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12/14/2016 9:40 am  #11


Re: Reactions to Amoris laetitia

Alexander wrote:

I'm probably quite typical among Catholic laity in that I don't particularly mind whether or not there might be situations where divorced-and-remarried people may be able to receive the Eucharist, even apart from Pope John Paul II's famous "living as brother and sister" example (certainly the "grave matter" is a non-negotiable, given a Catholic understanding of marriage, but other elements of mortal sin may be absent, so it makes a certain amount of sense to let people examine their own situation in light of Christian teaching and make a decision to withdraw themselves from receiving - or not).

Canon 915 is about 'manifest grave sin'--not 'mortal sin'. That is, of course, a matter of law. People who may have less than full culpability do not have to be excluded from Holy Communion, but the Church's present law, overriding which would require a juridical action in which Pope Francis hasn't engaged, hasn't changed and continues to bind priests.

I think there is wisdom in the practice, though. There is a temptation to read the 'full knowledge' criterion for mortal sin as covering agreement or disagreement with the Church's teaching or the relevant moral precept. But I think that is a mistake; ignorance of moral precepts can aggravate culpability rather than exculpate. There may be cases where people in such situations are not fully culpable and could receive communion without mortal sin, but it is wise as a juridical matter not to let them do so. Betting on (and worse, abetting) mitigated culpability is risky.

Alexander wrote:

Disavowing loyalty to the Pope isn't a live option for me [not to state the obvious, but I'm a Catholic in England, so if I hated the Papacy I could just become a High Church Anglican]. Even if the Pope were undoubtedly wicked I would still be loyal to him qua Pope. I certainly won't become a sedevacantist just because the Pope has caused confusion in moral matters, especially considering St Peter himself was accused of the same thing - in Scripture, no less.

Agreed. It isn't novel in the Church's history for a pope to cause some confusion.

 

12/14/2016 9:48 am  #12


Re: Reactions to Amoris laetitia

iwpoe wrote:

A side question: is an Orthodox second marriage valid for the purpose of reciept of communion for a Catholic. I know that a first marriage is valid.

I am not sure, but my hunch is that the answer is no, if you are referring to cases like the following: An Orthodox Christian has a valid marriage, but can validly remarry, after a process of penance, in the Orthodox Church, because of adultery.

Catholics, I'd think, would have to regard the first marriage as valid and the second as illusory. If the Orthodox Christian were to convert, I do not think he'd be able to receive communion in the Catholic Church, unless he and his wife from the second Orthodox marriage agreed to live as brother and sister.

The Orthodox may receive communion in the Catholic Church without converting, as well. I would guess that, likewise, a person in such a situation would be prohibited from receiving, although I suppose that, generally, a Catholic pastor dispensing communion to an Orthodox Christian in such a situation would not be aware of the situation.

     Thread Starter
 

12/14/2016 12:06 pm  #13


Re: Reactions to Amoris laetitia

Greg wrote:

Canon 915 is about 'manifest grave sin'--not 'mortal sin'. That is, of course, a matter of law. People who may have less than full culpability do not have to be excluded from Holy Communion, but the Church's present law, overriding which would require a juridical action in which Pope Francis hasn't engaged, hasn't changed and continues to bind priests.

As far as canon law is concerned, fair enough. Even then, it's arguable that "manifest grave sin" should have similar criteria in terms of knowledge and intent. I've been considering the question in terms of Church doctrine - articles of faith - because many commentators are discussing any divergence from current practice in terms of heresy.

Greg wrote:

I think there is wisdom in the practice, though. There is a temptation to read the 'full knowledge' criterion for mortal sin as covering agreement or disagreement with the Church's teaching or the relevant moral precept. But I think that is a mistake; ignorance of moral precepts can aggravate culpability rather than exculpate. There may be cases where people in such situations are not fully culpable and could receive communion without mortal sin, but it is wise as a juridical matter not to let them do so. Betting on (and worse, abetting) mitigated culpability is risky.

I agree that "full knowledge" doesn't require agreement with the Church's teaching - whatever it involves, I doubt it requires full acceptance that what you are doing is a mortal sin*. In any case, I feel we should assume that someone who feels strongly enough about receiving the Eucharist to raise this question is someone in basic agreement with Catholic doctrine. The absence of mortal sin would have to be down to something else (personally I suspect that the most common "absence of mortal sin" scenario is that someone's first marriage was not really valid, without having been formally annulled).

I agree also that there is wisdom in not giving people the benefit of the doubt if doing so is likely to be harmful to them, but I do sympathise with those who take issue with the Eucharist being withheld from them, rather than withdrawing themselves from receiving. St Paul, who is the source of the teaching in this case, does speak of it in terms of examining your own conscience to avoid receiving unworthily, rather than someone else making that judgement for you.

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*There are more or less extreme versions of this position. Mary Geach reports that Elizabeth Anscombe taught her "that the full knowledge in question was knowledge of the sort of action one was performing, under a description its answering to which rendered it culpable, and that one might sin mortally by knowingly performing an action belonging to a certain kind, when one did not know that kind of action to be mortally sinful, or to be a sin at all." [From the introduction to "Faith in a Hard Ground", a collection of Anscombe's essays.] Obviously this position would make it nearly impossible for a divorced-and-remarried person to lack the requisite "full knowledge".

 

12/14/2016 3:18 pm  #14


Re: Reactions to Amoris laetitia

Alexander wrote:

Even then, it's arguable that "manifest grave sin" should have similar criteria in terms of knowledge and intent.

I think the use of 'grave sin' over 'mortal sin' is pretty explicitly marking the distinction between what is materially grave and what is not just materially grave but done with knowledge and consent. If others' knowledge and consent are inaccessible to observers, then the canon would have no content.

Alexander wrote:

In any case, I feel we should assume that someone who feels strongly enough about receiving the Eucharist to raise this question is someone in basic agreement with Catholic doctrine.

It's somewhat hard to know what the general profile of these cases are. They are somewhat rare, because on the one hand most annulments are successful in the United States and on the other this practice has tacitly been at work in many places anyway, either with or without priests' knowledge. I'm sure that there have been lots of Catholics in second marriages who have not bothered to try to get an annulment who receive regularly and have pastors who just don't know their situations.

Maybe there are cases where people describe their situations in confession and the pastor adjusts practice accordingly, but that is probably rare as well, since American Catholics and Catholics in the West confess infrequently and, anyway, can easily go to confession without mentioning their marital state.

Alexander wrote:

I agree also that there is wisdom in not giving people the benefit of the doubt if doing so is likely to be harmful to them, but I do sympathise with those who take issue with the Eucharist being withheld from them, rather than withdrawing themselves from receiving. St Paul, who is the source of the teaching in this case, does speak of it in terms of examining your own conscience to avoid receiving unworthily, rather than someone else making that judgement for you.

I sympathize as well. Canon 915 is invoked infrequently; while grave sin is quite common among today's Catholics, manifest grave sin is less so. Marriage being public, remarriage fits the bill, but many other grave sins do not. Discussions of the application of Canon 915 otherwise are largely about withholding the Eucharist from obstinately pro-abortion Catholic politicians, which discussions are usually controversial.

The general problem, which AL doesn't address and which has unfortunately been out of the public discussion, is that Catholics seldom believe in the Real Presence anymore. The reason it seems particularly bad and unpastoral to withhold the Eucharist from someone is because virtually every Catholic nowadays receives at every Mass, even though (surely) many of them are not sinless. Half a century ago, a large number of Catholics would not receive at a given Mass; sometimes they might not have been in a state of grace, but in other cases they were just not disposed. Since not receiving is so rare, it seems odd and is stigmatized, but it shouldn't be that way. The Church should encourage people to examine themselves, whether they are divorced and remarried or not, and not to receive when they shouldn't, and it should encourage the practice of spiritual communion.

Those who should not receive but do are the ones especially responsible for the pain of divorced and remarried Catholics.

Alexander wrote:

*There are more or less extreme versions of this position. Mary Geach reports that Elizabeth Anscombe taught her "that the full knowledge in question was knowledge of the sort of action one was performing, under a description its answering to which rendered it culpable, and that one might sin mortally by knowingly performing an action belonging to a certain kind, when one did not know that kind of action to be mortally sinful, or to be a sin at all." [From the introduction to "Faith in a Hard Ground", a collection of Anscombe's essays.] Obviously this position would make it nearly impossible for a divorced-and-remarried person to lack the requisite "full knowledge".

Yes, Anscombe's view is what I had in mind. It reflects the way in which qualifications based on ignorance originally entered the discussion. Cases of ignorance are cases where, for instance, one shoots a man in a deer costume while hunting, when one had no reason to think that any men were out and about in deer costumes.

Though I suppose I understand the impetus behind people who want the wider, more permissive reading. In the extreme case of indoctrination from birth into a false moral precept, it's tempting to say that culpability is diminished.

One might hope for an account in which full knowledge is preserved in such cases, but in some way consent is mitigated. The upshot would be that we don't know that people living in the twenty-first century are not often "indoctrinated" into false beliefs, and that is why we don't presume to judge them on the basis of "manifest grave sin." But we also recognize that A's disbelief that X is grave matter or that X is sinful at all is not any guaranteed, or even reliable, indicator that A has not mortally sinned, so we don't try to shrink from, for instance, providing A with moral guidance.

     Thread Starter
 

12/16/2016 2:39 am  #15


Re: Reactions to Amoris laetitia

Jeremy Taylor wrote:

Interesting. It is interesting, though, also, that other traditional branches of Christianity, including even the Eastern Orthodox Churches (not known for innovations), don't take quite such an absolute stand. Does anyone know what the practice and teaching of the early Church and Fathers was? Doesn't Paul himself imply some recourse for remarriage, at least if one partner is an unbeliever and abandons a believer?

Well, firstly, only Catholics (I'm leaving aside strange micro-brew stuff like Anglo-Papalists or SSPV types) take the position that we do on the Papacy, so just because all the other cool Christians are doing it doesn't mean Catholics should be.

But with that said, it's not exactly accurate to say that all the other traditional branches of Christianity take a less absolute stand on Christianity, at least not historically. Even today, for instance, you can find Orthodox bishops who take the position that divorce and remarriage is a sin; Orthodox bodies generally treat that issue on doctrine as something that is not church dividing, and leave the discretion to each individual bishop about whether or not they will allow remarriages to be performed in their diocese, at least as I understand their position. The same thing can be said about the Orthodox view contraception btw; you can find Orthodox bishops who oppose it, as Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I did in a letter to Pope Paul VI.

Furthermore, up until the 1960's (and on paper this is still the case, but has been all but absolutely forgotten), Anglicans, from what I understand, took a fairly hard line on divorce and remarriage; Henry VIII had Cranmer annul his marriages, not divorce them. And in relatively recent memory King Edward VIII kicked off a constitutional crisis in 1936 when he tried to get married to an American women who had been divorced, and ultimately had to abdicate and have the ceremony done in France to get the marriage to go through. I make this point to you with some hesitation however, since you were once an Anglo-Catholic, and your screen-name is taken from the famous Anglican theologian Jeremy Taylor; am I mistaking something about the classical Anglican position?

Last edited by Timotheos (12/16/2016 2:41 am)

 

12/16/2016 10:38 pm  #16


Re: Reactions to Amoris laetitia

I believe traditional Anglicanism certainly took a firm line on divorce, but I think it was possible to get a divorce. I think this is the same as Eastern Orthodox, in general. It is not easy to get a divorce in Eastern Orthodoxy, and even the one who has been abandoned or whose spouse has committed adultery must more or less atone for the failure of the marriage. But it is possible to get a divorce. I believe the Oriental Orthodox are even stricter.

As I understand it,the Roman Church permits remarriage if a spouse has died, does it not? How does it square this with the idea that spouses are insoluably bound together?

 

12/17/2016 6:20 am  #17


Re: Reactions to Amoris laetitia

Jeremy Taylor wrote:

As I understand it,the Roman Church permits remarriage if a spouse has died, does it not? How does it square this with the idea that spouses are insoluably bound together?

My own inclination is to say "where's the issue?", but I guess I can see where you're coming from (though I would be very surprised if you take this to be a serious issue with the Catholic position). I could lazily direct you to Romans 7:1-3, which seems to give (more or less) the Catholic position, but there are a few other points that seem relevant:

(1) It doesn't seem that there is marriage in heaven, which suggests the bond of marriage is a good of this life, and does not survive death.
(2) The language of "one flesh" might suggest that the death of one of the spouses dissolves the body formed by marriage, leaving the spouse unbound to anyone in particular (and therefore available for a second marriage).
(3) Death is not relevantly like a person's decision to end a marriage. Jesus' teaching ("what God has joined together, let no one separate") doesn't obviously apply to the separation involved in the death of a spouse - and, in the context, Jesus clearly isn't talking about that kind of separation, he's talking about the decision of someone to leave a living spouse and shack up with someone else.

 

12/17/2016 12:28 pm  #18


Re: Reactions to Amoris laetitia

Alexander wrote:

Jeremy Taylor wrote:

As I understand it,the Roman Church permits remarriage if a spouse has died, does it not? How does it square this with the idea that spouses are insoluably bound together?

My own inclination is to say "where's the issue?", but I guess I can see where you're coming from (though I would be very surprised if you take this to be a serious issue with the Catholic position). I could lazily direct you to Romans 7:1-3, which seems to give (more or less) the Catholic position, but there are a few other points that seem relevant:

(1) It doesn't seem that there is marriage in heaven, which suggests the bond of marriage is a good of this life, and does not survive death.
(2) The language of "one flesh" might suggest that the death of one of the spouses dissolves the body formed by marriage, leaving the spouse unbound to anyone in particular (and therefore available for a second marriage).
(3) Death is not relevantly like a person's decision to end a marriage. Jesus' teaching ("what God has joined together, let no one separate") doesn't obviously apply to the separation involved in the death of a spouse - and, in the context, Jesus clearly isn't talking about that kind of separation, he's talking about the decision of someone to leave a living spouse and shack up with someone else.

In defense of your point (1), see Matthew 22:23-33.
 

 

12/17/2016 12:57 pm  #19


Re: Reactions to Amoris laetitia

Timotheos wrote:

Alexander wrote:

...(1) It doesn't seem that there is marriage in heaven, which suggests the bond of marriage is a good of this life, and does not survive death...

In defense of your point (1), see Matthew 22:23-33.
 

That was what I had in mind, I wasn't just guessing.

 

12/17/2016 5:32 pm  #20


Re: Reactions to Amoris laetitia

But is it not generally the Catholic position that moral laws like this are rationally defensible? That they are not arbitrary commands?

​Maybe I'm wrong, but there does seem to a lot of work being done in the Catholic account by the idea that marriage creates a more or less insoluble bond. If it is, or can be, dissolved with death, why can't it be dissolved before death (in fact, it can be in a few circumstances, as Greg mentioned earlier)? I can completely understand that easy divorce is abhorrent. But I'm not sure why it would be morally wrong for divorce if your spouse enjoys beating you black and blue, or if your spouse has run off years ago, or if your spouse is a serial adulterer.

 

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