What mercy looks like
September 16, 2015 § 9 Comments
Our pastors seem to believe that there are large numbers of putative Catholic marriages which are invalid, that is, which are not really marriages. I find this quite plausible. (See here for more background).
Actions reflect what we really believe though, even moreso than words. And it seems to me that the actions of our pastors do not at this point reflect what I would expect to see in the face of widespread sacramental invalidity of Catholic marriages. It may be that the full truth has yet to sink in with many of them, I suppose; but I don’t consider it my role to analyze them psychologically.
However, if they really believed in their bones that a large percentage of Catholic marriages is invalid, I would not expect to see all the pastoral ‘action’ in the area of tribunals and annulment proceedings. I would expect to see most of the pastoral effort concentrated on education and convalidation of marriages. If these vast numbers of marriages truly are invalid, the overriding pastoral priority is clearly to get them convalidated.
If there were genuine uncertainty about the validity of the sacramental baptism of large numbers of Catholics, the highest pastoral priority would be to get out and do conditional baptisms to actually address that fundamental sacramental issue.
Pastors live and breathe in a social and political reality. Some words are expected to be taken more seriously than others: that is only natural, and I don’t find fault with it in general. It follows though that I’ll believe that our pastors take their own words on the number of sacramentally invalid marriages seriously to precisely the extent those words include exhortation and actions which actually address the sacramental invalidity of large numbers of marriages. Zero talk of convalidating the putative large numbers of invalid marriages implies zero internal “in the bones” commitment to the factual assessment that there actually are large numbers of invalid marriages.
Mercy is as mercy does.