Pope Marries Cohabiting Couples? No News Here, Folks!

Pope Marries Cohabiting Couples? No News Here, Folks! September 12, 2014

All week, I’ve been reading that Pope Francis plans to marry 20 couples in St. Peter’s Basilica this weekend–and that some of them are cohabiting (oh my!)–and some even (horrors!) have children.

Good gracious! There is an undercurrent of insinuation, that once again Francis is breaking the rules of the Church, striking a new chord, changing the “business as usual” approach of his predecessors Benedict XVI and John Paul II.

Here, just look at the breathless expectancy in this lede from the Associated Press (emphasis mine):

Pope Francis is making good on his insistence that the Catholic Church welcome all faithful — not just those who obey church teaching perfectly. He’ll marry 20 couples this weekend, including some who already live together and those with children, technically a sin in the eyes of the church.

The Telegraph‘s headline reports that Pope Francis will marry couples ‘living in sin.’

*     *     *     *     *

But here’s the question I have for those of you who think this is new stuff:  Have you ever met someone who obeyed church teaching perfectly?

Well, I haven’t.  If the Catholic Church welcomed only perfect people to the Table of the Lord, its pews would be empty.

There is an old adage that the Church is not a museum for saints, but a hospital for sinners.  Back in September 2013, in an interview with the Jesuit magazine La Civita Cattolica, Pope Francis said,

“I see clearly that the thing the Church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the Church as a field hospital after battle.”

That a couple who have not been following the Church’s teachings regarding sexuality would choose to marry, to regularize their relationship, is a very good thing.

There is nothing new in this:  that the Church stands ready to receive them, to welcome them as part of our family… and then to provide the encouragement and the grace to go and sin no more.

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  • Episteme

    …complete with the fattened calf of being married at St. Peter’s by the Pope! Meanwhile, all the singles quietly practicing chastity in the back pews of their parishes are asking themselves “wait, WHY is the loyal Older Brother the bad guy in that parable again?”

    • Because he wishes to be stingy with his father’s mercy.

      • Susan Suddjian

        Outstanding answer, Tony!

  • lifeknight

    I suggest that those getting married will have repented and want to do the “right” thing. Perhaps it is just that the Pope is willing to get onboard with repentant sinners and give them the sacraments after heartfelt confessions. This is what I choose to believe…..not media hype.

  • I don’t understand the criticism of the Pope on this one. If they are living in sin, the Pope is providing a remedy to the situation. They will no longer be living in sin. Isn’t that a good thing?

    • standtall909

      Yes, it is, but I think the problem here is that number one: none of the articles I read about this stated that these couples had been counseled and received reconciliation prior. If that truly happened, it is indeed WONDERFUL!!! If it did not these poor couples will not receive the graces they could have from the sacrament, not to mention if they receive Communion, which I would assume they will, it will be a sacrilege in and of itself. But none of the articles go into that little minor detail. And number two: here yet again, we are left to speculate, unless we receive clarification from Rome, (which we NEVER DO) and hope that this was skewed by the media yet again. Seriously, are all these things coming from Rome the media’s fault? And if so, why isn’t Rome clarifying these matters? If this was done the correct way, it is indeed WONDERFUL. Key word here ‘IF’. If we are getting only half of the story, shame on the media, and if we are getting the whole story, we are in TROUBLE!!

      • kathyschiffer

        Of course, it was done the right way. I think the Catholics who have reported on this story simply take that for granted. Yes, confession would be required before reception of another sacrament.

        The media’s “fault”? For telling a story, but not including a line YOU are looking for? Take a look at UPI’s most recent report which seems to imply that the entire 20 couples are cohabiting–which I am certain is not the case. Now THAT is an error.

        • Cassandra

          “Of course, it was done the right way.”

          On what grounds other than wishful thinking do you base that assertion on? This papacy (and its marketing guru Greg Burke) has shown little regard for doing things the “right” way. [And why does the Vatican need a PR firm? Holy saints/martyrs have always been the Church’s best PR reps.]

          Doesn’t it strike you as odd that these putative marriages are occurring just weeks before the Synod within the context of a fierce debate between cardinals about admitting the civilly remarried to communion? This is a clearly calculated move to soften up the defenses prior to the Synod. Yes, if things were done “right”, then no canon law was broken. Yet there is no visible effort by the Vatican to declare that. If mercy for these, why not “mercy” for the civilly remarried?

