Monday, June 04, 2012

Over the weekend, Pope Benedict responded to some questions about the Church's teachings on marriage and family life. Those same issues were behind a statement issued today from the Pope's old office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). CDF had spent two years in a conversation with an American sister, whose book on Christian sexual ethics departs radically from Catholic teachings, and not just in one or two disputed areas. (Reading Sister's responses to CDF, it doesn't take much to come to the same conclusion.)

It's unfortunate that this official statement was published just as the American sisters' organization itself is being called to a reform. Having the same office label a sister's writings as unorthodox fits into the story line that the Vatican is "attacking" the nuns. Indeed, over the weekend I was running a book table for a conference and saw several people sporting buttons that said "I stand with the Sisters," as if some kind of battle lines were being drawn.

Anyway, here is a bit of the Vatican News Service write-up about the Q&A with the Pope "on subjects which included the economic crisis, the position of divorced people in the Church and the indissolubility of Marriage." (Emphases mine.)

An engaged couple from Madagascar who are studying at university in Italy spoke of the anxiety they felt when faced with the "forever" of Marriage. The Pope explained that falling in love, being an emotion, is not eternal. "The emotion of love must be purified", he said, "it must undertake a journey of discernment in which the mind and the will also come into play. ... In the rite of Marriage the Church does not ask whether you are in love but whether you 'will' it*, whether you are resolved. In other words, falling in love must become true love; it must involve the will and the mind in a journey (which is the period of engagement) of purification, of greater profundity so that it is truly all of man, with all his capacities, with the discernment of reason and the force of will, who says: 'Yes, this is my life'". The Holy Father also mentioned other important factors such as communion of life with others, with friends, the Church, the faith and God Himself.

A Brazilian family raised the issue of divorced couples who have remarried and cannot avail themselves of the Sacraments.
Benedict XVI affirmed: "this is one of the the great causes of suffering for the Church today, and we do not have simple solutions. ... Naturally, one very important factor is prevention. This means ensuring that, from the beginning, the act of falling love is transformed in a more profound and mature decision. Another factor is that of accompanying people during marriage, to ensure that families are never alone but find authentic company on their journey. We must tell people in this situation that the Church loves them, but they must see and feel this love".
Parishes and other Catholic communities "must do everything possible so that such people feel loved and accepted, that they are not 'outsiders' even if they cannot receive absolution and the Eucharist. They must see that they too live fully within the Church. ... The Eucharist is real and shared if people truly enter into communion with the Body of Christ. Even without the 'corporeal' assumption of the Sacrament, we can be spiritually united to Christ". It is important for divorced couples "to have the chance to live a life of faith, ... to see that their suffering is a gift for the Church, because they also help others to defend the stability of love, of Marriage; ... theirs is a suffering in the community of the Church for the great values of our faith".

I translated as " 'will' it" what the VIS translation translated as "want".
News items reprinted from the Vatican Press Office:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ain't it the truth! The difference between falling in love and being in a loving marriage is a matter of maturity. At times, it is the vow and remembering the marriage that enable us to move forward together through thick and thin.