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OTG: Dominican theologians assess proposals for divorced and remarried

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Jul 29, 2014

A group of eight Dominican theologians in the United States has released what I believe is a seminal study in preparation for the 2014 and 2015 synods on the family. The title of this important study is “Recent Proposals for the Pastoral Care of the Divorced and Remarried: A Theological Assessment.” The text is available online in several different languages, and we have added the English version to our library.

This study is important because it places in a necessary theological, doctrinal and canonical context all proposals for the reform of marriage, the streamlining of annulments, and the admission of divorced and remarried Catholics to the Eucharist. It establishes, in effect, the due Catholic limits within which any changes must be made, and thus the boundaries which such proposals cannot cross and still remain Catholic.

You might expect that such a study would be abstruse and difficult to follow. On the contrary, it is marvelously clear and straightforward, and it accomplishes the necessary task in a mere thirty page article in the Dominican scholarly journal Nova et Vetera. Thus it is hardly necessary to summarize it here, because any interested person can easily read it for himself.

It may be helpful to note, though, that the study demonstrates why proposals like that offered by Cardinal Walter Kasper—and any other proposals which call the lifelong binding character of marriage into question—cannot be accepted. Nor is any proposal acceptable which privatizes judgments of marital validity, for the Church defines matrimony as an inescapably public act, both natural and sacramental, which can be judged only by the authority of the Church through an orderly process.

The Dominican theologians who contributed to the study are John Corbett, Dominic Legge, Andrew Hoffer, Thomas Petri, Dominic Langevin, and Thomas Joseph White, all of the Dominican House of Studies in Washington; Kurt Martens of The Catholic University of America in Washington; and Paul J. Keller of the Athenaeum of Ohio in Cincinnati.

Highly recommended, for all readers.

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