This may be a self-evident reflection but I am growing more convinced that the upcoming discussion on communion for divorced and remarried Catholics will be a bit like the contraception debate of the late 1960s. The Pope will publicly rule against communion for this group but it will be “understood” by some bishops, many priests, and the vast majority of Catholics that it’s okay to just “follow our consciences” on the matter. The cardinals and bishops don’t seem to be able to speak with one voice. The Holy Father won’t want to challenge the possibility that it could violate dogma (or, better, the teaching of Jesus) so will issue a cautious, very carefully worded and ambiguous statement. Then, the cardinals and the bishops and the priests and the laity will continue on their merry way doing what they want anyway.
So often these days we, in our chapel, hear homilies telling us that following the “letter of the law” is not important. Rather, we must show mercy; love God and love our neighbour. But following the letter of the law does help us show mercy and compassion. It does help us better understand the words of Our Saviour, Jesus Christ. And it never ceases to amaze me how quickly the words “and not one letter of the law will be done away with” are forgotten when we discuss (or preach) about these issues. And what about entering by the narrow gate?
Although the “Francis effect” may have given the public image of the Church a makeover and helped the secular press gush over the “most popular pope ever” it is also doing some serious damage. Some more liberal-minded priests see Francis as giving them all the freedom they want to do what they want. We now have the texts of the Mass changed. We have the use of “I” by the celebrant to invite us to pray – as though it were his “show”. We have gyrations during the Mass as he swings the host and the chalice around making a grand show; applause and silly jokes and endless “look-at-me-doing-this-wonderful-thing-for-all-of you”.
I want to invite others to the Church but at our place, at this moment, I am too embarrassed to do so.
What ever happened to the concept of worship and prayer and silence in Church? We want to pray the Mass not be entertained.