Communion for the Divorced … how would my Lord answer?

I was really shocked to read that Archbishop Gadecki, President of the Polish Episcopal Conference,had stated that they do not support the notion of admitting divorced and remarried Catholics to the Eucharist.

Yes I know .. this has been one of the most controversial topics at the Synod. And I know the traditionalists are all out to uphold the existing church teaching – but I just could not believe that they can make statements like the following :

“People can participate in different forms and bear witness to the hardships of family life.” Gadecki added that remarried divorcees had the “right to participate” in the life of the Church without receiving the Eucharist.”      How condescending!!

I have a lot of questions on this on his viewpoint  …if anyone cares to respond :

  • Aren’t we failing to practice the precept to ‘forgive seventy times seven’ the mistakes that people make?
  • Aren’t we at odds with our mission to “set the captives free” ?  i.e. set free those who have been bound by human weakness in graceless marriages?
  • Does ‘if your eye offends you pluck it out’, have any application to marriages that are a source of ‘un-grace’ – even a disgrace of the sacrament of marriage?
  • Aren’t these doctrines advocated by Gadecki – and written on Phylactories – to the precept that ‘salvation of souls is the supreme law’? 
  • In trying to uphold the sacrament of marriage, aren’t we guilty of withholding from persons the primordial sacrament, of Jesus in the Eucharist?

I penned a personal reflection some time ago on withholding the Sacrament from children …which is apt too for this subject of Communion for the divorced.

How would my Lord Answer?

We say that we are receiving the Body of our Lord;
That we receive his Real Presence at the table of the Eucharist.  
Can someone tell me , why then do we exclude little children from the banquet?

I know what the Church teaches: 
That we are receiving the Body of Christ;
That children should understand what they are doing …
That they should have respect for “the host”
That they may not understand, and desecrate It,
Even, spit it out.

When Adults, with full knowledge, deliberately  
and maliciously spat on him, He spoke …
“Father forgive them, they know not what they do.”
Would not these words extend to innocent children? 
And yet we hold their lack of knowledge against them.

I ask myself,  “Are adults any better than children?
Can we really, give due respect to the Body of Christ –
… respect that is worthy of our Lord? 
Can I ever receive the Blessed Sacrament in a worthy manner?

If I cannot, how can I withhold the Sacrament from the innocent children?

We feed our children, sometimes force feed them, with 
food for physical nourishment when they are young.
Even though they may not know what it is they drink or eat
We still ensure that they get their daily diet. 

Why then do we not give them spiritual nourishment
in the same manner … ?
but wait until we have “prepared” them
to receive the Lord?
Why do we not “share” our Lord with them at the banquet?
Can you answer why ?  

I know many of the answers that I will be given:
Church teaching, catechetical instruction, doctrine  etc  
But I am not convinced and I still ask for explanation.

If my Lord were here in human form right now,  I know
I would rush with all my nieces and nephews  …
To place them in His arms
Without waiting till they are prepared to “receive Him”
For IT IS HE WHO RECEIVES THEM !!!  welcomes them, embraces them.

But at the Eucharistic table, I “shoo” them away,
For they are not yet “ready”;  they have to “be prepared” !!
To receive the Lord “worthily”
When it is really He and only He
Who can make us worthy of Him.

So I ask myself … If my Lord was standing beside me
At the Eucharistic table and I asked him
“Shall I give Thee to these little children?”
What would His answer be?

Today, if my Lord were standing in front of me, I would point to the latest Report on the Synod and ask him again … “My Lord … can we give thee to Divorced and re-married people.”

I think I know how my Lord would react. I think I would see him bend down and write in the sand.

Jesus writing in the sand

John 8:6-11

Credit picture : new.rejesus.com.uk

Marriage, Divorce, and Church Annulments: If marriages are made in heaven, why do marriages fail?

With so much debate on marriage and annulment at the Synod on the Family, I wish to share my Thesis completed for my degree in Theology.

MATRIMONIAL CONSENT:  Analysis and Practical Applications of Canon 1095 

Canon 1095 is the Church law that ‘permits‘ annulment.  The interpretation and application of this Canon is at the core of the debate on divorce and annulment.

I did not realise what a hot topic this would become when I decided on it in 2011 because I could not understand or agree fully with the Church’s stance.

By the time I completed my research,  I appreciated the wisdom of Canon 1095 and the real ‘nature of consent.’  I understood there is a big difference between:

Matrimonium in fieri  (marriage in becoming)  – the act of creating a marriage  and

Matrimonium in facto esse (marriage in its actual existence)  i.e. what the exchange of vows creates: the abiding state of marriage.

Marriage is indeed sacramental – and the church needs to be sacramental in its approach to marriage, as well as to failed marriages – in short, TO LIFE.

“The manner in which, not just jurisprudence, but the entire church responds to Canon 1095 will be the touchstone of the Christian commitment to marriage …  and by extension the mirror of the state of the sacramental Church. ” 

 Concluding comments:  Fernando, R.,  Matrimonial Consent: Analysis and Practical Applications of Canon 1095.      

I post here the research that took me from the contentious Preamble and questions I had to my conclusion above – with a prayer that the deliberations of the present Synod  will lead to a more sacramental Church.

Thesis proposal

Preamble for Approval to proceed with my Thesis

My Rationale :

The entire argument against annulment and divorce is based on the Biblical tracts :

  • What God has joined together let no man put asunder.  (Mathew 19.6)
  • Whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. (Mathew 18.18)

They say “Marriages are made in heaven”.  If this is correct, why do marriages fail?

Reality of failed marriages

We cannot avoid the reality that despite every effort and good will to the contrary, some marriages are just not meant to be and end up in (civil) divorce.

What is the status of these marriages?

The ecclesiastical position on these is ambivalent, even discordant because EITHER

  1. You are unbinding that which is bound in heaven,  if you grant divorce
  2. Or , by not granting a divorce, you are (continuing) to keep bound on earth what is not to be bound in heaven – by refusing to unbind what has already come apart – in truth, in fact, and in reality;   Where the ‘sacrament’ you are upholding is no longer a sacrament or a ‘source of grace” but even perhaps of un-grace or disgrace.
  3. The present ecclesial position is a
    • Refusal or failure to accept our humanity
    • Refusal to accept that not everything that man proposes, including a particular marriage, is within God’s plan because
    • If it is God’s work nothing can stop it, and
    • Unless the builder builds, the labourer toils in vain.

Thus, I question:

  1. Are we binding on earth what heaven does not want bound? (Or what has already been loosed in heaven according to the Divine Plan?)
  2. Are we failing to practice the precept to ‘forgive seventy times seven’ the mistakes that people make?
  3. Are we at odds with our mission to “set the captives free” – to set free those who have been bound due to their humanity, weakness and sin?
  4. Does not ‘if your eye offends you pluck it out’ have an application to marriages that are a source of un-grace.
  5. By not forgiving and releasing people from failed marriages and by trying to maintain at any cost the marriage ‘sacrament’, we are withholding from them the primordial sacrament, Jesus and the Eucharist. This appears to contrary to the precept that the ‘salvation of souls is the Supreme law’.
  6. The witnessing nature of the ‘sacrament’ is totally devalued when people divorce and remarry under civil law,  ignoring the dysfunctional ‘sacramental bond’ which the church refuses to unbind.  (How many civil divorces have been sacramentally unbound?)

There seems to be a lacuna in Canon Law from point of view of faithful/laity.

I would like to study the church’s position on above in an attitude of ‘faith seeking understanding’.

APPROACH

Does Canon 1095 solve the problem of divorce in the Church? 

Can it allay the doubts in minds of the laity?   (C 1095 comes to conclusion that average person is incapable of valid marriage?) .

 AREAS FOR STUDY –

  1. Role of ‘true’ consensus.
  2. Role of Psychological factors.
  3. Spiritual Factor – There is no mention of spiritual factors /spiritual maturity in the Canon .. ?? Wording appears juridical and earth-bound. Though spiritual goal must be implicit, wording appears bent towards temporal ?
    • Role of spirituality
    • Augustine –“ let me know myself that I might know you”  (and your will and plan)
    • “For in this lay my sin – that I sought pleasures and honours and truths in his creatures rather than in him – in myself and the rest – and so fell headlong into sorrows , troubles and errors.” (Confessions )
RESEARCH  :

I would like to test my assumptions with some case studies on the feelings of the laity who have

  • Obtained civil divorce and church nullity
  • Obtained civil divorce and been refused church nullity, if any.
  • Obtained civil divorce but not requested church nullity

to analyse the true role of the three factors pertinent to Canon 1095 in the break-down of marriages and presenting a lay, experiential perspective.

Spin off benefit – Suggestions for Pastoral Preparation for Marriage Under Canon.

 


The above proposal having been approved I completed my Thesis under our Professor of Canon Law.

The Thesis will be shared as soon as I have removed extraneous footnotes to make for easy reading.