Being Pastoral Doesn’t Mean Watering Down the Faith

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I owe Oprah Winfrey an apology. For years I have blamed her for what I have termed the “Oprah-ization” of society. We are living in an age where feelings triumph over everything else, and where everybody is a special snowflake whose precious feelings should never be hurt. I have blamed Oprah for perpetuating this with her shlocky television show and through most of the other channels of communication through which she has spread her false gospel. But only now have I realized that Oprah isn’t the villain; rather, she is merely the symptom of a much wider societal affliction that has affected all of western civilization including, sadly, the Catholic Church herself.

This was hammered home reading this article about Cardinal Kasper and the possibility of communion for remarried Catholics. After offering up the usual platitudes about Jesus’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage, Cardinal Kasper than signals his willingness to essentially ignore what Christ had to say.

 However, “after the shipwreck of sin, the shipwrecked person should not have a second boat at his or her disposal, but rather a life raft” in the form of the sacrament of Communion, he said.

Cardinal Kasper, like most men of the cloth who want to change Church teaching, pretends that he is doing anything but.

“One cannot propose a solution different from or contrary to the words of Jesus,” the cardinal said. “The indissolubility of a sacramental marriage and the impossibility of a new marriage while the other partner is still alive is part of the binding tradition of the faith of the church and cannot be abandoned or dissolved by appealing to a superficial understanding of mercy at a discount price.”

At the same time, “there is no human situation absolutely without hope or solution,” he said Catholics profess their belief in the forgiveness of sins in the Creed, he explained. “That means that for one who converts, forgiveness is possible. If that’s true for a murderer, it is also true for an adulterer.”

Well if the murderer is a serial killer who has no intention of stopping his killing spree, then the murder’s contrition is less than authentic. Similarly, a divorced and remarried Catholic’s sin is not in some remote past, but rather is an ongoing sin that cannot simply be shrugged away.

Cardinal Kasper then speaks of possible reforms, and this is where the magic word meant to shut off all debate comes in: pastoral.

A possible avenue for finding those proposals, he said, would be to develop “pastoral and spiritual procedures” for helping couples convinced in conscience that their first union was never a valid marriage. The decision cannot be left only to the couple, he said, because marriage has a public character, but that does not mean that a juridical solution — an annulment granted by a marriage tribunal — is the only way to handle the case.

One is left to wonder what precisely the Cardinal has in mind. Would the couple have to just simply feel that their first marriages were invalid and thus never happened? According to Cardinal Kasper I guess it would be the pastoral solution. In other words, feelings trump 2,000 years of everything the Church has ever taught about marriage.

Cardinal Kasper returns to this term later.

“A pastoral approach of tolerance, clemency and indulgence,” he said, would affirm that “the sacraments are not a prize for those who behave well or for an elite, excluding those who are most in need.”

And that, my friends, gets right to the heart of much that is wrong with the Church. Too many of our shepherds are under the impression that being pastoral means being soft and timid. Cardinal Kasper’s vision of being pastoral is placating the sinner rather than leading the sinner towards righteousness. This is in fact the very opposite of being pastoral. A shepherd of the Catholic Church is charged with leading his flock towards its eternal reward in paradise. There are many tools at the shepherd’s disposal, and I am not suggesting that there is any one right way. Certainly haranguing those of his flock who have strayed may not be the best method of getting them back into the fold. But telling them that they’re just spiffy as they march headlong towards the cliff is also inappropriate.

As is the case with Oprah, I can’t even blame Cardinal Kasper, not when he is an isolated case. Indeed his attitude is all too reflective of where the Church is at this moment in history. Though I am fortunate to be in a parish whose priests are unafraid to speak out about the controversial issues that most other priests avoid, my fellow parishioners and I are the exceptions to the rule. Much more common are generalized, fluffy homilies that don’t dare to touch upon abortion, contraception, gay marriage, etc. That is why when the controversy erupted over Pope Francis saying that we ought not “obsess” over these issues that I almost had to chuckle. Obsessed? Who exactly is obsessed about these topics? Certainly not the priests and Bishops who say nary a peep about them lest they offend someone in the pews.

