Half of marriages aren’t valid?

Roman Catholics don’t believe in divorce.  But they do allow for annulments.   These involve ecclesiastical tribunals that rule that a valid marriage never existed in the first place.  If it was determined that a couple was too young and didn’t know what they were doing or that they didn’t understand the Catholic theology of marriage, their marriage could be declared invalid.  Despite receiving the sacrament of marriage in their wedding, despite living together for decades, despite having children and raising them to adulthood, they weren’t really married, thus ratifying their civil divorce and allowing them to marry someone else.

Catholics who do get a divorce and remarry without an annulment (which is a very expensive and time-consuming process) incur automatic excommunication, meaning that they are not allowed to receive Holy Communion.  This affects lots of people, as you can imagine, and cuts seriously into church attendance.  So the church is reconsidering its practice, trying to find a way to allow remarried people to take Communion.

A leader of that effort is the retired German archbishop Cardinal Walter Kasper, who, in the course of an interview in Commonweal Magazine, dropped this bombshell that, strangely, has drawn little attention: “I’ve spoken to the pope himself about this, and he said he believes that 50 percent of marriages are not valid.” [Read more...]

Pope says 1 in 50 priests is a pedophile

In another controversial interview, Pope Francis said that Vatican research has found that 2% of priests–including bishops and cardinals–are pedophiles.  That comes to 1 in 50 of the 414,000 priests.  He also said that he planned to find a “solution” for priestly celibacy, noting as Protestants have always said, that the requirement was not instituted for the first 900 years of Christendom. [Read more...]

Pope calls for redistribution of wealth

The Pope called on the United Nations to mobilize governments to help the poor through the redistribution of wealth.  This suggests a conundrum:  Catholic conservatives are the most likely to believe in papal authority, and yet what happens when the papal authority teaches against conservative principles, such as the virtues of the free market?

I’d like to hear from Roman Catholic conservatives:  Are you changing your economic or political beliefs in line with the teachings of Pope Francis?  Or are you able to distinguish his religious and moral authority from his weighing in on worldly matters for which he may not have either expertise or authority? [Read more...]

Pope calls conclave to re-examine sexual teachings

At this rate, maybe Pope Francis will be the last pope!

Contraception, cohabitation, divorce, remarriage and same-sex unions: They’re issues that pain and puzzle Roman Catholics who want to be true to both their church and themselves.

Now those issues are about to be put up for debate by their leader, a man who appears determined to push boundaries and effect change.

On Pope Francis’ orders, the Vatican will convene an urgent meeting of senior clerics this fall to reexamine church teachings that touch the most intimate aspects of people’s lives. Billed as an “extraordinary” assembly of bishops, the gathering could herald a new approach by the church to the sensitive topics. [Read more...]

Inequality as the root of social evil?

The Pope sent out a tweet that set forth a curious moral teaching:  “Inequality is the root of social evil.”   Twitter as a genre for theological discourse has its limits, but, as Grant Gallicho points out, Pope Francis said much the same thing in his encyclical Evangelii Gaudium.   Do you think he is right?  If he is, what does that do to Roman Catholic hierarchies? [Read more...]

The ecumenism of blood

Pope Francis is still confounding just about everybody, but here he articulates a striking concept.  After the jump he tells an anecdote about a Lutheran pastor and makes us realize what all Christians might be facing:

Today there is an ecumenism of blood. In some countries they kill Christians for wearing a cross or having a Bible and before they kill them they do not ask them whether they are Anglican, Lutheran, Catholic or Orthodox. Their blood is mixed. To those who kill we are Christians. We are united in blood, even though we have not yet managed to take necessary steps towards unity between us and perhaps the time has not yet come. [Read more...]


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