          The Synod is shaping up as a parallel to the Contraception Commission by created by J XXIII and Paul VI that required HV to attempt to undo the damage. And look how well that worked out.

          Gird your loins, it’s going to be a rough ride.

          • IRVCath

            And how can you presume it was not done above board? Do we even have the right to know whether they did? Seal of the Confessional and all that?

          • Cassandra

            I didn’t say it wasn’t. I just pointed out there is no justification for assuming it was considering the lack of regard for liturgical law the pope has already demonstrated.

      • Good points. We may not know the whole story, but if the Holy Father didn’t have those requirements, there’s not much we can do.

    • TJP

      The bishop in my diocese required cohabiting couples to live apart from each other during pre-Cana if they wanted him to perform the ceremony. They also went to Confession after moving out. What a blessing to have a leader like that! His policy harmonized beautifully with Catholic moral law and properly prepared couples for Catholic marriage.

      Pope Francis’ permissive behavior implicitly condones the illicit union, gives a horrible example to others, possibly scandalizing other engaged couples. I would like to think that he instructed them to discontinue intercourse during this period. The press office needs to furnish additional information to avoid scandal. The facts as presently revealed are prima facie shameful.

      • Yes, that’s a better approach. Hopefully we didn’t get the whole story.

    • Allan Daniel

      Yes if they repent of their sins, but no if not. I am hearing little about the need for repentance before they marry.

  • irena mangone

    There are so many folk who have nothing to do but sit in judgement. Why on earth would they think these people had not been to reconciliation. There seems to be so much hardness of heart with some in our church they look for faults sins and point the finger. Why does it give them so much pleasure if God forgives why can’t they . this just might be a catalylist for others to dare come home. If they see compassion.

    • Maggie Sullivan

      Seeing as though the first stamen of your post is;
      “There are so many folk who have nothing to do but sit in judgment.”
      Sounds like you are on the top of that list.
      And….seeing as though only 2% of Catholics go to confession what makes you think they did????????
      When the Pope tells us not to obsess about sin and Cardinal Dolan leads the St. Patrick’s gay parade we know the Church does not much care about sin any more…..our niceness will save us!!!

      • diane

        My Dear, when you get tired of flinging around all those first stones . . .

        • Maggie Sullivan

          Hi Diane…but you just threw your own stone!!!!!!!!!
          If you really believe no one should every make a judgment then shouldn’t YOU set the example of not throwing your own stones??
          My Dear………..

        • irena mangone

          Not obsessing about sin does not mean. Not thinking and doing something about it. didJesus crack a mental when speaking to sinners or did He speak quietly to them minus a nosy audience. Who were waiting to judge

          Re how many go to reconciliation. MY be it’s 2% n America. But s I do. Know about Polish and Australian and at least my parish in England. There are many more than 2% going. And your Cardinal. Well he is your problem. In Australia. We have hard hearted one who has no empathy with victims of child abuse. Best leave it to God. And don’t you think it is good that these couples have come home I don’t think they just came off the street without Any instructions

          • irena mangone

            Sorry Diane this should be to Maggie Sulllivan. Apologies once again

      • IRVCath

        And how can you be sure who went to Confession and who did not?

  • virago

    I have been the prodigal child before and I am grateful for that forgiveness but I wish I had been the obedient child.

  • captcrisis

    “That a couple who have not been following the Church’s teachings regarding sexuality would choose to marry, to regularize their relationship, is a very good thing.”

    Hmmmm. . .

    You’ve said a mouthful here. More than you intended I think.

  • Amos 2014

    “That a couple who have not been following the Church’s teachings regarding sexuality would choose to marry, to regularize their relationship, is a very good thing.” True. So why do so many young Catholic engaged couples get turned away by the parish priest when they want to receive the Sacrament of Marriage? I have several friends who decided to marry by the Justice of the Peace because they know that a Catholic priest will force them to separate prior to the wedding – which is really stupid. It seems to me that Pope Francis needs to get some of his bishops and diocesan clergy on board.

    • Maggie Sullivan

      Hi Amos……let’s extend you thinking to all other sins….just pretend they aren’t happening.

    • kscrawler

      The parish priest does NOT turn them away. Just the opposite, he asks them join the body of Christ in faithfulness to his teachings. It is the couple that walks away when they refuse to repent. Don’t blame the priest for teaching what Christ taught him to teach.

    • PGMGN

      “… a Catholic priest will force them to separate prior to the wedding – which is really stupid.”