It’s not as though it is not worthwhile to explore ways in which we can improve upon the situation of remarried Catholics and to examine the procedures we have in place for annulments. Yes, there is room for a “pastoral” approach. But anything that is done must be genuinely loyal to the teachings of our Lord and not merely pay them lip service. Moreover, it time that our shepherds learn how to guide with both compassion and firmness, and to remember that saving souls cannot be done if we are dishonest about our motives and unwilling to gently guide people back onto the right path. 

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  1. The Law and Mercy must be truly integrated as each Orders the other and both are necessary to lead us in right action.
    Absent integration, the law yields an overly harsh and punitive result, while mercy and compassion divorced from the law leads one to support sinful acts in the name of tolerance and kindness.
    I recall praying outside a Planned Parenthood abortuary last year when one of the workers came out to address us. In her address, she self identified as Catholic and then proceeded to inform those of us who were praying the Rosary that we lacked charity because our public prayers caused the girls inside the abortuary “who had to make an important “choice” feel badly”.
    This woman saw no problem with killing an innocent child; her sole concern was that we caused offense to others.
    She separated the Law (do not kill) from Mercy and found us guilty of violating the latter.
    Every priest and deacon should realize that his may be the last voice that a pregnant girl hears before visiting an abortuary on Monday morning.
    God’s law mercifully delivered from the Pulpit is the true meaning of Pastoral.

  2. Good post Paul, good point Slainte .
    From the article- “Citing a 1972 article by then-Father Joseph Ratzinger, Cardinal Kasper said the church also might consider some form of “canonical penitential practice” — a “path beyond strictness and leniency” — that would adapt the gradual process for the reintegration of sinners into full communion with the church used in the first centuries of Christianity.”
    The “reintegration of sinners” has usually come from change in the sinner, not change in the Church. Once you start to try making the Narrow Path wide enough to satisfy people, they will try to set where the edges are –

  3. When you look at the things the hierarchy has been saying the last few months – Cardinals Kasper and Maradiaga (especially the latter’s very public push back on Cardinal Muller, the CDF prefect), Pope Francis’ homily on divorce this week, it is all very, very disturbing. This would be a wall coming down.

    This is what Fr. Cantalamessa, the papal household preacher spoke about last year, wasn’t it? That the walls needed to be torn down. “the residue of past ceremonials, laws and disputes” he called them.

    Hold on tight and pray hard. All hell is about to break loose. Literally.

  4. Mr, Zummo , do you not KNOW that 6 out of 10 marriages end in divorce ? I would assume you do…NO, I am in a 4 decade plus long marriage, to show I am not luckily one of these souls. I see the need for the church to come to some level of NOT CHANGING CHURCH LAW…BUT, as it were studying means in which the CHURCH could aid these people. All Catholics cannot I assume be as held in their marriages as to many immature and abusive marriages…SO, you say head the annulment path. Good…YET, SIR, we are in crisis. We need to be PASTORAL is darn right. And that Pastoral should be one in which this situation is addressed as to the right THING to do . Within the church, and within in her laws to come to some means of aiding these damaged failed people in your eyes as to their failed marriages..IF it were you alone, I am afraid the HARD LINE of TOO BAD FILE for the annulment and if not granted TOUGH…Very PASTORAL of you. And by the way, PLEASE stop knocking the Cardinals and The Holy Father. This slip of tongue of slapping the Holy Father is unbecoming and as well a SIN.

  5. It is easy enough to blame the law in cases where the fault lies, not with the law, but with the evidence available, a situation familiar enough to the classical jurists: “si id non apparet, non ius deficit, sed probatio” [Dig. 26.2.30 Paulus 6 quaest.] That is not to say, of course, that we should not review the law of evidence in consistorial causes.

    Such causes have always presented problems. It is nearly a thousand years now since the unfortunate William of Norwich betook himself to Rome and Pope Alexander III (formerly the eminent canonist Master Ronaldus of Bologna and the author of the “Stroma” or “Summa Rolandi”) sent his case back to the bishop of Norwich, with an intriguing interlocutor of relevancy: “A certain William appealed to us, and showed in his report that he received in his house a certain woman by whom he had children and to whom he swore before many people that he would take her as wife. In the meantime, however, spending the night at the house of a neighbour, he slept with the neighbour’s daughter that night. The girl’s father finding them in the same bed at the same time compelled him to espouse her with present words. Recently, William standing in our presence, asks us to which woman he ought to adhere. Since he could not inform us [nequaquam innotuit nobis] whether he had intercourse with the first woman after he had given his oath, we therefore order you to examine into the matter carefully, and if you find that he had intercourse with the first woman after he had promised he would marry her, then you should compel him to remain with her. Otherwise, you ought to compel him to adhere to the second one as his wife, unless he was compelled by a fear which could overcome a steadfast man.” [Decretales 4.1.15 Veniens ad Nos G]

    Probably, no case in the Decretals has been cited more often in the Scottish courts than Veniens ad nos, where it remained law until 1940. Actions involving it were still being raised in the 1980s.

