The People Speak Out

Local voices connecting globally

This is important: to get to know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas. The world is crisscrossed by roads that come closer together and move apart, but the important thing is that they lead towards the Good.  (Pope Francis)

Canon Law 212 calls upon the laity to speak up:

2 - The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.

§3. - According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.

Ever since Pope Francis took office, he has been under attack by a very determined bunch of conservative cardinals. More recently, however, the intensity of these attacks has been ratcheted up. Pope Francis has now been accused publicly of promoting "heretical" positions.

How so?

On 19 September 2016, four cardinals wrote to Pope Francis expressing their need to clarify whether Pope Francis intends to modify the position of John Paul II respecting if and when divorced Catholics who have entered into a civil marriage may receive Communion. John Paul II insisted that, in exceptional cases, this might be allowed if the couple was repentant and willing to live together as brother and sister (no sex).

Pope Francis, in contrast, has taken the position that the rules of the Church cannot be applied rigidly and uniformly for all cases. Rather, following the example of Jesus, attention must always be given to exceptional circumstances. If a Catholic woman has been abandoned by her spouse, for example, does this mean that she is obliged to live the rest of her life without the right to remarry and without sexual intimacy? The four cardinals would certainly think so. The sixth commandment does not allow for exceptions!  Or does it?

When Pope Francis failed to respond "yes" or "no" (as to whether he is changing the Catholic tradition) the four cardinals felt, in conscience, that they should openly publish their letter of September 19. Other Cardinals added fuel to the fire. Cardinal Burke, one of the original formulators of the September 19th letter, has publicly made it known that, if the silence of the Pope continues, he would have to defend the true faith [of John Paul II] by publicly admonishing the Pope.

Most recently 62 scholars and priests openly corrected Pope Francis. In their letter of 24 Sep 2017, they do not accuse the Pope of committing heresy, but they claim that the publication of Amoris Laetitia, and the Pope’s subsequent words and actions, have led to the spread of “heresies and other errors”. In effect, the latest critics regard the silence of Pope Francis has tacitly enabled deviations from the norms set out by John Paul II to be officially promoted by many bishops.

Pope Francis, accordingly, has his back up against the wall. To begin with, he does not believe that he has the right as Pope to resolve any and all pastoral and doctrinal issues. His accusers, meanwhile, believe that no pope can openly change the considered teachings of those who went before him.

Pope Francis, meanwhile, firmly believes that all the rules of the Church must be implemented with a pastoral sensitivity that refuses to create impossible situations whereby evil is done by a wooden application of the commandments of God and of the Church. This is the theme of Amoris Laetitia and well as the theme of Pope Francis when he has clearly and repeatedly condemned the use of absolute rules when addressing the cardinals and bishops.

So what can Pope Francis do to win over some of his critics?  And if he cannot, what then?  How might he persuade Catholics generally that he has the right path? 

Joseph Martos

{jcomments on}

I am a RC woman who is also a Psychotherapist. I see patients daily who have are unhappy with their lives usually due to mistakes they have made in their pasts. They are usually their own worst enemies and are unable to forgive themselves. I truly believe because of my faith, that the Spirit of God has long since forgiven them and I try to help them realize that fact. As a result, I work with them to accept God’s gift of forgiveness for them.

Therefore it is essential that God’s human institutional church fashion a reasonable means of forgiveness and timely reintroduction into its life by welcoming divorced remarried catholics back to the sacraments without burdensome processes. That is what the Christ taught and continues to teach us.{jcomments on}

As I grew up I was sure that I would enter the convent. I decided though that I should get a degree before I “gave my life to God.” As I matured though I released that this decision to give my life to God did not necessarily entail joining an order and becoming a nun. I have never lessened my determination to give my life to God but I married and have a large family. I am sure I made the right decision for me and I suspect that I would not have been able to deepen my love for my creator any more that I have done as a wife and mother.

I do think that rules and regulations about marrage, divorce and remarriage need the imput of those who have been through all this. I have a cousin who was wanting to marry a man who had had a divorce. Neither of them were by this time still in their youth and she was fast approaching the end of her period of fertility. He applied for an annulment but the process was so protracted that they eventually went ahead with a civil marriage but unfortunately they were too late.

One of my own daughters had a rather unpleasant divorce after years of being manipulated into thinking that everything that went wrong was her fault. She has since found a partner who himself was divorced from a woman who ran off with another married man. Neither of them felt at all comfortable entering into another “marriage” but are each committed to loving and caring for the other. I can understand their reluctance. Things MUST change.{jcomments on}

Dear Holy Father

I left my increasingly verbally and psychologically abusive husband after 29 years. I couldn’t take it any more, nor could I let our daughters see it as an example of life in marriage. In the end we divorced. I left the Catholic church at the same time.

We were a couple who sat in the front row of church every Sunday, raised our daughters in Catholic schools, sent them to Antioch (friends there still their friends) and looked like a model Catholic family. What happened? My husband wouldn’t hear my cries for honesty in himself and our marriage. He was drinking and gambling away his hard earned money. He took it out on me.

Then I heard George Pell say “This isn’t a cafeteria faith where you pick out what you want and leave the rest”. So I figured I just couldn’t stay. I gave up being a Catholic and a Christian.

I cooperated with the church for an annulment – that he wanted- and some man said “Mother church cares about your spiritual development”. Where was Mother Church when I was being abused? George Pell was in charge, that’s where.

I have now happily remarried an Anglican, and worship in a Unitarian Church. I am happy. Yet to this day I feel so sad because I had to leave a church I loved because it wasn’t a “cafeteria” faith. My faith went with it. I wish I could believe again, but I just cannot.{jcomments on}

{jcomments on}I am a catechist for native American Indian adults wanting to be confirmed. At least 75 % of them are married (outside the church) to a Protestant or otherwise non-Catholic who has been previously married.

For themselves (those wanting to be confirmed) it is their first or only marriage. The idea that their Protestant spouse has to go through the Catholic annulment process is a huge deterrent to the Catholic’s continuation of the process to be confirmed and married in the church. Is there no other way ??