      No, Amos, what is stupid is binding a couple in the ”Sacrament” of marriage when they have no firm purpose of amendment with regard to the practice of the actual Faith. Sacramental marriage minus Faith leads to civil divorce, remarriage, and ‘give-me-my-annulment’. If the couple is so weak in the Faith that they’d opt to keep living in sin, better for them not to enter into a spiritually binding union. They’re not ready.

      Add children into the mix and it’s a grand mess of those with no Faith and no desire to learn it either.

    • kag1982

      Agreed. I think that the Catholic Church sometimes doesn’t get the economic strain that many young couples are under. I live in Chicago. Rent is sky-high. At certain times of the year, it can be difficult to find an apartment and near impossible to find one with a short lease. Young adults are moving farther away from home for work and don’t live near their parents. It seems unrealistic to suggest that these young couples suddenly live apart from each other.

      Pope Francis through his actions will hopefully have a positive effect in this area (along with baptisms). Perhaps local parishes will be more understanding to couples seeking to marry. I know one Catholic parish in Chicago in particular that could you an attitude adjustment with this. http://www.cantius.org/go/sacraments/holy_matrimony/wedding_guidelines/

      • Amos 2014

        You’re right, Kag. Most young couples who live together in order to save money. And if they have children, they can’t afford to separate.

  • Jim

    Unless they’d previously sought the Sacrament of Reconciliation before hand and did not continue to live in a sinful relationship I guess that wouldn’t be a problem. On the other hand, if there was no repentance then I am puzzled about this in that how can one receive a Sacrament, especially the Sacrament of Matrimony and be in a state up serious sin?

    • IRVCath

      And we do not know that they did not receive Confession, and have subsequently lived as brother and sister?

  • Maggie Sullivan

    Come on…admit you know no one told these couple that sex before marriage is a sin.
    Let’s just all accept all the sins in the world and pretend they are not happening.
    Oh, wait, I forgot we have……….
    And look at suffering, poverty, war, and ruined lives….but liberals are happy no one has to feel bad about any of it because sin is just so old fashioned we won’t talk about it anymore.

    • IRVCath

      We don’t know anything, Maggie. Unless you somehow became their confessor (if the question is yes, we have bigger things to worry about).

      • Maggie Sullivan

        We do have facts.
        The Vatican intentionally released this information that couples living in sin without making any kind of public repentance are welcomed to receive the Sacraments.
        What Francis is preaching and teaching is something new in he history of the Church. People are told they are forgiven but they do not need to repent.
        We have to remember this new theology also applies to racists, those who hate immigrants, those who oppress and hate the poor.
        A lt of people are really going to enjoy being able to keep on sinning with no call ever for repentance.

        • IRVCath

          Where does it say that the repentance must be in the public forum? I am aware that the CIC prescribes at least some sign of repentance to conduct Catholic funerals, but even there, there is no requirement that it be a public show of repentance. Certainly this is not the first time that persons previously living in sin have instead sought solace in the sacraments – I do not recall it being a practice that the spouses or the priest issue.

          Indeed, it seems that it would be improper for the confessor to speak in any way that might cause others to suspect a particular penitent confessed a certain sin – even if the sins are published in all the newspapers.

  • Sev

    Yes, by all means, go to confession, and get married!! But… did these people practice chastity before getting married? They they still think their sins were okay? That it’s okay for other people? I hope they were told you can not be in a state of mortal sin while you receive a sacrament, other wise it’s a sacrilege.

    This pope gives (misguided) people the impression that it’s okay to do whatever you want, after all , who is he to judge?

    So far, I only read about couples who thought they weren’t good enough to be good Catholic couples. Has anyone anywhere read where these people repented and led chaste lives until they were married? Please provide a link (so that you may correct me)

  • Maggie Sullivan

    Hi Kathy, in keeping with this new desire to prove we have moved beyond sin why doesn’t the Church have a mass celebrating unrepentant racists? After all no can be expected to perfectly keep the Churches teaching against hatred and we should “strike a new cord” and even though they refuse to repent we need to heal wounds…even though they refuse to repent.

    • somnipod

      Wait.. didn’t Vatican II do away with sin?

  • wmp

    What is exasperating is the reporting of this event is not complete. I read by a report from a journalist not a blogger that in 2000 JPII did the same thing. To receive the sacrament one has to be in a state of grace. If one’s life style is in mottal sin we all have to go to confession, which none of these reports say happened.

