Dumbing down devout

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

2384 Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death. Divorce does injury to the covenant of salvation, of which sacramental marriage is the sign. Contracting a new union, even if it is recognized by civil law, adds to the gravity of the rupture: the remarried spouse is then in a situation of public and permanent adultery …

2385 Divorce is immoral also because it introduces disorder into the family and into society. This disorder brings grave harm to the deserted spouse, to children traumatized by the separation of their parents and often torn between them, and because of its contagious effect which makes it truly a plague on society.

2386 It can happen that one of the spouses is the innocent victim of a divorce decreed by civil law; this spouse therefore has not contravened the moral law. There is a considerable difference between a spouse who has sincerely tried to be faithful to the sacrament of marriage and is unjustly abandoned, and one who through his own grave fault destroys a canonically valid marriage.

Not to worry! Celebrity covers a multitude of sins over at Walter Scott’s Personality Parade, where Edward Klein answers a question about the marital history of Jane Wyman:

Oscar-winner Wyman, who died at age 90 in 2007, was married five times: Reagan was her third husband. Despite her divorces, she was a devout Catholic and eventually became a lay member of the Dominican Order.

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  • LizB

    You know she converted after the divorces, right? (Well, all but one, but that was actually her attempt to make it work again with one of her exes.)

    I agree the phrasing of the answer at Parade is kind of glib and misleading, but from what I know, Wyman was actually quite devout by anyone’s definition, so the jibe at her is a bit unfair.

  • http://www.getreligion.org/?p=2 Douglas LeBlanc

    LizB, the criticism is of Edward Klein, not of Jane Wyman.

  • hoosier

    So sinners can’t be devout?

    From Merriam Webster’s:


    1: devoted to religion or to religious duties or exercises
    2: expressing devotion or piety
    3 a: devoted to a pursuit, belief, or mode of behavior b: warmly sincere

    Wyman could fit under all three definitions even with the divorces, esp. due to the disjunctive in 1 and 3a. One could be devoted to religion, but still mess up. One could be devoted to a belief, but not live up to it in practice. and one could experss devotion or piety without actually even feeling it. Heck, one could express devotion or piety, actually feel it, and still not live up to the actions one has expressed. Mr. LeBlanc, you seem to be defining devout in some way that would exclude Ms. Wyman. Please make your definition explicit. You’ve given us some catechism language, but haven’t explained how someone who believes this, but doesn’t actually live up to it in practice, is not qualified as devout. Such a person could qualify, using the dictionary definitions supplied above.

  • http://www.augustiniandemocrat.blogspot.com John Brandkamp

    As you mention in response to the first post to your story, the slam was aimed at Klein, not Wyman. I too thought on first blush that you were focusing your heat at her. It reads that way anyway. I guess I’m not sure what your point was in even bringing up this story?

  • Dave

    John, I think the point is that the press doesn’t get religion.

  • http://www.getreligion.org/?p=2 Douglas LeBlanc

    My point is simple here: The question about Jane Wyman could have been answered with greater clarity, and less of a cliche, by omitting the word devout.

  • Kyralessa

    That’s a nice dictionary definition that hoosier posted there. But the media definitions of “Devout Catholic” appear to include any of these:

    1: admits to being Catholic despite behavior and/or beliefs to the contrary2: currently Catholic (contrast with “raised Catholic”)3: attends Mass more than twice a year

  • Kyralessa

    [That live preview sure doesn't preview correctly. Let's try again:]

    That’s a nice dictionary definition that hoosier posted there. But the media definitions of “Devout Catholic” appear to include any of these:

    1: admits to being Catholic despite behavior and/or beliefs to the contrary
    2: currently Catholic (contrast with “raised Catholic”)
    3: attends Mass more than twice a year

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    The article by Mark Shea apparently has one real factual goof. Who is Pius XXIII??? I think he meant John XXIII. Oh well none of us is perfect. In fact, instead of devout what all of us Catholics really are is imperfect–as in sinners.
    Sinners in need of forgiveness and salvation. I wonder how the media is going to label Newt Gingrich when–according to the NY Times–he becomes a Catholic this Easter vigil. Of course, the NY Times has been way off track in a lot of stories lately.

  • FW Ken

    Deacon Bresnahan -

    Well, I suspected that he was referring to this Pius XIII, but the context suggests a simple error. :-)

  • http://fkclinic.blogspot.com Nancy Reyes

    those with personality problems that lead to repeated divorce and those with disordered sexuality can indeed be devout, just like those who suffer from substance abuse…maybe because they aren’t proud and don’t think they are perfect.

    Remember the woman at the well?

  • Julia

    My oath privately between me and God was defined in the Catholic church by Pius XXIII and Pope Paul VI in the Vatican II, which allows for freedom of conscience for Catholics with respect to these choices, and that is exactly where I am

    this is a citation of John Kerry from the National Review On-line interview which Mark Shea linked in his article. It is not a mistatement from Mr Shea himself.

  • Julia

    I should have pointed out:

    there is no Pius XXIII

    if Kerry meant Pius XII, he was dead before Vatican II was announced

    if Kerry meant John XXIII, who did call for Vatican II, he died before much of anything had been accomplished at the council

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Julia–My apologies to Mark Shea. I re-read the link more slowly and realized he was sarcastically using John Kerry’s erroneous words to make a point. But as I said: None of us is perfect, obviously including this writer.