O’Malley’s message to lapsed Catholics: “We miss you, we love you”

“My dear brothers and sisters: please know that we miss you, we love you, and we hope you will rejoin our Catholic family for our Sunday Mass.

Some of you have drifted away from the Church and have been waiting for a good time to return. I pray that you will consider this the time to join us on our faith journey toward Heaven. The sacred teachings of the Church offer guidance, direction and meaning in a world where so many cannot find their way. Our faith points us to Jesus, who is “the Way, the Truth and the Life.”22

Some of you have made a choice to stop coming to Church because you have been hurt by the actions of someone in the Church or because of a difficulty with a Church teaching. From my first day as Archbishop of Boston and perhaps for the rest of my days, I will always be asking the forgiveness of all those who have been hurt by the actions, or inaction, of people and leaders in the Church. Please do not let those experiences and memories separate you from the love of Christ and of our Catholic family and prevent you from receiving the grace of the sacraments.

When we launched the Catholics Come Home initiative on Ash Wednesday, a reporter asked me what I would say to Catholics who do not attend Mass because they disagree with, or have questions about, Church teaching. I answered that our teaching does not change because people disagree with it; our faith comes from Christ’s own teaching in the Scriptures and through the teaching authority of the Church throughout the ages. We recognize, however, that many struggle to reconcile Church teaching with social norms in American society today; to them, we say that we want to engage in a meaningful conversation with you. We want you to know that you are part of our family. We want to assure you that God loves you and waits for you at Sunday Mass. The best place to begin a conversation is by gathering with the family of believers in the worshiping community.

To those who consider themselves unwelcome at Mass because of some irregularity or moral struggle, please know that you are always loved by God and the Catholic community desires your presence with us. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ. An inability to fulfill all aspects of Christian worship or to receive Communion should not keep you from Mass. In fact, the habit of being faithful to the Sunday obligation can provide the actual grace, if you cooperate with it, to give you the strength to overcome current obstacles and find paths of reconciliation. We stand ready to help you.”

– Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley, to Catholics who no longer go to Mass

“Jesus’ Eager Desire: Our Participation in the Sunday Mass”

Read it all.

Comments

  1. Very nice; wish we would hear more along those lines.

    Hey, what better time time than this advent to start; can relearn the mass with all of us. No one should feel uncomfortable for not remembering prayers, sit, stands, or kneeling. We can all start fresh with the new liturgy.

  2. What is worse?

    A Catholic who attends mass regularly but is a hypocrite in their actions the moment the leave?

    Or

    A Catholic who attends mass irregularly but acts accordingly to the lessons in the Gospels?

    A Church is just a physical building officiated by men, it matters more what you do in the other 167 hours of the week that you are not there. Merely going to Mass to be seen is not what our faith is about.

    Matthew 6:5-6
    “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

  3. Well of course the ideal is to go to Mass and not be a hypocrite, but take the Gospel to heart. I liked what Abp. O’Malley said, “…the habit of being faithful to the Sunday obligation can provide the actual grace, if you cooperate with it, to give you the strength to overcome current obstacles and find paths of reconciliation.” The Church is supposed to be a hospital for sinners, which we all are.

  4. Well, my personal opinion is that the people who have drifted away from the Church simply aren’t going to listen to the Bishops. The letter was well-intentioned, but the Bishops would do well to realize that they have lost their credibility in the eyes of many people. Whether that loss of credibility is for reasons that are credible or not, the sooner they begin to acknowledge that, the better. The Church will be renewed by 2 things, in my opinion. First, the laity. Secondly, the deacons. In my experience, I’ve seen people relate far more to deacons than to Priests or Bishops. I’ve also seen that people respond to the laity that are part of the Church community. That’s why lay ministry is so very vital today. People who have drifted away need healing and they need people to listen to them who are the same; have families, struggles, and live IN the world.

    That’s what I see in my little corner of Catholicism, at least.

