Round-Up Part II: The last of the Synod Symposium

Our Summer Symposium highlighting the issues we anticipate being addressed during October’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family ended several weeks ago, but my ongoing pneumo-drama, and the serious circumstances in Iraq and Syria proved distracting, and I have not been able to tidy up the loose ends by rounding up those pieces that had published after my first round-up of links and issues.

On the topics of Divorce, Annulment Reform and the interesting “Orthodox Option”
some have been discussing, we featured this moving piece by Mary DeTurris Poust, who writes of how poorly annulments — and their value — are understood, even among the faithful:

I got married in my mid-twenties, so obviously I wasn’t too immature. There was no abuse or addictions or anything that might seem like an obvious reason—in my mind—for an annulment. There had even been three priests on the altar at my wedding Mass. As far as I was concerned, not only didn’t I have a chance at annulment, I didn’t deserve an annulment.

But he persisted. “Just look at the materials,” he said. Reluctantly, I agreed. When the packet arrived at my apartment one day, I dove right in, desperate to get this “promise” over with and out of my life.

I flipped through the pages and stopped cold. There, mixed in with the usual questions about address and education and sacraments received, was a long list of questions that seemed to strike right at my core. Questions about whether there’d been a significant death in my family close to the wedding. There had. About whether I’d ever called off the wedding before finally saying, “I do.” I had. About whether ours had been a long-distance courtship. It had.

On and on, as I read through the questions, I began to see that I had been approaching the idea of annulment from a mistaken and misguided place. With each nod of my head in response to a question, I realized that the Church recognized something I had not: No matter how many priests were on the altar, my ex-spouse and I had not entered into the marriage in a way that could possibly make it truly sacramental. It couldn’t succeed because it had been damaged from the start.

That’s a great piece. Read the whole thing.

And on that topic: Dr. Gregory Popcak addresses Six Common Questions on Annulments

Joanne McPortland did us the huge favor of looking into and trying to explain how the Eastern Orthodox churches deal with second marriages and sacraments. As her follow-up demonstrates, it is a very complicated issue:

What I found most helpful about the Orthodox solution, but didn’t note in my previous post, was that it treats divorced persons seeking to be married in the Church with the presumption from the get-go that they are imperfect people who yearn to come to Christ, not adulterers trying to put one over on the parish.

Tim Muldoon completed his look at the working document of the synod :

Again, the accent is on mercy. The overriding question for the synod is not “how can we get Catholics to believe what we’ve been saying all these years?” It is rather “how can the Church speak a word of God’s mercy to people?” It seeks to speak mercy to husbands and wives and children; but it also seeks to speak mercy to queer people; divorced people; couples indifferent toward children; women in abusive relationships; single parents; survivors of rape or incest. That mercy is a call to the entire Church to recover its most fundamental roots in fidelity to a loving God.

Why is marriage controversial?

Where are the Men at?:
Joseph Susanka finds some, but the issue is important. Why are there so many more women at church, than men?

Jennifer Fitz was a bit of a wonderwoman on this symposium, with excellent posts on:

A question of Transgender Nuns
What Catechists Should Wear
Breastfeeding at Mass
How to Lure Catholics Back to Your Parish

. . .and not not One, not Two, but Three posts on the realities of learning NFP.

And finally, thanks to Pat Gohn: Let us Pray for the coming synod and our families.

So, there you go: First Roundup Here, second you’re reading…you’re practically all set for the October Synod for the Family, and its fallout!

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Victor

    ((( That mercy is a call to the entire Church to recover its most fundamental roots in fidelity to a loving God. )))

    Long story short! It would take much too long to give my Canadian two cents worth as to why I believe the above means that we should not be promoting divorces in our Catholic church and then how could this be achieved without the second coming of Christ and then who would believe it anyway? :(

    What did “Jesus” say about divorces when He was asked in so many words why Moses allowed so called bills of whatever they were called back then and/or what we might call written divorce papers nowadays. Set “IT” UP anyway we see fit nowadays but “Jesus” did say in so many words that people in those days were just too stubborn and we’re just as stubborn these days. Are we not…lol

    God Bless Peace

  • Manny

    Can any marriage then be truly sacramental? Seems like there is an out (annullment rationale) for every marriage. Perhaps we should stop this farce and say we allow divorce.
    The only one of those links that is enticing to me is the one on transgendered nuns. I have to check that one out. ;)

  • Victor

    ((( The only one of those links that is enticing to me is the one on transgendered nuns. I have to check that one out. ;) )))
    Be careful Man, YA don’t want to strike any body “I” mean anybody’s spiritual reality virus cells in this Twenty First Century… DO WE NOW? LOL :)

  • GHM_52

    Guess all hinges on the meaning of mercy. There are two opposing types of mercy: the “secular” mercy and God’s mercy. Secular mercy for the unrepentant entails enabling the unrepentant sinners in their sin to the detriment of their souls and their chance at eternal blissful union with God. God’s mercy is about clearly teaching what God taught and repeatedly inviting the unrepentant sinners to reconcile with their Lord and Savior and turn their sinful lives around. This invitation must be charitable, encouragingly joyful and constant, but must entail clarity of teaching and firmness of message. All sinners must be reminded of the great freedom of choice that they have been graced with: the following of God with the attendant crosses to be borne, or the following of one’s desire with the attendant crosses to be born (everything resulting from our willed separation from God).

    There have been and are many reasons that render a martiage invalid. About 40 years ago, a wise, obedient-to-the-magisterium and scholarly priest I have great respect for, told me he believed about half of all Catholic marriages were invalid. He believed his estimate was conservative. I agreed with him then and are in even more firm agreement with him now. The last and present centuries are times of gross childishness, immaturity and superficiality. I figure that, at least, 80% of all Catholic marriages performed during these two centuries are invalid.

  • CStanley

    I feel some concern about this too.

    And after reading the excerpt from Poust, I can’t help but feel that we need to place more responsibility on priests who celebrate these weddings that are later declared invalid. If the conditions for her to enter into a sacramental marriage were not present, then what were those three priests doing on the altar?