A couple of pieces for you this evening. First an article on Pope Francis and the media on the Aleteia blog. According to Russell Shaw the media are actually quite accurate in reporting what Pope Francis says, some simplification aside, it seems, they are not missing the point. Shaw tells us that we in the Church are in for an exciting ride. I just hope the heart can take it!
Secondly, the CDF has issued a document on the matter of divorced and remarried Catholics, essentially reiterating the Church's position (Catholic Herald reports here). The document can be downloaded here. It seems the Prefect of CDF, Archbishop Muller, is attempting to stave off undue expectation that Pope Francis will change the Church's teaching on who can receive the Eucharist. Archbishop Muller points out that "An objectively false appeal to mercy...runs the risk of trivialising the image of God, by implying that God cannot do other than forgive". “The mystery of God" he continues, "includes not only his mercy but also his holiness and his justice. If one were to suppress these characteristics of God and refuse to take sin seriously, ultimately it would not even be possible to bring God’s mercy to man.” This is an important point: the mercy of God is deep but not limitless - there is a limit and that limit is that line drawn in the sand by lack of repentance - a limit set, not by God, but by those who refuse to repent. As I said before, Pope Francis, like every other Pope, even Peter, is only the Pope, he cannot change the moral law. The Holy Father, in his humility, knows that all too well even if many of his new-found supporters do not.
I also note with interest what Archbishop Muller says about the Orthodox Church's approach to divorce and remarriage. He writes that “This practice cannot be reconciled with God’s will, as expressed unambiguously in Jesus’ sayings about the indissolubility of marriage”. For a very good and clear article on this issue I would recommend Jimmy Aiken's most recent post.
All that said, the Church and her shepherds must continue to show love and compassion to those who find themselves in irregular unions and include them as much as possible in the life of the Church even if full sacramental and administrative inclusion is not possible. For one thing greater resources and time should be given to marriage tribunals. In the US, I believe, bishops and diocesan curiae are quite efficient in this area, but in other parts of the Church, including Ireland this pastoral work does not have the priority, funding or staffing it needs.
And finally, hearty congratulations to Michael Warsaw and Doug Keck of EWTN who have been promoted. Michael has been appointed Chairman of the Network's board, and Doug is now President; worthy appointments. May the Lord bless them in their work, they can be sure of the Network's support and good wishes.