Monday, November 25, 2013
From taboos to dialogue
Cristianisme i Justícia Blog
November 21, 2013
For a long time there has been a chasm -- a true gap -- between the official doctrine of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church on marriage and family, and real daily praxis. There's a significant silence, a real taboo, on subjects such as common law unions, divorce and remarriage of the divorced, contraceptive methods, homosexual unions, premarital relationships, etc.
These previously unheard of situations cause conflict and perplexity today both in the faithful and in the pastors. Some couples have left the Church, others have serious problems of conscience, others, after a mature examination, go on practicing in the Church but outside the official teaching. Many pastors -- bishops, parish priests, theologians, and moralists -- also live in a tension between the desire to be faithful to the Magisterium and the pastoral problems they contemplate every day. But in all this, a respectful reverential silence is maintained, which is harmful in the long run.
It is striking that while the Magisterium of the Church offers mostly general guiding principles on social and economic questions, on issues of sexual and family morality it acts dogmatically and prescriptively. Moreover, many current moralists think that Christian morality has no moral content of its own other than that of human morality (so-called natural law) which Christians live out, enlightened and strengthened by their faith in Christ.
Aware of the seriousness and anomaly of this situation, Pope Francis has convened an extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family in two stages, 2014 and 2015, and has launched a survey with 38 questions, plus a final one on whether there are other challenges or proposals on these issues. It asks about doctrine and the marriage and family practices of the Christian faithful, what they think about common law unions, about divorce and new irregular couples with the rules of the Church forbidding them from participating in the sacraments, their opinion on homosexual unions and the adoption of children, on the Church's doctrine on birth control methods, premarital trial cohabitation (ad experimentum), etc...
All this, it's stated, is more urgent today when we are well aware of the teaching of divine mercy, of tenderness towards hurting people on the geographical and existential peripheries.
The Pope has opened a door to dialogue and consultation. It's the families who will have to get their opinions to their pastors and bishops, since they are the primary ones concerned and responsible -- they're the actors and victims. Let's hope the voices of the families are heard. A new pentecostal breeze is shaking up the Church and inviting it to go from taboos to honest and open dialogue.