The Pope makes annullments easier

Roman Catholics don’t allow for divorce, the dissolution of a marriage.  They do, however, allow for annullments, which deny after the fact that a valid marriage ever took place (despite how long the couple has lived together, if they had children, etc.).  After an annullment, the marriage is considered never to have existed.

The process to get one has been arduous, time-consuming, and expensive, given the tortuous logic that has to be engaged in, with couples having to provide evidence, for example, that they too young to know what they were getting into and so didn’t really have informed consent to the marriage, and similar rationalizations.

But now Pope Francis has issued the biggest changes to annulment proceedings in hundreds of years, making the whole process much easier.  This will surely mean that more Catholics will end their marriages.  But at least they won’t get a divorce! [Read more…]

Conservative Catholics revolting against the Pope?

The Washington Post reports that a backlash against Pope Francis is taking place among many conservative Catholics who disapprove of his seemingly liberal stances on homosexuality, immigration, climate change, divorce, and the like.  Details after the jump.

This must surely create a great sense of cognitive dissonance, since a “conservative” Catholic would seem to be most committed to the authority of the Pope.  I’d like to hear from any of you readers who are conservative Catholics frustrated with this Pope about how you navigate these waters. [Read more…]

Exorcising America

A group of Roman Catholic clerics in Mexico recently conducted an exorcism designed to cast the demons out of the whole country.  Now there are calls for an exorcism to cast the demons out of America.

Do you consider this (1) a good idea (2) something that couldn’t hurt (3) papist superstition (4) questionable theology?

[Read more…]

If you embrace nature, embrace natural law

The Pope’s encyclical “Laudato Si” is winning fulsome praise from the left for its embrace of environmentalism.  But, as the editors of The Stream point out, those folks aren’t saying anything about 11 other teachings in that document that don’t accord so well with the spirit of the times.  These include the condemnation of abortion, a rejection of sexual immorality, and a tempering of feminism.  (See the 11 after the jump.)

The Pope is indeed advocating environmentalism, but he is doing so in the context of a larger theological perspective on matter, the physical universe, and objective reality.  Let me sum it up this way:  Embrace nature, but that means also embracing the natural purpose of sex (conceiving children), the natural body (so no transgenderism), the natural difference between men and women (so feminism will have its limits), and natural law in general (the connection of moral truth to objective reality).

We can still quarrel with the Pope’s environmentalism and his theology, but he is working from a worldview that flies in the face of most postmodernists who, in believing that there is no objective reality they are subject to, reject the very concept of nature.  That number includes, ironically, many environmentalists. [Read more…]

Thomas More vs. the Reformation

Now that Hilary Mantel’s superb novels about Thomas Cromwell have been made into a TV series, Wolf Hall, her points about the good guys and bad guys in Tudor England are attracting attention and controversy.  Conventionally, Cromwell has been considered a Machiavellian villain who helped Henry VIII  break from the Church of Rome because of his romance with Anne Boleyn, only to later frame her for unfaithfulness.  His foil was Thomas More–later, St. Thomas More–the humanist scholar who refused to go along with these schemes at the cost of his life.

But Mantel portrays Cromwell as a decent man, carefully navigating the whims of an unstable king, while deftly advancing the cause of reform and Reformation in a corrupt society and a corrupt church.  More, on the other hand, as Mantel tells it, is a reactionary bigot, who sought to stamp out the Reformation by burning the “heretics” at the stake (which would include William Tyndale, for translating the Bible into English).

Now many Catholics are outraged at this treatment of their Renaissance saint, who has lately been held up as the model of the Christian intellectual who puts the laws of God over the laws of the state.  Mark Movesian goes so far as to say that Wolf Hall is part of the attack on religious liberty.  The depiction of More, he says, is an example of today’s mindset that the demands of the state should trump the teachings  of the church.  But, of course, it finally comes down to whether you support the beliefs of More or his victims.

Anthony Sacramone has given a quite brilliant Lutheran reply to all of this.  He includes what More said about Luther (who also opposed Henry VIII and his shenanigans), More’s defense of heretic burning, and what Purgatory meant to the people of the time. [Read more…]

Evangelicals who believe in Purgatory

It has long struck me how many evangelicals–including some of the most anti-Catholic–actually hold to a Roman Catholic soteriology, though without the sacraments, putting a big emphasis on the role of the will, good works, and moral perfection in salvation.  Now some evangelicals are advocating belief in Purgatory.  Scott McKnight reviews a book that makes the case for an evangelical doctrine of Purgatory. [Read more…]


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