  • Lukas

    The Catholic News Service states, with respect to this ambivalent Vatican marriage event — “the couples also come from all kinds of situations with some “who have been engaged for a long period of time or for not as long; THERE ARE THOSE WHO ARE ALREADY COHABITATING; who already have children; who got to know each other in church,” it said. The article does not say they “WERE” or “HAD BEEN” cohabitating.

    Those who live in sin before they are married are under the power and control of satan — the consequences of this mortal sin include using each other as sex objects, the murder of unborn babies through abortifacient contraceptives and abortions, the contraction and transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, physical and psychological abuse resultant from these illicit and indecent relationships, long term mental problems that invariably result from such evil relationships (when not repented of), and the mocking and immolation of the Mystical Body of Christ (i.e., the Church). Remember the wages of sin in death!

    • Lukas

      Christians, in name only, engaged in such premarital sex and
      cohabitating relationships can be forgiven, if they are truly sincere, through the Catholic sacrament of confession. This means, first, they break off their illicit and indecent relationships and cohabitationships with opposite sex partners and, second, for such respective partners still contemplating marriage that they, after a decent period of breaking off their illicit relationships, engage in prayerful discernment and seek counseling from a “good” Catholic priest with respect to whether they should still go through with marriage that may not, otherwise, survive for very long.

      Based on the foregoing, while unrepentant couples may attempt to exchange Christian sacramental nuptial vows, the Holy Trinity will clearly and certainly not recognize past, present and future attempts at marriage where couples have not sincerely repented of any of the foregoing mortal sins that inevitably bring death to unrepentant souls engaged in these sins. Unrepentance can never make an invalid contract of marriage between couples and God valid. God cannot be mocked!

      • IRVCath

        Source for that? After all, even a priest can confect the Eucharist validly while in a state of mortal sin. Does the sinful disposition of the ministers of the sacrament of matrimony somehow become an exception?

        • Cassandra

          Lukas has gone over the edge and is wrong. This is the perfect case why (as I pointed out below), people should stay off the blogs. I regret every time I come back.

          The state of the ministers do not effect the validity of the sacraments. That was the error of Wycliffe and Hus. However, it can be a sacrilege to administer or receive in the state of mortal sin–excepting of course baptism, confession (and in some circumstances extreme unction) which exist to remove mortal sin.

          If a couple contract marriage in the state of mortal sin, the graces of the sacrament will be impeded from having effects until the impediments are removed. Even in the state of grace, attachment to sin can impede the full effects. Case in point: the reason those of us who have received communion are not full-blown saints afterwards is because of *our* interior impediments, not because of anything lacking in Christ. [That should be meditated on in humility in prayer.]

          That said, a couple due to their spiritual state could be lacking in knowledge of what they are consenting to, or not consenting to the full marriage contract (eg the perpetual aspect), but then the same is true for those in a state of grace. Sorting that out is why the marriage tribunal process is so complicated. Consent by BOTH parties is what is essential to the validity of the marriage bond. Consent consists of freedom, knowledge, and the capacity to give consent.

    • irena mangone

      Do you have proof that they have had abortions etc etc In this particular case I think the Pope knows the rules.

    • kag1982

      There are economic reasons as to why a couple may continue to live together before the wedding and a compassionate priest would look the other way. In addition to some couples living together and at least one couple including an older divorcee with an annulment and single mom, a few of the couples included people without stable jobs or unemployed. I don’t think that these couples would be able to live alone before the wedding just to satisfy the delicate nerves of a few neo-traditionalist Catholics.

  • somnipod

    I saw this headline on Pewsitter.
    How did I know I’d be brought to patheos!

  • phlogiston

    How many people are going to think about this half as much as those who post here? And how many are just going to read only the headlines and say “Living together outside of marriage is no big deal. Even the pope thinks so.” This gives scandal and will lead people into serious sin.

  • LWC

    It must be exceedingly difficult for the Pharisee in the 21st Century. It truly is an agonizing cross to bear in this ‘Age of the Imperfect.’ Why not re-consider those days of self-flagellation and cilice attire. It would be most-becoming of you. There must be some charitable organization to help finance such efforts of atonement.

    • Mike

      In I Corinthians we read that Paul wanted unrepentant Christians living in sin put out of the church. Was Paul being a Pharisee in your opinion?

