Thursday, June 26, 2014

Actions speak louder than words, and silence can speak volumes

Dalrock posts about a strange interaction on Catholic Answers Forum:
I thought that at first as well, but after re reading the exchange is isn’t a non sequitur at all. As part of her question she said she wants to frivorce but fears doing so will cause her to struggle financially. In response, he reminds her about the cash and prizes she will be rewarded with if she betrays her marriage vows. Here are the relevant excerpts from the full exchange.
Her:
A fear I face, is that if I go on my own, I will face many troubles financially which is a reality that I will have to endure. I’m driven and motivated, and I feel that God has given me talents, blessings, and an opportunity to do something magnificent with the life He has given me. And I feel an overwhelming sense that I need to just trust Him that it will all be ok if I just take this risk and do this.
The priest:
The Catholic Church does allow a Catholic to file for divorce as a legal means of equitably dividing goods that were held in common.
 Fr. Serpa is normally pretty good so this answer is baffling. The woman has clearly made up her mind that she wants out, and posted to CAF looking for encouragement or possibly for someone to talk her down. She outright says that her husband is not abusive. As Cail Corishev accurately put it, Fr. Serpa's response is technically correct but ultimately misleading. God hates divorce, and frivolous divorce is deeply sinful. Nowhere does he warn her that divorcing her husband for no good reason would be putting her soul at risk.

99% of the priests I've known have a peculiar timidity about speaking God's honest truth. As near as I can tell, their thinking goes like this: "If I tell this woman that frivolously divorcing her husband would be a mortal sin that could put her in danger of eternal damnation, then she'll get angry or discouraged, leave the parish, and enter a downward spiral of sin and despair from which she'll never escape. If I soft pedal the Church's teachings and do anything, anything at all, to keep her in the pews, then there's a chance she'll stick around and be converted." That's the most charitable light I can put on it anyway.

I understand the need to be pastoral and stuff (only God knows how many acts of cowardice were committed in the name of being pastoral) but that thinking betrays a certain pride, does it not? "I, and I alone, am responsible for this woman's salvation so I have to walk on egg shells and pick just the right euphemisms to keep her around." Eventually there comes a point where we have to say, "God's truths can be hard. I'm sorry you're leaving but I pray the Holy Spirit may bring you home like the Prodigal Son. God's will be done." Catholics are called to preach the Gospel in season and out of season, whether it's popular or unpopular. We can show people the way, but they're ultimately responsible for choosing whether to walk it or not.

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