JANE Thomas writes (March 15) of Christ: I cannot see him turning away anyone coming to him with a loving heart and perhaps sorry that their lives did not go the way he would have wanted for them, but unable to change their existing circumstances without behaving in a totally irresponsible way".
The first part of that sentence would fit the case of the merely divorced; the second part relates to the divorced and remarried. Merely being divorced is not a sin in itself and would not bar a person from the eucharist. To have married again after divorce is, however, something else — according to the precept of Christ, this is living in adulterous cohabitation, which will bar access to the eucharist.
This "circumstance" can be corrected only by repentance and a promise to amend made in the sacrament of reconciliation. While that promise is kept, even with breaches from time to time, the access to the eucharist is open.
St Paul makes it clear, in his first letter to the Corinthians, that there is a right and a wrong way to approach the eucharist. In ch.11, VV.26-30, he wrote: "until the Lord comes, therefore, every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming his death, and so anyone who eats the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will be behaving unworthily towards the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone is to recollect himself before eating this bread and drinking this cup; because a person who eats and drinks without recognising the body is eating and drinking his own condemnation".
On your back page, your columnist Ronald Rolheiser presumes to teach a doctrine directly contradicting that of the apostle Paul. We must hope he will reconsider his position.
W L Webb SJ London WI.
GERRY Smith (February 22)
accepts my exposition of the church's doctrine on marriage,
but asks me three questions: how would I apply it to a "successful" second "marriage"?; how does Our Lord's teaching about love square with my answer?; must all annulments be issued "made in Rome" or does God have a say? In his Natural Law in Catholic Moral Teaching
booklet, Fr Rodger Charles, Si writes: "if in answering the charge that the demands of Christian morality are 'not reasonable' we prove that they are, we must also stress that these demands are to be met out of love. It is because we love God that we respond with love to the demands of his law. And his law does make demands. All the pastoral care and personal sympathy in the world should not be allowed to disguise the fact that it is loving obedience to the objective law of God which brings holiness, the goal of the Christian life."
This sometimes involves ending a relationship which means much to us. If that
becomes necessary, ending it will be an act of love for the other person. God can, of course, bring good out of evil, but we can't. Nor must we "tempt the Lord our God" by expecting him to do it for us, especially if we are persisting (for whatever reason) in an objectively evil state of life.
The church, like her divine master, can say to someone who has committed adultery: "go in peace". But she has to add, as Our Lord did: "and sin no more".
Manchester Peter McDonald FR Webb (March 1), in his reply to Mr Smith on the subject of marriage, states that the teaching of Jesus as expressed in Matthew 19.9 is unequivocally clear.
My limited knowledge of this subject suggests that the interpretation given by Fr Webb has never been universally accepted. It has been my understanding that divorce and remarriage were practised throughout Christendom for many centuries before a point was reached at which western and eastern practices began to diverge, the western (Roman) church tending towards the position outlined by Fr Webb (and formalised at the Council of Trent), while the eastern (Orthodox) continued to condone remarriage after divorce, as they do to the present day.
I should be grateful if Fr Webb or anyone else could throw some light on the reasons for this divergence of view.
Woking, J W Rickard Surrey.