TO THE EDITOR:
I read with interest Father Najim’s pastoral reflection on the Divorced and Remarried. In it, Father Najim seeks to apply Pope Francis’ counsel of “building a culture of accompaniment” to the situation of Joe and Maria. However, I do not believe his logic to be the way forward.
Father Najim’s reflection seems to suggest a way around the answer “no” – an alternative path in a new marriage without an annulment. He asks, “Do we really believe that if Joe and Maria suddenly died in a tragic accident that they would be eternally separated from God because Joe did not receive his annulment and they continued to live their conjugal life?” In Genesis chapter 3, we hear a similar question: “Did God really tell you not to eat of any of the trees in the garden…. Surely, you will not die.” Father Najim’s logic suggests there is an alternative way forward apart from God’s law.
As a husband and father this logic is concerning to me. How can my wife and I teach our 12-year-old daughter, on the one hand, that we are to form our consciences by the objective truth revealed by God through His Church; then on the other, that if her desires contradict truth, conscience can supersede the Church’s teaching? Can conscience override objective truth? Can the pastoral practice of the Church somehow contradict or depart from God’s revealed truth? Does Father Najim mean to suggest that objective truth can be altered (relativism)? Surely this is not the way forward.
A both/and approach, such as Pope Francis’ metaphor of the Church as a “field hospital” can be a way forward. Apply preventative medicine by renewing and strengthening the Marriage Preparation process. Strong spiritual formation leads the engaged couple to seek life-long conversion and embrace the call to holiness and the richness of married love. “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” will drive dialogue which seeks to bind wounds and promote healing for the divorced and remarried. Love is the way forward. Anything less than the fullness of truth impedes true sacrificial love and puts souls in jeopardy.