Tag Archive: Pope Francis

Catholic Church Forbids Sex for Civilly Divorced and Remarried Couples

marriage

Archbishop Charles Chaput, head of the Roman Catholic Church in Philadelphia, reminded civilly divorced and remarried Catholic couples that they are NOT allowed to engage in sexual intercourse. Those who ignore Catholic teaching on divorce and remarriage, according to Archbishop Chaput, and have sex are committing adultery and are not permitted to take communion. CBS News reports:

The head of the Roman Catholic Church in Philadelphia is closing the door opened by Pope Francis to letting civilly remarried Catholics receive Communion, saying the faithful in his archdiocese can only do so if they abstain from sex and live “as brother and sister.”

Archbishop Charles Chaput, who is known for strongly emphasizing strict adherence to Catholic doctrine, issued a new set of pastoral guidelines for clergy and other leaders in the archdiocese that went into effect July 1. The guidelines reflect a stance taken by St. John Paul II.

Civilly remarried couples must have their previous marriages annulled before they can receive the Sacrament of Penance and eat the body of Christ and drink his blood. Having had a son and daughter-in-law go through the annulment process, I think I can safely say that Catholic marriage annulment is a way for the Church to get around the teachings of the Bible. Using theological sleight of hand and a mountain of paperwork, civilly divorced Catholics can have the Church wave a magic wand over their marriages and VIOLA! the marriage is jettisoned into outer space, never to heard of again. My wife and I, along with several of our older children, had to sign papers of behalf of my son, stating that has past marriage was defective and that he is of good moral character. I signed the papers because my son and daughter-in-law — who are already civilly married — can be viewed as married in the eyes of Church. I told them, at the time, that I thought the whole marriage annulment process was bullshit — a wink-wink, pretend-pretend act that says a previous marriage never took place. The things we do for our children.

It is  time for the Catholic Church to enter the 21st century. While some people see Pope Francis as a reformer, patiently dragging Neanderthals such as Archbishop Chaput into the modern era, I tend to see a man who is long on words and short on concrete action. The Pope says all the right things, but within the walls of Catholic Churches things remain just as they have been for the past hundred years. I will believe Pope Francis is a serious reformer when he issues papal decrees allowing women to be priests, same-sex couples to be married, and allows civilly divorced and remarried Catholics to be members in good standing — allowing them to take communion. I will believe the Pope is serious about reform when he roots out every last child abuser from within the Vatican and Catholic parishes. The Pope talks about the importance of good works, yet he himself is long on words and short on works. If Pope Francis wants to show that he truly cares about Catholic parishioners, how about telling Archbishop Chaput to shut the fuck up and stop attacking civilly divorced and remarried couples. And if the Archbishop refuses to obey the Vicar of Christ? Remove him from office. If the Catholic Church ever hopes to stop hemorrhaging members, it must embrace 21st century life, complete with its changing gender roles and sexual practices.

Millions of Roman Catholics are civilly divorced and remarried. Many of them hide their marital past from the church, thus allowing them to take communion. Suggesting as Archbishop Chaput does that these couples should sleep in the same bed night after night without engaging in sexual intercourse is absurd. To avoid adultery, civilly divorced and remarried couples are required to treat each other like siblings. As I read Chaput’s words, “undertaking to live as brother and sister is necessary for the divorced and civilly remarried to receive reconciliation in the Sacrament of Penance, which could then open the way to the Eucharist,” I thought, the Catholic Church is promoting incest.

By the way, there are Evangelical sects who hold to a similar view on divorce and remarriage. I plan to write a post on this subject at a later date.

Why Catholic Millennials are Leaving the Church

catholic church

Millennials, those born between 1981-2000, (there is some debate over the exact time frame) now ages 15 to 34, are less religious than their parents and grandparents. Why they are remains a subject of intense debate. Regardless of the reasons why, millennials are less likely to be a part of an organized religion than earlier generations. According to a 2014 study by the Pew Research Center, nones, those who are not affiliated with any religion, continue to increase numerically. 55 million Americans are now a none.  Granted, this is still a small percentage of the total U.S. population, but 34-36% of millennials are a none, compared to just 17% of their parents and 11% of their grandparents.

While the media tends to focus on millennials leaving Evangelical sects and churches, the Catholic church also has a millennial problem. Kaya Oakes, a writer for Religion Dispatches and a one time atheist who returned to the Catholic church of her youth,  had this to say about the Catholic church and millennials:

A new survey from Catholics for Choice on the opinions of Catholic millennials as regards doctrinal issues might make the church’s traditionalists want to brace themselves. But its findings are also somewhat unsurprising to anyone who spends time around younger Catholics, whose political and social leanings mirror the open-minded stances of their increasingly non-religious peers.

Birth control and abortion, arguably the Catholic church’s most contentious issues, are not always perceived in a negative light by young Catholics. Among those polled, more than half say abortion should be legal in “almost all” or “most” cases, and 31 percent say it should be legal in “just a few” cases. Only 17 percent say it should be illegal. 78 percent say birth control should be included in insurance coverage, no matter where a woman works.

In spite of the widely mocked Catholic Vote video of young people “coming out” as believing that marriage is between a man and a woman, marriage equality is embraced by Catholic millennials. 69% “strongly” or “somewhat” support legal same-sex marriage.

In the wake of the firing of multiple Catholic school teachers who are openly gay or lesbian or married to a same-sex partner, and the ensuing grappling over Catholic teacher contracts that explicitly prevent teachers from being open about their sexuality, younger Catholics have chosen the side of the teachers. 71% say Catholic schools should not be able to fire teachers for being LGBTQ. On gender in the church, Catholic millennials follow similar thinking, with 75% supporting women having an equal role in the church.

Pope Francis is popular among young Catholics, with only two percent having a negative view of him. But the American church hierarchy is not looked on so kindly, and there is an increasing emphasis on a separation between politics and religion. A full 80 percent of respondents said they felt no need to follow the bishops’ advice when it comes time to vote, and 77 percent said Catholic politicians were under no obligation to follow the bishops either.

They are also opposed by a wide margin to bishops withholding communion to the divorced and remarried, those who support legal abortion, and those who support marriage equality.

What’s missing from this survey, however, is the question of church attendance. How much are these Catholics who disagree with and question church teaching are actually showing up? Christian Smith, the head of the National Study of Youth and Religion at Notre Dame, says the situation with Catholic millennials participating in church culture is “in fact, grim.” Only 16% of millennials self-identify as Catholic according to Pew. That 16% is the group the church is struggling to hold on to.

So if they are increasingly choosing the liberal side in the culture wars, are they really still Catholic?…

…What is clear, however, is that the more young Catholics start to embrace marriage equality, safe and legal abortion, access to contraception, and the liberal side on many other issues in the culture wars, the more of those same Catholics will also drift away from a church they perceive as incapable of change.

Perhaps they’ll attend mass on occasion, and perhaps they’ll still call themselves Catholic, but in many ways, their faith will be a loose garment rather than a straightjacket.

growth of religiously unaffiliated 2014

age breakdown nones 2014