

  1. The guidelines state that the bride’s gown may not be white, her father may not give her away, there is to be no bridal procession, and the clergy are not to attend the dinner. From the outset, a sense of gravitas permeates the entire celebration….

    Without getting into the theological dimensions of the cases for or against adopting the ‘Oikonomia’ approach of the relevant Eastern Churches, it does strike me that there’s a basic practical concern here. Consider those areas, such as Germany, where the agitation for such a change seems strongest: Would not such couples – if lacking in adequate formation – see such an austere marriage rite with such restrictions as a “second class” marriage? And if so, how would such resentments play themselves out in the Church?

    I can see at least two possibilities: many couples refusing to be subjected to what seems to be a very penitential (and thus humiliating) ceremony; or, in the alternative, heavy pressure to diminish or even remove the penitential dimensions of the rite, if not formally, then certainly in praxis.

  2. Pray Tell readers might be interested to recall that Msgr. Nicola Bux is associated with the “reform of the reform” and is author of Benedict XVI’s Reform: The Liturgy between Innovation and Tradition (Ignatius Press, 2012). As Pray Tell reported earlier (http://www.praytellblog.com/index.php/2013/09/26/new-consultants-for-liturgies-with-pope/ ) , Bux was a consultor of the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff under Benedict XVI, but Pope Francis did not renew his appointment when he appointed all new people as consultors.

  3. Very interesting! The rite referenced here reminds me in some ways of the RC rites for marriages of widows and widowers, and of an RC/non-RC couple before Vatican II. If I recall correctly, they were always celebrated outside of the Mass (if celebrated in the church at all rather than in the rectory) and did not include the nuptial blessing. Not exactly penitential (though dress was expected to be sober rather than celebratory), but quite different in tone and ceremony than first marriages.

  4. At a recent wedding in my local Catholic church, the bride wore white, the celebrant and his wife attended the reception and the three young adult ushers were the sons of
    1) the groom and his first wife,
    2) the bride and her third husband and
    3) the son of the couple’s 17-year union!

    The groom was raised Catholic, wed in the Church as a young man and that marriage failed. The bride was dedicated as a baby in a Presbyterian church but had no other religious up-bringing. She made 3 disastrous marriage choices and, homeless when she and young son had to leave #3, found shelter with a kind-hearted man who’d been ditched by his wife several years earlier. They grew to appreciate and love each other. She wanted to become a Catholic and three times embarked on a course of instruction, but with four civil marriages in the bag, no pp could or would bring this desire to fruition, and the man concerned attends Mass only intermittently.

    For 17 years they tried for an annulment, indeed, several annulments, with unpromising results. Finally the deacon currently i/c of the Diocesan Tribunal, knowing how she had made a stable happy home for her husband and the 3 boys, took the case to the Bishop and between them they utilised the Pauline privilege – she’d never been baptised – and the way was clear.

    The pp’s restrictive theology meant he refused to handle the wedding, though he did receive her into the Church and give her First Holy Communion and Confirm her just days before the wedding. The “wedding preparation” and service were conducted by the married deacon, the ceremony and celebrations were immensely happy. Ad multos annos.

    This couple should be at the Synod!

  5. The example of Orthodox “remarriage” is only relevant if there is no defined Catholic teaching on the subject. Since Trent we know with certainty that marriage cannot be dissolved on the grounds of “heresy, irksome cohabitation, or the affected absence of one of the parties” (sess. XXIV can. 5); adultery is also singled out as a non starter (ibid. can. 7). If those marriages cannot be dissolved, then any subsequent “remarriage” would be adding another marriage on top of the existing one, thus running afoul of the divine law against synchronic polygamy (ibid. can. 2). So whether the Orthodox consider these marriages sacramental, that opinion cannot alter the Catholic judgment of them. The diplomatic softening of canon 7 from condemning those who hold an erroneous position to condemning only those who explicitly oppose the Church’s true position does nothing to alter the doctrinal substance of this distinct canon on indissolubility (distinct in that it massages its condemnation only of dissolutions for adultery; for the other grounds of canon 5 it does indeed directly condemn those who hold the erroneous position(s), also held and thus practiced among the “Greeks”) .