  6. Esther I agree with you. (By the way Esther, my third daughter is called Esther. I love the name.)

    What do you do with a section of our Catholic community who attend mass but are divorced and “remarried”?

    On one hand I think annulments are sometimes handed out like Easter eggs on Easter day. For example, to people who after a good period of time together and after even having a child together, suddenly hate each others guts and want the Church to declare that their marriage was never valid. Some of these people I refer to, are patient enough to go through a long drawn out process of annulment, but they get some help from friends and family to play-around with the truth a little.

    But on the other hand, you have those that know they wouldn’t ever be granted an annulment, but divorce legally, for various reasons, but still want to be part of the Church community.

    And the most difficult, are the category that remarry, and have children and want to be part of the Church community. And want their children to be part of the Church Community. Here in lies a great dilemma for the Church. You cannot possibly just discard them as members of the Church. Even if they are in sin and perhaps ignorant or even obnoxious to the fact.

    What do you do?

  7. Maybe the Church needs to revamp its pre-cana programs. Maybe parents need to train their children in ways of modesty & purity in order to help their children figure out how to find the “right” person to marry. I don’t know if it’s really a “crisis” in the Church. It seems like our culture and society, in all aspects of degradation, want the Church to conform to its norms, rather than the other way around. People want a band-aid instead of doing the hard work of waiting to see if their annulment will actually go through. I’ve met people who decide that the annulment process just isn’t worth it, so they don’t even try. And I’ve met people who tried up to 5 times and were told no, and went and got “remarried” anyway, declaring, “It’s between me & God now.” We live in a time where “I want what I want the way I want it and I want it now” so it’s hard to feel bad for people who have that attitude. I’m not sure why the Church is so obsessed with getting the non-repentant to the Eucharist.

  8. Excellent post, Mr Zummo. It brings to mind the thought — based on years of observation and experience as a pastor in the Anglican churches prior to my homecoming — that most of the people who call for “pastoral” solutions to difficult cases (a) use the term as camouflage for their own pusillanimity and (b) wouldn’t last a week as a literal shepherd. Shepherd: “Hey, sheep! Those plants are poisonous — don’t eat them.” Sheep: “But they taste much better than that grass I used to eat. I’m fine with the others eating it, but this works well for me, and I don’t feel sick at all, so don’t judge me.” Shepherd: “Well, o.k. Maybe you are a special case, so go ahead. [Turning to another sheep}, “Hey, you! Get back with the others: The wolf might get you.” 2nd Sheep: “I need some time away to find myself. And besides, it might be useful to dialogue with the wolf. It seems to me that he’s just a different kind of dog.” Shepherd: “Well you could have a point there. Let me know how it goes. Could be you’ll bring back some ideas for updating the pastoral care of the flock.”

  9. Maybe the Church needs to revamp its pre-cana programs.

    An important point that I neglected to bring up in my initial post. Yes, it is at least worth pondering whether our marriage prep (or lack thereof) is at least contributing to, or is not preventing, the breakdown of these marriages. As I said, I am open to reforms, just not a reform that would simply gloss over the issue in the interest of being “pastoral.”

  10. Great script Samuel (you just missed this years Oscars)- kidding.

    Your analogy rings true. And the way you put it really hilights the ludicrousy of mankind and the “choices” we make, and the paths we take.

    It’s still a difficult issue. Complicated. And yes, we complicate it.

    But when you have children in the mix…you run the risk of peeving their parents, who may in turn, get aggravated at the Church, and refuse to educate their children in the Catholic Faith (at schools, in Church)…heck, they may even put rubbish in their children’s heads that makes them despise the Church.

    As one commenter put it on another post- alot of ears need to be unclogged, in order to get the message, and it will only take time for that to happen.

  11. Mr, Zummo , do you not KNOW that 6 out of 10 marriages end in divorce ? I would assume you do…

    He does not know that because it is not true.