  5. WOW I’m having a hard time with both of you….
    Before you close your eyes tonight, examine your conscience thouroughly, be honest with yourself, and see if in fact YOU WERE NOT a hypocrite today.
    We are ALL proud, arrogant hypocrites…saved hypocrites if we perservere in and cooperate with grace, but hypocrites none the less.
    I’m just sayin’…………

    Peace to all

  6. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Melody…

    Amen.

    A soul has a greater chance of being saved if it makes itself open to the grace of God.

    We are all works in progress, and God isn’t finished with any of us.

    Dcn. G.

  7. Easy to say Dan, but harder to trust in the working of the Holy Spirit…

    The layity might have a large part in the renewal but it won’t happen without the Magesterium.

    Peace to all

  8. Sorry Melody, I jumped and didn’t read your whole post.

  9. What is worse?
    I’d say : A Catholic who attends mass irregularly but acts accordingly to the lessons in the Gospels?

    One who attends mass irregularly commits mortal sin. How can that possibly coincide with acting in accordance with the lessons of the Gospel??
    One who attends mass regularly and receives the Eucharist is open to the grace offered and hopefully uses that grace to avoid hypocrisy. Without that grace there seems to be no chance to avoid the tendency toward hypocrisy which exists in everyone.

  10. It’s a sign of how divided our house is that a post on inviting family members back home becomes immediately diverted into an occasion for more “which is worse” polarizing. We know what the Prodigal Father says to the lot of us: Your brother/sister was dead, and is alive again; now shut the heck up and party.

    I came home a year ago, after 30 years away. The family’s even more dysfunctional now than when I took my inheritance and squandered it, but it’s family. I recommend the practice that ruled my family’s Thanksgivings years ago: When the arguments get to the wineglass-pounding stage, give everybody 3 minutes on the kitchen timer to say their piece uninterrupted, then hugs all around and pass the pie.

  11. Statements like Bishop O’Malley’s are the reason that many Catholics do NOT abandon the Church. It is full of hope and encouragement.
    You can blame and judge Bishops and their deeds all you want but it is God who saves. He will use the instrument that is needed for people to hear His voice…and it might be a Bishop’s sincere statement, or the invitation of another person who genuinely asks someone to come back.
    When people hear the actual message of the Church of love, forgiveness and grace, they respond. I only wish every Bishop in the country would make this kind of a statement , en masse, to encourage all of us to not only return, but to embrace those returning and open a dialogue with them on the difficult issues and teachings of the Church.
    You can’t invite someone back and then not educate them about the what and why the Church teaches something. You can’t invite someone back and then give them the explanation of ‘it’s a mortal sin’ ONLY. Many people left the Church because they didn’t truly understand why all life is precious, why we are all called to chastity in our state of life, why Christ called men to the priesthood, why bad things happen to good people, why marriage is so valued that it only ends at death…and more.
    A loving invitation, a humble request for forgiveness and signs of true repentance, a welcoming attitude, and clarity of teaching with an openness to dialogue will allow the Holy Spirit to do the work of drawing people to the life and mission of the Church.

  12. AMEN!!! Thanks michele

    (if I could change the size of the font, I would make that AMEN at least a 36….bolded, italicized , AND underlined.)

    Peace to all

  13. This sort of invitation is something that we all should be giving with the means at our disposal in our personal circumstances. The Cardinal realizes that his words will not actually reach most of those to whom they are addressed, and for that reason, he calls on all who do read them to do their part by personally inviting someone back.

  14. BTW, those are two of our deacons in the picture, flanking the Cardinal.

  15. Deacon Steve says:

    One thing that we can all do to help the situation, especially with those that attend mass infrequently, is to make sure that we present a welcoming environment for them when they come. Attacking the C&E Catholics from the pulpit or the pews when they come back, isn’t going to make them want to come back the next week. We can set the tone that will help them feel welcomed and valued, which will hopefully open them to the possibility of returning more frequently. This has to come from the pews and the pulpit to work. We can welcome them and accept them where they are right now, without condoning their irregular mass attendance. If we treat them harshly and ostracize them when they do come, they aren’t going to come back. I was fortunate in my journey to the Church that I encountered loving people who made me feel welcome, not guilty for not having been in a while.

