Cardinal Marx has a point

In a March 13 homily to the German bishops, Cardinal Marx said that the Gospel account of the woman caught in adultery (Jn. 7:53-8:1) should be applied to discussions of divorce and remarriage.

After reviewing the textual history of the passage and recalling that some rigorists in the early Church did not think that the sin of adultery could be absolved, Cardinal Marx said that Jesus showed the scribes and Pharisees, who wanted the woman to be stoned, that they, too, were sinners. “One thinks of the rigorists of all time in the Church … All are sinners like the woman, all have need of forgiveness.”

The prelate added that Jesus’ forgiveness of the woman, his restoration of her dignity before God, and loyalty to his example of mercy to sinners are important in the Church’s discussion of divorce and remarriage, especially as applied to confession, which is intended to offer sinners forgiveness and to save people from “the sentence of God” and “also from social death.”

Jesus’ forgiveness of the woman, however, is not a call to laxism– a reference to Christ’s words, “Go, and sin no more”– but a “call to a new life,” Cardinal Marx continued

The passage is crucial in understanding guilt and forgiveness, he concluded. “If we pastorally, spiritually, and theologically practice this more, then more doors could open than we think at the moment. Amen.”

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Editor’s note: What do you think?

Catholic divorcees can still receive Holy Communion and go to confession as long as they are “not engaged in a permanent relationship”.

Catholic divorcees can still receive Holy Communion and go to confession as long as they are “not engaged in a permanent relationship”, the Curia has clarified.

“The official teaching of the Church states that those who are in a permanent relationship outside the Catholic marriage cannot receive the sacraments in a licit way.

“A divorced person (whether they divorced willingly or unwillingly) who is not engaged in a permanent relationship can receive the sacraments liberally,” a spokesman for the Church told The Sunday Times.

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Editor’s note: In the article, they don’t define a permanent relationship … but that would typically mean living together under the same roof … cohabiting. (We used to call that “living in sin.”) And of course, an annulment … if applicable … would leave a person free to remarry within the church.

A critical look at the issue of Catholic marriage annulments


In a November 1996 article in Homiletic & Pastoral Review, the San Diego diocese’s director of canonical affairs, Dr. Edward Peters, defended Church tribunals in this country, where annulments have soared from about 600 per year in 1968 to well over 60,000 in some recent years. (The article, slightly modified, was reprinted as chapter XII of Peters’s book, 100 Answers to Your Questions on Annulments, Simon & Schuster/Basilica Press, 1997).

According to Peters, who is a judge on the diocesan tribunal, the increase can be attributed not to a relaxation of the Church’s teachings on the permanence of marriage, but to other factors, among them that heterodox, pro-contraceptive marriage preparation courses are “legion” and that psychological factors render large numbers of people truly incapable of contracting valid marriages. With many spouses ignorant of the fact that marriage is ordered to the procreation of children, true matrimonial consent cannot be present, and the granting of later decrees of nullity for such marriages is a slam dunk for a church tribunal.

Peters defended the Code of Canon Law (Canon 1095), which declares incapable of entering a true marriage: “1) those who lack sufficient use of reason; 2) those who suffer from a grave lack of discretionary judgment concerning the essential matrimonial rights and obligations to be mutually given and accepted; and 3) those who, because of causes of a psychological nature, are unable to assume the essential obligations of marriage.”

This canon is “the best tool for addressing cases in which drug and alcohol abuse, physical or sexual abuse, psychological and psychiatric anomalies, and a variety of other mental and emotional conditions have seriously impacted parties prior to marriage,” wrote Peters.

He called citing the fact that Americans, who compose only five percent of the world’s Catholics, are granted 80 percent of the world’s annulments the “shallowest of all tribunal criticisms. Americans make up 6% of the world’s population, but they account for 100% of the men on the moon. So what? America functions. Much of the rest of the world does not.”

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