  12. “Mr, Zummo , do you not KNOW that 6 out of 10 marriages end in divorce ?”

    And large numbers of children are born out of wedlock. Not good for those children as divorce is not good for families.

    “All Catholics cannot I assume be as held in their marriages as to many immature and abusive marriages…”

    And if there are invalid marriages, then the annulment process is there to help end them. But it is also there to protect those spouses who have entered into valid marriages against those who wish to end them unjustly.

    “YET, SIR, we are in crisis.”

    This from a lack of teaching and the permissiveness of the culture (starting with the contraceptive mentality) and not from a failure of being pastoral.

    “And that Pastoral should be one in which this situation is addressed as to the right THING to do .”

    Which would be to teach that, if valid, marriage is for life. To divorce and remarry violates the very image of God that Christ calls us to. To remarry then would be a grave violation of that image and result in one not able to receive communion.

    The denial of communion in this situation, would be pastoral in that it calls one to renew ourselves in that image of God.

    “Within the church, and within in her laws to come to some means of aiding these damaged failed people in your eyes as to their failed marriages…”

    We don’t aid people by giving false means.

    “I am afraid the HARD LINE of TOO BAD FILE for the annulment and if not granted TOUGH…Very PASTORAL of you.”

    It is not a hard line though. It is Christ’s line and not from the “TOO BAD FILE.” Rather from the file of love which comes through the Cross.

  13. “a life raft” in the form of the sacrament of Communion,” “a life raft” in the form of the sacrament of Penance, then Communion,”
    Marriage is between two consenting adults, who vow before God to remain a husband and a wife to each other…”til death do us part” The Church keeps Holy Matrimony holy for all future generations. The power to change laws does not have the power to change the truth.
    For the church to change truth and embrace the deceit and dishonor of broken vows, with Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom, does not and will not happen.
    Ez: “And the most difficult, are the category that remarry, and have children and want to be part of the Church community.”
    After the Sacrament of Penance, before the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, these persons, if they are sincere, must promise to remain celibate and live like brother and sister even before the eyes of their children. It is possible. Being addicted to lust is not, as Botolph said, “conjugal Charity”. “Conjugal charity” is a requirement even in a regular marriage. “Conjugal Charity”, if explored by a man and a woman who are husband and wife, is an exciting adventure, and the children born are the man and woman themselves.
    It is HOLY Matrimony and HOLY Eucharist and unless a person wills to be HOLY, it is only desecration.

  14. Enjoyed Samuel.L Edwards. Excellent. The buffalo stampede on the video is a reminder that some things will only happen in a buffalo stampede on the Fourth of July in a hailstorm.

  15. Mr, Zummo , do you not KNOW that 6 out of 10 marriages end in divorce ?

    Variations of this gets claimed a lot, but it’s not supported by evidence– table 131 of when first marriages end before reaching a specific anniversary, none of the success rates are the 40%-or-lower that would be needed for a six in ten failure.

    If I remember, the original statistic was calculated by comparing the new marriages to the number of divorces, in the 70s (during a spike in the rate), and not all states report their statistics.

    “compassion leads to the gas chamber”? (Flannery O’Connor)

  16. Two things are happening that portend dark times for the Church. First, on gay marriage, the secular state / culture are rapidly defining the unchangeable Church teaching that homosexual conduct is sinful as bigotry. This will mean marginalization and shunning of the Church as an institution and of those who have the guts to stick to this position. I fear there will be very few, as reflected in the fact that half of all Catholics already support gay marriage. I really believe this is going to have a devastating effect on the Church in the United States. Second, the Pope seems determined to engage in a falsehood where we acknowledge what Jesus taught about marriage but then ignore it by applying a “pastoral approach” to the issue. This too will have a long-term negative impact because people will come to recognize the hypocrisy of having doctrine but not following it, and will start to question whether the Church is really infallible or guided by the Holy Spirit.

  17. Like the two commandments to love God and to love our neighbor, the Law and mercy were separate within the Old Testament. However, in and through Christ, like the two commandments, both Law [moral teaching] and mercy have been united in the Gospel. In each generation, but especially in each of the major epochs the Church has lived through, the Church has sought to live in a dynamic balance between the two. At some points in time, the Church emphasized one and at other times the Church emphasized the other.

