20 January 2017

Bishop Stephen Lopes and Remarried Divorcees

Bishop Lopes, Ordinary of the Ordinariate of the Chair of S Peter in North America, has issued a very fine instruction on the question of the "remarried" divorced.

In this document, printed in its entirety in the National Catholic Register, he binds together formulae from our Anglican (Patrimony) Marriage Service; from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (which Benedict XVI's Anglicanorum coetibus formally declared to be the official doctrinal statement of the Ordinariates); from S John Paul's Familiaris consortio; and from Amoris laetitia. Drawing sensitively upon our corporate experience when we were still separated from the Unity of the See of S Peter, he shows how the whole Biblical doctrine of the use of sexuality handed down by Tradition unravels, with increasing rapidity and violence, once an ecclesial body starts 'making exceptions' which the Incarnate Word Himself explicitly excluded.

Bishop Stephen's Letter demonstrates exactly how immensely valuable it is for the Catholic Church to have a separated tradition such as ours, with its own liturgical inheritance, its own centuries-old experience of the Christian life, entering, enriching, and strengthening the Tradition which is from the Apostles. It is, surely, for fine teaching such as this that God called us into unity.

As it happens, our liturgical inheritance in this matter is not in its origins Protestant at all. Of all the Sacramental rites in our Prayer Book tradition, the service of Holy Matrimony is the one which Archbishop Thomas Cranmer messed around with least. This is because, despite Henry ("It was null just like the last time!") Tudor, the Church of England substantially preserved Catholic Truth in the matter of the indissolubility of Marriage. Accordingly, much of the traditional Anglican Marriage service stays word for word in line with that of the Medieval Catholic Sarum Manuale (i.e Rituale). There, of course, much of the Wedding Service had to be in English ... so that bride and groom understood to what they were assenting. And perhaps also because the congregations knew the words so well.

After the Reformation, English Recusant Catholics continued to use Sarum, so that for centuries Catholics and Anglicans in England got married with (almost) the same words; words already sanctified by centuries of use.

Cranmer's main change was to introduce a text for the priest to read at the beginning of the Service ... which was very orthodox!


Unknown said...

Clicking HERE should bring the reader directly Bishop Lopes' document/instruction as it appears in National Catholic Register .

Unknown said...

Clicking HERE should bring the reader directly Bishop Lopes' document/instruction as it appears in National Catholic Register .

The Flying Dutchman said...

Thank God for the ecumenism of Pope Benedict XVI.

John Vasc said...

I have read right through Bishop Lopes's statement, and I find it exemplary in its clarity, charity, and obedience to the magisterium. He nowhere breathes a word of criticism - which makes the contents all the more powerful.
He makes this excellent point, that many have so far skated around:
"A civilly-remarried couple firmly resolving complete chastity thus resolves not to sin again, which differs in kind from a civilly-remarried couple who do not firmly intend to live chastely, however much they may feel sorrow for the failure of their first marriage. In this situation, they either do not acknowledge that their unchastity, which is adultery, is gravely wrong, or they do not firmly intend to avoid sin. In either case, the disposition required for reconciliation is not satisfied, and they would receive the Eucharist in a condition of grave sin. Unless and until the civilly remarried honestly intend to refrain from sexual relations entirely, sacramental discipline does not allow for the reception of the Eucharist."

Sadie Vacantist said...

The descent into paganism renders this discussion futile.

My own view is that the contemporary Church is destroying itself in its "communion for all" obsession. The simple answer is to limit communion to the sick, dying and mentally handicapped amongst the laity.

John Fisher said...

In contrast to this authentic teaching according to Rorate caeli blog a poor priest in Colombia has been suspended for refusing to submit to the new false teaching of Holy Communion for adulterers. I am dismayed and find this repugnant.

Pax--Tecum said...

Cranmer's introduction certainly gives a nice summary of the "causes for which Matrimony was ordained", in accordance with the Catholic faith. I hope it is part of the rites of the Ordinariate.

I hope Cranmer's exhortations for Holy Communion are also regularly used in the Ordinariate, as it seems that they express the truth of the Gospel clearer than Amoris Laetitia: "if any of you be [...] an adulterer, [...] repent you of your sins, or else come not to that holy Table; lest, after the taking of that Sacrament, the devil enter into you, as he entered into Judas, and fill you full of all iniquities, and bring you to destruction both of body and soul."
The third exhortation, which is to be read "at the time of the celebration of the Communion, the Communicants being conveniently placed for the receiving of the holy Sacrament", uses the poignant words of S Paul, which are also read in the Epistle on Maundy Thursday in the BCP, commanding us "diligently to try and examine" ourselves, because if we eat and drink unworthily of Christ's body and blood, "we kindle God's wrath against us; we provoke him to plague us with diverse diseases, and sundry kinds of death." Where's that in the bishops of Malta's declaration? Where's that in Amoris Laetitita?

Unknown said...

Father, I am interested in your thoughts on this editorial that is published on a website titled "Vatican Insider Documents".


Like many laypersons, I have been following the debate over Amoris Laetitia closely, and have found it very troubling (indeed, upsetting). Initially, much of what is in this editorial appears reasonable, except...

1. Is it true that a priest may (and, apparently should in some situations) refrain from telling a penitent exactly why what they are doing is gravely sinful, in order that when the penitent continues to commit the impugned act, the sin will be mortal?

2. I am troubled that the author suggests that to criticize Pope Francis (and we see the stone-throwing metaphor used yet again) is a fulfillment of the Fatima prophecy, and we (yet again) hear about how Pope Francis, A.L., and his entire agenda are gifts of the Holy Spirit.

In light of the above, I can't help but wonder if a more learned person can shed any light on the validity of the arguments contained in this editorial.

Scott Smith said...

In the event its of interest, please see my Apologia for the orthodoxy of Amoris Laetitia.


John Patrick said...

Sadie Vacantist, limiting communion in the way you suggest would require repealing the law that All Catholics must receive at least yearly. Not to mention the loss of benefits that the Eucharist brings to those in a state of grace. Seems unfair to punish them because of the actions of a few.