Wednesday, August 6, 2014

What is wrong with this argument?

The postscripted article I linked to in yesterday's post includes the following paragraph by William Oddie as he explores the likelihood of Rome deviating from its own script re marriage and divorce:
"In an interesting opinion piece in the New York Times on Kasper’s proposal, which is roughly that a second “marriage” might be tolerated but not accepted, Ross Douthat comments that “whatever individuals and pastors decide to take upon their own consciences, declaring the reception of Communion licit for the remarried-but-not-annulled in any systematic way seems impossible without real changes — each with its own potential doctrinal ripples — to one or more of three theologically-important Catholic ideas: The understanding that people in grave sin should not generally receive the Eucharist, the understanding that adultery is always a grave sin, and/or the understanding that a valid sacramental marriage is indissoluble.”"
The whole of Douthat's article and the whole of Oddie's reflection deserves a read.

But here I am interested in your responses, your critiques of the logic expressed here in support of the idea that a divorced then remarried person should not receive the eucharist. I have a thought or two myself ... but would be interested in yours before I set mine down in print.

To set the scene let me say that Roman Catholic doctrinal understanding is always impressive in its consistency and in its desire for objectivity. But I do not think it is just the Protestant in me that says something is not right with the above argument! Comment away ...


Jean said...

Hi Peter

It appears a little similar to the debate here re blessings or marriages of homosexuals. Is not authorising blessings but not marriage in effect 'tolerance' of but not 'acceptance' of same sex couples?

Coulld we too not be accused of considering 'tolerable sinfulness' if the possibility of blessings (being undertaken by clergy who were open to doing so) were measured against the current church canons or traditional theology of the Anglican Church?

It seems the church as a whole grapples with how to keep to scriptural teachings and practice them authentically and compassionately in a world where we 'all fall short of the Glory of God'.

Blessings Jean

Peter Carrell said...

There are intriguing similarities, Jean!

Father Ron Smith said...

My own personal response to this issue of whether or not divorced and re-married people should have access to the Eucharist is, generally speaking, is to assess whether the peopl;e concerned are actually sorry that their first marriage ended. If they contributed to its breakdown, are they repentant of that fault?

When I was given permission to re-marry divorcees by Bishop Paul Reeves, without having to ask him for express permission, I said that I would not marry divorcees who did not express regret for the ending of their first marriage.
Penitence on this matter is, for me, the basis of a new beginning.
As God is into new beginnings, I figured that God would approve of their being restored to fellowship in Christ at the Eucharist.

Father Ron Smith said...

Regarding Jean's question as to whether the blessing of Same-Sex partnerships might be a 'step too far'; my own opinion - for what it's worth - is that the Church should be in the business of encouraging Same-Sex monogamously-related couples to ask for - and be able to receive - God's Blessing in the Church.

So many heterosexual couples are given God's Blessing in Church ceremonies - whose previous lives may not have been free from other relationships - but this has not guaranteed freedom from divorce.

I think that monogamous, loving couples - whether same or opposite sex related - ought to be given the opportunity to have God enter into their relationship through a religious ceremony.

What did Paul say? "It is better to marry than burn."