  16. Coming back to the Church is a very emotional moment. How wonderful it would be if, the next time someone were to say to us “I haven’t been to Church in 30 years (fill in the number),” we would open wide our arms, just like Christ did on the cross, give them a heartfelt hug and say, “Welcome back.” This is what many people envision Jesus doing. Wouldn’t it be nice if we were to put into practice the sacrament of welcoming, the visible sign of the invisible reality it signifies? Can’t give that stranger a hug? We must keep in mind that Jesus said that whatever you did for the least of my brethren, you did for me (cf Mt 25:40). (Of course, there are circumstances when this might not be appropriate).

  17. Isn’t this welcome home an ongoing program that has been in place for about 10 years or more?

    Those coming back however might find that the issue that drove them out has not changed. A couple of key points from the Cardinal..

    I answered that our teaching does not change because people disagree with it; our faith comes from Christ’s own teaching in the Scriptures and through the teaching authority of the Church throughout the ages
    And
    many struggle to reconcile Church teaching with social norms in American society today

    In working with the welcome home comittee at our church, we meet to welcome and hope that those coming back have grown and can now better understand what the Catholic Church teaches through the teaching athority of the Church. We recently had a gay person who came back and was welcomed, but was under the impression that Catholic Church teaching on homosexual acts being gravely disordered had changed and was not saying homosexual marriage would be accepted. He had been told this by a Catholic he works with who attends another parish. Another woman attended and was told that the teaching on women becoming priest had indeed not changed and would never change as per Pope John Paul II statement that the Church does not now or ever will have the authority to change it from male priest only. Our priest in the group explained the huge role women have and continue to play in the Catholic Church, but she was having none of it. It is a shame that some are being led to believe that some of this teaching has changed or might change and it is good that Cardinal Omalley laid this out in his letter. However, it is also good to have a discussion with those interested to give them an explanation on Church teaching if they are willing to listen and learn.

  18. “those interested to give them an explanation on Church teaching if they are willing to listen and learn”

    Not only those who return but those who are still here should be willing to listen and learn as well. Some who never left have strange ideas.

  19. friscoeddie says:

    And do you explain filioque to chase away others?

  20. Jkm, I’m glad you’re back.

  21. So many mixed messages from our church leaders, no wonder the faithful are turned off.

    “Gay Episcopal bishop to preach at San Francisco Catholic parish”

    “Most Holy Redeemer parish asked Bishop Otis Charles, a retired Episcopalian prelate, to lead the November 30 service. After serving as the Bishop of Utah from 1971 to 1993, he publicly announced that he is homosexual.”

    http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=12446

  22. I think this was a well intentioned statement by the Cardinal, however it really is not sensitive to divorced and remarried Catholics. Sitting in Mass every week not being able to receive the Eucharist is not really allowing someone to open up to God’s Love and welcome. Why would divorced and remarried Catholics want to subject themselves and their children to that kind of treatment when they could go to another church and be welcomed and supported and forgiven whole heartedly? I know people will comment that they are still considered married by the Church and my response is that they are not still married in many cases – the marriage is dead and no longer exists. And yes its demise may have been caused by the acts of the individual but a person should be allowed to repent and be forgiven and move on. A seriel killer is given forgiveness from the Church and can receive the Eucharist but a divorced and remarried Catholic is never forgiven. Jesus said only a sin against the Holy Spirit is unforgivable – who is committing that sin by not letting divorced and remarried Catholics receive Communion? I think the Church needs to rethink this – if a person is willing to confess a sin that killed a marriage – and perhaps go through some kind of reformation process like RCIA – then the person should be forgiven and allowed to move on with a new family and still participate fully in the Church. Annulment is not the same and requires us all to engage in a legal fiction. The Church to recognize that people make mistakes in marriage as well as in every other area of life.