  • captcrisis

    These cohabiting couples, who already know they are compatible in ways large and small, are far more likely to have happy, lasting marriages than those who have never lived together or had sex.

    • Mike

      The “test drive” argument. But is there any statistical evidence to back this up? Logically, the argument doesn’t make sense. Cohabiting couples are not bound to one another by any vows – they both know it’s something less than the commitment found in marriage. So it’s kind of like saying someone who plays fantasy football is more ready for the pro’s, or that someone who plays Monopoly will be better at managing a business in the real world. Cohabitation is pretend marriage. The one thing you can’t do in cohabitation is find out if you’re compatible in a real, committed relationship. That must be why the church calls it a sin.

      • captcrisis

        Your view is the Catholic view, which focuses on whether or not a penis is or is not going into a vagina. Relationships are about a lot more than that (at least in the modern age).

        Cohabiting couples, in my experience, consider marriage a big step — an emotionally important step — and I’ve never been to a marriage between cohabiters that they didn’t take seriously. They clearly understand what commitment is. So do couples who are new to each other as far as sex and cohabitation goes, of course (the ones who do it “the Catholic way”). The difference is that the cohabiters know what they’re getting into. The “Catholic way” couple is jumping into the unknown.

        “The one thing you can’t do in cohabitation is find out if you’re compatible in a real, committed relationship.” But it IS a real relationship. In pioneer days, with the limited access to churches and the existence of common-law marriage, couples lived together all their lives. Wasn’t that “real”?

        As far as church teaching, what one must realize is that it was developed by celibate men who had no conception of what it takes to be in a long-term relationship. In fact people who were actually married were excluded from forming doctrine or teaching on marriage. So I don’t think the church has any idea as to whether cohabitation before marriage makes it less stable or not.

        Finally as to statistics, it might really be that couples who do it “the Catholic way” have marriages that stay together more frequently. But that’s only because these are the same people who think getting divorced will send them to Hell.

        • Mike

          The church teaching wasn’t developed by celibate men – celibacy came in the the church much later than the doctrine. Please consult history before making broad, inaccurate claims. It sounds like you agree that the statistics probably show more success for traditional marriage protocol. In other words, it works. And I don’t think Catholics think getting divorced sends them to Hell. Unconfessed sin sends them to hell, right? And this comparison to “pioneer days” seem out of place, since you just told me that relationships are different “at least in the modern age.” If they’re different from pioneer days, and they’re the same as pioneer days, I guess we’ve gotten our cake and eaten it too, haven’t we?

        • Mike

          Sorry, I’m confused. First you say relationships are different in the modern age, and then that we are to look to the “pioneers” (from what era? mid 1800’s?) for an example of common law marriage. So are we allowed to use historical examples as models for present behavior or not?

          • Cassandra

            You should be confused by captcrisis because he is. The clue is his opening statement “Your view is the Catholic view,” acknowledging that his is not.

            “The difference is that the cohabiters know what they’re getting into.”
            No that is a delusion. What they know is a relationship where either can cut and run whenever they want.

            “The “Catholic way” couple is jumping into the unknown.”
            Not at all necessarily true. Couples from intact, solid homes learn (or should learn) from their parents what marriage is. Knowledge of the nature of marriage is actually essential to a validly contracted bond. They may have lessons to learn about charity toward the other, but then the cohabitors have not been practicing charity by the very fact that they are endangering the other’s soul in cohabitating.

            Even secular studies actually show that cohabitors are more likely to divorce.

  • Allan Daniel

    If these couples have repented of their sins, there is no issue, and welcome back. If not, the couples commit the sin of sacrilege. The pope has no power to change the faith. The Chair of Peter exist to pass on the faith in its purity as given by Christ.

    • Mike

      What if the pope pronounces something “ex cathedra”? Isn’t that a way to change the faith? If he does pronounce something that is clearly un-Biblical or contradicts the catechism, what can anyone do about it?

      • Cassandra

        The Holy Spirit guarantees that won’t happen. If a pope set his will so firmly against grace of the Holy Spirit advising and warning him against such an attempt, the HS would slay him first. God always holds the trump card in that regard.

        Look at it this way. God so loved the world that he sent his only son to die on the cross to reconcile man. He personally instructed the apostles and commissioned them to go and make disciples of the nations. Do you think He loves later generations so little that He wouldn’t ensure that subsequent generations would receive the same unadulterated Faith that He went to such lengths to reveal thru the prophets and then personally himself? The guarantee of the integrity of the Faith as taught by the Church is a gift of love from God to all subsequent generations. Otherwise, He’d have to personally reappear in each generation to ensure each generation could receive the Truth. He never worked that way all through salvation history up to the establishment of the Church. He always worked through his annointed. Why would He act differently in the post-Pentecost Church?