    In Church history we see groups who were exceedlingly (excessively?) strict who ended up in tension and conflict with the Church because they believed the Church to be too lax For example within the first three hundred years, we had all sorts of groups that were so strict and rigid that they believed all Christians should be virgins and celibates. Novatian, a priest from Rome, who also had his eye on the ‘chair of Peter’ but was not elected, created a schism, the Novationists, who claimed to be toeing the Church’s original strict moral code over against the laxist Church in Rome. There are other examples of the strict variety over the centuries

    Of course, we had those who were far more lax than the Church as well. The Gnostics first come to mind, but there are others as well. They felt the Church was out of fashion with the age and needed to get with the program. The laxists usually did not share the Church’s incarnational faith so it made no difference what one did in the body for them, unlike the Catholics who believed it was an extremely important issue.

    It was Martin Luther however, who for all time divorced [I use this phrase specifically] Law and grace, Law and Gospel. While perhaps he did not g as far as some of his followers, he was, nonetheless the ‘father’ of the divorce between Law and mercy. This seeped deeply into Western consciousness so that although many did not even believe, the divide remains ensconced in their minds and hearts and it has become the source of the envisioning of the difference between Conservatives (Law) and Liberals (mercy)

    It does Catholics no good to build on the foundations of Luther to separate Moral Teaching and mercy. The Catholic way is to see both at the same time. To be specific, not to separate Law and mercy but to maintain the union between them: no “either/or” but “both/and’

    If in the past we have been too much “Law” we do no one any good to move toward all ‘mercy’. Recently someone (can’t remember the name) wrote a book stating that the way atheism has gained such ground is by the breakdown of the family. I don;t have stats but I firmly believe this. The family based on and built on the union of husband and wife is the cell both of society at large and the Church. We really need to come to grips with ‘what’s going wrong’ with marriages and families and then minister to and with them, not offering them the Kool Aid of easy fixes or the stones of ‘rules and regulations’

  18. Foxfier

    The real spike, or rather, series of leaps, in the divorce rate occurred in the first half of the 20th century.

    Taking the figures for my own country, Scotland, between 1900-1950 there was a 1,430% increase in divorces (from 144 in 1900 to 2,204 in 1950); between 1950-2000 the increase was 403% (from 2,204 to 11,096)

    In the 1950s, the annual average was 2,071; in the 1930s, the annual average had been 597, representing a 250% increase on the 1930s average. So much for the family-friendly ’50s

    I would note that over the period, the population rose from 4.47 million in 1901 to 5.06 million in 2001, a mere 13%.

    As for no-fault divorce, in 1970, there were 4,618 decrees and in 1974, the last full year before no-fault divorce, there were 7,221, a 168% increase on the 1965 figure. In 1976, the first full year of no-fault divorce, there were 8,692. In the 1980s, the annual average was 11,824, a 64% increase on the 1974 figure. It would appear that no-fault divorce had little impact on the already accelerating increase.

  19. Michael-
    I don’t know what was going on in Scotland at the time, but I seem to remember a spike in marriages when men came home from war, and a spike in divorces as well. Do you have a source for divorce rates by year? looking at this report from the 70s (page 10) there was a big spike in marriages with a corresponding spike in divorces, following a dip in both. Here’s divorce rates after that study. (First is per 1000 population, second is per 1000 women, so double or divide as needed.)

    There’s also the problem of things being reported and recorded effectively.

    None of which has to do with the validity of variations of half of all marriages fail…..

  20. These many excellent posts certainly expose the obvious: there is something rotten in the state of Denmark, that is, marriage, family, sexuality and in thy will be done. The contemporary expression might be, this is Satan’s pushback against the Truth and against Life. Of course he is always pushing but perhaps is perversely gloating in his recent successes disguised as compassion after a century filled with the raw brutality of the Mao, Hitler and Stalin types that were a little too obvious, although still with us.
    Specifically to marriage and inseparable to it, family, I used to teach my students something like the following:
    Christ, hanging outstretched on the cross, is telling us that we can beat him, spit on him, curse him, ignore him, ridicule him, torture him, desert him and even kill him, but that He loves us IRRETRIEVABLY and without measure regardless of how we may feel about him. There is nothing in it for Christ except to Love, expecting nothing in return but hoping we discover the same. That is what marriage is supposed to be, and that is what all children need to learn from their parents. This thing called Love could solve all the world’s problems if only we embraced it ourselves.
    This is where I would begin marriage prep and the standard we set for our marriages going forward.