  23. One more thing, the Church’s position is especially hurtful to the divorced and remarried Catholics who had spouses that walked out on them or who were in abusive relationships. I have known women who have been in these situations. They should be allowed to find a new and supportive and loving relationship and still be part of the Church and fully participate in the Sacrements. As I write this a question has occurred to me – would a divorced and remarried Catholic be allowed to receive the Annointing of the Sick? Can the person receive the Eucharist at that time?

  24. “Jesus said only a sin against the Holy Spirit is unforgivable – who is committing that sin by not letting divorced and remarried Catholics receive Communion?”

    Are you kidding? I think Jesus himself made it clear that anyone who divorces and marries another commits adultery. Last time I checked adultery was still a sin. Are you now saying that the Church should not uphold the teaching of Christ himself?

  25. I think you need to reread the Church’s teaching on the indissolubilty of marriage. What God has joined, let no one separate.

    As for annulment being “legal fiction” that is a slap to anyone who has gone through the process and found healing.

  26. Deacon Steve says:

    If the person is living in a persistent state of serious sin then they are not able to recieve the Sacrament of annointing of the sick. Just as they cannot simply go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation if they are going to remain in the sinful state. For a person to remarry and be free to fully participate in the sacramental life of the Church, they would need to be free to marry. With a previous marriage they would need to seek and receive a declaration of nulity for the previous marriage. If they were able to obtain the decree of nulity then they would be able to have the marriage convalidated through the mutual exchange of consent before 2 witnesses and a witness for the Church (normally a priest or deacon). With all marriages the presumption is that the exchange of vows was valid unless proven otherwise. The annulement process can be very healing for those that go through it, but it can be emotionally difficult as they go through the process. And there is no guarantee that the decree will be granted.

  27. naturgesetz says:

    Barbara P —
    It occurs to me that the situation of divorced Catholics who have not obtained a decree of nullity concerning their former marriage are in a similar situation to homosexual Catholics: they cannot morally engage in any sexual activity. (Of course this applies to all unmarried people, but for never-married heterosexuals there is at least the possibility of marriage.) This leads to the further consideration that just as Courage encourages homosexual individuals to form chaste friendships, even intimate, non-sexual friendships, so too, divorced Catholics need not live lives devoid of love. It is my understanding that if they live as brother and sister, there is no bar to receiving the sacraments. We must not succumb to the idea that all love must have a sexual expression.

    No doubt, it is more difficult for a divorced person to remain celibate in a loving relationship than to make sexual activity part of it, but we are not an “anything goes” Church. We proclaim, with Mick Jagger that, “You can’t always get what you want,” at least in this life and we recognize that the burdens of fidelity to the Lord, the costs of discipleship, fall unevenly on the shoulders of the faithful. So when we encounter divorced and remarried Catholics, we must acknowledge the difficulty of fidelity to Jesus’ teaching and encourage them to be heroic, just as we encourage homosexuals to the heroism of lifelong celibacy.

  28. I disagree with you, Barbara, but hear me out — in the case of a divorce where one spouse is basically innocent victim of the other, the Church’s teachings on annulment are very helpful. When one spouse gets up and promises to “love, honor and cherish — except when I’m beating the crap out of you…” or to “forsake all others — except for the other person I’m sleeping with and don’t intend to stop…” then an annulment is not a legal fiction at all. The behavior is pretty strong evidence that one spouse was standing up there making promises with no intention of carrying them out, and that there was no marriage from the beginning.

    No, the difficult cases are those where both spouses would have to acknowledge that they entered into marriage with full intention of carrying out their promises, but that they both sinned grievously in repeatedly failing to love each other, and thus killed their marriage. Every moral sense I have wants to say that these sins are forgivable, redeemed by Christ’s blood on the Cross, and that post-absolution the reformed sinner ought to be free to remarry. Except that Jesus said that if they remarried they were committing adultery. Those are what I see as your annulment-is-a-legal-fiction cases…

  29. Fiergenholt says:

    RC says:
    “One who attends mass irregularly commits mortal sin.”
    Surprise! Guess what? You will not find that statement in the “Catechism of the Catholics Church” at all. Therefore, you are putting your own personal judgement values ahead of what the church itself teaches.

