Friday, 17 April 2015

A Quick Reaction

In the comments box on a recent post, Savonarola (which I am strongly inclined to think an assumed and fictitious name, as the Bosher Street Beak said of Sippy's nom de guerre Leon Trotzky) has written:
I don't particularly dislike the letter, but I do disagree with its stance - like perhaps a large majority of our priests. I see no reason why one cannot believe in the indissolubility of marriage in a doctrinal sense, but still think that it is right in practice to make allowances and bend rules for people whose lives go wrong. In fact I think this is far more Christlike than treating them as uniquely sinful. If the resulting contradiction between doctrine and pastoral practice is messy and confused, so be it. We cannot expect everything in human life and seeking to follow God's ways in our lives to be neat and tidy. A mature faith so far as I can see is far more a matter of living with contradictions than it is of getting everything neatly worked out.
I think this is more coherent than the arguments in the Tablet, which I was commenting on, but no less misguided. This post  is the first of two which explain why... In this one,  I will give the brief version, and over the weekend I will write a more extensive consideration of the issues.

So, in brief:

Firstly, the idea that we can bend rules is an odd one, when the rules are Christ's.

Secondly, I think the phrase 'people whose lives go wrong' rather ducks the issues at stake. It is not a matter of a historic error or sin, but a commitment to repeated sin that is at issue here. 

Thirdly, I dispute that we are treating divorced and 're-married' people as 'uniquely sinful'. The Church insists that anyone who is guilty of unrepented mortal sin should stay away from communion; and where that is in the public domain, may enforce that to avoid the additional sin of scandal.

Fourthly, I reject the notion that denying or obscuring the objective reality of sin and its consequences is 'far more Christlike.' I see Christ doing nothing of that nature in the Gospels: quite the contrary.

Fifthly, 'A mature faith so far as I can see is far more a matter of living with contradictions,' again seems to me to duck the issue. It is not a matter of living with contradictions, but living with a commitment to sin. That has nothing to with a mature faith, as I understand it.

As I say, a longer and more considered post will follow.

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