Living Gospel Equality Now: Loving in the Heart of God: Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests
Friday, April 8, 2016
Pope Francis' Letter, "The Joy of Love" Affirms Primacy of Conscience But Offers No Changes in Church Teaching
Bridget Mary's Response to Pope Francis Letter:
"The Joy of Love"
While Pope Francis' Letter on "The Joy of Love" affirms primacy of conscience over church laws on divorce, remarriage and contraception, it fails to support marriage equality for LGBTQ. Departing from his predecessors, Francis does not blame feminism for the crisis in the family and in addition, condemns verbal, physical and sexual violence against women. While Francis expresses a more pastoral approach he does not change the church rules. One example, the ban on artificial birth control remains but is not mentioned in the letter. I welcome Pope Francis affirmation of primacy of conscience. This approach provides a back door for the divorced and remarried to walk through that will allow them to receive sacraments. However, it does mean Catholics without annulments will have to seek the guidance of their priests before they can return to the sacraments. While this policy known as "internal forum" is an improvement, it does not allow the divorced and remarried to receive communion without a conversation with their priest. It fails to reflect the infinite love and compassion of God that embraces every family no matter what their status. The bottom line is "what would Jesus do to help all couples and families to celebrate the joy of love?" Would he open the table and change the rules? The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests affirms the spiritual equality of all the baptized and welcomes all to receive Eucharist and the other sacraments in our faith communities. No exceptions! Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.arcwp.org
VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis said Friday that Catholics should look to their own consciences rather than rely exclusively on church rules to negotiate the complexities of sex, marriage and family life, demanding the church shift emphasis from doctrine to mercy in confronting some of the thorniest issues facing the faithful.
In a major church document entitled "The Joy of Love," Francis made no explicit change in church doctrine and upheld church teaching on the lifelong bond of marriage between a man and a woman...
While Francis frequently cited John Paul, whose papacy was characterized by a hardline insistence on doctrine and sexual morals, he did so selectively. Francis referenced certain parts of John Paul's 1981 "Familius Consortio," the guiding Vatican document on family life until Friday, but he omitted any reference to its most divisive paragraph 84, which explicitly forbids the sacraments for the divorced and civilly remarried.
In fact, Francis went further than mere omission and effectively rejected John Paul's suggestion in that document for people in civil second marriages to live as brother and sister, abstaining from sex so they can still receive the sacraments. In a footnote, Francis said that many people offered such a solution by the church "point out that if certain expressions of intimacy are lacking it often happens that faithfulness is endangered and the good of children suffer."
Similarly, in discussing the need for "responsible parenthood" and regulating the number of children, Francis made no mention of the church's opposition to artificial contraception. He squarely rejected abortion as "horrendous" and he cited the 1968 encyclical "Humanae Vitae," which deals with the issue.
But Francis made no mention of the "unlawful birth control methods" cited and rejected in "Humanae Vitae." Instead he focused on the need for couples in their conscience to make responsible decisions about their family size.
Francis made a single reference to church-sanctioned family planning method of abstaining from sex during a woman's fertile time. He said only that such practices are to be "promoted" — not that other methods are forbidden — and he insisted on the need for children to receive sex education,
Francis condemned at length the "verbal, physical and sexual violence" many women endure in marriages. He rejected their "sexual submission" to men and the "reprehensible" practice of female genital mutilation. And he said the belief that feminism was to blame for the crisis in families today is completely invalid."