    1. @Aaron Sanders – comment #5:
      Hi Aaron and all,

      Thanks for summarizing for us the current state of the question.

      I would add the clarification that the issue before us is whether Catholic doctrine in this area can develop. I recall that before and during Vatican II, some stated the current state of the question on religious liberty, freedom of conscience, and whether error has rights, to say that no change was possible because the issue was already settled. But as we all know, Vatican II brought forth a development of doctrine. Some (e.g. the Lefebvrists) believe that this is an error because it contradicts and overturns previous positions. The magisterium of course would say that it is rather a legitimate development of doctrine.

      I’m not necessarily advocating here a development of doctrine or change in practice around marriage. As readers can perhaps guess, I’m sympathetic to Cardinal Kasper’s proposal, but I don’t feel I have enough expertise in the area to propose what the change should be or to advocate for it.

      My purpose in this comment is merely to say that development of doctrine is possible, and so the restating of the current state of affairs, as Aaron has done, does not put an end to theological discussion or predetermine what can or can’t happen in the future.

      awr

      1. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #6:
        Doctrine can develop (from “A” to “A plus” or “A understood in this particular way”, but it can’t be reversed (from “A” to “not A”) if the Church has spoken infallibly on the subject. Not even Card. Kasper claims to be able to touch this irreformable doctrine (though his many statements seem rather difficult to square with that doctrine). So the synod can’t “develop” indissolube unions into soluble ones or permit bigamy through the introduction of a second marriage. What it can do, as His Eminence is vigorously encouraging, is to change whether or not the church maintains its ancient practice of barring those in “public and permanent adultery” from Communion or whether it treats them as a class of sinner to whom it is better to concede responsibility for refraining on their own (like occult sinners or those who have not yet shown “obstinance” in manifest sin).

      2. @Aaron Sanders – comment #11:

        What it can do, as His Eminence is vigorously encouraging, is to change whether or not the church maintains its ancient practice of barring those in “public and permanent adultery” from Communion or whether it treats them as a class of sinner to whom it is better to concede responsibility for refraining on their own (like occult sinners or those who have not yet shown “obstinance” in manifest sin).

        Is that what Cardinal Kasper is encouraging? Because if he is, I would be OK with it, at least from a doctrinal point of view.

        However, from my read, he seems to go further. That is he appears to say such people should be able to confess and then be advised it would be proper for them to receive, which I do have a doctrinal issue with, as it would clearly contradict St Paul’s teaching on receiving in a worthy state.

      3. @Aaron Sanders – comment #11:
        There are different understandings of how doctrine develops. Some of these understandings fit the facts of history better than others. The claim that you can’t go from “A” to “not A” encounters difficulties with what actually happened in some cases. I think Noonan’s book A Church That Can and Cannot Change makes the point best, and Cardinal Dulles’ response to it doesn’t real work because he avoids the issue and sort of says he just doesn’t like it.

        I’m probably not going to convince you of anything, so I’m not going to get into an endless back and forth on it. I just want to point out what the differences are between various viewpoints, and leave it with you and I differing.

        There is a danger in holding to an absolute theory (“church teaching can’t change or contradict itself, it can only develop and deepen”) and then trying to make the facts of history fit with it, or ignoring those facts. At its worst this is fundamentalism, which I take to be the holding on to a “fundamental” position despite the facts of history or science.

        For me this is not just an intellectual issue but also a spiritual issue. Our only trust is in God, not in our theories, or in our perfect church, or in the perfect teachings of church magisterium throughout history.

        awr

      4. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #15:
        Another good source is Francis Sullivan’s book Creative Fidelity. FWIW, the development of the rite of second marriage is just this: an attempt to respond pastorally to human failure and sin with a deep consultation of repentance. I would hope that those who are married through the rite of second marriage would experience it as a catalyst towards deepening their life in the communion of the Holy Spirit. My reading of the rite is that it attempts to do just that: restore the sinner to the fullness of communion.

  6. What happens most often in the Eastern traditions when the couple, both chrismated, differ in the number of sacramental marriages they have contracted? For example, a groom might never have been married, but the bride might have already participated in one sacramental marriage. Must the marriage be of the penitential second marriage rite even if one of the persons in the couple is participating in his or her first sacramental marriage? It seems unfair that the never-wed person would have to wed under a penitential ceremony even if he or she has no need to make penance.