  30. Only 17 % of Catholics to weekly mass. It is estimated that only about 30% practice actively their faith. It is clear why the Cardinal Archbishop has launched this campaign.

  31. When someone comes in under false teaching or expectation, providing truth is not chasing them away as the Cardinal clearly was pointing out in the quotes above. Was he chasing people away? Would we be better of telling them lies that matched the information they were coming in with that was in grave error?

    This year it looks like our parish will have its largest RCIA class in parish history with over 40 new Catholics so far so it does not appear we are chasing folks away. In fact, we are packed at all our Masses on Saturday and Sunday with standing room only. The reputation of the parish to produce solid Catholic teaching is drawing people from all over the city. The changes in the liturgy have had classes for 6 weeks one night a week and have been standing room only to learn the corrections that have been made. Our youth group is also overflowing with over 300 total regular attendees.

  32. Barbara, your first problem seems to be your view of Church teaching on this matter involving a sacrament of the Church when you say “Annulment is not the same and requires us all to engage in a legal fiction.” I think annulment is one of the most misunderstood teaching in the Catholic Church. After all, sacraments are extremely important to the Church and Jesus view on the subject seems to point out that if the sacrament was valid, there is nothing that can be done. You have one shot.

    Jesus seemed to have very hard teaching on this topic “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery.” and again on the topic of divorce Jesus referred to the Old Testament, “At the beginning of creation God made them male and female: for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and the two shall become as one. They are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore let no man separate what God has joined”.

    I think it also points out that the marriage preparation programs in the Catholic Church should not be taken lightly. We now have several people who are divorced and whose marriage could not be anulled talk to prospective couples as part of the entire process to make sure they are thinking this process through and to discuss with them critical areas of concern. This idea in fact came from those very people who wanted to share with others the importance of what they are committing to with this sacrament. Couples living together cannot be married at our parish. Besides what is required by the diocese, our parish also requires a complete NFP course is mandatory with the couples both signing their full understanding of Church teaching on this topic.

    The more work you put into preparation, the lower the rate you have of people having to sit there in the pain you are feeling on this issue.

  33. Rudy, when someone points this out about those who devote themselves to the Catholic Church and all her teaching, I remind them that Jesus said following him required us to take up our cross and also allowed those who thought his teaching was too hard to walk away. The road to heaven is a narrow road and the one to hell is wide, well paved, and a much easier journey. Of course all of us will fail, but in life it seems like the harder we work at something, the harder we try, the greater our chance is of success. In faith, even when we are in sin, being at mass, praying, being near the Eucharist even if not able to receive it every time, gives us a greater hold on the rock we are all clinging to in hopes of eternal life with God. God did not say the most important commandment was to give God an hour every few weeks or months, or even every week, but demanded far more of us. We are to give God our entire heart, soul, and mind. I love the order given by Jesus and think many folks try to think their way into a healthy relationship with God. If the heart is not converted through the grace of God the soul will never become close to the very surface of our being and one with God. Without this, our mind rather than seeking out truth no matter how painful, will seek out excuses for sin and drive the soul so deep within us that it can no longer fly to God. All of this is why we need to lean on Catholic teaching no matter how hard it may seem or how large the cross is we are given to carry. I often think of St Paul and the thorn in his heal that he prayed would be removed and how his prayer was never granted. Rather than saying yes to God as did His Mother, we say no or at best maybe with conditions. That is why it is important, no matter how many attacks you recieve for not being more in tune with the world as Cardinal states above, to tell the full truth of the Catholic Church and to fully understand that within this teaching there are things which we must accept fully even if we struggle in our belief praying for grace to overcome our unbelief.

