Actions kill deader than words
July 28, 2014 § 46 Comments
The central point of my post below may have gotten lost in discussion of the particulars of illegal immigration. So at the risk of repeating myself, I am going to repeat myself.
In day to day life we mostly learn how things work by watching what people do. Listening to what they say generally takes a back seat, partly because we know and expect that frequently what people say is incongruent with how things really work.
The detailed terms and conditions of iTunes or other software are almost meaningless. Probably the only people who actually read them are the people who write them.
Even if we had to assent to them out loud through a microphone though – perhaps by saying “I do” several times after the computer reads each section aloud – it would be false to expect that most folks’ understanding of the terms and conditions of software use would come from the actual words which were read aloud. On the contrary: most folks’ understanding of the legal implications of software use would come from the actual practices of the people in charge: courts, police, government officials, etc.
Practices contrary to positive law on immigration are – among other things – an injustice perpetrated against illegal aliens themselves who, not unreasonably, set their expectations based on actual practices as opposed to mouthed or written pieties. Suggesting that it is morally just to deport them simply because they technically violated the terms and conditions of iTunes is, at best, a gross oversimplification. At the same time, suggesting that native lower class blacks should just suck it up, that they should stay in the ghetto because all the “jobs Americans won’t do” in that strata of society are now taken by illegal Mexicans, is also problematic. The disconnect between legal doctrine and actual practice has created a morally difficult situation, and anyone who pretends that it is morally cut and dried is just engaged in reductionist wishful thinking.
But the situation is much worse when it comes to marriage and the Church, because here we are dealing with sacramental reality. There is no way to make an estranged but validly married couple not married. It is only possible to turn them – and the people they attempt to “marry” in a “second marriage” – into adulterers. Sacramental “deportation” from a “second marriage” isn’t something over which the Church has any control or say, because it is impossible to “emigrate” from a valid marriage in the first place.
So current and proposed pastoral practices with respect to marriage are literally vicious on multiple levels.
People whose expectations about marriage come from what the Church does “pastorally” as opposed to what she says doctrinally in the fine print may have wrong ideas about marriage; probably in many cases to enough of an extent that they attempt marriage invalidly. At least for most of them there is a sacramental way forward that does not involve perfect continence: convalidation.
But the only way forward, the only possibility for a ‘sacramentally illegal alien’ in a ‘second marriage’, is perfect continence or reconciliation with one’s valid spouse. “Deportation” isn’t just automatic: they never really left the home country to begin with. Pastoral practices contrary to this sacramental reality are unspeakably cruel.