  7. If one of the parties has not been married, then the customary rites of betrothal and crowning are observed. There is a great deal of diversity in Orthodox practice when both parties have been previously married: for example, some Russians have the penitential prayers without a the crowning rite. The textus receptus calls for the rite of second marriage to occur with crowning. Two notes: I linked to this post on a social media site which ignited a heated debate among Orthodox, including several liturgiologists across the globe. The diversity of opinion on this matter demonstrates a certain level of discomfort on the topic as a whole and a lack of consensus on what the performance of such a rite really means. In my view, that there is such a rite is a concession from the Church that acknowledges the possibility of repentance, followed by healing and entrance into a new marital covenant. But the fact that this is a concession with a penitential tone is also notable. This tension speaks to the need to see marriage itself as the daily living of Pascha.

  8. As a widow, remarried, I note that the guidelines and rite link apply to both divorced and to the widowed, so I find the emphasis on repentance to be jarring. Is it sinful to remarry after the death of a spouse?

    1. @Michelle Francl-Donnay – comment #9:
      Under the more rigorist, ancient views of marriage and sexuality, remarriage after a spouse’s death was widely looked upon as indecently libidinous – you had your chance to get out that youthful passion, now why don’t you settle down to some more mature self-discipline? Second marriages were so frowned upon in some circles that such “bigamists” (serial bigamy) were denied Communion, but the universal Church eventual came to a consensus against this belief and practice.

      1. @Aaron Sanders – comment #10:
        I can only imagine what they would think of today’s bishops, routinely trading in their starter wives–I mean dioceses–to move on up in the world.

        I’m not so sure the interpretation of 1 Cor 11:27ff is such a slam dunk.

      2. @Todd Flowerday – comment #13:

        I’m not so sure the interpretation of 1 Cor 11:27ff is such a slam dunk.

        And if wishes were horses. If a another interpretation could be supported, why has it not been put to date?

        Do you have an alternative interpretation for us to consider, which is consistent with how it has been interpreted by the Church since the time of the early Fathers?

      3. @Scott Smith – comment #14:
        I think we both know another ancient interpretation is used by Orthodox Christians.

        I also know that there’s nothing explicit in 1 Cor 11:27ff about second marriages after a divorce.

        I wish I could find the reference, but in my readings in monasticism, I do recall at least one prominent abbot counseling Communion to provide strength and consolation for a brother who had committed sexual sins and continued to struggle with them. Perhaps I was dreaming about it. Monastic history is just not my specialty. But I think monastics have rather more to give to couples for a general approach to holiness and life in common than bishops.

        I think long-time married couples (and after nearly 19 years, I might be getting there) have a perspective on what sort of mercy is needed for our sisters and brothers who have not been quite as fortunate or as graced as we have been. I think our perspective might be better, more attuned to the will of Christ, and a superior theology to what has been presented by clerics in the past.

        I wouldn’t propose a blanket acceptance or denial of the sacraments. The goal is not a more perfect legislation on the books, but more holiness among people.

        Perhaps that might mean “faithful” couples cannot rest on the laurels of their own graced experience. Perhaps the true mark of a “faithful” marriage is how many unions a couple saves outside of their own. Perhaps we need a more developed theology before cherry-picking Scriptural texts to justify laws already on the books. (Laws, by the way, that don’t quite date back to the Pastristic Era)

        How this impacts liturgy, or how liturgy helps the current situation: that’s a topic that deserves more reflection.

      4. @Todd Flowerday – comment #17:

        You are confusing things. If you accept the Orthodox teachings on marriage, you don’t have an issue with 1 Cor 11:27ff, because the sin was dissolving the marriage and that has been forgiven.

        Also, your attempt to take unspecified one off references from the Tradition is cherry-picking, not the Church’s acceptance Scriptural texts as they have been interpreted since the first fathers of the Church.

      5. @Scott Smith – comment #24:
        Thanks for the links, Scott. Cardinal Burke knows his canon law, but even he concedes that there’s not an explicit link in all of the ancient bishops he’s cited. It’s a situation where, in part, we look at these writings with modern eyes, and not quite dispassionate bias in favor of the status quo. I think the argument in favor of rigor needs a bit more than what he’s giving us.

