Catholic Church to speak on divorce and other issues
The Associated Press (AP) reports this week Pope Francis will meet with his cardinals to discuss some of the most pressing issues facing the Catholic church at this time including premarital sex, contraception, gays and divorce.
Thursday, German Cardinal Walter Kasper will give the opening speech at the Catholic church meeting. In attendance at the Catholic church meeting will be Pope Francis and the cardinals. Kasper will address the church’s stance on the treatment of remarried and divorced Catholics. Kasper is expected to expound on what some have called the church’s “changes and openings” for their treatment.
The speech is likely to address data gathered by bishops last year when they were sent around the world with a questionnaire for ordinary Catholics to fill out. The goal of the questionnaire was to increase the churches understanding about their parishioners and how they currently practice church teaching on marriage, sex and other issues related to the family.
Published results were eye-opening for the Catholic Church
The results which were later published by bishops in Europe and the United States were described by the church as “eye-opening,” with those familiar with the report arguing that some view the church’s core teachings on sexual morals, birth control, homosexuality, marriage and divorce as “outdated.”
Interesting to note, however, is that many of the Catholics who reported the church’s stance on issues were unrealistic, continue to attend church and have argued that they still believe their Catholic faith is important to them.
What specifically did parishioners believe? The most glaring disconnect that parishioners had with the church related to the church’s stance on artificial contraception, which suggests that most Catholics have completely rejected the church’s teaching on this issue.
But other Catholics, especially those in Europe, also argue: “The church’s statements on premarital sexual relations, on homosexuality, on those divorced and remarried and on birth control … are virtually never accepted, or are expressly rejected in the vast majority of cases.”
Catholic Church and Divorce
Another of the disconnects relates to divorce and how divorced parishioners should be treated by the church. Many argue the church should promote the notion of forgiveness. This push is especially strong with those who argue the Catholic Church should modify their stance for divorced Catholics who must first get an annulment before they can participate in the church’s sacraments.
Opponents of the change argue that the church has always taught that the marriage should either be declared null and void or be annulled to avoid the charge of living in sin or committing adultery. Others argue that if the church is unwilling to modify some of their beliefs, their mission will continue to be threatened.
The real question, however, is whether we are talking about God’s law or man’s law. It’s not unusual for the church to institute rules and regulations (man’s laws) which force members into a union of legalism rather than a relationship with God. But if we are challenging God’s law, which by its very nature is immutable, it’s our behavior which should change, because God won’t, no matter how deviant we become or what the Catholic Church might tell us.