The Synod on the Family’s working document is now out

The Catholic Herald reports:

Recognising that most Catholic couples do not follow the Church’s teaching against the use of artificial birth control, the document says that “for many Catholics the concept of ‘responsible parenthood’ encompasses the shared responsibility in conscience to choose the most appropriate method of birth control.”

-snip-

Bishops expressed particular concern with the “ideology called gender theory, according to which the gender of each individual turns out to be simply the product of social conditioning and needs” without “any correspondence to a person’s biological sexuality.”

The bishops see a need for better teaching of “Christian anthropology,” the document states. Noting that contemporary culture dismisses or misunderstands theories of “natural law,” which seek to “found human rights on reason,” bishops increasingly prefer to invoke Scripture in support of Catholic moral teaching.

-snip-

 

There’s more.  I will be reading this document today.  Haven’t printed it off yet.

Here’s a link to the official Vatican version.

93. In the matter of access to the sacraments, the responses describe various reactions among the faithful who are divorced and remarried. In Europe (and also in some countries in Latin America and Asia) the prevailing tendency among some of the clergy is to resolve the issue by simply complying with the request for access to the sacraments. Other members of the clergy, particularly in Europe and Latin America, respond to the matter in a variety of ways. At times, the faithful distance themselves from the Church or go to other Christian denominations. In some countries of Europe and some countries on the other continents, this solution is not sufficient for many people; they wish to be publically readmitted to the Church. The problem is not so much not being able to receive Communion but that the Church publically does not permit them to receive Communion. As a result, these believers then simply refuse to consider themselves in an irregular situation.

94. Some Church members in canonically irregular situations express a desire to be received and guided by the Church, especially when they attempt to understand the rationale of the Church’s teaching. These people recognize the possibility of living in their situation, while relying on God’s mercy through the Church. Still others, as indicated in the responses from some Euro-Atlantic episcopal conferences, accept the duty to live in continence (cf. FC, 84).

95. A good number of responses speak of the very many cases, especially in Europe, America and some countries in Africa, where persons clearly ask to receive the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist. This happens primarily when their children receive the sacraments. At times, they express a desire to receive Communion to feel “legitimized” by the Church and to eliminate the sense of exclusion or marginalization. In this regard, some recommend considering the practice of some Orthodox Churches, which, in their opinion, opens the way for a second or third marriage of a penitential character.

 

 

 

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13 Responses to The Synod on the Family’s working document is now out

  1. EPMS says:

    One somehow doubts that the Pope and his advisors are going to all the trouble of undertaking a two year project in order to announce at the end of it that everything will remain as it was. If the failure were simply one of marketing/pastoral engagement this would be handled differently, I think. This announcement is creating expectations.

    • William Tighe says:

      “One somehow doubts that the Pope and his advisors are going to all the trouble of undertaking a two year project in order to announce at the end of it that everything will remain as it was.”

      Just like Paul VI in 1968, the way he overturned the Church’s condemnation of contraception after a similarly long study process?

      • Rev22:17 says:

        Professor Tighe,

        EPMS said: One somehow doubts that the Pope and his advisors are going to all the trouble of undertaking a two year project in order to announce at the end of it that everything will remain as it was.

        You responded: Just like Paul VI in 1968, the way he overturned the Church’s condemnation of contraception after a similarly long study process?

        There clearly will not be any change in present Catholic doctrine.

        On the other hand, the magisterium clearly needs to make some accommodation for present Orthodox practice for a healing of the Great Schism — which clearly is an urgent priority in the Vatican — to occur in our lifetime.

        As best I can tell, the questions before the synod appear to be (1) how far such an accommodation should go and (2) to what degree it should extend to those who are now members of the Catholic Church.

        Do you have any thoughts on this?

        Norm.

      • William Tighe says:

        Norm,

        For many years I have been desultorily searching for a good history of the development of the marriage disciplines (esp. as regards divorce-and-remarriage) in the Orthodox and other Eastern churches, without much luck. There is a little bit on the subject in *Marriage in Church and State* by the Anglican author T. A. Lacey (most recent edition, 1947; Lacey died in 1931), but that rather interesting study, *Jesus and Divorce: The Problem with the Evangelical Consensus* by two conservative Protestant authors, Gordon Wenham (an Irish Calvinist Anglican) and William Heth (an American Southern Baptist), published in 1984 with a second edition in 2002, contains nothing on the East. (The two authors opposed remarriage after divorce in all circumstances; Heth has subsequently changed his mind). FWIW, although many Orthodox currently give standard boilerplate answers to inquiries about how to justify their permissive stance (e.g., Moses allowed it “because of hardness of heart,” but hardness of heart continues among Christians, so it can still be allowed, as I heard the late Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh explain about 30 years ago) it would appear that it was originally “justified” as a kind of semi-polygamy which could be tolerated in rare circumstances (and many Orthodox, if not most, still say that such second or third marriages are “not sacramental marriages,” whatever that means).