  34. God forgives all sins of those who truly repent. The Church should not deny that act of Divine Mercy and Forgiveness to someone who made a mistake. Yes Jesus taught that divorce and remarriage was a sin but He also taught that killing is a sin yet murderers are forgiven and permitted the Eucharist even though the victim is still dead. When a marriage is dead it is dead and nothing can bring it back. The marriage is a nullity. Divorced Catholics should be able to find God’s forgiveness and healing in the Church not perpetual condemnation and punishment. Chastity is a gift from God and so is a loving relationship – if God sends a divorced person the gift of a loving spouse the Church should accept that as God’s Will and let the person move on. The same way it does for all other sinners. If a marriage is dead, then there can be no sin of adultery. As for anullment, there are situations where a person can not produce the required proof, for instance where abuse is done in private with no witnesses. Annullments need at least three witnesses. I think it is wrong to deny the Eucharist to divorced and remarried Catholics.

  35. and don’t worry lib Catholics, Sean Omally is with you.

    http://bostoncatholicinsider.wordpress.com/2011/11/13/penn-state-and-pastoral-center/

  36. The Cardinal stated: “In fact, the habit of being faithful to the Sunday obligation can provide the actual grace, if you cooperate with it, to give you the strength to overcome current obstacles and find paths of reconciliation.” However, as is obvious from the comments here, there does not appear to be a path of reconcillation open to divorced and remarried Catholics. Should they leave their new spouse and new family to live a celibate life? And if a married couple lived a celibate life, wouldn’t that be rejecting a gift from God? Why should divorced and remarried Catholics come back to the Catholic Church when they can find Jesus’ welcome, forgiveness and healing in another place? As for annullments, if a person can prove to the satisfaction of a tribunal that no marriage took place and find healing than that is a wonderful thing. But why should a person have to deny that a marriage took place in order to find healing and forgiveness? People make mistakes in relationships – they should be forgiven.

  37. Deacon Steve says:

    Barbara the problem isn’t the Church with th teaching on marriage it is that people want what they want on their terms. And as you state they will go somewhere that teaches what they want to hear. That doesn’t mean it is the correct teaching, and could in the long do far more harm to them by fooling them into thinking they are acting in accordance with the teachings of God as revealed through Sacred Scripture and the teaching of the Church through the years. Marriage is intended to be for life, a permanent covenential bond between the husband and wife. There are paths open to reconcilliation for divorced and remarried Catholics, you just seem to want to reject them. Jesus didn’t allow for divorce for just any reason. He said only in the case of adultery should a divorce decree be issued, not for all the reasons that Moses was pressured into allowing under the old law. Annulements look at the validity of the consent at the time the vows were exchanged to see if a Sacramental marriage occured. The couple was legitimately married even if no Sacramental marriage occurred becasue of a defect of consent. If a Sacramental Marriage was formed, then the Church has no authority to disolve the bond, except under specific circumstances (using either the Pauline or Petrine Privilege). If this is the case then the couple is not free to marry another person until their original spouse dies. The Church takes this matter very seriously. Going to another church that allows divorce and remarriage for any old reason is not following the teaching of God as revealed through Scripture and through the Teaching authority of the Church. They are in fact leading the couple astray and putting them in serious jeopardy. People that get divorced and remarried are certainly welcome to come to mass, but they are not free to participate in the full Sacramental life of the Church because of a conscious choice that they have made, which separates them from the community. To receive the Eucharist unworthily is a very serious thing, and the Church’s teaching on not receiving because of a divorce and remarriage is looking out for the spiritual well being of the people involved, and trying to keep them from making another serious bad choice. There are ways to correct the situation if they are willing to work through the process.

