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Impending Catholic debate on divorce: more serious than birth-control dispute

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Mar 14, 2014

In the Light of the Law, the blog run by canon lawyer Edward Peters, is always informative and sometimes more. This post, on the “gathering storm” over the possibility that divorced and remarried Catholics might be admitted to the Eucharist, is more.

Peters shares my belief that when the dust settles, the Synod of Bishops will uphold the Church’s clear and constant teaching. But he also shares my fear that before and after the Synod, that teaching will be attacked and undermined in many Catholic circles, leaving the faithful confused and creating the impression that the teaching is optional. This has happened before, he notes, in the treatment of Humanae Vitae, with the net result that the Church’s condemnation of artificial contraception is widely ignored.

But there is a crucial difference, Peters observes. Pastors must know that most young couples are using contraceptives. But they cannot know (outside the confessional) whether any particular couple is using contraceptives, because that is a private matter. Marriage, however, is a public act. Thus Peters concludes:

For ecclesiastical officialdom to look the other way on contraception was, in a sense, possible; but for it to do so in regard to divorce, remarriage, and the reception of holy Communion would be immediately recognized as the practical abandonment of a major doctrino-disciplinary point.

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Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Jeff Mirus - Mar. 19, 2014 2:26 PM ET USA

    Dan raises a significant question, but it has to be properly phrased and then properly answered. I attempt to do both in Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage, Fidelity, Communion, Vocation.

  • Posted by: Dan - Mar. 18, 2014 5:52 AM ET USA

    In an age of no-fault divorce (a device created to "liberate" women from abusive marriages), good Catholics (ironically, mostly women) have divorce forced on them against their will. Is it just for the Church to deny these victims access to the Sacraments?

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