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...]

Catholic, Calvinist, and Libertarian

David Brat, the Virginia economics professor who overthrew House Majority leader Eric Cantor in the Republican congressional primary, calls himself a “Calvinist Catholic libertarian.” Let’s hope Pope Francis doesn’t burn him at the stake!  But what could that possibly mean?

Does that make him, in effect, something like a Lutheran, holding to a sacramental spirituality that expresses salvation by grace alone, with a strong emphasis on Christian freedom?  Or is he trying to combine beliefs that can’t be combined?

Or is it mainly a matter of his social and economic theory? Julie Ingersoll explains that, after the jump. [Read more...]

Is the free market incompatible with Catholicism?

The pope’s right-hand man has essentially declared that free market economics is incompatible with Catholicism.  Speaking at a conference entitled “Erroneous Autonomy: The Catholic Case against Libertarianism,” Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga, drawing on statements from Pope Francis, said that the free market economy “kills” and oppresses the poor.

His condemnation seemed to conflate Ayn Rand-style libertarianism with free market economics, but it also scored theological points against the assumptions of autonomous individualism.  Many prominent American advocates of free market economic policies–such as Rep. Paul Ryan, Father Robert Sirico,  and Michael Novak–are Roman Catholics.

Catholic conservatives, what do you make of this?  Do these arguments carry any wait for Protestants, or is Protestantism tied up with the same “autonomous individualism”? [Read more...]

“Spiritual Communion”?

According to Roman Catholicism, you can receive “spiritual communion” even when you don’t take actual, physical communion.  That is, if you desire to receive the sacrament, that is almost as good as actually receiving it.  I learned this seeming bit of Gnosticism from a post by Nicholas Frankovich as part of the discussion about whether or not divorced and remarried Catholics should be allowed to receive the Sacrament.

Note too, in the excerpt after the jump, that whereas Lutherans believe that the Body and Blood of Christ are given and received specifically for the forgiveness of sins, Roman Catholics believe that sinners must not receive them.  More evidence that Lutherans actually have a higher view of the Sacraments than Catholics do! [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...]

Pro-American vs. Anti-American conservatives

Political theorist Patrick J. Deneen notes two different and conflict schools among Roman Catholic conservatives:  one believes that Catholic Christianity is compatible with American democracy, with its ideals of freedom, individual rights, free markets, etc.  The other faction believes that all of these American ideals grow out of a philosophical liberalism that is incompatible with Catholic Christianity.

Read Prof. Deneen’s account, excerpted after the jump.  Can these arguments have resonance for non-Catholic Christians?  Or non-Christian conservatives?  Are American Christians too wedded to “Americanism”?  Or would the anti-American line of thought yield a political system that is far worse? [Read more...]


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