Church confronts the “silent schism” of divorced and remarried Catholics

From Vatican Insider: 

Shock declarations, such as the ones contained in the document issued by the Diocese of Freiburg which offers recommendations on communion for remarried divorcees end up complicating rather than facilitating reflection on the issue. Pope Francis’ intention is for this issue to be discussed at an Extraordinary Synod in October 2014. The Synod will be broken down into various sessions and could be followed by another meeting involving a larger group of bishops in 2015 who will take decisions regarding remarried divorcees. The problem is becoming increasingly felt as separations are becoming more and more frequent. Marriage and the family are becoming increasingly fragile in today’s secularised society and Christians are not immune to this.

Unlike many other issues on the progressivist agenda (such as the abolition of obligatory priestly celibacy and the ordination of women priests), the issue of welcoming, accompanying, involving and administering the sacraments to couples in irregular situations affects a growing number of people. The remarried divorcee question is creating a silent “schism”.

Francis has spoken about this issue on many occasions and has given answers to specific questions. The last time he did this was last month in a closed-door meeting with the Roman clergy. Someone asked the Pope a question about annulled marriages and second marriages. Francis’ response was clear. He described an experience he had had in Buenos Aires, when the inter-diocesan ecclesiastical tribunal sometimes made the bureaucratic process faithful had to go through, needlessly complicated. “The problem”, Francis said, “cannot be reduced merely to a matter of who can receive communion or not, because to pose the question in these terms does not enable an understanding of the real problem. … It is a serious problem regarding the Church’s responsibility towards families living in this situation.

Pope Francis’ approach, his insistence on mercy is taking a very clear direction: accompaniment. It aims to bring pastors closer to people living in such situations. One path which the Synod will explore further is a pastoral approach that will ensure that the many people who find themselves in what Catholic moral teaching terms “irregular” marital situations, do not feel excluded or rejected. “I believe this is the time of mercy. This change of era, also so many problems of the Church – such as the witness that’s not good of some priests, also problems of corruption in the Church, also the problem of clericalism, to give an example – have left so many wounds, so many wounds. And the Church is Mother: she must go to heal the wounds with mercy. But if the Lord does not tire of forgiving, we have no other choice than this: first of all, to cure the wounds. The Church is Mother and must go on this path of mercy. And find mercy for all,” Francis said on the return flight from Brazil after the World Youth Day celebrations.

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