  • Megaera Erinye
    • Cassandra

      Don’t think bad thoughts Megaera, you’re likely to be made to disappear from Patheos. Remember well…Francis does only good things. Real good things.

  • Whatever one’s conduct up to the time of exchanging vows, the fact remains (which no pope can change) that marriage is a “sacrament of the living,” which must be received in a state of grace. Unless there is recourse to the healing of confession, and forgiveness of these sins, there is no good being done for anyone here. There is probably no way to know whether this has been resolved in this way. It is probably none of our business. But we know whose it is, and who must answer.

  • AquinasMan

    We can argue the gory details of this all day long, but what is irrefutable is Jesus Christ’s clear and ominous warning against scandalizing the “little ones”. The amount of damage done by not further clarifying comments such as “Who am I to judge?” is breathtaking. How many teenage Catholics have raised that banner in defense of sodomy and the abomination of same sex marriage? What has the Holy Father done to protect their souls, except leave it to the press to be his chief interpreter? I don’t think people understand: the papacy is an office. His primary purpose is to be a rock of unity, not a man on a mission to “innovate” or “solve problems” caused by sin. His job is to constantly point to the Truth and keep sowing those seeds. His job is to tell us what the deposit faith expects of us so that we may have eternal salvation. To tell us who Christ is, yesterday, today and forever. This is an extremely political papacy. It is obsessed with policies. It is rigorist in the notion that change is good, and what has gone before is merely quaint.

    • irena mangone

      I think the little ones have been more than scandalised by the clergy sex scandals and those holy bishops ignoring and hiding all the facts so is it do as I say not as I do. Yes there are thousands of good chaste priests but you must admit. That damage has been and still is done so long as canon law says do not say anything. Do they honestly believe our church has not been damaged by keep it secret rule. They must be all mad. clean it up for Gods sake. .

  • DeaconJohnMBresnahan

    Pope Francis is facing a challenge in that many people regard the Church as nothing but a morals policeman like those in Tehran who go around whacking people who are not perfectly Moslem. (This comparison is unfair in my opinion, but that is the state of things.) So the pope is trying to find orthodox ways to emphasize the mercy of Christ. Good!
    On the specific case of marriage. I have been a deacon for 34 years and have seen many couples already with children and living together get married by some very traditional minded priests and deacons so this is not new at all.
    Hopefully, the desire to be married in the Church is a new beginning for the couple and especially their children whose parents wanted to set things right with the Church and God.

  • Mike

    I am a Protestant. I have been researching the Catholic Church for a while now, and have concluded that it is probably the true church. One author who really brought me to the RCC was G.K. Chesterton. Unfortunately, the more I read about Pope Francis, the less I want to join the RCC he wants to create. It seems totally opposed to what I read in Chesterton. Maybe Chesterton wasn’t orthodox? He certainly defended “tradition” a lot, and this pope thinks it is a bad word. He at least tries to appear anti-traditional. I have heard some Catholic apologists who both defend the RCC and criticize this pope and his two predecessors. Is this a common stance that many conservative Roman Catholics are now taking?

    • zoltan

      Leaders of the church have always been human and made many mistakes. Half the bishops in the late third century were Arians and St. Athanasius, who fought against them, was excommunicated for standing against Arianism (he also was far from perfect). I think of it that way and that we are in a period in time that’s not as turbulent as that or the Great Schism, etc.

    • IRVCath

      No. It seems to be a minority. And given that the Pope has spoken approvingly of Trent, he hardly thinks tradition is a bad word – in fact, he even spread to his native country popular pious traditions from Germany.

    • Cassandra

      You’re looking at the question from the wrong point of view. What Francis may or may not have in mind is irrelevant. He can’t remake the Church itself (at least at the level of Faith). What happens in practice is a different issue and always has been.

      The real question you need to confront is whether the Church is what it claim to be. Is the Church, that is, the Catholic Church, divinely instituted by Christ and protected by the Holy Spirit from teaching error on matters of faith and morals, or isn’t it. Is it the ONE holy Church? If it is, you have no alternative choices about entering her. And ALL teachings must be accepted on Faith by virtue of its nature.

