Friday, May 02, 2014
A Pastoral Problem - part 2
I've been Mundaborised! He accuses me of being a Kasperite.
Do read his post it is well worth it. It is a characteristic reaction to my fictional pastoral problem of Mary and Sam.
Pope Francis sees the Church as 'a field hospital', dealing with the wounds and injuries of her members. Mundabor, I suspect would disagree robustly with that and see the Church in terms of offering preventative medicine.
It reminds me of a conversation with a friend who works in the Orthodox world, he told me recently of the incomprehension of the local Orthodox bishop when he heard my friend had actually performed non-sacramental marriages: marrying a Christian, someone baptised to a Muslim, or anyone else who was not baptised. According to both our theologies the sacrament of matrimony only exists if it happens between Christians, hence the old practice of 'sacristy marriages' for the non-baptised or doubtfully baptised. The Orthodox would presume that no-one would even presume to ask for such a thing, it would simply be impossible, whilst a second or third marriage is quite possible, even if it is celebrated with less solemnity than the first. It is worth pointing out that we too have different grades of marriage too, sacramental and non-sacramental, nowadays apart from the change of a few prayers there is little distinction, certainly not in the actual formula used to confect the bond in one case or the sacrament in the other.
Mundabor puts forward a valid argument, even if it is one that the Church has discarded increasingly in the last hundred years in its desire for increased numbers going to Holy Communion. His concern is the scandal and compromise that Mary and Sam's situation introduces. I am reminded of the situation of the twice widowed Maria Fitzherbert who the Prince Regent tried to woo, she refused to sleep with him unless the were married, so a secret marriage took place but she was known as the Princes mistress. Her monument in St John the Baptist, the mother Church of Brighton shows her defiantly wearing three wedding rings, proclaiming her third marriage, to the Prince. In a way their moral but apparently immoral and scandalous lifestyle encouraged the growth of Brighton as a place for mistresses and unconventional lifestyles, they followed what the Prince and Mrs Fitzherbert were apparently doing.
What Mundabor is arguing for is a Church that is uncompromising in its proclamation of the faith, it is indeed a valid argument but one that we have moved away from, mainly I would suggest by the movement for frequent and regular reception of Holy Communion started by St Pius X.
Posted by Fr Ray Blake