  38. So if a divorce decree is valid in the case of adultery and a divorced Catholic’s spouse marries someone else or is involved in a relationship with someone else, the divorced Catholic’s divorce decree is valid and that person can remarry and receive the Eucharist worthily? Was Jesus perhaps acknowledging that people can kill a marriage and that people should be allowed to move on from that situation? People don’t go to a place of worship to find a teaching that they want to hear – people go seeking God and Jesus finds them where they are and brings them where they need to be. Jesus leaves the 99 and goes to find the 1. Even if that 1 is a divorced and remarried Catholic. Jesus broke a rule and healed on the Sabbath. I believe His Divine Mercy extends to everyone. It is not possible for me to believe that Jesus would deny His Body and Blood to a divorced and remarried person who comes to Him seeking healing and forgiveness and who is living a married life in a loving relationship. Isn’t God a God of second chances? At this point I need to focus on finishing my stuffing for my Thanksgiving feast. I wish you all a happy and joyful Thanksgiving and God’s Blessings to all of you and your families.

  39. And of course you know he was addressing liberal Catholics and not the conservative kind who cast stones and aspersions at others. How sad for you to not be invited.

  40. “The floor of hell is paved with the skulls of bishops!”

    Saint John Chrysostom quotes (Church Father, biblical interpreter , and archbishop of Constantinople, 347-407)

    Read “The Faithful Departed: The Collapse of Boston’s Catholic Culture” and you will have you answer for the declining church attendance.

  41. Thank you! I am, too, though I don’t always understand why. :-)

  42. Barbara, it is not about forgiveness or mercy. You are right, “God forgives all sins of those who truly repent.” By your own words, you need to have true repentence which includes that you have a firm intention to stop living in adultery. Unless your marriage within the sacrament of the Church is annulled, the Church has no authority to say that you can now move on to another marriage. It has a way to see if the original marriage was flawed in such a way that the sacramental marriage was no valid. If it was valid, you can not move on to a new spouse and again, the Church can do nothing about this. Not sure why people do not understand that this is the type of thing the Church cannot change just like the issue of male only priests.

    The Church allows one to reconcile with God if one is living in adultery, but if one coninues in this serious sin and does not repent and make thier life right with God, then they do leave themselves outside the Church as far as the Eucharist and other sacraments are concerned unless there is a reconciliation.

    That is why it is important to be honest and truthful with those who seek to come home to the church, especially if that desire is based on bad information or some thought that they can fight internally to change what can never be changed. This only leads to frustration and anger as sometimes witnessed here when solid Catholic teaching is discussed and some want to see that teaching change thinking that attacking the messenger is the right path. Peace and joy in life can only be found when we are in union with God and His Church with our entire life. We will never of course arrive at this union apart from the grace of God, but we do ourselves no favor by pretending that our sin should not be counted as sin any longer by the Church. It is kind of like voting for pro abortion candidates and going into denial that it has a direct impact on the killing of babies unless we can clearly see a proportionate reason. I have yet to have anyone tell me what that might be unless the other candidate promised to drop nuclear weapons or spread chemical WMD to kill 4,000 totally innocent people each and every day for 4 decades.

  43. Barbara, “People don’t go to a place of worship to find a teaching that they want to hear – people go seeking God and Jesus finds them where they are and brings them where they need to be. ”

    Where married people need to be is with their spouse if married in the Catholic Church with a valid sacrament. If one leaves their spouse for valid reasons such as abuse after trying to solve the problem, the choice for that person is a celebate life. You do not seem to want to hear Catholic teaching in this matter, and you do not want to accept the only recourse open to you is the annulment process to see if the marriage can be ruled invalid.

    Since this teaching can never be changed as the Church has no authority to change what Jesus taught so fully in any way, it would seem your opions are fairly well laid out for you. Annulment; stop living with another person in adultery and go to reconcilliation, or live in grave sin. All of us have a thorn in our heal and all of us are called to the hard teaching and to take up our cross to follow Jesus. The rich young man walked away from Jesus because he too was not willing to do what Jesus said he had to do. Wealth used for only ourselves makes it hard to get to heaven. The person who continues to a gay lifestyle must also make a choice. The Church will not change its teaching ever. What prevents most of us from ever reaching true total surrender is our pride and our fear. Pope John Paul II see the pain we all have in our lives for whatever reason told us to “not be afraid.”

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