  21. I don’t know if we specifically are in trouble, and maybe not even our children, but I think our great-grand children and theirs, maybe yes. The Church is the only thing standing between us and Islam. Considering what is going on the Middle East, it doesn’t look good.
    “I really believe this is going to have a devastating effect on the Church in the United States. . . because people will come to recognize the hypocrisy of having doctrine but not following it, and will start to question whether the Church is really infallible or guided by the Holy Spirit.”
    Oh, I’m definitely deep in that territory already, and I ask myself: why did I convert? Do I want to die for this?

  22. DJ,
    I believe the Church, as always protected by the Holy Spirit, will continue to stand fully with the Truth. Members will stray, She will not. But the pressure is certainly on.

    As to your worry about Islam, St. Thomas Aquinas warned us about it centuries ago. It is a real threat. I believe this heresy feeds of our decaying moral fabric and lack of faith. So we all need to hang in there, at least figuratively, on the cross if necessary. We will prevail against the gates of Hell.

  23. Foxfier

    I am sure of my figures, because I spent a free day, copying them from the Books of Adjournal in the Court of Session, where the original decrees are recorded, numbered and indexed. I recorded the annual totals from 1855 to 1969. From 1970, when the Sheriff Court acquired jurisdiction to date, I spent another day, taking them from the Sheriff Clerks’ returns in Register House

    The spike you mention did occur after WWI. The annual average for the years 1910-1917 was 263. Then
    1918 – 485
    1919 – 829
    1920 – 776
    1921 – 500.
    That comes to 2,590. The annual average for the rest of the decade was 444

    However, we have
    1936 – 642
    1937 – 640
    1938 – 789
    1939 – 890
    A total of 2,970, so the war-time spike has become the new normal

    Similarly, immediately after WWII, the total number of decrees for 1946-1948 was 7,524, but the total for 1952-1954 was almost the same at 7,339.

  24. Kevin: I will say this: The divorce issue could be solved pretty easily by the total elimination the sacrosanct “social safety net” of various welfare programs, social security, and medicare/medicaid. (Eliminating non-homeschooling for K-8 would be a plus) And in all cases except for abuse, drug use, etc. grant joint custody of the children to the parents in divorce cases.
    Right now, people just don’t need their marriages and their families in the same way we did over 100 year ago.

  25. What I am about to say is not meant as a criticism in any way, but do we really believe Holy Matrimony [which is the subject of the Church’s concern in the post Donald gave above] is either the same as or equivalent to ‘marriage’ in the larger society? Of course they are ‘related’ but are they the same? What is it, other than the ‘ritual’ that makes holy matrimony distinct from societal marriage?

  26. that 6 out of 10 marriages end in divorce

    Don’t know if that is correct or not, but I don’t see how “60% of marriages fail” therefore leads to “hand out communion to all comers.” Seems all that does is ignore the problem, not deal with it. If anything, fewer “marriages” should be handed out unless the couple demonstrates true commitment – say, a seven year pre-cana process. That should weed out the faint of heart.

  27. The real spike, or rather, series of leaps, in the divorce rate occurred in the first half of the 20th century.

    We have been over this issue before. In this country, which has a population 60x that of Scotland, the social ecosystem changed very abruptly with a trebling of marital attrition rates between 1967 and 1979. They had seen only small flux up and down over the previous 20 years. There was a spike in 1944, 1945, 1946 and 1947 as a large mass of ‘war marriages’ dissolved (see the film The Best Years of Our Lives for a fictional account of such a divorce). The attrition rate fluctuated wildly during the period running from 1919 to 1944 in response to economic circumstances. Overall, though, it saw more change during the period running from 1967 to 1979 than it had from the latter 19th century through 1967.

    I think any of us who were puttering around and noticing what was going on around us can tell you the period running from 1963 to 1981 was a strange trip.

  28. Michael-
    Apparently I’m clear as mud….. It doesn’t matter how many divorces there were in total if you don’t know how many marriages there were or how many people were around, and the situation matters because from what little I remember of my WWI history, the UK took a lot more damage than the US– likewise, WWII killed a higher percent of your guys than ours, and the post-war turbulence lasted a lot longer.