        I have no idea how far the Catholic Church could go in accommodating Orthodox practice. The real question is, are such marriages adulterous, assuming that sexual intercourse takes place in them; and if they are adulterous, how can those who contract them be admitted to the Eucharist “without firm purpose of amendment?;” and if they are not adulterous, then why are they not? Cardinal Kasper, IIRC, made a hash of this question in his famous (or notorious) address on the subject to Pope Francis and the cardinals a few months ago: on the one hand (again, IIRC) he said that the Catholic Church could not bless such “marriages,” thus departing from the Orthodox position and practice – but, on the other hand (and again IIRC) he said that because all marriages created a covenant sealed by sexual intercourse, he was not able to affirm that acts of sexual intercourse in them were ipso facto acts of adultery. The matter is the more difficult, because when a Latin Catholic bishop at the Council of Florence raised the matter of the orthodox practice as a problem needing to be discussed and settled, both sides agreed effectively to sweep it aside, and no more was said about it there. And yet all Eastern chuches coming into communion with Rome from the 16th Century onwards have been made to adopt, or have themselves spontaneouly adopted, the Western (should one say “Catholic” or at least “Roman?”) view of the matter, in both theory and practice (although the Byzantine Eastern Catholic churches have retained the view that it is not the marrying couple, but the priest (or bishop) conducting the service who is the minister of the Sacrament of Matrimony.

        So such thoughts as I have on the matter are confused (and puzzled). But I have another thought, too, Norm. I have many Orthodox friends, teach a course on “Orthodox Christianity” regularly at Muhlenberg College, and am a member of a Byzantine-Rite (Ukrainian) Catholic parish. There is nothing that more annoys even sympathetic and ecumenically-friendly Orthodox than to read or hear Catholics speaking of “a healing of the Great Schism … in our lifetime,” or that “all major differences have been settled.” None of them that I know believes this, that all the major differences have been settled, or that there is even the ghost of a chance that the schism can be healed “in our lifetime.” Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia, who generally takes a very positive view of the prospects of Catholic/Orthodox reconciliation, and thinks that the issue of the papal ministry is the one remaining big unsettled issue, does not expect “reunion” to happen any time soon (see the two talks he gave on the issue, the first below from 2011, the second from 2004) – I seem to recall him stating at the 2004 Orientale Lumen Conference that it may take “a couple of centuries” to work the problems out.

        http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2011/06/kallistos-ware-orthodox-catholic-union/

        http://www.oltv.tv/id219.html

        WJT

      • Michael Frost says:

        Dr. Tighe, Just a possible fyi… Have you ever read the book, Marriage Legislation for the Catholics of the Oriental Rites in the United States and Canada? By the Rev. Joseph Francis Marbach (A.B., J.C.L.), a priest of the Archdiocese of NY. Catholic Univ. of America Canon Law Studies No. 243 (1946). His dissertation. Printed by The Paulist Press. Here he essentially uses “Oriental” for “Eastern Rite”.

        The seven chapters cover: (I) Marriage Legislation in the East in the First Eight Centuries; (II) A Summary of the Marriage Legislation Before the Council of Florence of those Oriental Rites which are represented in the US and Canada; (III) The Period from the Council of Florence to the Year 1800; (IV) The 19th Century; (V) The Status of these Rites in the US; (VI) The Status of these Rites in Canada; (VII) Some Marriage Questions Common to all the Rites; Conclusions; Appendices; Bibliography.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        Professor Tighe,

        Thank you for your thoughtful response and significant insights!

        You wrote: I have no idea how far the Catholic Church could go in accommodating Orthodox practice.

        Nor do I, and there’s no doubt that it’s a significant issue.

        But what is clear is that Pope Francis has put the question before the upcoming Synod on the Family.

        You wrote: The real question is, are such marriages adulterous, assuming that sexual intercourse takes place in them; and if they are adulterous, how can those who contract them be admitted to the Eucharist “without firm purpose of amendment?;” and if they are not adulterous, then why are they not?

