LONDON (CNS) -- Church leaders have told the British government that members of the royal family who marry Catholics under recently passed legislation will not be obliged to bring up their children in the Catholic faith.The word "pastoral" does have a legitimate use. In practice, one should generally interpret it as meaning weak, watered down, permissive, or indifferent. To be Catholic is to believe that the Roman Catholic Church is the one true Church founded by Jesus Christ for the salvation of souls. If you believe this, then it's ludicrous to even suggest raising your children outside of that faith. As Pope Francis said earlier today, it is not possible to find Jesus outside of the Church. Archbishop Nichols is giving his consent to royal couples raising their children outside of the Church, away from Jesus.
Lord Wallace of Tankerness, speaking on behalf of the government, said he had been assured personally by Msgr. Marcus Stock, general secretary of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, that the canonical requirement of Catholics to raise their children in the faith was not always binding.
"I have the specific consent of Msgr. Stock to say that he was speaking on behalf of Archbishop (Vincent) Nichols (of Westminster) as president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales and can inform the House that the view taken by the Catholic Church in England and Wales is that, in the instance of mixed marriages, the approach of the Catholic Church is pastoral," he said.
I already know how this script plays out. Eventually some functionary at the Westminster chancery will issue a clarification or a revision or a correction on the Archbishop's position. He'll assure us that his Excellency is not at all suggesting that royal parents shouldn't raise their children in the faith. All he's saying is that given the present circumstances, it may not be possible for the parents to follow their obligation and so they are not censured by the Church. Bloggers will jump in and say "how dare you say such uncharitable things about his Excellency, you are guilty of rash judgment, etc., etc." Is his Excellency really prepared to argue that it's not possible for royal couples to raise their children Catholic in a western First World country? Yes, there would be legal consequences they would have to accept. We all have our crosses to carry.
My memory isn't very good, but I vaguely recall that someone important once said that we should let our yes mean yes and our no mean no. What is it about priestly ordination that makes so many men incapable of speaking in clear declarative sentences? Charity doesn't always mean engagement, nor does it always mean exhaustive mental gymnastics to defend the indefensible.