Sunday, March 01, 2015

The inevitable showdown over Communion for couples in irregular relationships

Paul Vallely, Visiting Professor in Public Ethics at the University of Chester and Senior Fellow at the Brooks World Poverty Institute at the University of Manchester, is an admirer of Pope Francis. His significantly-titled Pope Francis: Untying the Knots: The Struggle for the Soul of Catholicism(London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013) has been translated into four other languages.

In his book (pp. 130-131), Vallely relates some details that bear on how Pope Francis may understand the issues of Holy Communion for the divorced and re-married, and other couples in "irregular" situations. Vallely relates that in Argentina, very little ado is made over distributing Holy Communion to such individuals. Fr. Augusto Zampini, a diocesan priest in Buenos Aires, writes:
“In Buenos Aires [Bergoglio] came across more concrete problems. When you’re working in a shanty town, 90 percent of your congregation are single or divorced. You have to learn that Communion for the divorced and remarried is not an issue there. Everyone takes Communion.... Bergoglio never altered his doctrinal orthodoxy on such matters but he did not allow dogma to overrule the priority of pastoral concern.”
Vallely then quotes Buenos Aires ‘slum’ priest Father Juan Isasmendi, who said “[Bergoglio] was never rigid about the small and stupid stuff, because he was interested in something deeper.”

On the one hand, the generous takeaway from this will be that the man who became Pope Francis has always had a generous "heart for the poor and marginalized." On the other hand, trying to implement such a "pastoral" policy in the Church at large will inevitably lead to conflict with those still willing to defend the inviolability of Church doctrine.

Cardinal Burke, for example, in his February 8 interview that was broadcast on France 2 (see full translation HERE), responded to the question, “If Pope Francis insists on this path, what will you do?” by declaring: "I will resist. I cannot do anything else."

[Hat tip to J.V.]


Anonymous said...

"Bergoglio never altered his doctrinal orthodoxy on such matters but he did not allow dogma to overrule the priority of pastoral concern.”

"The stupid stuff."

The take away is that 'doctrine' is impractical, an obstacle, and less important than life. This is exactly what all my cradle Catholic, now non-New Age Christian friends tell me all the time.

It does clarify things to hear it being spoken of as echoing papal priorities. There are several competing mindsets afoot now that fundamentally contradict each other on the idea of just what it means to be Christian and a Catholic.

Francis more and more sounds for all the world like a somewhat conservative Jesuit. So I guess he would be Hillary Clinton to Timothy Radcliffe's Obama. Those who want the theological measure of Ms. Clinton could do worse than skimming Thomas Oden's autobiography, "A Change of Heart." Ironically, in terms of my point here, Joseph Ratzinger factors significantly into Oden's story as well. Although if it's true that Benedict XVI assumed Francis' succession when he abdicated, that just opens anther round of questions about the vaunted 'hermeneutic of continuity.'

JM said...

You know, the only person I know right now who ties his or her shoelaces in impenetrable knots is my father. He is battling Alzheimers. I don't think the holy Father has any such excuse, so forgive me if I simply say I don't have the time. He should either man up or be quiet. Those of use dealing with real life don't need challenges to the faith coming form the St. of Peter. It is strange, shameful, and scandalous all at once, no matter how much glad-handers tell u it is all OK. It is not. It is disturbing.

Codgitator (Cadgertator) said...

Pope Joe Biden.

Raider Fan said...

The link below (1) takes one to the accusations made by the Abbe de Nantes against Pope Blessed Paul VI but just look at how many of his complaints against then Pope PaulVI apply to our Pope today.

That should come as no surprise as Pope Francis has told us that Pope Paul VI is his role model (2)



Raider Fan said...

Ten things you need to know about dispensing Communion to adulterers.

(1) Pope

(2) Francis

(3) wants

(4) this

(5) so

(6) he'll

(7) make

(8) sure

(9) it

(10) happens.

Marissa said...

This will encourage adultery and divorce which is the worst thing that can happen to the poor and leaves poverty in its wake. It's unfortunate that angle isn't being beat into the pro-adultery people.