        With that, I concur.

        The bottom line is that a second marriage can be valid only if either (1) the first spouse is deceased or (2) the first attempt at marriage was not valid. The question relevant questions are (1) whether the first attempt at marriage was valid or not and (2) how one can ascertain the answer to the first question (or, perhaps more precisely, whether the Catholic process of ecclesiastical tribunals is the only legitimate way to reach such a determination).

        You wrote: And yet all Eastern chuches coming into communion with Rome from the 16th Century onwards have been made to adopt, or have themselves spontaneouly adopted, the Western (should one say “Catholic” or at least “Roman?”) view of the matter, in both theory and practice (although the Byzantine Eastern Catholic churches have retained the view that it is not the marrying couple, but the priest (or bishop) conducting the service who is the minister of the Sacrament of Matrimony.

        Yes, I’m aware of that. The Byzantine Catholic Churches have also retained the view that it is the epiclesis in the anaphora, rather than the institution narrative, that effects the consecration of the bread and wine during the celebration of mass (divine liturgy).

        But as it pertains to possible reconciliation with the Orthodox Communion, there are two issues: (1) what will be the practice after the reconciliation and (2) what accommodations will there be for members of the churches of the Orthodox Communion who are in situations that the Catholic Church now regards as irregular or even invalid? The answers need not be the same: the churches of the Orthodox Communion could adopt the current Catholic practice going forward, but the pope could invoke the pastoral exception of ecclesiastical law in favor of those who are in irregular marriage situations at the time of reunion.

        You wrote: I have many Orthodox friends, teach a course on “Orthodox Christianity” regularly at Muhlenberg College, and am a member of a Byzantine-Rite (Ukrainian) Catholic parish. There is nothing that more annoys even sympathetic and ecumenically-friendly Orthodox than to read or hear Catholics speaking of “a healing of the Great Schism … in our lifetime,” or that “all major differences have been settled.” None of them that I know believes this, that all the major differences have been settled, or that there is even the ghost of a chance that the schism can be healed “in our lifetime.” Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia, who generally takes a very positive view of the prospects of Catholic/Orthodox reconciliation, and thinks that the issue of the papal ministry is the one remaining big unsettled issue, does not expect “reunion” to happen any time soon (see the two talks he gave on the issue, the first below from 2011, the second from 2004) – I seem to recall him stating at the 2004 Orientale Lumen Conference that it may take “a couple of centuries” to work the problems out.

        This may well be one of those classic instances in which the public line is that nothing has changed until a dramatic announcement catches everybody completely off guard — like the public line that each pope is in perfect health until there’s an official announcement of his death. In the matter of ecumenical dialog with the churches of the Orthodox Communion, there are plenty of hints of good progress. In particular, Pope John Paul II put the question of the papal office squarely on the table nearly two decades ago with the encyclical Ut unam sint. More recently, the provision of ordinariates rather than dioceses for former Anglicans received into the full communion of the Catholic Church by the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus is clearly walking a tightrope to avoid ordaining married men to the episcopate, which would be contrary to Orthodox practice. And now, Pope Francis has put the question of the Orthodox “solution” for divorce before the Synod on the Family later this year. The dots seem to be connecting in a direction that points to a possibility of reunion sooner rather than later.

        Of course, there’s no guarantee that there won’t be an unexpected roadblock somewhere along the way — which is probably why those in charge are, ah, shall we say, “managing expectations” by downplaying the progress to date….

        Norm.

      • William Tighe says:

        About this, Norm:

        “This may well be one of those classic instances in which the public line is that nothing has changed until a dramatic announcement catches everybody completely off guard — like the public line that each pope is in perfect health until there’s an official announcement of his death. In the matter of ecumenical dialog with the churches of the Orthodox Communion, there are plenty of hints of good progress. In particular, Pope John Paul II put the question of the papal office squarely on the table nearly two decades ago with the encyclical Ut unam sint. More recently, the provision of ordinariates rather than dioceses for former Anglicans received into the full communion of the Catholic Church by the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus is clearly walking a tightrope to avoid ordaining married men to the episcopate, which would be contrary to Orthodox practice. And now, Pope Francis has put the question of the Orthodox “solution” for divorce before the Synod on the Family later this year. The dots seem to be connecting in a direction that points to a possibility of reunion sooner rather than later”

        I have two comments. The first, if it was indeed the case that “to avoid ordaining married men to the episcopate” in Anglicanorum coetibus was because it would be “contrary to Orthodox practice,” then this is very strange. The “Orthodox practice” (and that of the other Eastern churches as well, although the so-called “Assyrians” only adopted it in the 13th Century: previously their bishops, since the Councils of Seleucia of 484 and 496 altered their earlier requirement of never-having-been-married-after-baptism for all those being ordained to the episcopate, presbyterate or diaconate, like their presbyters and deacons, could marry and remarry both before and after ordination; their deacons and presbyters still can do so, without any limitation on the number of [re]marriages) is that bishops have to be selected from monks, only, and therefore have to be celibate; celibacy is, in other words only a consequence of the selection criteria, and not a criterion itself. This being the case, and it having never been the case that Western bishops have to be selected from among monks (as well as the fact that the Orthodox themselves are fully aware that the requirement for monk-bishops is a matter of discipline only), I wonder at the thought that to have married “convert” bishops, even if only for the first generation (as I heard Pope Benedict himself initially approved) would somehow affront the Orthodox. Is this a “genuine” Orthodox objection?

        Secondly, about Catholic/Orthodox “reunion in our lifetime,” or, indeed, any time soon – I wonder if you take seriously the “decentralized” nature of the Orthodox Communion and the lack of any form of authority or institution that could “decree” a reunion. In the Orthodox understanding, even an “ecumenical council” becomes authoritative only by its subsequent “reception” by the whole (Orthodox) Church. (Indeed, strictly speaking, it achieves binding ecumenical status only when a subsequent, summoned as “ecumenical,” proclaims that previous council as one of the councils recognized as ecumenical.) I fear (and imagine) that any Catholic/Orthodox “reunion agreement,” even “reunion council,” would be repudiated by some number of Orthodox churches, who would consider it merely another “Council of Lyons (IV)” or “Council of Florence,” and those Orthodox bishops and churches as might accept it as having “betrayed the Orthodox Faith,” and so merely turned themselves into “neo-Uniate” bodies. I do not think that the Catholic Church is seeking a form of reunion the effect of which would be simply to split world Orthodoxy; at least, I hope not. That is why I think that the reunion of Catholicism and Orthodoxy is, at best, a long-term prospect, and more likely a kind of “eschatological event,” when and if it does happen.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        Professor Tighe,

        Thank you again for your insightful comments!

        You wrote: The first, if it was indeed the case that “to avoid ordaining married men to the episcopate” in Anglicanorum coetibus was because it would be “contrary to Orthodox practice,” then this is very strange. The “Orthodox practice” (and that of the other Eastern churches as well, although the so-called “Assyrians” only adopted it in the 13th Century: previously their bishops, since the Councils of Seleucia of 484 and 496 altered their earlier requirement of never-having-been-married-after-baptism for all those being ordained to the episcopate, presbyterate or diaconate, like their presbyters and deacons, could marry and remarry both before and after ordination; their deacons and presbyters still can do so, without any limitation on the number of [re]marriages) is that bishops have to be selected from monks, only, and therefore have to be celibate; celibacy is, in other words only a consequence of the selection criteria, and not a criterion itself.

        To be clear, by the term “Orthodox practice,” I was referring to the present practice of the Orthodox Communion rather than the Syrian Orthodox Church, which is not part of the Orthodox Communion.

        But in conversations with clergy of the Orthodox Communion, they have told me that their churches sometimes do elect clergy who are not monks to episcopal office — but only clergy who are celibate at the time of election. They told me that those so elected go to a monastery for a day or two and formally profess vows therein, thus officially becoming monks, before the conferral of episcopal ordination.

        You said: I wonder at the thought that to have married “convert” bishops, even if only for the first generation (as I heard Pope Benedict himself initially approved) would somehow affront the Orthodox. Is this a “genuine” Orthodox objection?

        I rather suspect that it was a case of erring on the side of caution rather than real Orthodox objection.

        Then again, I also have no knowledge of the current practice of the ancient oriental churches beyond your description of the practice of the Syrian Orthodox Church.

        You wrote: Secondly, about Catholic/Orthodox “reunion in our lifetime,” or, indeed, any time soon – I wonder if you take seriously the “decentralized” nature of the Orthodox Communion and the lack of any form of authority or institution that could “decree” a reunion. In the Orthodox understanding, even an “ecumenical council” becomes authoritative only by its subsequent “reception” by the whole (Orthodox) Church. (Indeed, strictly speaking, it achieves binding ecumenical status only when a subsequent, summoned as “ecumenical,” proclaims that previous council as one of the councils recognized as ecumenical.) I fear (and imagine) that any Catholic/Orthodox “reunion agreement,” even “reunion council,” would be repudiated by some number of Orthodox churches, who would consider it merely another “Council of Lyons (IV)” or “Council of Florence,” and those Orthodox bishops and churches as might accept it as having “betrayed the Orthodox Faith,” and so merely turned themselves into “neo-Uniate” bodies. I do not think that the Catholic Church is seeking a form of reunion the effect of which would be simply to split world Orthodoxy; at least, I hope not.

        Most of the churches of the Orthodox Communion are working in close collaboration with the Ecumenical Patriarchate as full participants in ecumenical dialog with the Catholic Church, and probably would act as a body when all of their concerns are resolved. The only wild card within the Orthodox Communion seems to be the Russian Orthodox Church — which seems to be in de facto schism with the Ecumenical Patriarchate over a number of ecclesiological issues including election and ordination of bishops here in the States, resisting the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s efforts to establish a single autocephalous body for this country, refusing to recognize the restored patriarchates in the Baltic States following their independence after the fall of the “Iron Curtain,” maintaining a separate hierarchy and appointing their own clergy among ethnic Russian populations in former Soviet republics, and even engaging in separate ecumenical discussions with the Catholic Church. I can foresee the Russian Orthodox Church formally severing ties to the Ecumenical Patriarchate if (or should I say when?) the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Pope restore full communion, but it seems unlikely that any of the other autocephalous orthodox churches would do so.

        Of course, the rift between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church is not insignificant. The Russian Orthodox Church clearly is the largest single body within the Orthodox Communion.

        Norm.

      • William Tighe says:

        Norm,

        You wrote:

        “I can foresee the Russian Orthodox Church formally severing ties to the Ecumenical Patriarchate if (or should I say when?) the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Pope restore full communion, but it seems unlikely that any of the other autocephalous orthodox churches would do so.”

        For my part, I am certain that the Serbian Orthodox Church would follow the Russians in any such split, and almost as certain that the Bulgarian Church, the Georgian Church, and the Romanian Church would do so as well. Quite possibly even the Church of Greece, which is not subject to the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate (except for some dioceses in NE Greece [Thrace] and in Crete) and which has for decades been rather “cool” towards the Catholic Church. In fact, numerically speaking, well over half of world Orthodoxy would follow the Russians.

        And you also wrote:

        “I was referring to the present practice of the Orthodox Communion rather than the Syrian Orthodox Church, which is not part of the Orthodox Communion.”

        The Syrian Orthodox Church (which now refers to itself in English as the Syriac Orthodox Church) is a non-Chalcedonian “miaphysite” body, a member of the Oriental Orthodox Communion (along with the Armenian Church, the Coptic Church, the Ethiopian Church, and the rather splintered Malankara churches of South India). The “Assyrian Church” (a name which they adopted only in the 1870s) is the proper name for the so-called Nestorians, or “The Holy Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church of the East, and of the Assyrians.” The clerical marital discipline of the Oriental Orthodox churches is essentially the same as that of the Orthodox (monastic bishops; ordination of married men to the diaconate and presbyterate, but no marriage or remarriage after ordination); the Assyrians also have “monastic bishops” (although there have been no monasteries in the Assyrian Church since the mid 19th Century), but their deacons and priests may marry both before and after ordination, with no limitation on the number of (successive, of course) marriages.

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  3. EPMS says:

    With Paul VI’s example before him the LAST thing Pope Francis is going to do is convene a “long study process” and then reject the conclusions. If Pope Paul had left things alone, fine. Instead this rejection remains the most memorable aspect of his papacy.

  4. Clive says:

    I welcome this initiative wholeheartedly. Those who know me know I am far from a liberal or modernist. But for me the birth control issue is a secondary one, within which the publicity and general disregard does so much damage that it takes away from the real mission and message of the Church.

    If the Church can come to a better apprehension of this issue I believe it would serve the kingdom by making the more important and essential messages more audible and less susceptible of condemnation, scorn and dismissal.

  5. EPMS says:

    I concur. The decision of the Church’s hierarchy to try to mobilise opposition to Obamacare around the birth control issue, and the consequent endless iteration of the stats on birth control use by practising Catholics, were PR disasters.

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