Continue reading “No Cardinal Cupich, the John Jay Report doesn’t make me feel any better.”
Category: Catholic Controversies
In light of Perverted Priest Problem: Cardinal Baldiserri’s ‘LGBT’ Language is Terrible Timing
My latest from The Stream: July 31, 2018
We might as well call it the Perverted Priest Problem. Some men of homosexual inclinations are using their place within the Catholic Church to gratify themselves sexually. More disgusting than Cardinal McCarrick’s behavior is the widespread network of prelates who must have been covering for him. But even these men aren’t the whole story.
The very day the news about Cardinal McCarrick broke, the Vatican released the working document for the upcoming Synod on Youth.It used the “LGBT” acronym, the first such use in a Vatican document. This shows that high-ranking prelates are running interference for people like McCarrick. Continue reading “In light of Perverted Priest Problem: Cardinal Baldiserri’s ‘LGBT’ Language is Terrible Timing”
Cardinals Hurting Clergy: Speak for Yourself Cardinal Farrell
Do you receive the Ruth Institute newsletter? This is what you missed this week. Cardinal Farrell’s swipe at all priests really got my goat! Continue reading “Cardinals Hurting Clergy: Speak for Yourself Cardinal Farrell”
Cardinal O’Malley’s statement is not enough
Main stream news sources, perhaps surprisingly, seem to be taking Cardinal O’Malley’s statement about the McCarrick Queer scandals at face value.
Reuters: “Top Cardinal demands Vatican get tough with bishops on sex abuse.”
The Boston Globe: “Amid new sex abuse scandal, “O’Malley issues warning to church.”
Only at the bottom of the Globe article, do we find this nugget: Continue reading “Cardinal O’Malley’s statement is not enough”
Question for my SSA (Same Sex Attracted) friends
What do we call guys like Cardinal McCarrick? (Please, no smart aleck answers.) Terminology is extremely important in the on-going discussion about how the Body of Christ should address same sex attraction. We need to steer clear of 2 different pitfalls.
- “Pedophilia abuse” vs. “homosexual abuse.”
- “Gay” vs. “same sex attracted” or some other term.
Regarding #1: Continue reading “Question for my SSA (Same Sex Attracted) friends”
Speak for Yourself, Cardinal Farrell
My latest at The Stream (July 20, 2018)
I was always taught to respect the clergy. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Should criticism be necessary, let it be as gentle as possible. But what do we do when the clergy harm each other? Cardinal Kevin Farrell’s recent comments about priests lacking credibility for preparing couples for marriage amounts to an attack on every priest in Christendom. He makes an unnecessary criticism, in a harsh manner. Worst, his comments bring disrespect to the priestly office itself. A bit of thought, plus a brief look into the Cardinal’s background, may help explain his comments, wrongheaded though they are.
Cardinal Farrell’s Claims
Let’s review the Cardinal’s comments:
During an interview … Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, said that ‘priests are not the best people to train others for marriage.’
They have no credibility; they have never lived the experience; they may know moral theology, dogmatic theology in theory, but to go from there to putting it into practice every day … they don’t have the experience.
Denigrating the Priesthood
It is bad enough that Queers in the Church use their positions as cover for their sexual exploits. (See Cardinal McCarrick.) It is bad enough that the “progressives” make bad arguments for Church teaching “evolving.” (See John Gehring’s long-winded NYT whine. Absent from Gehring’s NYT’s bio, is his association with the Soros-funded Faith in Public Life.)
As if all that is not bad enough, Francis-appointed Cardinal Kevin Farrell takes a swipe at priests doing marriage prep. Their celibacy disqualifies them, says Farrell, channeling The Ghost of Jack Chick, and other anti-Catholic screed-writers for centuries.
Sheesh. With friends like this, who needs enemies?
Will Cupich “Accompany” Reluctantly Divorced Spouses?
Cardinal Cupich has been holding seminars on implementing Amoris Laetitia. These “New Momentum Conferences” will “provide formative pastoral programs.” I wonder whether these seminars will include anything for reluctantly divorced persons. No one else seems to be doing anything for abandoned spouses. Perhaps Cardinal Cupich and his friends will step up to the plate.
The public, including many Catholics, has the impression that no-fault divorce allows two sensible and mature adult people to agree to end their marriage. We imagine that the state must not interfere in this mutual decision. No one should cry over the spilt milk of a “dead marriage.” Many in the Church tacitly agree.
But setting theology aside, let’s challenge the basic premise of no-fault divorce. What if one person wants a divorce and the other wants to remain married? Dr. Stephen Baskerville, frequent contributor to these pages, made me aware of this possibility in his first book, Taken into Custody. If the spouses do not agree, justice requires adjudication by a neutral party. But on what basis would that neutral party decide which spouse to side with: the spouse who wants the divorce, or the spouse who wants the marriage?
The Grand Divorce Narrative offers no answer. The official ideology of no-fault does not acknowledge that such a case can even exist. And if we add the (highly dubious) claim that “kids are resilient,” then there is no reason for anyone to favor preserving a marriage, even one with children. As for adjudication between the spouse who wants the marriage and the one who wants divorce, forget it. No-fault divorce means the state always sides with the party who wants the marriage the least.