        Your other link to Kasper is not quite to the theologian, but to a modern theologian citing Kasper. Not quite the same thing. But even Dr Cooper concedes the witness of the Patristic Era is not quite uniform. He also points out the issue has divided not those who favor laxity and rigor, but between those who are seeking a middle way, and those who maintain rigor.

        In order to truly assess the whole of the Patristic witness on second marriages, we would need a bit more than second-hand interpretations from theologians. I’m not sure I’m prepared to tackle the original Greek and Latin, nor do I have exhaustive sources. I sure hope somebody does.

        On the notion of public scandal as a locus of judgment, I’m not sure that doesn’t float both ways. My mother, for example, was married very briefly during WWII. But her marriage to my father lasted fifty years. Twenty-five by the time I was baptized. Should that have been a factor of her not becoming Catholic? She dismissed the question the only time I asked it. Who knows what happened? I know that I’m the only actively practicing Catholic left among my extended family. Would Cardinal Burke suggest that is a greater good?

        I’m not sure which is the greater scandal: that well-intentioned believers do not become Catholic, or that we live in an internet age where some people seem to go out of their way to be scandalized, as it were.

        It’s a complex issue, and clearly not as clean-cut as Cardinal Burke would wish it to be. And he seems to admit it.

      6. @Todd Flowerday – comment #25:

        Firstly I would say the Canon 915 rules, which Cardinal Burke is going on about, are disciplinary. It is the Canon 916 rules which I think are based on doctrine. In particular as you mention, Canon 915 is based in part on scandal, and thus how it should be applied will change in different circumstances.

        That is, I think it is Ok to stop saying people can not receive, but not OK to stop saying they should not receive. I just provided the Cardinal Burke link as it includes some of the patristic sources regarding both 1 Cor 11:27ff and its application to the remarried. The second link I provided in part to show how Cardinal Kasper has not really done the work to properly assess the Patristic witness.

        Further while I think the status quo should have a bias towards it, in that it has developed out of the Patristic witness and should be assumed to be consistent unless proven otherwise, my call is precisely that those proposing change need to properly assess the Patristic witness.

        Indeed, I would have thought it proper that Cardinal Kasper might have arranged it, given he is an academic theologian who was been pushing this proposal for what the last 40 years. At this stage, my inclination is to assume that it has not been done, because those with the knowledge consider it would not be helpful (i.e. the traditional view reflects the Patristic witness – This is certainly my understanding from the Patristic sources I have read).

        I could pull out more sources for you from some books I have at home, but generally they will only cover one of the three steps required in the traditional position, being:

        1. Marriage is indissoluble, in that it cannot be dissolved (the earliest and western position – In the east some people moved away from this under pressure from civil governments to say instead that marriage should not be dissolved, but in practice it can be);

        2. Adultery is a grave sin; and

        3. People with unrepented grave sin should not receive communion (St. Augustine and St. Chrysostom for example spoke of this a lot).

        Once you put them together however, I think they support the traditional intrepretation of the scriptural passages in questions (i.e. Jesus on marriage and St. Paul on receiving communion).

      7. @Scott Smith – comment #26:
        Despite what some commentators say, your number #2 is the sticking point. It is all too easy to say all remarried persons are adulterers. Marriages end. Period. If the marriage is over, there is no adultery. Period.

        That said, if a person has an ill-conceived reason for abandoning a spouse, then the spirit of adultery is certainly present.

        And regarding #3, I would be open to the greater good: if the sacramental life urges a person or gives them strength to greater awareness, greater contrition, etc., then it seems the law of mercy trumps a human institution, that institution being this particular interpretation of Jesus, rabbinical style, and the infusion of Saint Paul.

        But I thank you for inspiring me to locate better Patristic and monastic sources than Cardinal Burke and Dr Cooper.

      8. @Todd Flowerday – comment #27:

        Marriages end. Period. If the marriage is over, there is no adultery. Period.

        Well, that is the approach of some in the East. That marriages end.

        But that is not what Jesus said, as interpreted by the earliest and western tradition, and also in my own interpretation. He said they do not end in this manner. And as Cardinal Pell said the other day, I think I will stick with Jesus.

        A human institution

        But it is not a human institution – It is a divinely inspired revelation. Communion in grave sin is a further sin. We should therefore advise against it.

        Now, applying the principle of gradualism, we might say it is not the worst option or sin in the circumstances. Therefore we might not stop people from receiving communion, particularly if the other option is to leave the Church.

        But the advise would still not be that receiving communion in these circumstances is beneficial or ideal, just more beneficial and good then not attending Mass at all.

    2. @Michelle Francl-Donnay – comment #9:
      I agree: it is, indeed, jarring. I think what we are seeing here is the ideal of marriage. The Orthodox rites do not include “till death do us part,” which has permitted some theologians to imagine marriage as eternal, continued in the kingdom of God in a glorified, not fallen, state. The ideal is applied to clergy; we all know that Orthodox clergy can be married before ordination, but a man married to a woman who was previously married cannot be ordained. The point is to uphold the ideal; the consequence is the creation of a distinction between clergy and laity.

      A note about Christian rigor: the sacrament of penance/reconciliation developed historically in response to post-baptismal sin. Again, the ideal is to not sin after Baptism. Reconciliation restores the sinner to the communion of the Holy Spirit, with the expectation that s/he would not sin again. I honestly see a parallel in the idea of a second marriage, that mercy could be granted to one who really repents. We should all aim for the ideal; when we fall short, we should hope in God’s mercy.

      Orthodox liturgical renewal is an ongoing process. I would advocate for a revision of these marital rites in a dialogue on renewal.

  9. @George Hayhoe mentioned that the Antioch Rite reminded him of the practice of marriage for widow/widowers, etc before the Council. He mentioned that it happened “outside of Mass”.

    All marriages happened outside of Mass at that time. Marriage was first offered within the actual Mass in April 1964.

    They Marriage used to occur within the altar rail, then the Priest would vest for Mass and offer Mass.

  10. An the Orthodox marriage ceremony is stand alone. It normally is not served in conjunction with the Divine Liturgy.

    1. @John Kohanski – comment #20:
      An interesting blanket practice. I worked in a diocese once that did Confirmation that way. Mid-week liturgies of the Word with a 40-minute sermon. No Mass.

      Curious that I have yet to encounter an ordination of a cleric outside of Mass.

      1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #21:
        It’s not a blanket practice, that’s just how the Crowning ceremony is done. Ever see “The Deer Hunter?” If it was served with a Divine Liturgy, you’d probably be in church almost 3 hours. The same with the majority of funerals in the Orthodox Churches, there is no Divine Liturgy, the Parastas is the funeral service. But yes, ordination to the office of reader, sub-deacon, deacon, priest and bishop are done within the Divine Liturgy so that the ordained can perform his task. It’s an entirely differently ecclesiology from the Roman Church, please don’t knock it.

      2. @John Kohanski – comment #37:
        Okay. It’s just different, that’s all. My wife and I did different, too: a Sunday liturgy. The Sunday Eucharist is central to us: that expression made more sense that a special liturgy.

        Though I did imagine if I married someone outside the Roman tradition, I would suggest Lessons and Carols, the Office of Readings, or something like.

      3. @Todd Flowerday – comment #38:
        I’m glad that you did exactly what you wanted to do. I’m sure that the people came to Mass that Sunday were glad to be part of your special day. Back in the bad, old days, my grandmother and her first husband were married before a regular Sunday Mass in 1912. Apparently it wasn’t uncommon back then judging by what I saw in the parish metrical books when I was doing genealogical research.

  11. Whatever Jesus said, marriages end. Spouses separate, sometimes for good. Some relationships are so poisoned and so lost, they cannot be recovered. My mother would have had no idea where to find her once-husband of three months. Jesus had a specific reference to a certain historical person who, for all we know, abandoned his wife for a mistress. I’m sticking with Jesus, too. So we’re on the same team and we differ on how we view reality.

    The human institution is canon law. Based on Scripture and tradition. But not necessarily perfect.

    And, we don’t know the ideal. Only God knows the ideal. Jesus also preached to leave the weeds among the wheat and leave the matter for the harvestmaster. So there, too: I’m sticking with Jesus and I have you and Cardinal Burke 2 to 1. Game over yet?

    1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #29:

      I really don’t think you are sticking with Jesus. I think you are privileging praxis over revelation.

      And if you can say “Whatever Jesus said, insert my own view here”, I think it is important to step back to recognise what you are doing.

      The other thing to think about is what it means for marriage to be a sacrament, a visible sign of a supernatural reality.

      Your approach seems to be to treat a marriage like the parrot from the Monty Python skit. In the natural world, it is a dead parrot. But that denies the supernatural reality pointed to by Jesus.

      Just like we are Catholics by means of our baptism no matter what our state in life or beliefs, and priests are priests by means of their ordination no matter what they do, we are married even after the natural signs of it has ceased.

      1. @Scott Smith – comment #30:
        Unfortunately, I think I see where this is going. I suppose I could call you and Cardinal Burke silly dunderheads and keep the meme alive.

        Let’s clarify a few things here:

        1. I’m raising questions, not making explicit suggestions. I might ask why you and others find this so difficult to bear in conversation without trying to clamp down on us.

        2. From your “thoughts” I don’t think you’re attending at all to what I’m writing. This is crystal clear from your attempt to label and categorize what I’m asking. A better approach is simply to apply CCC 2478, which is also part of Church teaching. You and others are absolutely obligated to assume I’m sticking with Jesus, as are other Catholics who are raising questions. You have a hell of a nerve to suggest otherwise.

        3. It doesn’t seem you are capable of maintaining a charitable conversation, so I’ll let you have the last word.

      2. @Todd Flowerday – comment #31:

        Excuse me?

        You made a specific assertion that marriages end, whatever Jesus might have said. Which is inconsistent with “sticking with Jesus”.

        I have clearly upset you, for which I apologise. But all I have done is point out how your own statements do not gel together. What notice you take of that is entirely up to you.

  12. Observation, my friend, not assertion. Marriages were a human institution long before they became a sacrament. I observe what happens among human beings, not just Catholics. Marriages end, period. Maybe there’s a magic string, even among people who have never heard of Roman Catholicism. Or maybe not.

    My purpose in raising questions is not to make gelatin, but to illustrate inconsistencies in the Biblical approach. When it comes to violence, I tend toward pacifist rigor myself. It is not particularly easy, but it is the same approach you, Cardinal Burke, and others have used with regard to marriage.

    I can respect you for being a rigorist on divorce and remarriage. But why do you suppose so many ignore the Lord’s caution against hating one’s enemies and even getting tot he point of fighting against them? Just War seems to be a similar dead parrot, if you will.

    Please cease trying to “save” me on this issue, Scott. Just respect that it is possible to be faithful, and to stand with Jesus, to enjoy the fruits of a long-standing sacramental marriage, and not be scandalized that mercy is needed and that a new approach may be more beneficial to some people. You’re trying too hard, dude. You and I are just two small voices. We’re not making the call beyond our own marriages. The Church isn’t tumbling down because I’m pointing out inconsistencies or that I’m winning the Jesus game 2 or 3 to 1 now.

    Apology accepted.

    1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #33:

      I am not trying to save anyone. I am just pointing out you cannot stand with Jesus while explicitly rejecting his teaching on the basis of your observations (i.e. praxis). If you want to try to square that circle, it is up to you, but it is clearly contradictory.

      Also I cannot see how I could be fairly characterised as a “rigorist on divorce and remarriage”. I am, if you recall, actually supporting a relaxation of the current rules regarding access to communion. I am not lining up with Cardinal Burke for no changes to the current pastoral practice.

      And what inconsistencies in the “Biblical” approach (whatever that is – the OT has some interesting marriage practices) are you referring to? I don’t think you have actually raised any – I might have missed that?

      And if you want to talk about just war, I would be happy to. I am aware there is a reasonable argument its possible application could at least be narrowed, in a similar way to the development of the teaching on capital punishment, due to changed circumstances (not that many conflicts we have been involved in would meet the present criteria).

  13. Scott, you and I have spun our own discussion off liturgy, and I suspect we are trying the patience of our hosts. I suggest we remove this to my web site, where you have already commented.

    1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #35:
      Todd, Thank you. I was about to intervene.
      Let’s keep any further discussion to the issue of the post, and I’ll delete any further off-topic comments.
      awr

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