Friday, April 08, 2016

Pope Francis on Marriage

I'm still reading the new document, which is quite long--about 250 pages! Here's a few initial thoughts:

1. Don't get your impressions of it from headlines, which always distort. Read it yourself, otherwise you won't get a balanced view of it.

2. Surprise--the Pope is Catholic and actually upholds all Catholic teachings on marriage and family, including that of contraception, the indissolubility of marriage, and divorce. Reading some news reports would give you the opposite impression.

3. Francis is pastoral and is looking for ways to help people in messy situations to  get some pastoral help. Chapter 8 of the document speaks to that, and that is the part much media coverage will focus on. But remember that it has to be read in light of the whole thing. Catholic teaching on marriage is clear. But it's not always so clear if individual persons actually contracted a valid marriage. That's where the messiness comes in. It strikes me that some of what he says here is rather vague and so perhaps could be distorted. But he is not in any way changing Catholic doctrine on sacramental marriage, which he couldn't do anyway since it comes from Jesus himself.

4. The most beautiful part of it, I think, is the meditation on St Paul's hymn to love in 1 Cor, ch. 13. Whether married or not, all of us could meditate on that very fruitfully.

5. The document has quite a few references to St. Thomas. I noticed that also in Joy of the Gospel. Pope Francis must like St Thomas even though he might not seem that way. For example, this quote:
“Charity by its very nature, has no limit to its increase, for it is a participation in that infinite charity which is the Holy Spirit. . .  Nor on the part of the subject can its limit be fixed, because as charity grows, so too does its capacity for an even greater increase.”

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