The Grand Divorce Narrative, subtly or not-so-subtly, suggests people who complain about divorce probably did something to bring it on themselves. They need to stop whining and get with the program.
I wish I could tell you whether the abandoned spouses are a misbehaving lot. I wish I could tell you anything systematic about the reluctantly divorced. Unfortunately, all I have is anecdotal information. The people who normally collect and analyze this kind of thing seem to be completely uninterested.
We don’t even know how many reluctantly divorced or abandoned spouses there are.
Here is one snippet. I once bemoaned the fact that we have no data on the number of reluctantly divorced persons. My friend, University of Texas sociology professor, Mark Regnerus chimed in that he had some data on this question in his new book, Cheap Sex.
I checked it out. In Figure 5.2 on page 161, he asked this question of divorced spouses, “who wanted the marriage to end, you, your spouse, or both of you?” Only 24 percent of women and 27 percent of men said, “we both wanted it to end.” In other words, in his survey, over 70 percent of divorces have a reluctant partner.
The CDC reported over 800,000 divorces from 44 states and the District of Columbia in 2016. If 70 percent of those divorces had a reluctant partner, that is over a half million reluctantly divorced people, in a single year. Add that up, year after year for forty years. That is a lot of broken hearts and wounded souls, walking around, socially invisible, and isolated.
Please note: counting reluctantly divorced persons was not the focus of Dr. Regnerus’ study. God bless him, he stumbled across it while studying something else. I don’t know of any other large scale, representative study of this question. This lack of professional and scholarly interest testifies to the power of the Divorce Ideology.
We also know very little of the lived experiences of the reluctantly divorced or abandoned spouses. We do know that divorce doubles a man’s probability of suicide and has essentially no impact on the woman’s chance of suicide. But we don’t really know why. As to spiritual life, we know that children of divorce are less likely to practice any religion. But as far as I know, no one has ever asked how divorce affects the religious commitments of the adults, particularly, one who was divorced against their will. The category, “reluctantly divorced persons” does not even exist in the minds of the scholars who have the expertise to study this sort of thing. After over 40 years of no-fault divorce, I am appalled that we have so little information about the reluctantly divorced or abandoned spouses.
And I might add, I’m also appalled at the lack of pastoral concern for the reluctantly divorced, blameless, or abandoned spouses. In all the uproar over Amoris Laetitia, in all the endless yammering in favor of “accompaniment” and “discernment,” for the divorced and civilly remarried, one can find almost nothing about the spouse of the original union.
I know an abandoned spouse who changed parishes. She couldn’t bear to see her spouse receiving communion with his new cohabiting girlfriend. He evidently “discerned” that this was hunky-dory. The pastor wasn’t much help to my friend. He told her the “people fall out of love,” and that “everyone gets an annulment.” He assumed that my friend was also dating someone else, which she had no intention of doing.
What was this pastor thinking? Why didn’t anyone ensure she feels “fully integrated” into the life of the parish where she and her husband were married?” Will anyone “accompany” abandoned spouses like her? Why is the Church abandoning them to the brutal injustice of the divorce culture?
At least on paper, the Church still holds to the radical teaching of Jesus on the indissolubility of marriage. I hope Cardinal Cupich and his friends pay attention to the reluctantly divorced, though I’m not holding my breath. Catholics, of all people, should be paying special attention to abandoned spouses. Their pain proves that Jesus was right all along.
Originally published at Crisis on March 14, 2018.
Invite the Children of Divorce to the Amoris Laetitia Seminars
I see where Cardinal Cupich is planning a series of seminars on Amoris Laetitia. According to a letter obtained by the Catholic News Agency, the “New Momentum Conferences on Amoris Laetitia,” will “provide formative pastoral programs.” As someone who has listened to many victims of the Sexual Revolution, I am eager to learn about the “pastoral practice” these seminars will promote. I wonder if they will feature adult children of divorce or unmarried parents among their presenters.
I can still recall the first time a young person came up to me in tears after one of my talks. “This is the first time I have ever heard an adult say that divorce is hard on children.” She went on to describe her father’s intention of entering yet another civil marriage, this time, to a woman in her twenties.
My young friend was twenty-one.
Since that incident, I have heard from many people of all ages, whose parents divorced and remarried. I can remember sitting down to a post-conference dinner with one of the other speakers and his wife. She confided in me that she had run out of the room in the middle of my talk. She couldn’t bear to hear my description of children’s hurt from divorce. My talk stirred up pain from her parents’ divorce.
She was in her sixties.
I don’t see any mention of Leila Miller or Jennifer Johnson among the proposed speakers on the traveling Amoris Laetitia Road Show. Both Mrs. Miller and Ms. Johnson have written poignant works on the experiences of children of divorce. You may imagine what the adult children of divorce have to say about second “marriages.”
Or perhaps you can’t. So, let me tell you: they feel their parents’ selfishness and excuse-making made their childhoods miserable, and continue to cause problems even in adulthood. One anonymous author titled her essay, “How my parents’ divorce ruined holidays and family life forever.”
