Understanding annulments

The National Catholic Register offers a helpful primer on annulments this week, beginning with a story about a deacon: Deacon Patrick O’Toole remembered how far away he felt from the Church 17 years ago. He wasn’t a deacon then — his wife had left, divorced him and took his children. He felt broken and angry, [Read More...]

People, look East

My blog neighbor Joanne McPortland has posted an excellent primer on the whole Orthodox-Catholic-Why-Can’t-We-Get-Communion-If-We’re-Divorced-And-Remarried debate: Cardinal Kasper and others are reminding us that justice and mercy are inseparable. In practice, what the West can learn from the East is not that marriage is no big deal (because it is the biggest of deals for us both) [Read More...]

“Marriage is not the magic bullet for the lack of vocations”

I raised some questions about this several days back, and now my blog neighbor Fr. Dwight Longenecker—himself, a married priest—weighs in over at Zenit:  It would certainly seem, at first glance, to solve a lot of problems, not only in the developed countries where, arguably, the mandatory vow of celibacy is one of the greatest deterrents [Read More...]

A pastor presides at his son’s gay wedding, and pays the price—UPDATED

The story behind a case that made headlines a few months back, from The New York Times:  Father and son had always been close, from the moment Tim Schaefer was born, six weeks premature, with blood poisoning, a weak heart and lungs, and a doctor who thought he would not make it through the night. [Read More...]

“Your vocation is not about you”

Good stuff here:  It is quite traditional and correct to speak of “discerning a vocation” – particularly to consecrated life or the priesthood, though also in regard to marriage, careers, and other major commitments. In modern Western culture, however, the idea of vocational discernment has become problematic, producing unnecessary indecision and anxiety. The problem is not [Read More...]

Synod: what about unmarried couples living together?

The working document on the upcoming Synod paints a stark picture: From every part of the world, the responses note an increasing number of couples who live together ad experimentum (“on an experimental basis”) in unions which have not been religiously or civilly recognized nor officially registered in any way. The terms “experiment” or “trial period” are [Read More...]

In the email: “How would a parish take on our family if my husband were a priest?”

A reader sent me the following e-mail, which is an important follow-up on this post regarding married priests:  I have a mentally ill son. He has been difficult to deal with since he was 3, and has been hospitalized twice since he was 15 (he’s 17 now). Our home life is very difficult because of [Read More...]

Synod: What about married priests?

As people take a closer look at the working paper for the upcoming Synod, one issue about marriage and family life that is notably absent is the question of married priests.  I knew a few people who were wondering if this topic would come up—or if the bishops might even decide to explore the unresolved [Read More...]

A June wedding like no other

When I think of all the insanity that ensues with most weddings at my parish—the wedding planner, the videographer, the caterer, the limo, the dress, the towering arrangements of flowers, the quibbling over the perfect music—it’s maddening. But along comes something like the video below and it makes me think, “Every couple getting married needs [Read More...]

Cardinal Collins: “One thing that would help is if all of us realized that receiving communion is not obligatory at Mass…”

Over at Fr. Robert Barron’s excellent “Word on Fire” site, Brandon Vogt has a lengthy interview with Toronto’s Cardinal Thomas Collins, who looks ahead to the coming Synod on the Family Brandon Vogt: Some Catholics hope the Church will soon change her position regarding communion for those who are divorced and remarried, perhaps at the upcoming [Read More...]


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