Pope says church must accompany those in failed marriages, not condemn them

Pope says church must accompany those in failed marriages, not condemn them


Here’s Pope Francis today on what the church should do when a marital relationship falls apart:

“When this love fails – because many times it does fail – we need to feel the pain of this failure and accompany those who have experienced this failure in their love. Not condemn them! Walk with them! And not treat their situation with casuistry.”

I think the pope is using the term “casuistry” here to refer to a legalistic, rule-based approach. In any case, his message was clear: the church’s approach should be merciful and understanding.

The comment is especially interesting as an internal debate heats up among Vatican officials and others in the hierarchy over the correct pastoral response to Catholics who have divorced and remarried civilly without an annulment.

Earlier this week, German Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, reiterated his view that pastoral policies must be in line with doctrine, specifically the doctrine on the permanence of marriage.

The Synod of Bishops on the Family is expected to take up the issue in October.

The pope made the remarks at his morning Mass. Vatican Radio now has its English version up here.

Related: In his address to cardinals a week ago, Cardinal Walter Kasper said that while the church cannot change its teaching on the permanence of marriage, it could "tolerate that which is impossible to accept," i.e., a second union. He suggested a penitential path that would accompany divorced Catholics back into full communion with the church -- in effect, he said, "a pastoral approach of tolerance, clemency and indulgence." The Catholic News Service report on his talk is here.



7 comments (Add your own)

1. Susan McKeon wrote:
Another reason to like this man...

Fri, February 28, 2014 @ 8:08 AM

2. Father Carl Diederichs wrote:
Papa Francesco was and is a pastor. Once you are a pastor, you can no longer practice casuistry and think you are being faithful to Christ by holding on to doctrine and dogma at the expense of real people.

We can turn to the eastern church and find a loving solution that will also mean we don't need the Sacred Rota and any other "court" to help us be faithful Christians. A few people may lose their jobs. Deo Gratias.

Fri, February 28, 2014 @ 8:12 AM

3. Lowell Rinker wrote:
Yet another great example of how Pope Francis is more interested in embracing and comforting the faithful rather than judging them. Having talked to a number of folks who have traveled the gauntlet of annulment, current church practice is quite different from what the Pope suggests. Much like his comments regarding homosexuality, rather than focus on doctrine, he focuses on loving his fellow Christians and leaving the judging to God......so refreshing.

Fri, February 28, 2014 @ 9:06 AM

4. Kelly wrote:
Yes.. I noticed that the people most upset about this situation happen to be canon lawyers. :)

Fri, February 28, 2014 @ 10:37 AM

5. Deacon John M. Bresnahan wrote:
One great strength of the Church since the Reformation has been the Church refusing to throw Christ's words overboard.
Unfortunately it is Cardinal Kasper's words that sound phony and read like an attack on the sacrament of marriage. Maybe because my mother was a Protestant, I have always valued the Catholic Church's strong stand with Christ on the sacrament of marriage. It was one reason why as a teen-ager I chose my father's Catholic Faith over my mother's:"I could take a walk any time and God wouldn't really mind" faith.

Fri, February 28, 2014 @ 5:39 PM

6. kneeling catholic wrote:
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE



Father Carl>>>Papa Francesco was and is a pastor. Once you are a pastor, you can no longer practice casuistry and think you are being faithful to Christ by holding on to doctrine and dogma at the expense of real people<<<



Dear Father! I am afraid you have the definition of 'casuistry' backwards. Casuistry has historically been used to allow people to get around the plain sense of a proscription, . a 'Thou Shalt not'. I recognize that casuistry is not always the wrong approach.



However regarding the case at hand, the 'casuist' would be the one to argue that there are ways around our Lord's plain declaration about Matrimony: i.e. Let no man put asunder what God hath joined- and that it is adultery to 'marry' someone who is already married. The casuist would be the one to say that it isn't that simple. The casuist would be 'pastoral' as you put it.

Fri, February 28, 2014 @ 8:10 PM

7. Deacon John M. Bresnahan wrote:
?he question is--why did the East become looser than the west on marriage in spite of Christ's strong words against divorce.??? According to some accounts it had nothing to do with mercy or compassion--but because of threats made by the emperor in Constantinople (who wanted a different wife) against the patriarch there.

Mon, March 3, 2014 @ 5:45 PM

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