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Love is a battlefield
Allow me to respectfully submit that the reasoning in this article is 1/2 step away from Cardinal Kasper’s position.
“This new couple has only two choices: (a) to remain in what is truly an adulterous marriage, and to refrain from receiving Communion indefinitely, because they’re in a state of mortal sin, or (b) to live together as brother and sister and hope the old wife dies. Either way: awful, awful, awful.”
Either way? Awful? Are these REALLY basically the same? How about Choice A is awful because it’s choosing to live in a state of mortal sin. It is actively choosing an illicit sexual relationship over Christ and his Church. It is literally (and I mean literally) saying consequences be damned. Is Choice B, awful? Choice B is choosing Christ. It is a choice to be virtuous. Awful? Rather, how about calling it difficult?
Was it the husband/wife’s fault that this happened? Often not. Sorry, we don’t get to refuse life’s crosses just because they aren’t of our own making. We don’t tell the person with cancer that they can go ahead and kill themselves because the two choices are either a) living with pain, or b) killing yourself and “either way: awful.” Sometimes, we really have to live the words of Christ and “take up your cross daily.” The idea that Christ should be followed just as long as nothing is difficult about it is not a new one. Christ talked about that kind of faith in the parable of the seeds scattered on shallow soil. What is new is the idea that we encourage those seeds to stay where they are!
“They can tell that lady, “Well, it’s complicated, but I’m still a Catholic. There is still a place for me. It’s not what I’d wish, but it’s better than nothing. They still want me, and I still need Him.”
“It’s not what I’d wish?” That’s the point isn’t it? You are wishing this! Don’t say the person isn’t choosing this. They ARE choosing it. That’s entirely the point, and why I said at the outset this position is 1/2 step away from Kasper. Once you make the claim that the person isn’t “choosing this” then you must accept the next paragraph and say, “that they are trying hard to be loving.” Ah! They are trying so hard to be loving. Trying = willing. Otherwise you aren’t REALLY trying. So come on, we are refusing them from communion for being loving? These people “really trying to be decent are barred from the sacraments.” They are REALLY trying. See? They’re REALLY trying, not just saying they are when there are other options. Both options are bad, and you can’t punish people who are REALLY trying.
That’s why Simcha gets her conclusion wrong, “And every conversation about the Church will be about how unfair it is.” Well, frankly, based on her earlier statements, denying loving people who are REALLY trying/willing to be decent is unfair. Based on her premises, the conclusion that Communion should be allowed follows. She walked with Kasper et. al. the logical path all the way until the conclusion and then for reasons unknown stopped just short of their logical conclusions.
Rather, I say let us truly be merciful to these people and remember that sometimes mercy doesn’t look or sound like your mom when you scraped your knee when you were 4. Sometimes mercy looks and sounds like a drill sergeant at boot camp. There’s a reason why they scream in your face and tell you to man up (to put it gently). Because there will come a time when the fact that they didn’t let you take it easy, when they didn’t accept the fact that you couldn’t give one more mile (although you’ll throw up) may very well end up saving your life. Could he have shown you mercy? Yes! A false mercy that would have ended up getting you killed on the battlefield. He showed you a tough mercy. In the language of Sheldon Vanauken, a severe mercy. He had pity on your weakness and helped you realize you COULD work through it, so you could survive on the battlefield.
No, mercy isn’t always gentle.
So, you want to really try? Awesome. Because life is a hell of a battlefield. Let the Church know when you’re ready to gear up. She has the weapons for you to fight with. And yes, She is ready to yell words of encouragement to you that you CAN make that last mile. Get in the fight.