A deeply worrying spirit of rebellion runs through the Catholic press this weekend, following publication of the “consultation” of the laity by the Bishops worldwide, in preparation for the Extraordinary Synod on the Family in 2014. Click on the picture to read the questionnaire, which includes questions about the pastoral care of the divorced and remarried, who may not receive Holy Communion. Being divorced is not, in itself, a bar to receiving the sacraments, but entering into a second marriage means a Catholic may not approach to receive the Eucharist. Coming hot on the heels of the various shocking utterances of Pope Francis since his election, this spirit of rebellion has taken legs.
Columnists, editorials, and correspondents in the letters pages of this week’s Catholic press positively ooze the spirit of rebellion which is now commonplace within the Church. In some circles, such arrogant rebellion is considered a sign of an “adult faith” – never mind that Our Lord instructed us to become as little children in order to attain Heaven.
Glasgow man – John Fegan – dripping in “adult faith” wrote to the Editor of the Scottish Catholic Observer (SCO) to explain that he received Communion despite being divorced (and we presume remarried, or there wouldn’t be an issue). Mr Fegan writes: “I will continue to do so regardless of what comes out of the Vatican.”
He goes on to describe his “pain” at (for more than 20 years) having his “right” to the sacraments taken away from him, arguing that “if you love your Faith as deeply as I do, that is a terrible punishment.” That’s slick: he fails to admit that his deprivation of the sacraments is a consequence of his own actions – NOT a “punishment” of the Church.
Of course, he throws in the usual confused, non-argument that if he’d murdered his wife and confessed it “with mock sincerity he would be forgiven if he fooled a priest but not God” clearly blissfully unaware of the fact that anyone confessing any sin has to be truly repentant, determined never to commit that sin again and do whatever they can to make up for the damage caused. So, wrong, Mr Fegan, Sir – the murderer you describe is NOT forgiven and absolved, and, indeed, is merely piling up coals of fire on his own head. So, that’s a silly argument. Doesn’t wash. However, assuming the conditions for an honest confession are met, then yes, the murderer will receive absolution and be free to receive Holy Communion, just as surely as those in on-going adulterous relationships – and any other unrepentant sinners – are not free to approach the sanctuary for Communion.
Blogger, Petrus, ever on the button, has replied to Mr Fegan and we hope he makes it into print in next weekend’s SCO.
Whatever, since I don’t think we’ve ever discussed the issues surrounding divorce and remarriage, we thought we might do so here and now. Oh, and there’s another reason. When we launched The Church of ‘Holy Father Francis’ thread to discuss the Bishops’ Consultation document, one of our bloggers (Eileenanne) complained that the headline was inaccurate. Well, after perusing this weekend’s papers. sold in Catholic churches across the UK, I doubt very much if she could find grounds to complain about the headline of this thread. For, make no mistake about it, there is a wicked spirit of rebellion abroad in the Church today, and it is self-evidently weakening the Faith of those who rebel against Catholic doctrine and God’s moral law.
Below, to kick-start our discussion, is Petrus’s response to John Fegan:
John Fegan’s letter entitled “I made my peace, and decisions, as a divorcee” ( SCO, 8th November) is emotionally charged. One cannot deny that divorcees place themselves in a difficult position. Interestingly, Mr Fegan does not mention if he has “remarried”. This is pertinent to understanding this issue and there is a danger of muddying the waters unless we are absolutely clear.
A divorcee who does not attempt to remarry can continue to receive Holy Communion. However, one who attempts to remarry, without having obtained an annulment, cannot. The Church is the legitimate authority to decide if the first marriage has been valid or otherwise. The individual is not free to make this decision for himself.
Mr Fegan should remember that Our Lord gave all authority to His Church, saying to His apostles, “He who hears you, hears me.” Divorcees must humbly submit to the Church before attempting to remarry. Yours etc.