It seems that there is a push for the bishops at the Synod on the Family to find ways to expand the Petrine privilege and Pauline privilege to allow for those civilly divorced and remarried to be admitted to receiving Holy Communion. Some point out that the long standing pastoral practice of many dioceses already allows those pro-actively promoting the brutal butchery of pre-born children to be offered the approbation of the Eucharistic Christ in Holy Communion. Thus it seems that unrepented objectively serious sin is not to be considered or treated as an obstacle to Eucharistic communion.
In the case of the civilly divorced and remarried, then, it would seem only fair to also offer them access to communion with the Eucharistic Christ. There is a problem with this reasoning, though. It is true that the current pastoral practice of many dioceses promotes the sacrilege of pro-abortion activists desecrating the Eucharistic Christ.
But that does not mean that further desecration is now morally permissible. Such logic would be analogous to asserting that, since the body of Jesus had already been horribly desecrated in a vicious scourging, it was morally permissible to carry out the further desecration of His body by derisively crowning Him with thorns. After all, did not that crowning of Christ help relieve the stress of the Roman soldiers and build up their sense of solidarity with each other?
There are some serious issues that need to be addressed by the Synod, in view of how contemporary attitudes and policies concerning marriage have deviated far beyond anything seen at the time of Christ. Current Church theology and law concerning marriage presume that those entering into marriage:
1) are psychologically mature and balanced,
2) share in the Church's appreciation of the fidelity and permanence of the marriage covenant, and
3) are open to the procreation and raising of children.
Sadly, these assumptions are becoming increasingly rare in the more technologically advanced societies of our age. Ten years ago, a teacher reported to me that only one in five children in America at that time was living with his/her married biological parents. The numerous other domestic arrangements, which are euphemistically called "families", provide environments, wherein the children are raised to understand the "permanence" of marriage as actually only the ability to enjoy the erotic intensity of sexual relations. When such intensity is eclipsed or lost, they believe the marriage to be "dead". One's helpmate/spouse then becomes a handicap to one's ongoing fulfillment or evolution as a person. This, in turn, "necessitates" access to "no-fault divorce", whereby civil law certifies that a marriage has lost its symbiotic character, and thus has died.
This, of course, is in sharp opposition to the Church's teaching that marriage is a vocation, an obedient response to God's call for the couple to enter into an irrevocable covenantal communion with each other, and thus become a living sign of the fidelity of Christ to His Bride, the Church. The upcoming Synod thus faces a serious challenge. The forces of evil will use all of their perverting persuasive power to detour the bishops' pastoral perspective away from the path of authentic compassion onto a comfortable path of co-dependence. They will be urged to seek a way, which will seem to capitulate to the degraded secular symbiotic understanding of the nature of marriage.
This push toward perversion has already been manifested at the preliminary meeting in preparation for the Synod. A book, which pointed out the seriousness of the Church's teaching and discipline on marriage, was sent to each of the bishops gathered for that meeting. But, in spite of Pope Francis call for the meeting to be open to all points of view, Vatican officials took decisive steps to ensure that none of the bishops gathered for the meeting would receive that book. Thus the pope's promise of "openness to the Holy Spirit" became strangely reminiscent of Barack Obama's promise of "governmental openness and transparency" given to the people of America seven years ago.
The Synodal fathers will be strongly tempted and pressured to see their mission not as one of enlightening the world with the splendor of truth, but rather as one of finding a way to degrade Church doctrine so as to appear to be "on the right side of history". But history itself has shown numerous times that many seeking to be "on the right side of history" were actually in grave error (e.g., Nazi collaborators in 1941).
And bishops, seeking to avoid the scandal of the cross of Christ, may find themselves acclaimed by the world as being "on the right side of history", only to discover that they are not on the right side of Christ, when He comes to judge the living and the dead.
Spero columnist Rev. Tom Collins is a Catholic priest who serves the people of Virginia.