    And none of that matters when at most there is evidence for six of ten marriages not ending at all, let alone in divorce, even with no-fault and a massive cultural pressure to just quit!

  29. Mary, I understand and agree with you on holy matrimony.

    However many do not view it as sacred or permanent. And these same people also have children. And unless their children are taught correctly regarding Church teaching, they will not learn it from their parents, and the cycle of ignorance and indifference will remain.

    So do you throw these people out of the Church community?

    Do you allow them into the community, barring them from taking communion?

    As a side note: I don’t claim to read souls, but I notice the whole congregation lining up for communion, when there is hardly ever confession on at my Parish… Lotsa closet contraceptive guzzling Catholics out there…if you get what Im saying…they don’t get shunned because they hide it. And their sin destroys a life.

    There is substantial data being thrown around, regarding divorce, and alot of tsk tsk about the state of the Church, its administrators and its members.

    But very little suggestion about what to do with the problem about divorced and “re-married” Catholics in the Church.

    Face it. Denying them Holy Communion and reprimanding them until they promise to renew their celibacy, is not a real solution. Many will
    give the Church the finger and teach their children to do the same.

    Solution? Yeah it’s not easy, I know.

  30. Botolph wrote, “What is it, other than the ‘ritual’ that makes holy matrimony distinct from societal marriage? “

    Well, until Tametsi in 1563, holy matrimony required no “ritual” at all. In the absence of an impediment, all that was required was a mutual manifestation of agreement (Consensus – “consent” has rather different connotations). Baptised Non-Catholics can contract a valid sacramental marriage without any formalities at all and a marriage before a justice of the peace is as much a sacrament as one contracted before a minister. The marriage of a non-baptised person will invalidate a subsequent marriage, subject to the Pauline Privilege or a dissolution by the Holy See.

    Perhaps, Lord Stowell’s explanation helps.

    “Marriage in its origin is a contract of natural law; it may exist between two individuals of different sexes although no third person existed in the world, as happened in the case of the common ancestors of mankind. It is the parent not the child of civil society. In civil society, it becomes a civil contract regulated and prescribed by law and endowed with civil consequences. In most civilized countries, acting under a sense of the force of sacred obligations, it has had the sanctions of religion superadded; it then becomes a religious, as well a natural and civil, contract; for it is a great mistake to suppose that because it is the one, therefore it may not likewise be the other. Heaven itself is made a party to the contract and the consent of the individuals pledged to each other is ratified and consecrated by a vow to God.”

  31. Art Deco

    “a trebling of marital attrition rates between 1967 and 1979” The figures for Scotland for the same period, was about two and a half times, from 3,576 to 8,837

    However, we saw a similar rise over the twelve year period between 1890 and 1902, from 87 to 204. Because the numbers were small, the enormous increase was scarcely noticed

    Again, in the 1930s, the annual average was 597 and in the 1950s it was 2,071, nearly three and a half times the 1930’s average. Over that period the population rose from 4.8 to 5.1 million, trivial in comparison to the number of divorces.

  32. DJ, you make a very good point. Many programs, even Obamacare, undermine family and marriage. GK Chesterton warned us about state run schools as well. Unfortunately here in the US the State grows ever more intrusive and controlling and the public less free. This recent push for all day K and pre K is less about compassion than it is control.
    In a practical sense we don’t need family and marriage as we did, but that is a temporary condition. We need them to be truly human and to maintain civil society. Over time the foundation crumbles and the building falls.