Perhaps some of the presenters at the Amoris Laetitia gabfests will offer practical tips for what a child, of any age, ought to do when their parents decide they can’t stand each other anymore. Will Cardinal Cupich “accompany” the children of divorce when they see no photos of themselves with both parents, in either of their parents’ homes? Will any of the presenters help the children of divorce “discern” where to direct their anger when their stepfather brings home gifts for his children and his wife, but nothing for them?
I wonder if Cardinal Cupich and his friends will discuss the inequalities that divorce creates among children, and between children and adults. Jennifer Johnson argues passionately that natural marriage and only natural marriage, can create and preserve equality among children, while divorce creates deep and lasting inequalities. Here is just one example:
I was the only one who had divided Christmases, divided holidays, and divided birthdays. I’ve seen this referred to as “two Christmases” or “two birthdays” in some divorce literature as a way to sugar-coat the vertical inequality. My dad wasn’t welcome on Christmas morning, and my mom wasn’t welcome on Christmas eve. I don’t think either of them would have come, had they been invited. They were too busy with their new families. When I got a little older and my parents lived further apart, I traveled alone during the holidays to see each of them. None of the adults in my life had to do any of those things. It was a requirement placed on me that made their lives easier.
No, I suppose they don’t have room for children of divorce and their lived experiences. After all, the seminars are already full of experts on women’s ordination, contraception, non-binary gender, and God knows what else.
Speaking of God: I have an idea that Jesus (remember him?) knows exactly what these children of divorce are going through. He told the apostles “in the beginning, it was not so,” when he instituted that whole one man, one woman, for life, thing. The apostles were freaked out. They thought it was too hard.
I bet Jesus saw the pain a little girl might feel when her mother asked her to be the flower girl in her second wedding. Even as a preschooler, she knew this ceremony meant that her parents would never get back together. She knew she was supposed to be happy for her mother on her special day. She faked it, but her heart was breaking.
Jesus foresaw every painful little incident, like this one:
When I was six or seven, I woke up from a bad dream in the middle of the night. I went looking for my mom but couldn’t find her. I wandered from room to room crying, disoriented and scared. But Mom wasn’t there because I was at Dad’s place, an apartment I went to once a month. My dad couldn’t understand why I wanted my mom so much. Nothing in the apartment was familiar, not even dad. He was hurt because of my longing for my mom, my house, and my own bed, so I did what a lot of children of divorce do: I bottled up my emotions to try to make one of my parents feel better.
Jesus saw how attempts at re-partnering would create a lifetime of difficulties:
At my biological grandma’s funeral, my siblings and I were left out of the family pictures. We watched our cousins treated differently just because their parents had remained married. We stopped getting invited to family reunions. Today I’m a stranger to most of my relatives on my dad’s side because growing up I saw him so little and them even less.
Maybe this sort of thing is why Jesus made such a stink about the indissolubility of marriage.
Perhaps some adult children of divorce will just show up at one of the meetings at Boston College, the University of Notre Dame, or Santa Clara University. I wonder if anyone will let them have a turn at the microphone.
Maybe not. That might be just a little too much “accompanying” and “synodality,” even for Cardinal Cupich.
Originally published at Crisis on February 28, 2018
More about Bai Macfarlane
As I said yesterday, Bai Macfarlane has resources available for Catholics who wish to defend their marriages in an annulment proceeding. Her website, Mary’s Advocates, has information and resources.
I have a high opinion of Mrs. Macfarlane and her efforts. As far as I know, she is the only person offering assistance to those who are facing an unwanted civil divorce or an unwanted Catholic annulment. (If anyone knows of any other resources, please let me know.)
I have heard from many Reluctantly Divorced persons, and I know they are hurting. When the Catholic Church grants their spouse an annulment, it adds insult to injury. When they have to see their spouse, in church, with a new “spouse,” both receiving communion, it is salt in an open wound.
Please note: I do not know whether Mrs. Macfarlane is correct in her interpretation of canon law. I do not know how the tribunals will react to the arguments and ideas that Mary’s Advocates provides. Respected canon law authorities disagree with her position. Other canon lawyers evidently agree with her, at least in part. I am not qualified to offer an opinion on canon law.
I do believe though, that bringing the issue before the tribunals in a dignified and intelligent manner is worth trying. Reluctantly Divorced Catholics have few other resources (none, actually, that I am aware of) in trying to defend their marriages. This process of presentation and response has the best chance of discovering how the Church can serve those who wish to defend the validity of their marriages. As Dr. Ed Peters wisely commented after presenting his case,
Readers can form their own conclusions about which presentation is more likely correct and, more importantly, Roman authorities will certainly reach theirs in due course.
I want the Roman authorities to be presented as often as possible with this issue and others related to ending the scourge of divorce. Let’s put the arguments out there, in a forum where it actually matters, the tribunals, and see what happens.
If anyone has used Mrs. Macfarlane’s materials, I would be very interested in hearing about their experiences.