Dr. Peters begins his post with “Good grief.” He then, in his usual masterful manner, addresses the issue, pointing out the salient features, and deals with each systematically. BUT, he does not allow comments, and so I have to re-blog his post in order to make a comment about Dr. Cafardi’s comments about “pastoral.” I have a need to make this comment because my degree will be in Pastoral Theology, and I must defend my degree.
So, I echo, “Good grief.” Put shortly, this you cannot do: “Take what the church has made a complicated judicial process and make it into a pastoral problem with a pastoral solution,” if by pastoral is meant “pay no attention to doctrine.” Because, simply, to be pastoral is to engage doctrine in the world with real people and real issues. To be pastoral does not mean “just look the other way, it’s all good, after all what would Jesus do?” and then pretend you know what Jesus would do. There is all manner of ways that can go awry.
For example: You walk into your local grocer, try to find figs, they don’t have any. “What would Jesus do?” you think to yourself. Remembering Mark 11:12-20 you curse the store, go to your local church, chase out everyone that is selling raffle tickets and holding silent auctions, then go back and burn down the store, figuring that’s a reasonable substitution for “shriveling up.” Yeah, no.
So, anyway, I object to how the term pastoral is being used by Dr. Cafardi.
Nothing, no clear theology, no gospel teaching, nothing except hidebound tradition requires that a Catholic marriage can only be annulled through a complicated judicial process. If he wanted to, Francis could reconsider this judicial function of the church, and instead delegate authority over the annulment of first marriages to the proper pastor of the people involved. Take what the church has made a complicated judicial process and make it into a pastoral problem with a pastoral solution. Again, as sole legislator, Francis could reassign this legal responsibility to the pastor with a stroke of the pen. And note, this does not require a change in our theology, only a change in jurisdiction.
Good grief. Where to begin?
Such casual talk about marriages “being annulled” is okay in chit-chat, but scholars discussing—to say nothing of lawyers attacking—the annulment process itself must, before anything else, describe that…
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