  33. Don: “Two things are happening that portend dark times for the Church. First, on gay marriage, the secular state / culture are rapidly defining the unchangeable Church teaching that homosexual conduct is sinful as bigotry.”
    Our Lady of Fatima told the children that The Great Liar, the devil, will be given free rein in the last half of the century. Suffering same-sex attraction is not license to sodomize or deny another person’s immortal soul. State and Federal laws to protect the person from discrimination because of sexual orientation protect the person. The laws do not protect sodomizing or denying another person’s immortal human soul. The Court has removed the scourge of vice from sodomy, but sodomy remains a vice. Choosing the virtue of chastity over the vice of sodomy is not discrimination of an individual (person) but a civil right to freedom of religion and to secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our constitutional posterity. Of late of The Preamble.
    Exercising one’s freedom and civil right to virtue is not prejudice or hatred as the devil, the Great Liar, perjurer, has co-opted the minds and hearts of most citizens to believe and to act upon in vitriolic hatred and violence.
    Sodomy remains a vice. Same sex attraction remains an act of God. Acts of God are not covered by insurance companies nor are they covered by the courts. Acts of God, if acknowledged by man, are an acknowledgement of the existence of God and the annihilation of atheism, but not of the atheist. The atheist, to practice sodomy and claim it is his right to practice sodomy must first disavow God and become an atheist. The atheist is tolerated. Atheism is unconstitutional as are the denial of the human being’s immortal human soul and the denial of man’s unalienable civil rights. Only an infinite God is able to create and endow unalienable human rights.
    The next lie the fine perjurer in a court of law tells man is that the state grants unalienable human rights. Rights the state gives the state can take away. TJ. The unalienable human rights endowed by our Creator are rights that cannot be altered or changed by the courts…the right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
    Children are our constitutional posterity. People older than us are our ancestors. People younger than us are our posterity. Our ancestors and our posterity do not belong to the state or the states’ court. Our ancestors and our posterity belong to “We, the people”. Since abortion was never put on the ballot, abortion needs to be put to the people.
    Divorce may happen in the state. The right and freedom to marriage after divorce is greatly impeded by the divorce and may even become non-existent for persons with marriage impediments, especially if other persons in the form of children are inextricably injured. It is of such families that the social net or welfare must concern itself.
    There is hope in the future through our children who reason, who realize and who look to the future. Their very existence is our prayer.
    Lord Stowell’s explanation (and mistake) helps.
    “Marriage in its origin is a contract of natural law… In most civilized countries, acting under a sense of the force of sacred obligations, it has had the sanctions of religion superadded; it then becomes a religious, as well a natural and civil, contract; for it is a great mistake to suppose that because it is the one, therefore it may not likewise be the other.”
    Marriage in its origin is a contract between God and man, a covenant between God and man. Natural law is that which is superadded. Atheism has turned the joy of truth into a drudgery.
    I recommend C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters in audioform and for marriages: Alexander Milne’s poetry.

  34. There can be no doubt that societal: socio-economic and political programs and forces can be detrimental and even destructive to marriage in general. However we are not speaking about marriage in general. We are speaking of the sacrament of Holy Matrimony: the covenanted union of a baptized man and a baptized woman.

    Yes it is true that the same forces militating against marriage in general militate against holy matrimony, but there is one thing that distinguishes holy matrimony from marriage in general. It is faith. Yes faith involves believing that Christ intended marriage to be total,faithful, exclusive, unitive and creative. There is no doubt about that. However, that does not encompass the whole of faith and it is precisely what I believe is the greatest part of the ‘marriage crisis’ in the Church. That those who approach the altar to be married do not really believe or have so little real faith that it is al but powerless against all the other forces. See it is faith and not love that conquers everything. Or perhaps to put it better: love without faith is powerless in the face of the powers against holy matrimony, and the Christian life in general. What we need to do is assist our young people to grow in faith, hope and love [leading to conjugal charity]. Without these fundamentals, teachings on the indissolubility of marriage, marriage as only between a man and a woman, teaching on the unitive AND creative aspect of marriage (birth control issues) fall on deaf ears and hardened hearts.

    Before he resigned from active papal ministry, Pope Benedict had stated publicly that the Church needed to look at the fundamental role faith plays in holy matrimony AND of course the lack of which leading to the annulment process.

  35. Kevin: “This recent push for all day K and pre K is less about compassion than it is control.”
    In atheistic Russia, school children were indoctrinated to report their parents to school authorities if their parents prayed at home. The communists would come and destroy any religious artifacts in the home without warrant, with such rapaciousness, that the children would be terrorized to ever pray again. I can see it happening here, in America.

  36. Kevin: in my experience, most people really don’t have the time or even the inclination to sit around and think about “beauty”, “the beautiful”, and being “truly human” and all that other stuff. They are busy working to put a roof over their head, food on the table, and gas in the car. Either that, or they are playing golf. The family must have an immediate, practical use, or people will simply go elsewhere. That’s all most people see; they don’t see that by abandoning their family, they will eventual cause society to collapse. Maybe not today, but later. That may very be what God meant about punishing those unto the 3rd and 4th generation of those that hate Him. The punishment for sin is usually built right into it, but the reaction may be delayed quite a bit.

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