The first part of the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops on the family begins in less than a month. Talk has heated up about what – if anything — will result from the meeting, which is actually only a preliminary to the second and larger Synod to take place in October 2015.
Many observers predict that the Synod will recommend that the annulment process be made easier. There has been lots of talk about the Church changing its teaching on marriage and allowing divorced Catholics married outside the Church to receive Holy Communion. I haven’t read anyone who really thinks that the Bishops will recommend this. Which isn’t to say that a number of Catholics including some bishops aren’t in favor of it. It is interesting to read some of the comments about the situation.
Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Rhode Island, who is known for asking former Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy not to receive Holy Communion because of his support of abortion, has likened the problem of divorced Catholics who have remarried without an annulment to the Gospel in which Christ and his followers collected grain to eat on the Sabbath because they were hungry. When they were condemned by the Pharisee’s Christ said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”
“Could we not take a similar approach to marriage law today?” asks the Bishop. Could we not say, by way of analogy, that ‘matrimony is made for man, not man for matrimony’?”
The situation is not analogous at all as far as I can see. “What God has joined together, let not man put asunder,” the Bible tells us.
“I don’t know what the answer is, I really don’t,” Bishop Tobin asserts. “Nevertheless, my forty-one years as a priest and nearly twenty-two as a bishop have convinced me that the status quo is unacceptable. For the spiritual well-being of the divorced and remarried members of our Catholic Family, for the salvation of their souls, we’ve got to do something.”
To answer this, I quote from Liberalism Is a Sin by Fr. Felix Sarda Y Salvany originally published in English in 1899:
“Faith possesses a power of its own, which it communicates to its friends and defenders. It is not they who give the truth power, but truth which charges them with its own vigor. This on the condition that they use that power in its defense.
If the defender, under the pretext of better defending the truth, begins to mutilate it, to minimize it, to attenuate it, then he is no longer defending the truth. He is simply defending his own invention, a mere human creation, more or less beautiful in appearance, but having no relation to truth, which is the daughter of Heaven.
Such is the delusion of which many of our brethren are the unconscious victims, through a detestable contact with Liberalism.
They imagine, with blinded good faith, that they are defending and propagating Catholicity. But by dint of accommodating it to their own narrow views and feeble courage, in order to make it, they say, more acceptable to the enemy whom they wish to overcome, they do not perceive that they are no longer defending Catholicity, but a thing of their own manufacture, which they naively call Catholicity, but which they ought to call by another name. Poor victims of self-deception, who at the beginning of the battle, in order to win over the enemy, wet their own powder and blunt the edge and the point of their swords! They do not stop to reflect that an edgeless and pointless sword is no longer a weapon, but a useless piece of old iron, and that wet powder cannot be fired.
Their journals, their books, their discourses – veneered with Catholicity but bereft of its spirit and its life – have no more value in the cause of the Faith than the toy swords and pistols of the nursery.”