The example of the Orthodox Churches is often brought up by those who favor allowing Catholics in adulterous marriages to receive communion. Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa examines the two chief responses to this argument:
But on the eve of the first round of the synod on the family last October, Archbishop Cyril Vasil, secretary of the Vatican congregation for the Oriental Churches, cautioned against a “naive” interpretation of the practice of the Orthodox Churches in matters of marriage.
Second marriages – he explained – entered into the practice of the Orthodox Churches at a later date, toward the end of the first millennium. They entered under the invasive influence of Byzantine imperial legislation, of which the Churches were the executors. And even today the dissolution of first marriages is for these Churches almost always the simple transcription of a ruling of divorce issued by the civil authorities.
Vasil is an authority on the subject. A Slovak of the Greek rite and a Jesuit, he was dean of the faculty of canon law at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome. His essay on divorce and second marriages in the Orthodox Churches was part of a multi-author book released on the eve of the synod with the contributions of five cardinals, all of them opposed to communion for the divorced and remarried:
The salient passages of Vasil’s essay are reproduced in this article from www.chiesa:
But not all the experts agree with him.
Enrico Morini, professor of Orthodox Church history at the state university of Bologna and at the theological faculty of Emilia Romagna, wrote in a comment on one of his essays in “Memorie Teologiche,” the online journal of his faculty, in reference to the dissolution of the nuptial bond and to the possibility of a second marriage, admitted by the Orthodox Churches:
“To me, however, it seems to constitute a practice that wisely applies in pastoral care the salvific criterion of mercy, without compromising the principle of indissolubility. In the acute problems raised by the current sociological context, it represents, in my view, a valid alternative to the hypothesis of the admission of the divorced and remarried to sacramental communion. In fact, rather than admitting to the sacrament those who are objectively living in a state of sin, this practice instead heals the sinful situation with a non-sacramental ecclesial ratification that emphasizes what is positive in a natural, stable, and faithful union.”
Go here to read the rest. PopeWatch has read many examples of doubletalk but that last paragraph is a doozy. Let’s unpack it:
“This incontrovertible fact of the modification of ecclesiastical practice, taking into account the civil legislation in the area of marriage, seems to be presented in a negative vein by Cyril Vasil, as a secularizing adulteration of the evangelical dictate, almost as an acquiescence to the laws of the state in contrast with the divine law. “
Note that Morini does not give any facts to contradict Archbishop’s Vasil’s argument.
In the acute problems raised by the current sociological context, it represents, in my view, a valid alternative to the hypothesis of the admission of the divorced and remarried to sacramental communion.
Translation: Lots of Catholics are in adulterous marriages so the Church should copy the Orthodox practice.
In fact, rather than admitting to the sacrament those who are objectively living in a state of sin, this practice instead heals the sinful situation with a non-sacramental ecclesial ratification that emphasizes what is positive in a natural, stable, and faithful union.”
Translation: We will call what is manifestly sin, not sin, and the Church will bless what the Church previously condemned as adultery.
PopeWatch, although appreciative of the ingenuity involved in constructing such gibberish, prefers the simplicity of Isaiah 5:20:
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!