Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sometimes that's just the way things are

Slouching toward the Synod?
Aristotle taught that there is a greater evil in habitual sin than in a single lapse accompanied by the sting of remorse. Adultery is a case in point, especially when it leads to new, legally sanctioned arrangements—“remarriage”—that are almost impossible to undo without great pain and effort. Thomas Aquinas uses the term perplexitas to characterize cases like these. They are situations from which there is no escape that does not incur guilt of one sort or another. Even a single act of infidelity entangles the adulterer in perplexity: Should he confess his deed to his spouse or not? If he confesses, he might just save the marriage and, in any case, he avoids a lie that would eventually destroy mutual trust. On the other hand, a confession could pose an even greater threat to the marriage than the sin itself (which is why priests often counsel penitents against revealing infidelity to their spouses). Note, by the way, that St. Thomas teaches that we never stumble into perplexitas without some measure of personal guilt and that God allows this as a punishment for the sin that initially set us down the wrong path. 
I once asked a priest friend who had once worked for a marriage tribunal if there was something broken about the annulment process or if there really were that many Catholics joined in invalid marriages. He didn't hesitate before replying, "Both."

This feels like Humanae Vitae all over again. The elderly progressives are coming out for one last bum rush against Tradition. I expect that the doctrine will be formally upheld; canon law is one thing but here we're talking about the unambiguous words of Christ himself. They'll get around that by watering down the annulment process even further.

I'm glad that I'll never be a bishop. I don't have the patience to constantly speak in Romanita, that peculiar talent clerics have for speaking at great length without actually saying anything. I've always been curious about that: why is it that so few priests and bishops can speak in clear declarative sentences? They see themselves as having to maintain a precarious balance between all of the feuding factions within the Church. Most of them detest confrontations of any sort, so they take care to speak in the most general and inoffensive platitudes they can. Being divisive is considered one of the unforgiveable priestly sins. Priests who call us out on the most popular sins of the day often find themselves banished to the diocesan equivalent of Siberia.

Again, Scripture isn't my strong suit but I vaguely recall someone important once saying that he came not to bring peace but the sword, and that a man would find himself set against his own household sometimes.
 

1 comment: