Sweeping Away Civil Control of Matrimony

26 Oct

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I was reading a statement by the Archbishop of Rhode Island, I loved what he has to say. I especially was enthralled by his closing in which he suggested that the solution to the sacramental marriage problem in this country might lie in practicing civil disobedience by having priests refuse to sign the civil declarations of marriage for the state. It struck me, that this was an extremely effective and nonviolent means of further separating church state and allowing the church to reassert control over that which is rightly within the purview of churches, as marriage is ordained by God and it is one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church. No civil authority has the right to bestow a sacrament nor to dissolve a sacrament. It’s time that we took such power away from the government and returned it to the church where rightfully belongs.

Sacramental marriage is a sacrament of the Catholic church. As a sacrament it is not subject to civil oversight or control. However, it has been too often recently that civil government’s and the courts have decided they have the right, and even the obligation, to place strictures, controls, rules, and regulations on marriage. Many of these have become points of contention for Catholics who do not wish to be subject to same-sex marriage, civil divorce, marriage penalty taxes, and other assorted problems associated with civil marriage.

In order to best defend the church against such aggression by civil government, one has only to look at the example set by St. Valentine when he married Roman soldiers against the edict of the Roman Empire. He was both martyred and sainted for his efforts. In truth, history and tradition as well as doctrine all support the idea that marriage is a religious sacrament, not a civil arrangement for mutual convenience.

Given the interference from the courts here in America today, it is clear that for the church to maintain her stand on sacramental marriage requires that sacramental marriage be separated from civil unions at some point. It seems equally clear to me that the best time to make this break is now. It is hard to lose a game if one simply folds and refuses to play further, as it stands we are not winning the fight – nor the hearts and minds in the civil marriage arena to have it reflective of sacramental marriage.

Removing the civil marriage from the Catholic Church would create a number of benefits directly addressing the needs of families. These benefits would include the marriage penalty effectively being eliminated, concerns for young men and women about civil divorce effectively being eliminated since there is no government sanctioned marriage for a civil authority to dismiss with the wave of the pen. In addition, there are additional benefits for those who want the resources necessary or would give up crucial benefits necessary to survival if they were to enter into a civil marriage. Such as stand by the church would allow for people to marry sacramentally and lead holy lives with their families in full keeping with church teaching, without negative repercussions in today’s increasingly secular and hedonistic civil society. What’s more, it would also prevent the church from being further dictated to by any government about whom they will or won’t marry, what marriages they will recognize, and whether not they must perform those marriages or face draconian legal and civil/criminal actions as recent lawsuits against ordained minister’s for failing to perform same-sex marriages raise the specter of.

In short, it is long past time that we restored marriage to its rightful place as the sacrament of matrimony, and it is very important that we preserve and protect the sacrament against interference from secular society. No longer should the civil authorities be able to dissolve a sacramental marriage with a decree. No longer will impoverished couples find themselves unable to marry for financial reasons. It’s time for us to look past man-made civil authorities and governments when discussing marriage, and put it back in its rightful context “under God”. Because in the end, it will be the reestablishment of God, instead of civil authorities, as the sole authority in our lives that makes the difference – The difference that allows us to live in the world, but not be of the world.

Pax Christi,
Colin

My Hopes for the Synod on the Family

16 Oct

game night

I had very high hopes for the Synod on the Family. To help you understand I will list many of the things I had hoped for.

  • I was hoping for a reaffirmation of traditional marriage, along with vast improvements to the pre-cana process.
  • I was praying for a recommended framework to establish parish marriage ministries that would facilitate young and troubled couples being paired with a long married couple to act as mentors.
  • I longed deeply to see both men and women’s marital support groups formed and led by priests or deacons (no lay leadership) to help people work through conflicts in marriage according to Catholic principles and provide a peer support group.
  • I wanted to see the tradition of a get together after mass either for a meal or just coffee and doughnuts brought back so that the faithful can meet in a social setting and really get to know each other and spend time together.
  • I prayed for list of family activities that should be preached from the pulpit such as families sharing meals at a common table, spending one evening a week playing games or reading books or plays together.
  • Spouses being strongly encouraged to spend one night a week as date night with the local Church helping with childcare arrangements and potential affordable activities.
  • The incorporation of NFP classes into pre-cana because most men are woefully ignorant of a woman’s reproductive system and how it really works.
  • New Catechesis books to emphasize the indissolubility of marriage and the true nature of marital love.

Instead I got an infallible doctrine defying progressive pro-homosexual marriage acceptance, pro-divorce, pro-broken family acceptance instead of healing diatribe. The best was yet to come, as apparently the Synod is being hijacked and there is an ongoing battle for control while Pope Francis who was always good for an off the cuff remark to the press now remains stoically silent. Cardinal Kasper makes horrifically offensive statements about African, Asian, and Middle Eastern Catholics. Faithful Cardinals like Pell, Burke, and Napier are fervently defending the doctrine and the Catholic faith against progressive heresies instead of discussing real solutions for improving Catholic Families.

At this point, I do not see real solutions to bind families closer, prepare people for marriage, and heal wounded families. More importantly, I do not see that such solutions can come forward. They did not even make the agenda according to the discussion points. I am saddened that such a wonderful opportunity was lost to anti-doctrinal political machinations which only damaged the faith and brought scandal on the church.

Pray for the Catholic Church,  pray early and often.
Then take one or more items from my list that you agree with to your pastor or make up your own, and ask your pastor to prayerfully consider implementing them under the principle subsidiarity. Good and workable ideas will shine through, and if they are repeatable they will spread on their own. Maybe while the Cardinals are still duking it out in the synod next year we can actually already have some viable solutions in place for the real problems families face. Solutions that don’t contradict infallible doctrine.

Pax Christi,

Colin

 

 

Cardinal Napier’s Response to the Relatio

16 Oct

Napier

Relatio – Circulus Anglicus “B”

Moderator: Em.mo Card. Wilfrid Fox NAPIER, O.F.M.
Relator: S.E. Mons. Diarmuid MARTIN

Of the Synodal Fathers members of the group: five were from Africa, seven from Asia, one each from Oceania, the United States of America and Europe. The uditores and a fraternal delegate contributed significantly to the reflection of the group.

In the first place, the group strongly felt that the Relatio ended up placing too much emphasis on the problems facing the family and did not stress sufficiently the need to provide an enthusiastic message which would encourage and inspire hope for those Christian families who despite many challenges and even failures – strive every day to live out faithfully and joyfully their mission and vocation within the Church and society.

The group proposed to add at the beginning of the Report — as was done in the Instrumentum Laboris – some paragraphs clearly stressing how the Word of God, and the beauty of the Gospel of Marriage, must be central to the entire focus of the Final Report of the Synod.

The group asked me to record explicitly its concern about some of the conclusions drawn in the Relatio, about its methodology, its complicated language (compounded by poor translation) and of the effects of its publication before it had been reviewed by the Synodal Fathers. Despite these difficulties the Group enthusiastically and profitably took up the discussion of the Relatio.

The task of the extraordinary Synod was to draw up a picture of the family and of the challenges facing the pastoral activity of the Church in today’s complex and diverse world. Inevitably this meant that it would focus on problems and on some of the principal challenges which are of particular concern in the Church today.

However, the Report of the Synod should go beyond a mere focus on the problems and the pathology of marriage and the family. The group felt that it could well draw on the testimonies – and the language – of the lay men and women who addressed the Synod.

Many in the group felt that a young person reading the Relatio would if anything become even less enthusiastic about undertaking the challenging vocation of Christian matrimony. The Synod Report – and the Message – should direct itself towards young people, to help them understand and be attracted by the Christian vision of marriage and the family, in a world in which they are exposed to many contradictory visions.

It was felt that in the current situation of widespread cultural confusion about marriage and the family and the human suffering that this can bring, there is an urgent need for leadership in today’s world and that such clear leadership can only come from the Church. Such leadership is an urgent part of the Church’s service to contemporary society and a failure to give such witness would be to fail humanity.

Some members of the group stressed the need of pastors to recognize their own failures and their inadequacies in fostering support for families. The Church needs a radical renewal of its style of ministry to families. Marriage accompaniment is a lifelong task not limited to preparation for the wedding. It is a task which belongs within a broad faith itinerary and must encourage and foster family prayer.

The main thrust should be to encourage those who are committed and witness to the Christian ideal and who struggle day by day, with the help of God’s grace to realize that ideal. This is important to stress as we move towards the Ordinary Session of the Synod of 2015 which is about “the vocation and mission of the family”.

The Church must of course also reach out to the realities of those whose lives do not yet fully realize that ideal. The problems should not be allowed to steal the principal narrative, but neither should the narrative end up marginalizing or discouraging those are still struggling.

It is not primarily a question of producing new documents or of simply repeating the Church’s teaching, but of reaching out and finding a language which can help the men and women and especially the young people of our time to open their hearts and minds to the Gospel of the Family, to understand it and to be attracted by it. This new language must dig deeper into the treasury of the faith and tradition of the Church and find ways of listening to the lived experience of faithful couples of their Sacrament of Matrimony.

The Church must teach with clarity, but must also, as one member of the group stressed, “have the courage to knock on forbidden doors”. Very often when we find the courage to knock on forbidden doors what we discover surprises us: what we encounter inside is the loving presence of God which helps us to address the challenges of today, no longer on our terms, but in new ways which might otherwise have been unimaginable. Knocking on forbidden or unaccustomed doors involves risk and courage. Fear and anxiety of what we think are forbidden doors may mean excluding opening ourselves to the God who always surprises.

All of us need the help of the mercy of God. The mercy of God is not just a medicine, much less a consolation prize, for those who fail. None of us can be faithful without experiencing God’s mercy. No one should devalue the place of mercy in the economy of salvation.

Let me briefly present some of the more significant conclusions of the group.

On the subject of the admission of the divorced and remarried to the Eucharist the group stressed two principles flowing directly from God’s Word:

  • the clear affirmation of the indissolubility of a valid sacramental union, while humbly admitting that we need a more credible way of presenting and witnessing to that teaching;
  • the strong desire to invite and embrace sincere Catholics who feel alienated from the family of the Church because of irregular situations.

The group recalled the necessity of finding a new vocabulary to preserve the timeless teaching of the Church in a fresh and appealing manner. It recommended the examination of possible paths of repentance and discernment by which, in particular circumstances, a divorced and remarried person might participate in the sacraments; and about providing alternatives, such as a deeper appreciation of the classical wisdom and value of spiritual communion.

It was strongly emphasized that such brothers and sisters remain part of the Church and must be encouraged to remain part of the Church through prayer, attendance at Mass, the practice of virtue, participation in small Christian communities and apostolic service. They must always encounter in the Church the welcoming gaze and embrace of Jesus.

The group expressed concern about an over emphasis on the term “positive elements” when speaking of civil marriage and cohabitation. It preferred language which would address the law of gradualness as a way to enter into a pastoral dialogue with such people and seek to identify elements of their life which might lead them towards a greater openness to the Gospel of Marriage in its fullness. We must identify elements which could become bridges in our efforts of evangelization of the many who do not yet or no longer correspond to the ideal. It was stressed that the law of gradualness always involves a progression and a conversion towards the full ideal.

On the subject of the pastoral care of persons with homosexual tendencies, the group noted that the Church must continue to promote the revealed nature of marriage as always between one man and one woman united in lifelong, life-giving, and faithful communion.

The group encouraged pastors and parishes to care for individuals with same sex attraction, providing for them in the family of the Church, always protecting their dignity as children of God, created in his image. Within the Church, they should find a home where, with everyone else, they hear the call of Jesus to follow Him in fidelity to the truth, to receive His grace to do so, and. His mercy when they fail.

On the question of openness to life, it was noted that in many areas of the world children are seen as a burden rather than a gift of God. The group stressed that children are really the supreme gift of marriage. Hence, while not making the other purposes of matrimony of less account, the true practice of conjugal love will help couples to be ready with generous hearts to cooperate with the love of the Creator who through them will enlarge and enrich His own family day by day.In this light, the group felt that the Church should revisit and give a positive reevaluation of the message of the Encyclical Humanae Vitae for the formation of conscience regarding family planning.

On the subject of polygamy the group tried to define more clearly the specific pastoral challenges in different parts of the world. The primary pastoral challenge concerns new converts who are in a polygamous marriage who were not yet Christians when they entered into a polygamous union. A comprehensive pastoral study is recommended to be undertaken by the Episcopal Conferences of Africa.

The group recommended a new conclusion to the Relatio focusing on our Blessed Mother, who with her spouse St. Joseph, because of her unique role in the Holy Family of Nazareth and at the wedding feast of Cana and continues to play an important role in the Church. Married couples should have recourse to her especially when they face difficult challenges in their lives so that Mary our Mother may be an anchor of hope for all Christian families.

[03042-02.02] [Original text: English]

 

Cardinal Burkes Official Relatio Response

16 Oct

burke

Relatio – Circulus Anglicus “A”

Moderator: Em.mo Card. Raymond Leo BURKE
Relator: S.E. Mons. John Atcherley DEW

I present this report of behalf of the English speaking group Anglicus “A”. The group has suggested a number of amendments to theRELATIO POST DISCEPTATIONEM, some are major amendments and others quite small, nevertheless they have significant meaning attached to them. In proposing amendments we have shifted the focus from particular situations described in the Relatio to the people involved in the situations, concentrating on the goodness to be found in them.

We believed that there needed to be a new introduction to the Relatio. Our proposed Introduction is placed within the context of the great gift of the Sacrament of Matrimony and the grace of God freely given through the sacraments. It also provides a theological anthropological foundation, which we believe is needed in order to address serious issues spoken on in the Synod. We have addressed these issues within the context of Scripture and the remarkably rich Magisterium of the Church. We want the final Synod document to speak of human life, marriage and family life, as we know it to be revealed to us by God through reason and faith, both aided by the grace of God. The Relatio Synodi must proclaim the truth of the Gospel, the truth of human life and sexuality as revealed by Christ. The Word of Christ illuminates our knowledge of human nature and the intrinsic sexuality of man and woman through the natural law.

We agreed that this is to be a pastoral document, as has been expressed as the wish of the Synod, a document which speaks to people about the often critical issues which confront families today. Those issues cannot be separated from Church teaching found in the treasury of her documentation. We are aware that the final Relatio Synodi will be discussed and debated over the next year; therefore as we proposed amendments we indicated appropriate references to the Sacred Scriptures and Magisterial documents

We referred to the methodology used as appearing to be based on the SEE, JUDGE, ACT principles, but in this case it was LISTEN, JUDGE, ACT.

LISTEN and observe what others are saying and what the situation is regarding marriage and family life in the world today.

JUDGE according to what we have been gifted with through the Deposit of Faith.

ACT through our pastoral accompanying of all God’s people entrusted to our care.

W e have attempted to show in our amendments that the “Listening” or “seeing” must always be through the lens of the Gospel. Our Proposals have stressed God’s love and our pastoral love and care for individuals, while at the same time honestly recognizing and acknowledging sinful situations, and searching for ways to invite conversion of heart.

In our amendments we see suggest a return to the SEE, Judge, Act formula.

We know that the final Synod document gives us a wonderful opportunity to influence the prevailing culture and for the Church to present the way of Jesus Christ who is “The Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14). Our amendments have tried to show that living as disciples of Jesus Christ, with all the challenges that brings is the life that leads to true joy and human happiness.

For example, where the Relatio appeared to be suggesting that sex outside of marriage may be permissible, or that cohabitation may be permissible, we have attempted to show why such lifestyles do not lead to human fulfillment. At the same time, we want to acknowledge that there are seeds of truth and goodness found in the persons involved, and through dedicated pastoral care these can be appreciated and developed. We believe that if we imply that certain life-styles are acceptable, then concerned and worried parents could very easily say “Why are we trying so hard to encourage our sons and daughters to live the Gospel and embrace Church teaching?”

We did not recommend the admission to the sacraments of divorced and re-married people, but we included a very positive and much –needed appreciation of union with Christ through other means.

The group recognizes and favors the concern and compassion the Relatio shows for those who face difficult pastoral situations in their lives. However our amendments suggest that we express these carefully so as not to create confusion in the minds and hearts of our people.

We had serious questions about the presentation of the principle of GRADUALITY. We wished to show in our amendments that we are not speaking of the GRADUALITY of DOCTRINE of faith and morals, but rather the gradual moral growth of the individual in his or her actions.

We also believe that in the Relatio Synodi we need to express words of encouragement and support to those who are faithfully living out their marriage vows and bringing up their families according to the teaching of the Church. We are grateful to those married couples who gave their witness in the Synod Hall and thank them sincerely. We also wish to address words of encouragement to grandparents and extended family members who support their families often at great expense to themselves.

There is agreement that the Relatio Synodi needs to be a pastoral document in which we use language which does not hurt people but which encourages them and helps them in their journey to God. It must speak the Truth of the Gospel clearly and directly, using language that cannot be interpreted by some to be condemning them, but rather expressing the Church’s deep interest and care for them.

As the Conclusion of the Relatio Post Disceptationem states the Synodal dialogue took place in freedom and a spirit of reciprocal listening. It has certainly raised questions that will have to be seriously considered and clarified by reflection in the Particular Churches of the world over the next year. Our prayer too is that all God’s people under the guidance of the Holy Spirit will find roads of truth and mercy for all. We thank Pope Francis for the invitation to us to live the courage of faith and the humble and honest welcome of the truth in charity.

[03042-02.01] [Original text: English]

Read the whole thing here:

http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/it/bollettino/pubblico/2014/10/16/0763/03042.html#Relatio

 

 

Family synod midterm report stirs controversy among bishops

14 Oct

Colin Corcoran:

Cardinals are speaking out, it sounds like progressive celebration was premature. Read all about it here.

Originally posted on Synod of Bishops on the family:

By Francis X. Rocca
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The official midterm report from the Synod of Bishops, which uses strikingly conciliatory language toward divorced and remarried Catholics, cohabitating couples and same-sex unions, has proven highly controversial inside and outside the synod hall, with some synod fathers saying it does not accurately reflect the assembly’s views.

Following a nearly hourlong speech Oct. 13 by Cardinal Peter Erdo of Esztergom-Budapest, who, as the synod’s relator, has the task of guiding the discussion and synthesizing its results, 41 of the 184 synod fathers present took the floor to comment the same morning, the Vatican said.

Cardinal Wilfrid F. Napier of Durban, South Africa, arrives for the morning session of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 14. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Cardinal Wilfrid F. Napier of Durban, South Africa, arrives for the morning session of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 14. (CNS/Paul Haring)

According to the Vatican’s summary of their remarks, which did not quote bishops by name in…

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About Big Expensive Weddings

14 Oct

Cutting the Wedding Cake as one

Like all of Marriage, How symbolic is the act of cutting the cake together. Showing that everything we do going forward will done by two working as one in purpose.

I have noticed of late that weddings are getting bigger and bigger, as well as more expensive. Shockingly people are starting their lives together in debt to finance live bands, open bars, lavish food, pricey venues, and other frivolities. On the flip side, so many seem to think that if they are too poor to afford these things then they are too poor to get married.

Full disclosure here – I was married in a small church, including the dress my wife and her mother made the wedding and reception cost under $1000 for everything. When we married we did not need fancy gadgets, expensive crystal or china, or any of the commemorative knick knacks (save the one person who did a wonderful framed wedding announcement for us). It was a family affair, but most important we were there to get married. We were not there to get drunk. We were not there to cater dinner to dozens. There was no booze, light refreshments, and wedding cake.  Our wedding gifts were practical things – study serviceable towels, pots and pans, kitchen utensils, recipe books, and from her parents a honeymoon cabin in Hot Springs, Arkansas. We were there to get married and start a lifelong journey together.

I do not feel I missed out or was slighted. All the other trimmings of the wedding are gone – but my wife remains. Her companionship for life as my spouse was the only wedding gift I wanted. Young love would grow and mature over the years – and the path would be rocky, even seemingly impassible at times. The truth is  – if you are going to throw a party to celebrate something, why not wait until you have an accomplishment together to really celebrate?

“If I ran the zoo”, said Gerald McGrew, “I know Just what I’d do!” – and Seussian rhyme aside, I do!

I’d celebrate big anniversaries with aplomb!
The 20th one would be quite a bomb!
The 25th would be a muted and private affair,
but the 30th would certainly include dancing bears.
40 and 50 seem so far away,
Big numbers they are,
so big bands will play.
By 60 and 70 we’ll just be glad to be there,
and watch the great grandchildren from our tandem rocking chair.
While old and decrepit our bodies may be,
By then a shining example of marriage,
to them we will be :)

Think for a moment about what is truly important, consider what is truly an accomplishment? Is is really appropriate to do a victory dance at the beginning of a marathon? Or is it more appropriate to dance a little jig and let out a whoop at each major milestone along the way. My thought is to set your own milestones – a long journey is taken one step a a time. Use your anniversaries to rededicate yourselves to your marriage and celebrate you successes thus far. Because in the end, the marathon never ends – and the real joy comes from happy memories and success which are celebrated on the journey.

Pax Christi,

Colin

How American parenting is killing the American marriage

3 Oct Featured Image -- 2203

Colin Corcoran:

I have always maintained the a sacramentally married persons obligations are to God, Spouse, Children, and “Everything Else” – in that order. Regardless of whether they are the mother or father. This article does a great job addressing this subject.

Originally posted on Quartz:

Sometime between when we were children and when we had children of our own, parenthood became a religion in America. As with many religions, complete unthinking devotion is required from its practitioners. Nothing in life is allowed to be more important than our children, and we must never speak a disloyal word about our relationships with our offspring. Children always come first. We accept this premise so reflexively today that we forget that it was not always so.

In our recently published book, Sacred Cows, we took on our society’s nonsensical but deeply ingrained beliefs surrounding marriage and divorce. We often get asked whether we will next address the sacred cows of modern parenting, at which point we ask the speaker to please lower his voice, and we look nervously over our shoulders to make sure that nobody has overheard the question.

To understand the frightening power of the…

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