09/12/2014, 00.00
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Communio: special issue for the Synod on the Family

by Bernardo Cervellera
The issues dominating discussions thus far - the pastoral care of divorced, communion for the remarried, gay couples - are likely to overshadow the positive beauty of married life and of the sacrament, bound to the Eucharist. Mercy towards the remarried should not be psychological benevolence, but help that comes from the mystery of the Cross. The conflict between the Christian mentality and the individualistic mentality is leading the contemporary world to treat heterosexual marriages like "gay marriage." The summer issue of the prestigious magazine, with articles by Cardinals Ouellet and Scola, and other personalities related to the John Paul II Institute for the family.

Rome (AsiaNews) - With just a few weeks to go to the extraordinary assembly of the Synod of Bishops on "Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization ", the US based magazine Communio (Communio: International Catholic Revue) has published a special issue of its magazine , dedicated to the very same theme. The edition (Summer 2014), is entitled: "Marriage: theological and pastoral considerations".

The dense volume contains the contributions of senior members of the synod, such as Card. Angelo Scola and Card. Marc Ouellet, and academics in the field - many linked to John Paul II Institute for the Family - such as José Granados, Antonio López, Adrian J. Walker and others.

In their articles, the two cardinals reflect on the bond between marriage and the Eucharist, explaining its anthropology, the model of the person and the relationship between the sexes that emerge from the Gospel and from the relationship between the sacraments of marriage and the gift of the Eucharist. Card. Ouellet goes somewhat further in addressing the issue of non-communion to remarried or divorced couples, seen not as a "punishment", but as an affirmation of the covenant established by Jesus Christ.

The theme of communion to remarried couples has almost totally dominated debate ahead of the Synod, to the extent that its seems to have eclipsed all other issues that the Synod is called to reflect upon, together with the question of the pastoral care of gay couples and the education of their children.

The Communio special edition stresses that the Synod should highlight, first and foremost, the beauty of marriage and the mutual gift between a man and a woman, and the family as a the fruit and responsibility of their gift.

It has not overlooked, however, the issues at hand, and which the mass media often reduce to a conflict between the "legalism" of indissolubility and "mercy" toward divorced, remarried, and gay.

In his contribution, Nicholas J. Healy, Jr. reflects on the proposal of Card. Walter Kasper to allow divorced and remarried to receive communion, showing the limitations of this argument: indissolubility seen as something exclusively based a personal decision, and not - first of all - as the work of an Other; considering mercy and forgiveness as something that is exclusively external to the indissoluble relationship.

In a similar vein, Fabrizio Meroni, PIME, shows that pastoral care of married, remarried and divorced couples should contain both "truth and mercy".  The author says that often mercy is reduced to a sort of psychological benevolence, outside of a participation in the suffering Christ. In this sense, the first act of mercy even towards a divorced person is sacramental marriage and the pain of this broken relationship, which fosters a more intense participation in the mystery of Christ's suffering. In any case, the question of participation in the Eucharist by divorced and remarried cannot be presented as a "right to be claimed", given that the Sacrament is a pure gift.

The author also highlights the partiality with which the suffering of divorced couples who cannot receive the Sacrament is emphasized, but there is no mention of the suffering in the ecclesial communities, particularly that of the couples' children, witnesses and victims of the rupture of the love that gave birth to them.

Some contemporary theologians argue that the Fathers and early Christian tradition were much more elastic on divorce and remarriage compared to today. An article by Henri Crouzel, SJ, (written in 1977) shows that these claims are false, or at least risky.

The widely respected magazine also has a wealth of philosophical and sociological articles. David C. Schindler shows that the current crisis of marriage is linked to an anthropological crisis, where the person is seen as autonomous and his freedom coincides with having no responsabilities. For the Christian tradition responsibilities and the gift of self are the pinnacle of freedom.  

Continuing on this theme of freedom seen as independence, in his article David S. Crawford shows that in today's mentality, even the heterosexual marriage is seen as "a gay marriage", in short as the result of a private decision of the individual motivated by personal satisfaction, thus eliminating the vision of the "common good" and fertility.

 

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