Sunday, 28 September 2014

In the news ....

Once again today's news demonstrate the power of sexual scandal to bring about a resignation from political office, and also from ecclesial office. Particularly as far as the resignation from political office is concerned, there is a certain irony that this can still occur in times that are by and large characterised by indifference to questions of moral right and wrong in the realm of sexual conduct.

As far as Brooks Newmark is concerned, events reported today remind all of us that our private lives can and do impact on our public lives. We are not just Christians on Sunday, but throughout the rest of the week, too. Our calling is to put our faith into practice in our public life.

Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith has written what I believe is a most authentically Catholic response to Bishop Conry's resignation: There is always a way back for everyone who fails. The suggestion that part of our response to this situation should be to go to the Sacrament of Penance appears to me particularly pertinent. A nuance of the word "Confession" used to describe this Sacrament is the sense of carrying, yes our own immediate sins, but also of carrying with the Church as a whole, the burden of the sins of others too. (I think this is one of the themes developed by Adrienne von Speyr in her book Confession, which, written before the Council, insists on the use of the word "confession" for the Sacrament.)

Also today, the papers are full of the news of the marriage of George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin. And, of course, most Catholics will happily speak in terms of the two now being married. But, in the light of the forthcoming Synods devoted to marriage and family life, should we not perhaps be a little more critical in asking whether or not their union is in fact a valid marriage (valid, but not sacramental)? The question is relevant, less from the point of view of being critical of George and Amal, but more from the point of view of how our attitude to their wedding is actually colouring our own understanding of what marriage is.  According to this BBC report:
Clooney was previously married to Talia Balsam, who he divorced in 1993.
If a Catholic couple marry with an understanding of marriage formed by that of George and Amal, it is not going to be a valid marriage. This ambient culture, antithetical to a Catholic understanding of marriage, does represent a pastoral challenge among the others that the Synod faces. It is naïve not to recognise how this culture impacts young people in the Catholic community.

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