      We can leave out of this question what happens to those who through no fault of their own have been deceived on this issue and whether they enjoy some kind of mystical union. That no longer applies to you since fortunately (or unfortunately depending on one’s cynicism), you have begun to study the question and can no longer claim invincible ignorance. You’re stuck on the path you started–just as I was when I was in your situation.

      Here’s a suggestion for you. Take to prayer (or even better in front of a tabernacle) the following question: Are you willing to follow the Truth wherever it leads at whatever the cost? Salvation is free, but it isn’t cheap. There are real personal costs to discipleship and ultimately it costs everything as no soul enters heaven until it’s been purged of all attachments to sin or material goods. You can pay now, or pay later in purgatory. Not willing to pay the cost results in an eternity of suffering the loss of God.

      As for the internet. I recommend in the strongest possible way that you (and everyone–and I’m in the process of detaching myself) stay completely away from the blogosphere, and that includes patheos. The very best bloggers are only accurate maybe 90% of the time and most have abysmal track records. The only way to tell whether someone is accurately portraying the Faith is if you already have a solid foundation. [Some errors are so subtle it can take hours of research to figure it out.} If you do have a solid theological foundation, then why waste time with talking heads? Spend your time with the doctors, fathers, solid reliable authors like Chesterton. There’s a lifetime of reading from them alone. Why risk getting misled by the confused popular authors today? The Faith doesn’t change and they can’t possibly tell you anything new that hasn’t been proclaimed before.

      Reading the headlines and the catholic blogosphere is only going to disturb your peace. We are in the midst of an massive crisis in the Church (and the world in general). The “new springtime” devotees are in for a major disappointment. A bishop observed that crises in the Church last about 70 yrs. After some reflection, I realized that is because that is the time it takes for an evil generation to form, rise to power, and cede it to the next generation. We’re about 50 yrs into this one. It won’t be over until the baby boomers are dead and buried–and maybe longer. Don’t expect the glory of the Church to return in your lifetime. It’s actually a form of pride to expect to live in such a time. Rather this is, spiritually speaking, a glorious time to live as a Catholic because the opportunity to suffer for Christ is so readily available.

  • marysweeney

    A lot of the comments focus on judgments which are made. It is good to call to mind now and then that ultimately there will be a Final Judgment and that the criteria will be our resemblance to Jesus, our resemblance to our Father in heaven. Mercy and graciousness seem to be a hallmark there. Jacques Ellul has an old but interesting book called “That Man Is You” in which there is a chapter on the Final Judgment. All the world from the very beginning is gathered waiting. Is He coming soon? Rumors are rife. Suddenly there is a rumor that ALL will be admitted. At this, there is an outcry. “You mean I was good for nothing???” “EVERYONE is getting in???” And it is in that moment that many are damned. So often, the problem is that we think we know, we think that we understand. We have played by the rules. We are “right”. In fact, we do not know. We struggle daily to do, and often in difficult circumstances, what we think is right. Many times we fail. We start again. It is best to leave the judging to God.

  • Brian F Hudon

    The story of the prodigal son is as much a story about repentance as about forgiveness. The father waited not simply to absolve his sons but to recognize that his son had repented and come home. The son came home not to be exalted, but to live as a servant in repentance for the wrong he had done against his father. God in turn, cannot and does not forgive where there is no repentance of sin, no understanding of the wrong done against his love, no acceptance of sin as an offense against He alone has the power to forgive. If you do not think about what you have done, God is not simply going to forget about what you have done. Repentance is sacramental. Forgiveness of sin, and the desire to amend one’s life, must never be assumed. Couples now cohabitating will be able to assume they can live in a state of sin as long as they want because they can always go to the Church later and get married. And why? Because the Holy Father has given them this example through his actions and his words.

  • JustAnOldBear

    You (a good Samaritan type person) come across a man who, by a foolish
    act, has cut himself and has been bleeding for an extended amount of
    time (say thirty minutes). Do you say “let him bleed to death for he
    cut himself by committing a foolish act”? No, you do what you can to
    help stop the bleeding and get the man medical help.

    Some of the couples were cohabiting. I don’t think there is any argument by the faithful that this was a sinful act. But I say praise the Lord!!! They came back into the fold by making it a sacramental marriage. Pope Francis most definitely did the right and just thing. These cohabiting couples were wounded by their living arrangement. Pope Francis dressed the wound by bringing their marriages into legitimacy.