Communion for those divorced and remarried
Esta petición ha conseguido 12.423 firmas
A group of distinguished Spanish theologians has launched an effort supporting the possibility that the Synod decide to welcome those who are divorced and remarried to Holy Communion. This effort provides a complementary perspective to the petition launched by half a million faithful asking the Pope to keep those civilly remarried from the communion table. Originally launched in Spanish, this effort is also being launched in English, French, and Italian.
In their letter the theologians affirm that in welcoming the divorced to communion the Church is faithful to the spirit of the Gospel, not the letter. It also follows a close reading of the dogmatic declarations of Trent, supporting their petition with biblical and anthropological reasons. They conclude on a note of gratitude toward the Pope's efforts, "amidst such cruel opposition, to give the church a face more in accord with the Gospel and what is due to Jesus."
Segments that favor rigor increasingly exert their pressure on the Synod and Rome. It is time that the Pope listen to the voice of the people that has remained quiet so far on the subject. Join this petition by signing onto the letter. Let us embrace the Pope of mercy and the Synod fathers who wish to follow him on this road of a "demanding mercy".
Letter to the bishop of Rome
Brother Francis, “our glimpse of Peter”:
With this letter we seek to complement, on the other hand, the letter from almost half a million of the faithful, who with zeal ask that “you categorically affirm the teaching of the church in which divorced and remarried Catholics cannot receive Holy Communion”. For love of Jesus, we would like to ask with the same zeal that we be faithful to the Spirit of the gospel, beyond a supposed fidelity to the letter of particular teachings of the Church.
By speaking of a “supposed fidelity” we do not intend to judge the intention of those who wrote to you. Rather, the truth of the Church’s teaching is not that those divorced and remarried “cannot receive Holy Communion”, but that “the Church not err when it denies them communion”, according to the Council of Trent. This very carefully drafted formula from the Council left open the possibility that there be no error or unfaithfulness in the opposite stance, and that it be more a pastoral rather than a dogmatic issue.
In our opinion, pastoral prudence not only allows, but even demands, a change of posture, for the following reasons:
1. In first-century Palestine Jesus’ words directly concerned the husband who betrayed and abandoned his wife because another woman was more attractive or some similar reasons: these are primarily statements in defense of the woman. Therefore in these cases the words of the Teacher are final: “what God has united, no man can separate.” The situation of failed marriages (due to the fault of both persons, or incompatibility) was not known in Jesus’ time. Given the position of the woman with respect to her husband in first-century Palestine such a hypothesis was unthinkable. Applying Jesus’ words to a situation unknown at the time, where there is a failure on both members of a couple rather than the abandonment of one party, might be equivalent to distorting those words. It is a manipulation of Jesus for the sake of dogmatic security, placing the letter that kills over the spirit that produces life, contrary to St. Paul’s advise. The gospel must be inculturated, or else it is betrayed. The following examples clarify this further:
2.- Matthew, perhaps the evangelist that most documents Jesus’ transgressions against the Law, is also the only one who places the phrase “do not think I have come to abolish the Law... I have come to fulfill it...” in Jesus’ speech. In these transgressions of the letter of the law we come to understand that Jesus was fulfilling the Law to its fullest depth by guarding its spirit.
And mercy is the fundamental spirit of every evangelical law: a demanding mercy rather than a soft or weak one. But by no means was this to be an unmerciful demand. Therefore, the words with which Jesus’ responds to the scandal caused by his acts of mercy speak directly to us today: “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’...” (Mt 9:13, 12:7)
3.- The first church offers another key example of fidelity to the spirit above the letter when it lets go of circumcision. Circumcision possessed something of the sacred as an expressive symbol of the union between God and God’s people, like an echo of Jesus’ before cited expression: “What God has united no man can separate”. However, the Church abandoned this practice after much discussion, and against the opinion of those who felt more faithful to God, but who instead sought their own assurances. Because of that much argued decision the Church was not only faithful to God but also opened the doors to the evangelization of the entire world. Today that decision might seem self-evident, but in those days it was considered scandalous by many. Even Peter, whose speech in defense of that decision seems so faithful to the Spirit of Jesus, spoke of “not imposing yokes which neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear.” (Acts 15:10). This is one of the biggest sins of which the Church is capable. And it is truly doubtful that celibate persons can comprehend what it means to live day after day in an intimate and peaceful manner with another person with whom there isn’t the slightest synergy. It is as doubtful as the possibility that celibate persons could abstain from sexual relations with a person whom they love and with whom they share their lives every day.
4.- We sense that those defending rigor believe that establishing a “discipline of mercy” in the Church is equivalent to opening the doors to moral laxity, or that the Church would accept the same criteria for divorce as secular society. However, this is not the case: the indissolubility of marriage is not in question, and the principle of mercy continues to be one not always accessible to some – because it demands remorse, acknowledgment of guilt, and firm resolve to make amends. It has to do with not leaving those who have failed alone and helpless; in imitation of Jesus who ate with sinners not because they were good, but in order to open the possibility for them to be so. Teresa of Ávila, whose centennial we celebrate this year, recalls in her autobiography how she would sometimes resort to abstinence of prayer when she felt she had sinned or had been unfaithful out of the sense that she was not worthy of prayer. This until she discovered that this remedy was worse than the affliction. The Church itself has always taught (and practice confirms this) that taking part of the Eucharist can be a great help and strength to live by the gospel. We should not deny this strength to those who failed in their first marital project who have already been penitent for their failure, lest we risk pushing them away from the faith.
5. Finally, the question remains of whether the Church should have a double standard for infidelities to the gospel that pertain to the sexual realm over those that pertain to other moral fields. For example: the Church has consistently taught that the right and only owner of the goods of the earth is God and that humans are merely administrators of that which we believe we posses. This role of administrator carries with it the demand that all goods superfluously available be disposed for the service of those who have less: the poor and those without means to survive. Precisely because of this the Church does not recognize an absolute right to private property, but rather to the extent that this right is a means to uphold the primary and absolute right of all humanity to the goods of the earth. The teaching of the universal destination of the goods of creation, so often recalled by recent popes, is breached by many Catholics without showing any remorse or will to amend for it. This teaching too is contrary to the secular ideologies of this world. Then, is it not a crass injustice that these same Catholics are admitted to receive sacraments denied to others in the case of failed marriages, when these posses remorse and the will to make amends not entirely present among the first group? God does not have two measures or two sets of weights. God’s partiality is always in favor of the victim and the poorest. In the parables that tell us of the Pharisee and the tax collector, or of the prodigal son, Jesus was decidedly on the side of the transgressors – all the good deeds of those who accused them did not serve them to posses a good heart, but rather a hardened one.
Nothing more, brother Peter. We simply wished to present our opinion. But we are grateful for your efforts to give the Church a presence much more in accord with the Gospel and with what is owed to Jesus, in the midst of such cruel resistance.
María Teresa Dávila
Naomi De Anda
Xavier Alegre Santamaría
José I. Calleja Saenz de Navarrete
Joan Carrera i Carrera
Nicolás Castellanos Franco
Ximo García Roca
José Ignacio González Faus
Mª. Terea Iribarren Echarri
Jesús Martínez Gordo
José Antonio Pagola
Bernardo Pérez Andreo
Josep Mª Rambla Blanch
Lucía Ramón Carbonell
Andrés Torres Queiruga
José Manuel Vidal
Javier Vitoria Cormenzana
Josep Vives i Solé
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