Synods on Family have brought complex family issues into greater focus



I was very surprised to read the March 15th editorial about the discussion of divorced and remarried Catholics receiving Holy Communion. The editorial writer cites as their main denial proof the Apostolic Exhortation of St. John Paul II, which was published in 1981. I would suggest that Rhode Island Catholic publish an article on the Papal and Church progress since then, namely the exhaustive work at the two sessions of the Synod on the Family in 2014 and 2015. Pope Francis then distilled the wisdom of the Synod in an Apostolic Exhortation of 325 sections which beautifully taught compassion and proper use of Conscience in deciding so many complex family issues today. He asked for mercy and the “pastoral discernment” necessary in assisting those families facing difficult realities in their lives. No contemporary treatment of remarried Catholics should be attempted without any reference to the work of the two sessions of the Synod on the Family and the compassionate and thorough treatment of the issues raised there. Pope Francis wrote many statements that should be included in any discussion of “irregular marriages” as Pope Francis refers to them. His compassion led him to seriously address the “realities of modern society.” His emphasis was not on annulments, although he has made that process more streamlined. Rather, the synod and the Pope included the conscientious decision that couples in “irregular marriages” may make when deciding on receiving Holy Communion.
I don’t think it helps to headline “Internal Forum Annulments” because no such thing exists in the Catholic Church. Also, I personally have never heard any couples speak about “Internal Forum Annulments” in my 55 years of priestly ministry. I wonder if people who might speak that way are just setting up “straw men,” all the easier to beat them down. Why not stick with the authentic approach of Pope Francis and assist couples looking at the “realities of their lives” and believing themselves invited to receive Holy Communion. I’d like to see the Rhode Island Catholic give the complete picture of the Church’s teachings about marriage and communion and not limit the discussion to the need for formal annulments only.

Rev. Eugene J. McKenna, Matunuck